Strengthen the US Forces on budget in the 1945-50 period

Hi everyone,

The immediate Post-WW2 period was a time of exceptionally low military spending in the US, sinking to as low as 100 million 2004 dollars, most of it in the Air Force and SAC. The Army and Navy were gutted, and narrowly escaped complete termination.

Yet the US had left WW2 with possibly the greatest technological potential, with various new designs in development or nearly entering service. Unlike the USSR that definitely spent less than during WW2 but was still actively modernizing its military, the US squandered its advantage with low budget leading to tech entering service way later than expected, sometimes nearing obsolescence (case in point being the 90mm L52 gun remaining in service all the way to the 60s in spite of its limited capability against the late 1940's T-54 with kinetic ammunition).

So the point of this thread is: Assuming Truman isn't gutting the military in the 1945-50 period, give the US as much conventionnal bang for the buck with a 300-million-2004-dollar budget (close to Cold War average).

There have already been somewhat similar threads like post-WW2 britwanks, "Stuff that should/shouldn't hve entered service" or "Sanity options". This is it.

Ideally such US forces should:
-be powerful enough in Korea to deter NK
invasion.
-have a Navy capable of performing the regular Cold War job, such as doing what it did in the Korean War
- Not necessarily be large but mainly competent and sufficiently well-equipped to expand in case of crisis.

One example I'd like to explore: US tank designs in the early 50's (M46 and M47) owe much technologically to WW2 programs: cross-drive transmission, AV-1790 engine, 90mm ammo, concentric recoil mounts, gun stabilization (never entered service on these tanks). Had the US kept at least decent funding on such tech, a tank as good as or better than the M47 by 1948 or 49 (instead of being combat ready in 1953, and yet still with some flaws). A longer 90mm gun had been considered and was getting quite ergonomic yet was not adopted because of budget issues which led to the regular gun being merely updated.

Any ideas?
 
There was no reason to keep higher spending in place. There was no opponent. Even if you consider the USSR an opponent they were to busy rebuilding a devastated nation to be a threat. The U.S. Military was competent. The first few years after the war were spent evaluating the lessons learned and deciding what direction development would take.

Korea did not happen because the U.S. wasn't powerful enough to deter North Korea. Korea happened because a map put out by the U.S. State department showed the 'area of interest' for the U.S. excluding the Korean penninsula. Several middle level Soviet functionaries raised this point with American counterparts and were told 'the map speaks for itself and current American interests'. This lead the Soviets to allow the North Koreans a green light. The rest as they say is history.
 
There was no opponent. Even if you consider the USSR an opponent they were to busy rebuilding a devastated nation to be a threat.
The Soviet Union was a tremendous threat by virtue of maintaining a large, high-readiness mechanized force in Central Europe that had as many armies as the Western Allies had divisions in West Germany. While the comfortable security of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would mean a protracted war would be a American victory (if a costly one), the Soviets massive immediate conventional superiority and the hollow state of the American nuclear forces meant the Soviets could outright win a short war if they somehow managed to set the stage for it (which, admittedly, they never did) and otherwise allowed it to engage in considerable brinkmanship that threatened American interests.

The U.S. Military was competent. The first few years after the war were spent evaluating the lessons learned and deciding what direction development would take.
This is not the assessment of either the US military or military historians, either at the time or afterwards. The first few years after the war were spent positively denuding itself of combat potential in the rush to demobilize. The consequences of this very much came home to roost in Korea, when the US Army showed a shocking lack of basic soldiering skills among the gross bulk of it's officer and enlisted personnel. It took a root-and-branch overhaul to stop heavily mechanized American forces from being repeatedly routed by Chinese light infantry that they outnumbered.
 
The Soviet Union was a tremendous threat by virtue of maintaining a large, high-readiness mechanized force in Central Europe that had as many armies as the Western Allies had divisions in West Germany. While the comfortable security of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would mean a protracted war would be a American victory (if a costly one), the Soviets massive immediate conventional superiority and the hollow state of the American nuclear forces meant the Soviets could outright win a short war if they somehow managed to set the stage for it (which, admittedly, they never did) and otherwise allowed it to engage in considerable brinkmanship that threatened American interests.
They didn't though. By 1947 there was only 350,000 Soviets in East Germany while the United States alone had 200,000 in West Germany; neither side was of combat condition either, with Zhukov having to confine troops to their barracks that year in an attempt to re-instill discipline.
 
They didn't though. By 1947 there was only 350,000 Soviets in East Germany while the United States alone had 200,000 in West Germany; neither side was of combat condition either, with Zhukov having to confine troops to their barracks that year in an attempt to re-instill discipline.
They did. US forces in Western Europe bottomed out in 1947 at less then 100,000 personnel, of which 70,000 were administrative and garrison forces, with only the other 30,000 being combat personnel and would remain at roughly that level until 1951. Their Soviet counterparts bottomed out at 800,000 in February of 1948, excluding administrative and paramilitary personnel (like MGB forces, which alone add another 400,000), and afterwards began to rise (in March-May, the Group of Forces Germany received an additional 80,000 personnel). In equipment terms, the Soviets actually had more armor and artillery then their TO&Es called for, whereas the Americans were short. The Soviets also carried out a number of rigorous military exercises in the 1946-50 period, with ordinary combat training occurring throughout.

The only time the GSFG ever fell below a half-million personnel was in the late-1980s, during the Gorbachev drawdown.
 
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They did. US forces in Western Europe bottomed out in 1947 at less then 100,000 personnel, of which 70,000 were administrative and garrison forces, with only the other 30,000 being combat personnel and would remain at roughly that level until 1951. Their Soviet counterparts bottomed out at 800,000 in February of 1948, excluding administrative and paramilitary personnel (like MGB forces, which alone add another 400,000), and afterwards began to rise (in March-May, the Group of Forces Germany recieved an additional 80,000 personnel). In equipment terms, the Soviets actually had more armor and artillery then their TO&Es called for, whereas the Americans were short.
Can we have citations of this?

For the Soviets:
This shift gained greater momentum as the violence eventually subsided in 1947. By the middle of the year mass demobilisation had reduced the occupation force to 350,000 troops, who were much easier to lock in the barracks and keep away from the population — the only way really to deal with the problem.
The U.S. meanwhile closed out 1946/entered 1947 with 200,000.
 
