Final Report of Pershing - General John J. Pershing

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    FINAL REPORTOF

    GEN. JOHN J. PERSHINGCOMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES

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    t

    PARTI.PERIOD OF ORGANIZATION.MILITABY SITUATION :

    - 1914.

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    FINAL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERSHING.GENERAL HEADQUARTERSAXERICAN EXPEDITIONARP FORCES,Xeptember I, 1919.To the SECRETARYOF WAR.

    _ SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith my final report asCommander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces inEurope.PART I.

    PERIOD OF ORGANIZATION.

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    6 FINAL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERST-TING.MILITARY SITUATION.

    3. In order that the reasons for many important decisions reachein the early history of the American Expeditionary Forces may more clearly understood and the true value of the American effomore fully appreciated, it is desirable to have in mind the maievents leading up to the time of our entry into the war.1914.

    4. Although the German drive of 1914 had failed in its immediate purpose, yet her armies had made very important gainGerman forces were in complete possession of Belgium and occupierich industrial regions of northern France, embracing one-fourteenthof her population and about three-fourths of her coal and iron. ThGerman armies held a strongly fortified line 468 miles in lengthstretching from the Swiss border to Nieuport on the English Channel; her troops were within 48 miles of Paris and the initiative rmained in German hands.In the east the rapidity of the Russian mobilization forced Gemany, even before the Battle of the Marne, to send troops to th

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    FINAJL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERSHING. 7not been successful. Although the British fleet had established itssuperiority oli the sea, yet the German submarine blockade haddeveloped into a serious menace to Allied shipping.

    1916.6. Germany no doubt believed that her advantage on the easternfront at the close of 1915 again warranted an offensive in the west,and her attack against Verdun was accordingly launched in thespring of 1916. But Russia was not yet beaten and early in June,aided at the same time by the threat of an Italian offensive in thewest, she began the great drive in Galicia that proved so disastrousto Austria.Roumania, having entered on the side of the Allies, undertooka promising offensive against Austria. The British and FrenchArmies a ttacked along the Somme. Germany quickly returned tothe defensive in the west, and in September initiated a campaignin the east which, before the close of 1916, proved unfortunate

    for Russia as well as Roumania.SPRING OF 1917.

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    8 FINAL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERSHING.history. Financial problems of the Allies were difficult, supplieswere becoming exhausted and their armies had suaered treme,ndouslosses. Discouragement existed not only among the civil popula-tion but throughout the armies as well. Such was the Allied moralethat, although their superiority on the western front during thelast half of 1916 and during 1917,amounted to 20 per cent, only localattacks could be undertaken and their effect proved wholly insuffi-cient against the German defense. Allied resources in man powerat home were low and there was little prospect of materially in-creasing their armed strength, even in the face of the probabilityof having practically the whole military strength of the CentralPowers against them in the spring of 1918.8. This was the state of affairs that existed when we entered thewar. While our action gave the Allies much encouragement yet thiswas temporary, and a review of conditions made it apparent thatAmerica must make a supreme material effort as soon as possible.After duly considering the tonnage possibilities I cabled the follow-ing to Washington on July 6, 1917:

    Plans should contemplate sending over at least l,OOO,OOO en by next May.

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    FINAL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERSHING. 9larger combat units, it did not include the great body of troops andservices required to maintain an army overseas. To disembark2,000,OOO men, move them to their training areas, shelter them,handle and store the quantities of supplies and equipment they re-quired called for an extraordinary and immediate effort in con-struction. To provide the organization for this purpose, a projectfor engineer services of the rear, including railways, was cabled toWashington August 5, 1917, followed on September 18, 1917, bya complete service of the rear project, which listed item by item thetroops considered necessary for the Services of Supply. Particularattention is invited to the charts herewith, which show the extent towhich this project had developed by November 11, 1918, and thevaried units required, many of which did not exist in our Armyprior to this war.11. In order that the War Department might have a clear-cutprogram to follow in the shipment of personnel and material toinsure the gradual building up of a force at all times balanced andsymmetrical, a comprehensive statement was prepared covering theorder in which the troops and services enumerated in these twoprojects should arrive. This schedule of priority of shipments, for-warded to the War Department on October 7, divided the initial

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    10 FINAL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERSHING.obtained the greater part of the iron required for munitions andmaterial. The coal fields east of Metz were also covered by thesesame defenses. A deep advance east of Metz, or the capture of theBriey region, by threatening the invasion of rich German territoryin the Moselle Valley and the Saar Basin, thus curtailing her supplyz of coal or iron, would have a decisive effect in forcing a withdrawalof German troops from northern France. The military and econ-nomic situation of the enemy, therefore, indicated Lorraine as thefield promising the most fruitful results for the employment of ourarmies.

    13. The complexity of trench life had enormously increased thetonnage of supplies required by troops. Not only was it a questionof providing food but enormous quantities of munitions and materialwere needed. Upon the railroads of France fell the burden ofmeeting the heavy demands of the three and one-half million Alliedcombatants then engaged.The British were crowding the Channel ports and the French wereexploiting the manufacturing center of Paris, so that the railroadsof northern France were already much overtaxed. Even though theChannel ports might be used to a limited extent for shipments

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    FINAL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERSHING. 11a safe distance, as we were to meet an aggressive enemy capable oftaking the offensive in any one of several directions. The area em-bracing Tours, Orleans, Montargis, Nevers, and Chateauroux waschosen, as it was centrally located with regard to all points on the arcof the western front.The ports of St. Nazaire, La Pallice, and Bassens were designatedfor permanent use, while Nantes, Bordeaux, and Pauillac were foremergency use. Several smaller ports, such as St. Malo, Sables-dOlonne, and Bayonne, were available chiefly for the importation ofcoal from England. From time to time, certain trans-Atlantic shipswere sent to Le Havre and Cherbourg. In anticipation of a largeincrease in the amount of tonnage that might be required later, ar-rangements were made during the German offensive of 1918 toutilize the ports o f Marseilles and Toulon as well as other smal1e.rports on the Mediterranean.For all practical purposes the American Expeditionary Forces werebased on the American Continent. Three thousand miles of oceanto cross with the growing submarine menace confronting us, thequantity of ship tonnage that would be available then unknownand a line of communications by land 400 miles long from French

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    12 FINAL REPORT OF GEN. JOHN J. PERSHING.war department agencies. While the British were organized on anoverseas basis, they were within easy reach of their base of suppliesin England. Their problems of supply and replacement were simpleas compared with ours. Their training could be carried out at homewith the experience of the front at hand, while our troops must besent as ships were provided and their training resumed in Francewhere discontinued in the States. Our available tonnage was in-adequate to meet all the initial demands, so that priority of ma-terial for combat and construction, as well as for supplies that couldnot be purchased in Europe, must be established by those whose per-spective included all the services and who were familiar with gen-eral plans. For the proper direction and coordination of the de-tails of administration, intelligence, operations, supply, and train-ing, a General Staff was an indispensable part of the Army.The functions of the General Staff at my headquarters werefinally allotted to the five sections, each under can Assistant Chiefof Staff, as follows: To the First, or Administrative Section-oceantonnage, priority of overseas shipments, replacement of men andanimals, organization and types of equipment for