Can we have citations of this?
The United States, NATO, and the Soviet Threat to Western Europe: Military Estimates and Policy Options, 1945–1963 by Phillip Karber and Jerald Kombs
US War Plans, 1945-1950 by Steven T. Ross (specifically the first chapter
Soviet Military Plans and Actions During the First Berlin Crisis, 1948–49 by Victor Gobarev (specifically the section labelled "Soviet Military Potential")
Stalin and the Bomb by David Holloway (Specifically Chapter 11, "War and the Atomic Bomb" which deals heavily with Soviet military forces and policy in the late-1940s/early-50s)
Beginnings of the Cold War Arms Race: The Truman Administration and the U.S. Arms Build-Up by Raymond Ojserkis
To Save a City: The Berlin Airlift, 1948–1949 by Roger Miller
Theory and Reality in the Anglo-American Alliance Raymond Dawson and Richard Rosecrance

I'll note that the 800,000 figure is merely the most consistent. The lowest I've seen until this new 350,000 claim is 500,000. One source (specifically Millers) gives Soviet forces in Eastern Germany as 1.5 million, which might be plausible if one counts the paramilitary and administrative forces.

The author gives no citation and cites no source for the figure. There is also nothing in there about the Soviets suffering any kind of problems in terms of training and combat cohesion: the discipline issues he describes throughout the book are only as they relate to the soldiers treatment of the civilian population.

EDIT: Poking around some other parts of the book gives a cite from another work, The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949, by Norman Naimark, who states that the Soviet forces in Eastern Germany fell from 1.5 million at the end of the war to 700,000 in September 1946, 500,000 in February 1947, and 350,000 in December 1947. But that starting figure makes no sense: depending on what you count as "Germany", the number of Soviet forces in Eastern Germany at the end of the war is somewhere between 3 and 5 million, not 1.5 million. Perhaps he just means "the 1st Belorussian Front", whose forces became the nucleus around which the GSFG was built and was about 1.5 million men strong. Unfortunately, Naimark's own citation is at the moment unviewable in the google book preview and there is no apparent kindle version, so I'm gonna have to wait for a manual copy to ship out. I will note that, just from what I'm able to skim read from online copies, neither of these books seem so much concerned with the combat strength and capabilities of these forces as they do the social history of the relations both within the army and between the army and the civilian population of Germany. An interesting subject in and of itself, to be sure, but useless in terms of determining relative combat readiness and strength.

On the other hand, Gobarev cites an interview with General Semyon Ivanov, who commanded the GSFG during the Berlin Blockade from November 1948 onwards, as stating the GSFG's strength fluctuated between 500,000 and 1,000,000. The latter is consistent with the 800K figure Karber and Kerombs as well as Osjerskis state.

Cited time period is the "end of 1946", about a half-year before the low point was reached (American demobilization officially ended on June 30th, 1947). Meanwhile, Miller, Osjerskis, and Dawson+Rosencrance all cite the American commander of forces in Germany reporting in March 1948 that he had 98,000 personnel of which 31,000 were considered combat forces. Soviet intelligence estimates give a slightly higher total personnel figure (120,000), but perhaps they were for Western Europe as a whole rather then West Germany (EDIT: Actually, given further research, it seems the Soviets included American air force personnel).

EDIT: The table on the second page of this paper gives American US Army troop strength in Germany in 1947 at 103,749 in 1947 and 91,535 in 1948, plus another ~20,000 from the USAF, although what part of the year the figures are drawn from is... not clear.
 
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All this neglects the fact that the U.S. Public would not support a higher military budget during this era. They wanted the troops brought home and the military budget slashed. There was no political will for a higher military expenditure.
 
EDIT: The table on the second page of this paper gives American US Army troop strength in 1947 at 103,749 in 1947 and 91,535 in 1948, plus another ~20,000 from the USAF, although what part of the year the figures are drawn from is... not clear.

Year

Total

U.S.Army

U.S.N.

U.S.M.C

U.S.A.F.

1946​

3,024,893​

1,435,496​

978,203​

155,679​

455,515​

1947​

1,582,111​

685,458​

497,773​

93,053​

305,827​

1948​

1,444,283​

554,030​

417,535​

84,988​

387,730​
1948 was the manpower nadir for the period, not seen again till after the Gulf War wound down and 'Peace Dividend' hit under Clinton
 
You'd need the Cold War to start early. Somehow have tensions with the Soviets escalate severely during the last bit of WW2 or just after. Some sort of incident that shocks the US and prevents the horrendous slide into complacency that occurred.

Now I don't think that Stalin really would want a war in the immediate postwar world. Just too much damage to repair in the USSR and they have to colonize/ break Eastern Europe to the yoke. But some sort of incident could occur.

One potential would be to have an earlier scandal revealing to some extent the insane extent that the Soviets had penetrated the US. Maybe have Congressman Samuel Dickstein revealed as a paid NKVD agent. Dickstein was literally the chair and creator of the House of Unamerican Activities Committee when he was getting paid several grand a month to do whatever the NKVD wanted.
 
Year

Total

U.S.Army

U.S.N.

U.S.M.C

U.S.A.F.

1946​

3,024,893​

1,435,496​

978,203​

155,679​

455,515​

1947​

1,582,111​

685,458​

497,773​

93,053​

305,827​

1948​

1,444,283​

554,030​

417,535​

84,988​

387,730​
1948 was the manpower nadir for the period, not seen again till after the Gulf War wound down and 'Peace Dividend' hit under Clinton
That's global strength, we're talking about Germany/Western Europe.
 
The United States, NATO, and the Soviet Threat to Western Europe: Military Estimates and Policy Options, 1945–1963 by Phillip Karber and Jerald Kombs
US War Plans, 1945-1950 by Steven T. Ross (specifically the first chapter
Soviet Military Plans and Actions During the First Berlin Crisis, 1948–49 by Victor Gobarev (specifically the section labelled "Soviet Military Potential")
Stalin and the Bomb by David Holloway (Specifically Chapter 11, "War and the Atomic Bomb" which deals heavily with Soviet military forces and policy in the late-1940s/early-50s)
Beginnings of the Cold War Arms Race: The Truman Administration and the U.S. Arms Build-Up by Raymond Ojserkis
To Save a City: The Berlin Airlift, 1948–1949 by Roger Miller
Theory and Reality in the Anglo-American Alliance Raymond Dawson and Richard Rosecrance

I'll note that the 800,000 figure is merely the most consistent. The lowest I've seen until this new 350,000 claim is 500,000. One source (specifically Millers) gives Soviet forces in Eastern Germany as 1.5 million, which might be plausible if one counts the paramilitary and administrative forces.



The author gives no citation and cites no source for the figure. There is also nothing in there about the Soviets suffering any kind of problems in terms of training and combat cohesion: the discipline issues he describes throughout the book are only as they relate to the soldiers treatment of the civilian population.

EDIT: Poking around some other parts of the book gives a cite from another work, The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949, by Norman Naimark, who states that the Soviet forces in Eastern Germany fell from 1.5 million at the end of the war to 700,000 in September 1946, 500,000 in February 1947, and 350,000 in December 1947. But that starting figure makes no sense: depending on what you count as "Germany", the number of Soviet forces in Eastern Germany at the end of the war is somewhere between 3 and 5 million, not 1.5 million. Perhaps he just means "the 1st Belorussian Front", whose forces became the nucleus around which the GSFG was built and was about 1.5 million men strong. Unfortunately, Naimark's own citation is at the moment unviewable in the google book preview and there is no apparent kindle version, so I'm gonna have to wait for a manual copy to ship out. I will note that, just from what I'm able to skim read from online copies, neither of these books seem so much concerned with the combat strength and capabilities of these forces as they do the social history of the relations both within the army and between the army and the civilian population of Germany. An interesting subject in and of itself, to be sure, but useless in terms of determining relative combat readiness and strength.

On the other hand, Gobarev cites an interview with General Semyon Ivanov, who commanded the GSFG during the Berlin Blockade from November 1948 onwards, as stating the GSFG's strength fluctuated between 500,000 and 1,000,000. The latter is consistent with the 800K figure Karber and Kerombs as well as Osjerskis state.



Cited time period is the "end of 1946", about a half-year before the low point was reached (American demobilization officially ended on June 30th, 1947). Meanwhile, Miller, Osjerskis, and Dawson+Rosencrance all cite the American commander of forces in Germany reporting in March 1948 that he had 98,000 personnel of which 31,000 were considered combat forces. Soviet intelligence estimates give a slightly higher total personnel figure (120,000), but perhaps they were for Western Europe as a whole rather then West Germany (EDIT: Actually, given further research, it seems the Soviets included American air force personnel).

EDIT: The table on the second page of this paper gives American US Army troop strength in Germany in 1947 at 103,749 in 1947 and 91,535 in 1948, plus another ~20,000 from the USAF, although what part of the year the figures are drawn from is... not clear.
From Stalin and the Bomb, Page 232:
The secondary forces were to be ready to mobilize and to concentrate in designated areas near the front within 10–20 days.47 According to US intelligence, about one third of the Army's 175 divisions were maintained at cadre strength (less than 30 per cent of manning), one third at partial strength, and one third at full strength (over 70 per cent of manning).
The Soviet posture in Europe after the war did not betray a real fear of imminent attack by the United States, or an urgent ambition to invade Western Europe; it was the posture of a state determined to consolidate its power on the territory that it now occupied, rather than expand that territory. Although the Western Allies demobilized more rapidly, the Soviet Union did not have overwhelming military superiority in Europe in the early postwar years. The Western powers had about 375,000 occupation troops in Germany and Austria in 1947–8, while other forces in Western Europe (excluding Britain) amounted to about 400,000. In 1948 US intelligence estimated that the Soviet Union might have 700–800,000 men available for a surprise attack on Western Europe. This would not have provided the Soviet armed forces with anything like the kind of force ratios it considered desirable for largescale strategic offensive operations.
So yeah, the Soviets were a paper tiger at best, and even then the estimates of Soviet parity in numbers only comes from Western intelligence. Can you provide distinctly Soviet sources asserting an overwhelming numerical advantage instead of just Western estimates at the time? As Raymond Ojserkis notes in Beginnings of the Cold War Arms Race, on pages 32-33, CIA estimates were notoriously inaccurate.
 
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From Stalin and the Bomb, Page 232:

So yeah, the Soviets were a paper tiger at best, and even then the estimates of Soviet parity in numbers only comes from Western intelligence.
The problem, as I already pointed out, is that most western manpower of that manpower was of no combat value. Based on the American ratio of actual combat troops to administrative and garrison personnel, it would really be more like 164,000 in Western Germany and 328,000 throughout Western Europe as a whole. Even this is probably a bit too generous though: Osjerskis notes that French and Dutch troops in particular were of low-quality, in the former case because most of the actual combat forces available were deployed in the colonies and in the latter case because of general economic hardship making it impossible to adequately provide skilled manpower and funding. And, as I will note shortly, even the combat value of the actual American "combat troops" were of questionable value. For the Soviets, the time it would take to fully mobilize and ready the high-readiness units was five days. This alone would be far more then enough to overwhelm Western , constituting as it does the 32 divisions in Eastern Europe and another 30 in Western Russia. The next one-third manned at partial strength would take between 10-20 days to reach full readiness. And the one-third manned at 30 percent would take a month. The first "ghost" or "clone" reserve divisions, basically divisions formed from scratch using stored equipment and excess officer cadres, would reach readiness by the end of the second month.

We know this because western intelligence services managed to acquire a full copy of the Soviet post-war mobilization schedule, promulgated in late-1946, in 1947. (The United States, NATO, and the Soviet Threat to Western Europe: Military Estimates and Policy Options, 1945–1963, Phillip Karber & Jerald Combs)

By comparison, the timeframe which it took the US to reinforce Europe following the decision being made on the outbreak of the Korean War was over a half-year, with the first additional units only arriving in the late-winter/early-spring of 1951.

Can you provide distinctly Soviet sources asserting an overwhelming numerical advantage instead of just Western estimates at the time?
I've already quoted the head of the GSVG giving a manpower strength range more in line with the 800,000 figure. Beyond that, all the estimates I've ever seen have come from western intelligence. Karber and Combs have reviewed it and concluded it was reasonably accurate when it came to Soviet forces in Eastern Europe, which were most immediately verifiable, and became mainly off-base more when it came to Soviet forces deployed deeper in within Central Russia.

Also, as to the "This would not have provided the Soviet armed forces with anything like the kind of force ratios it considered desirable for largescale strategic offensive operations", Karber and Combs have pointed out the problem with that, as it is based on the usual "requires a 3+:1 superiority" saw:

Unfortunately, that is a misconception. Military commanders seek a 3+:1 superiority for an attacking force only at the point of attack, not all across the line of combat. The attacker can accept a 1:1 ratio or even less along the entire line to prevent a successful counterattack while concentrating its forces to achieve ratios of 3:1 or higher against a few of the defender's division or corps sectors to achieve a breakthrough.
As a case in point, one can look at the Soviet offensives in the summer of 1944: strategically, the Soviet manpower advantage was roughly the same as what WAllied intelligence posits they'd have even if we pretend that the western administration and garrison forces are of the same value as their actual combat forces (about 2-3:1). The Soviets achieved the "force ratios it considered desirable for large-scale strategic offensive operations" via operational concentration and maneuver, not by outnumbering the Axis on the order of 5+:1 strategically.

What's more, the Soviets would be better equipped, as again, Karber and Combs:

Although both the West and the Soviets demobilized many of their troops after the end of World War II in Europe, they followed very different policies regarding demobilization of equipment. The Western powers scrapped and ceased production of many of their weapons after World War II. Practically all of the equipment of the European armies was lost or destroyed and, in contrast to the Russians, little attempt was made to replace it until after the Berlin blockade of 1948.

The Soviets, on the other hand, kept most of their equipment and reorganized their entire force structure around it. First, they reduced their tank and mechanized corps to divisions without much reducing the amount of arms and equipment*. They used surplus arms to convert their cavalry to tank divisions and their rifle to mechanized divisions. In this way, the peacetime Soviet military structure of 175 divisions kept and made use of much of the armament that had formerly supplied a 500-division wartime force.
And then there's the qualitative difference in personnel which... well, let's compare these two examinations of how the demobilization of personnel differed and the implications it had for combat capability. The US History of Personnel Demobilization details quite extensively how the US Army let most of it's best personnel go and states the effects on combat readiness and efficiency:

A memorandum which reflected the views of the Pacific and European Commanders was then prepared for the Army Chief of Staff. This communication revealed the swift and disintegrating effects of World War II demobilization as of 15 November 1945. The European Commander further estimated that in an offensive his troops, ground (including service) and air "could operate in an emergency for a limited period at something less than 50 % normal wartime efficiency." European ground troops could operate somewhat better in a defensive situation but this was not true of air units. General Eisenhower's Chief of Staff was reported as having said that "This estimate is frankly optimistic, based on assumptions themselves optimistic, and does not consider morale and fighting spirit, which he . . . [believed to be] lacking." General MacArthur's Pacific ground forces (including four Marine divisions) were estimated as being able to operate both offensively and defensively "at something more than 50% normal wartime efficiency except in amphibious operations." Supporting air elements "could operate at something less than 50% efficiency."
So as early as November 1945, the combat efficiency of American personnel was already less then half what their raw numbers would suggest and this only got worse as mobilization (the report notes the figure dropped to "approximately 25%" in the Pacific by September 1946, which presumably holds true for Europe as well) to the point that the conclusion says the result rather flat out:

Thus the United States Army which had been one of the world's finest had by 30 June 1947 dwindled to a state of near-impotency. This military disintegration coupled with the rapid demobilization of the United States Navy weakened the prestige of our national policy and seriously endangered the security of the Nation.
The same could be said for the other Western European powers, who if anything would be in an even worse state given their lack of resources to begin with.

Meanwhile, for the Soviets:

The quality of the GSOVG's headquarters and staff in 1948 and 1949 was rather high. The mass demobilization process had been completed early in the post-war period. Older age soldiers and the wounded and sick had been retired and returned to their homes in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, there were many young veterans of World War II in Soviet forces who had been called up for service during the final period of the war and who possessed considerable combat experience. The GSOVG's officer cadre was of high quality since almost all of them had extensive combat experience. Only the lieutenants and senior lieutenants who had graduated from military schools during 1944 and 1945 had not taken part in wartime operations. Marshal Sokolovsky, Marshal V. I. Chuikov (the hero of Stalingrad and Sokolovsky's successor in the post of GSOVG commander-in-chief), Colonel General S. P. Ivanov (hero of the Far East in 1945), and other senior leaders in the GSOVG belonged among the elite command cadre of the Soviet Armed Forces. In addition, most field exercises and combat training in GSOVG were conducted on the basis of World War II combat experience. In the post-war years this training was starkly realistic.
-Soviet military plans and actions during the first Berlin crisis, 1948–49, Victor Gobarev

It's rather clear that claims that the Soviet military were a paper tiger are made without any real basis in either facts or military reality. Claims that they did not have overwhelming military superiority (which was as much based on quality as it was quantity, rendering the whole "overwhelming numerical superiority" quibble a red-herring) is only slightly less fanciful.

*Technically, this was more a relabeling and reorganization then a reduction. Soviet WW2 tank and mechanized divisions were officially named "corps" despite being division-scale formations and then were properly renamed after the war. This is a common source of confusion when it comes to the transition between the WW2 and Cold War Soviets.
 
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Ideally such US forces should:
-be powerful enough in Korea to deter NK invasion.
The US forces not stationed in South Korea historically?

How is budget allocations to the military suddenly going to produce a state department in the least competent about South Korea?

There was a pressure felt from the combat actual to demobilise, which expressed itself strongly. Don't demob. Try it. You might start a riot.
 
There was a pressure felt from the combat actual to demobilise, which expressed itself strongly. Don't demob. Try it. You might start a riot.
And there in lies the rub. You'd need something on the scale of the Korean War (as Father Maryland here suggested) to spur the US not to demob to the level it did OTL, with all the attendant budget cuts.
 
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The US forces not stationed in South Korea historically?

How is budget allocations to the military suddenly going to produce a state department in the least competent about South Korea?



There was a pressure felt from the combat actual to demobilise, which expressed itself strongly. Don't demob. Try it. You might start a riot.
I'm not talking about just dumping more money at the problem but rather being less naïve about foreign policies.

Also, sure Americans want to demob but from a budgetary perspective even the 300 million 2004 dollars are like a 3rd or even less of wartime spending already. How can people say it's still too much if they don't know about the OTL budgets? For them this could be as low as the govt could allow.

Could having someone else than Truman in power make a more sensible US leadership more plausible?

And again, the US forces needn't be larger than OTL at the time, just better trained and equipped (which can go as far as justhaving late WW2 equipmenr that isn't rotting away because of neglected maintenance and Bazooka gunners who at least know the fuze doesn't work against sloped armor as they would find out in Korea).


And while we're at it, how in the hell did the US keep freaking McArthur and Stillwell in service?!!
 
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The problem, as I already pointed out, is that most western manpower of that manpower was of no combat value. Based on the American ratio of actual combat troops to administrative and garrison personnel, it would really be more like 164,000 in Western Germany and 328,000 throughout Western Europe as a whole. Even this is probably a bit too generous though: Osjerskis notes that French and Dutch troops in particular were of low-quality, in the former case because most of the actual combat forces available were deployed in the colonies and in the latter case because of general economic hardship making it impossible to adequately provide skilled manpower and funding. And, as I will note shortly, even the combat value of the actual American "combat troops" were of questionable value. For the Soviets, the time it would take to fully mobilize and ready the high-readiness units was five days. This alone would be far more then enough to overwhelm Western , constituting as it does the 32 divisions in Eastern Europe and another 30 in Western Russia. The next one-third manned at partial strength would take between 10-20 days to reach full readiness. And the one-third manned at 30 percent would take a month. The first "ghost" or "clone" reserve divisions, basically divisions formed from scratch using stored equipment and excess officer cadres, would reach readiness by the end of the second month.
And it immediately jumps out to me you point out the tooth to tail ratio for the Western Allies while failing to account for the same to the Soviets; likely, they were similar in terms of combat personnel to those in logistics/occupational duties. We know for a fact the Soviets had to set up military-occupation apparatus and the costly nature of these motivated Stalin in East Germany, for example, to ultimately come to rely on the SED to reduce such cost. Likewise, any military force in this era worth it's salt understands the need for an extensive logistics tail, otherwise we can have no question of Anglo-American victory once the Soviet supply system collapses in of itself in a matter of weeks if not days.

We know this because western intelligence services managed to acquire a full copy of the Soviet post-war mobilization schedule, promulgated in late-1946, in 1947. (The United States, NATO, and the Soviet Threat to Western Europe: Military Estimates and Policy Options, 1945–1963, Phillip Karber & Jerald Combs)
As Ojserkis notes, as aforementioned, CIA estimates and intelligence gathering was notoriously bad so any Western acquired data should be taken with salt with regards to force numbers. If the gain was real, there's every reason it was planted by the NKVD as a means of deception to deter the West from attacking; available evidence highly suggests they were greatly spooked by the planning being done for Unthinkable in Mid-1945. Finally, even if we ignore the above, to quote Ojserkis:
"There was evidence indicating that the Soviet economy was weak. Even the Soviet government's published statistics, which were thought to be generally exaggerated, revealed an economy far behind the west. Soviet diplomatic actions in the immediate post-war period, whether in the form of attempts to gain more favorable conditions for Lend-Lease payments, Soviet lobbying for a large German reparations payment, Soviet demands to gain Austrian oil, or the transportation of basic infrastructure from conquered eastern Europe to the Soviet Union all indicated economic deficiencies. General Walter Bedell Smith, a future head of the Central Intelligence Agency, estimated that it would be another 10 to 15 years before the Soviets had recovered from the last war. The CIA's Office of Research and Estimates (ORE) tried to appraise the Soviet Union in terms of war potential, looking at the industrial strength, technology, and possible bottlenecks to increased production. The ORE concluded that Soviet economic weaknesses gravely limited the ability of Moscow to fight a prolonged war with the North Atlantic Treaty nations."

"In particular, American analysts felt that the Soviet petroleum industry would find it difficult to produce enough high octane fuel, the Soviet machine tool industry did not produce enough spare parts, there was insufficient rolling stock to handle war time needs in the USSR, and the Soviets had perennial shortages of certain non-ferrous metals and certain types of finished steel. Complicating these problems, and, to an extent, causing them, were the Soviet deficiencies in properly trained technological personnel and managers."
Issues in the Soviet rolling stock and demands of transportation assets alone should cast doubt on their idea that they could mobilize that fast.

By comparison, the timeframe which it took the US to reinforce Europe following the decision being made on the outbreak of the Korean War was over a half-year, with the first additional units only arriving in the late-winter/early-spring of 1951.
Which ignores that the U.S. and NATO at large were fighting a massive conventional conflict in Asia at the time, which should explain any delays in reinforcing Europe.

I've already quoted the head of the GSVG giving a manpower strength range more in line with the 800,000 figure. Beyond that, all the estimates I've ever seen have come from western intelligence. Karber and Combs have reviewed it and concluded it was reasonably accurate when it came to Soviet forces in Eastern Europe, which were most immediately verifiable, and became mainly off-base more when it came to Soviet forces deployed deeper in within Central Russia.
Is there Soviet documentation to back up the GSVG head? His testimony is only worth so much and, likewise, the rest of the evidence depends on Western intelligence estimates-which, as one of your sources notes, were usually off and wrong in this regard.

As a case in point, one can look at the Soviet offensives in the summer of 1944: strategically, the Soviet manpower advantage was roughly the same as what WAllied intelligence posits they'd have even if we pretend that the western administration and garrison forces are of the same value as their actual combat forces (about 2-3:1). The Soviets achieved the "force ratios it considered desirable for large-scale strategic offensive operations" via operational concentration and maneuver, not by outnumbering the Axis on the order of 5+:1 strategically.
Attempting to point to Bagration as a means of possible Soviet performance is a non-starter, most obviously for the fact the Soviets by the late 1940s were well into demobilization and thus not the battle hardened army of veterans as well supplied and as large; for one, to utilize all 800,000 personnel would mean Eastern Europe would be denuded of Soviet forces at a time when Czechoslavkia isn't Communist and hundreds of thousands of Anti-Communist insurgents are waging a protracted resistance campaign against their Soviet occupiers. For another, Army Group Center had been stripped of all of its Panzer Divisions, all but 31 of its fighters and was experiencing massive artillery munition shortages. They'd also been ordered to fight an inflexible defense while operating at a strategic intelligence deficit.

What's more, the Soviets would be better equipped, as again, Karber and Combs:
Not really buying that, given the scale of demobilizations and shortages in critical areas like air defense and in the VVS.

And then there's the qualitative difference in personnel which... well, let's compare these two examinations of how the demobilization of personnel differed and the implications it had for combat capability. The US History of Personnel Demobilization details quite extensively how the US Army let most of it's best personnel go and states the effects on combat readiness and efficiency:

So as early as November 1945, the combat efficiency of American personnel was already less then half what their raw numbers would suggest and this only got worse as mobilization (the report notes the figure dropped to "approximately 25%" in the Pacific by September 1946, which presumably holds true for Europe as well) to the point that the conclusion says the result rather flat out:

The same could be said for the other Western European powers, who if anything would be in an even worse state given their lack of resources to begin with.

Meanwhile, for the Soviets:


-Soviet military plans and actions during the first Berlin crisis, 1948–49, Victor Gobarev
Okay, can we get data for the Soviets? Noting they had combat experienced officers and realistic planning isn't an argument as to troop quality and is literally a non-advantage, given their Western Allied opponents were exactly in the same boat in terms of an experienced officer corps and realistic war planning. As cited earlier, Soviet commanders by Mid-1947 were having to keep their soldiers under lock and key in an effort to fix their lawlessness, which shows that discipline within the occupational force had largely failed just as it did in the Western Zones.

It's rather clear that claims that the Soviet military were a paper tiger are made without any real basis in either facts or military reality. Claims that they did not have overwhelming military superiority (which was as much based on quality as it was quantity, rendering the whole "overwhelming numerical superiority" quibble a red-herring) is only slightly less fanciful.

*Technically, this was more a relabeling and reorganization then a reduction. Soviet WW2 tank and mechanized divisions were officially named "corps" despite being division-scale formations and then were properly renamed after the war. This is a common source of confusion when it comes to the transition between the WW2 and Cold War Soviets.
There's a great irony to be had in that you originally cited the book in question and are now having to argue against your own citation.
 
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What if there's a more realistic assessment of nuclear weapons? IOTL, a lot of the push for demobilisation was because the US believed that the bomb was an instant "I win" card. So what if the US conducted a more realistic threat assessment and decided that there was a huge gap between peace and a super power conflict where conventional wars could still happen? That could give the OP the conditions needed for the US to retain significant combat power without breaking the budget. A couple of changes that I think are realistic:

In OTL all but the 8 newest Essex class and the 3 Midway class carriers were decommissioned, with three of the remaining Essex class joining the mothball fleet in 1949. Keep those three ships in commission so you have a viable carrier force to respond to crises around the world.

Either complete the last two Iowa class Battleships and keep three in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific. Or retain the four South Dakota class ships for service in the Atlantic with the four Iowas in the Pacific. Modernize them by removing 80-90% of the 20mm guns and replace the 40mm guns with 3"/50 AA guns on a two-for-four basis (2x3" for every 4x40mm). That will significantly reduce manning requirements and make the ships more potent AA platforms. Don't bother spending money on keeping any of the Standards in reserve. Decommission them in 46 after Operation Magic Carpet and start selling them for scrap.

Compete USS Dallas (CA-140), the fourth member of the Des Moines class heavy cruiser. Keep two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific. Their autoloading 8" rifles are too good to pass up. Keep Oregon City in commission past 1947. She was brand new, saw no combat, and spent less than 2 years in commission. Retain the last 9 ships of the Baltimore class starting with Saint Paul, as they all commissioned in 1945 and saw little to no combat and place the rest in reserve. Like the battleships, modernize them by deleting the 20mm AA guns and replacing the 40mm guns with 3"/50 AA guns on a two-for-four basis to reduce manpower needs.

Complete the four Fargo and Worcester class light cruisers as in OTL. Of the Cleveland class, anything that saw war service, I'm retiring by 1946. That leave a Providence, Manchester, Little Rock, Galveston and Portsmouth. Ditch the CLAAs starting in 46 and don't bother commissioning any after WWII ends. They have no growth potential and are manpower intensive. Anything older than the Brooklyn or Cleveland classes, scrap it starting in 46. Don't waste money keeping them in reserve.

Between the heavy and light cruisers, that retains 24 cruisers in the fleet with more in reserve. That's more than enough to serve as escorts for both the battleships and the carriers, along with independent operations when needed.

Retain/complete all 98 Gearing class destroyers and modernize them as in OTL. Retain the 52 surviving Sumner class as well and modernize them as in OTL. Place all 150 surviving Fletcher class ships in reserve while taking the 50 newest ships at staggered intervals for overhauls including deleting the midships 5" gun and torpedo tubes. Replace the gun with a hedgehog. Delete the 20 and 40mm AA guns and replace them with 2-4x3" AA guns. Return them to the fleet as they complete their overhauls. Place all the destroyer escorts in reserve and scrap the oldest and most war weary ones.

Place the majority of the amphibious ships into reduced commission with cadre active duty crews and fill out the remainder with reservists.

Retain/complete all 29 Tench class submarines and all Balao class that commissioned in 1945 or later. Place the rest of the class in reserve and able to recommission if and when needed. Scrap or sell everything from the Gato class back.

Retain 1st and 2nd MARDIVs on active duty and retain 3rd MARDIV as a reserve formation. Do the same with their associated air wings.

Not sure what changes the Air Force needs to make. Maybe keep more B-29s in service? Keep the P-47 in service for the ground attack role?

Again, not sure what changes the Army needs either. Other than the obvious that they need to retain more formations as combat units and increase unit training.
 
What if there's a more realistic assessment of nuclear weapons? IOTL, a lot of the push for demobilisation was because the US believed that the bomb was an instant "I win" card. So what if the US conducted a more realistic threat assessment and decided that there was a huge gap between peace and a super power conflict where conventional wars could still happen? That could give the OP the conditions needed for the US to retain significant combat power without breaking the budget. A couple of changes that I think are realistic:

In OTL all but the 8 newest Essex class and the 3 Midway class carriers were decommissioned, with three of the remaining Essex class joining the mothball fleet in 1949. Keep those three ships in commission so you have a viable carrier force to respond to crises around the world.

Either complete the last two Iowa class Battleships and keep three in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific. Or retain the four South Dakota class ships for service in the Atlantic with the four Iowas in the Pacific. Modernize them by removing 80-90% of the 20mm guns and replace the 40mm guns with 3"/50 AA guns on a two-for-four basis (2x3" for every 4x40mm). That will significantly reduce manning requirements and make the ships more potent AA platforms. Don't bother spending money on keeping any of the Standards in reserve. Decommission them in 46 after Operation Magic Carpet and start selling them for scrap.

Compete USS Dallas (CA-140), the fourth member of the Des Moines class heavy cruiser. Keep two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific. Their autoloading 8" rifles are too good to pass up. Keep Oregon City in commission past 1947. She was brand new, saw no combat, and spent less than 2 years in commission. Retain the last 9 ships of the Baltimore class starting with Saint Paul, as they all commissioned in 1945 and saw little to no combat and place the rest in reserve. Like the battleships, modernize them by deleting the 20mm AA guns and replacing the 40mm guns with 3"/50 AA guns on a two-for-four basis to reduce manpower needs.

Complete the four Fargo and Worcester class light cruisers as in OTL. Of the Cleveland class, anything that saw war service, I'm retiring by 1946. That leave a Providence, Manchester, Little Rock, Galveston and Portsmouth. Ditch the CLAAs starting in 46 and don't bother commissioning any after WWII ends. They have no growth potential and are manpower intensive. Anything older than the Brooklyn or Cleveland classes, scrap it starting in 46. Don't waste money keeping them in reserve.

Between the heavy and light cruisers, that retains 24 cruisers in the fleet with more in reserve. That's more than enough to serve as escorts for both the battleships and the carriers, along with independent operations when needed.

Retain/complete all 98 Gearing class destroyers and modernize them as in OTL. Retain the 52 surviving Sumner class as well and modernize them as in OTL. Place all 150 surviving Fletcher class ships in reserve while taking the 50 newest ships at staggered intervals for overhauls including deleting the midships 5" gun and torpedo tubes. Replace the gun with a hedgehog. Delete the 20 and 40mm AA guns and replace them with 2-4x3" AA guns. Return them to the fleet as they complete their overhauls. Place all the destroyer escorts in reserve and scrap the oldest and most war weary ones.

Place the majority of the amphibious ships into reduced commission with cadre active duty crews and fill out the remainder with reservists.

Retain/complete all 29 Tench class submarines and all Balao class that commissioned in 1945 or later. Place the rest of the class in reserve and able to recommission if and when needed. Scrap or sell everything from the Gato class back.

Retain 1st and 2nd MARDIVs on active duty and retain 3rd MARDIV as a reserve formation. Do the same with their associated air wings.

Not sure what changes the Air Force needs to make. Maybe keep more B-29s in service? Keep the P-47 in service for the ground attack role?

Again, not sure what changes the Army needs either. Other than the obvious that they need to retain more formations as combat units and increase unit training.
You focussed on the USN and yet in the aftermath of WW2, tell us which nation could conceivably threaten American hegemony at sea?

That aside, I don’t think it was only believing that the nuclear bomb gave the US an “I win” card, but the view that they’ve just won a war and determined the peace. Any one still standing was an ally, and none of those directly threatened the US. I think predominantly you need an earlier Cold War - which others have already said.
 
And it immediately jumps out to me you point out the tooth to tail ratio for the Western Allies while failing to account for the same to the Soviets; likely, they were similar in terms of combat personnel to those in logistics/occupational duties. We know for a fact the Soviets had to set up military-occupation apparatus and the costly nature of these motivated Stalin in East Germany, for example, to ultimately come to rely on the SED to reduce such cost. Likewise, any military force in this era worth it's salt understands the need for an extensive logistics tail, otherwise we can have no question of Anglo-American victory once the Soviet supply system collapses in of itself in a matter of weeks if not days.
I see we've reached the point where you are flat out ignoring points I've already made. I'll just quote my previous posts then with some emphasis...

Their Soviet counterparts bottomed out at 800,000 in February of 1948, excluding administrative and paramilitary personnel (like MGB forces, which alone add another 400,000), and afterwards began to rise (in March-May, the Group of Forces Germany received an additional 80,000 personnel).
As Ojserkis notes, as aforementioned, CIA estimates and intelligence gathering was notoriously bad so any Western acquired data should be taken with salt with regards to force numbers. If the gain was real, there's every reason it was planted by the NKVD as a means of deception to deter the West from attacking; available evidence highly suggests they were greatly spooked by the planning being done for Unthinkable in Mid-1945. Finally, even if we ignore the above, to quote Ojserkis:
Again, you are either misunderstanding or misrepresenting what Osjerkis actually says. Osjerskis states that CIA estimates and intelligence gathering on Soviet economic strength was notoriously bad, but he says the opposite when it comes to western intelligence (a category which extends to far more then the CIA) estimates on the Soviet forces in Eastern Europe. This is unsurprising as the Soviet military forces in Eastern Europe were in a easily observable position to western intelligence services stationed in Western Europe who had a number of mechanisms to conduct such investigations (such as the Allied occupation representatives system). Similarly, the quoted Osjerskis section is detailing entirely relates to Soviet economic mobilization potential, not manpower mobilization.

EDIT: I mean, if we actually look at some CIA estimates, then table 15 shows Soviet freight rolling stock at the start of 1947 and 1948 at 673,400 and 685,100 (respectively) as opposed to 680,000 in the first 2/3rds of 1941. Thus, you're essentially claiming that the Soviets can't conduct a rapid mass manpower mobilization they managed to do in 1941 on what is pretty much the same amount of rolling stock. What's more, they won't be able to do it despite not also having to deal with the demands of mass industrial evacuations and dislocations from a massive invasion that was also tying up enormous quantities of rolling stock that they had to deal with in 1941. This is, to say the least, a incredible claim requiring quite the incredible levels of evidence.

Issues in the Soviet rolling stock and demands of transportation assets alone should cast doubt on their idea that they could mobilize that fast.
As Karber and Kombs note, the fundamentals of the plan were similar, except updated based on the WW2 experience. The historical record is that The Soviets, and even the Russian Empire in 1914 who used a similar, were able to conduct exactly these sorts of manpower mobilizations under far worse circumstances in the time periods described. The argument they could not repeat the performance in 1948, despite the fact that conditions for such a mobilization would be far more favorable then in either 1914 or 1941, is total persiflage.

Which ignores that the U.S. and NATO at large were fighting a massive conventional conflict in Asia at the time, which should explain any delays in reinforcing Europe.
Reinforcing the limited war in Korea was actually of secondary priority. Europe had priority, as the US was afraid. The time for reinforcement is likewise consistent with what US warplanners estimated it would take (and why they ruled out doing so in the first stage of the war) of the late-1940s, as detailed extensively by Steven Ross's book.

Is there Soviet documentation to back up the GSVG head? His testimony is only worth so much and, likewise, the rest of the evidence depends on Western intelligence estimates-which, as one of your sources notes, were usually off and wrong in this regard.
None of my sources state that Western Intelligence estimates on Soviet military capability in Eastern Europe were off and wrong. Indeed, Karber and Combs thoroughly assess them and come to the conclusion they were quite accurate. It was usually on the stuff further back, deeper in the Soviet Union, that Western intelligence services had a harder time assessing, that and these were underestimates as frequently as they were overestimates.

Attempting to point to Bagration as a means of possible Soviet performance is a non-starter, most obviously for the fact the Soviets by the late 1940s were well into demobilization and thus not the battle hardened army of veterans as well supplied and as large; for one, to utilize all 800,000 personnel would mean Eastern Europe would be denuded of Soviet forces at a time when Czechoslavkia isn't Communist and hundreds of thousands of Anti-Communist insurgents are waging a protracted resistance campaign against their Soviet occupiers.
Because the 400,000 MGB paramilitary troops and administrative forces I noted earlier are just going to disappear into thin air, apparently. :rolleyes:

For another, Army Group Center had been stripped of all of its Panzer Divisions, all but 31 of its fighters and was experiencing massive artillery munition shortages. They'd also been ordered to fight an inflexible defense while operating at a strategic intelligence deficit.
And you might have a point if the operational situation on the central axis held by Army Group Center constituted the sum total of the strategic situation on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1944. Unfortunately for you, it was not. That the Soviets concentrated their strength against a operationally weak force to achieve the smashing successes they did is rather my point.

Not really buying that, given the scale of demobilizations and shortages in critical areas like air defense and in the VVS.
So in other words, you've got nothing except unsubstantiated denials and made-up shortages.

Okay, can we get data for the Soviets? Noting they had combat experienced officers and realistic planning isn't an argument as to troop quality and is literally a non-advantage, given their Western Allied opponents were exactly in the same boat in terms of an experienced officer corps and realistic war planning. As cited earlier, Soviet commanders by Mid-1947 were having to keep their soldiers under lock and key in an effort to fix their lawlessness, which shows that discipline within the occupational force had largely failed just as it did in the Western Zones.
This tells me your not actually reading what I posted. Here, let me post it again and then break it down for you:

The quality of the GSOVG's headquarters and staff in 1948 and 1949 was rather high. The mass demobilization process had been completed early in the post-war period. Older age soldiers and the wounded and sick had been retired and returned to their homes in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, there were many young veterans of World War II in Soviet forces who had been called up for service during the final period of the war and who possessed considerable combat experience. The GSOVG's officer cadre was of high quality since almost all of them had extensive combat experience. Only the lieutenants and senior lieutenants who had graduated from military schools during 1944 and 1945 had not taken part in wartime operations. Marshal Sokolovsky, Marshal V. I. Chuikov (the hero of Stalingrad and Sokolovsky's successor in the post of GSOVG commander-in-chief), Colonel General S. P. Ivanov (hero of the Far East in 1945), and other senior leaders in the GSOVG belonged among the elite command cadre of the Soviet Armed Forces. In addition, most field exercises and combat training in GSOVG were conducted on the basis of World War II combat experience. In the post-war years this training was starkly realistic.
As anyone with two eyes and basic reading comprehension can tell you, Victor Gobarev discusses the condition of the general personnel, stating that the "older age soldier and wounded and sick had been retired" and that the soldiers who remained the constituted "many young veterans of World War II in Soviet forces who had been called up for service during the final period of the war and who possessed considerable combat experience". He then discusses the quality of the officer corps specifically, noting that only the very late war junior officer graduates would lack any sort of experience. He discusses the senior officer component. And then he finally ends the paragraph discussing the quality of training. Although I didn't quote it, in a later paragraph he also states:

During research for this article, I analyzed thousands of pages out of the hundreds of documents located in the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense in Podol'sk concerning the files of the GSOVG's armies and divisions. The contents of these documents indicate the following. During the Berlin crisis the internal life and state of the GSOVG did not undergo significant changes. Ordinary combat training went on as it had occurred in 1946 and 1947. For example, Order No. 087 of the GSOVG Commander-in-Chief dealt with GSOVG combat training during the summer period (June-November) of 1948. Topics mandated for training and military exercises during the critical months of the Berlin blockade included tactical and operational-tactical offensive operations, the repulsion of enemy counterattacks, fighting against enemy forces which had driven a wedge into Soviet combat lines, and similar routine topics.
Karber and Combs note that western forces in west Germany actually witnessed a number of Soviet East Germany exercises in the winter of 1947-48, reporting multi-division military training maneuvers and division-scale airborne assault exercises. There is also the actual deployment of Soviet forces during the Berlin Blockade, which all indicated a high degree of readiness:

All of this took on a different cast on 24 June 1948 when the Soviets not only closed the ground access to Berlin but deployed the forces of the Third Shock and Eighth Guards Armies in combat order. Virtually overnight, with speed, professionalism, and what must have been extensive covert planning and prior preparation, the Soviets had sent eight combat ready divisions to assembly areas on the border. The Soviets now had more ready forces in the area between the Elbe and the inner German border than the West had between them and the Rhine.
And I already addressed the limitations of your source in terms of how it supports your claim:

There is also nothing in there about the Soviets suffering any kind of problems in terms of training and combat cohesion: the discipline issues he describes throughout the book are only as they relate to the soldiers treatment of the civilian population.
As an aside, you are flatly wrong about the condition of the Western Allies, who were critically short on experienced officer personnel, as the demobilization history I linked too earlier discusses and as the poor performance of the US Army in the early stages of Korea would reveal. There's a reason Ridgeway had to clear out around 2/3rds of the junior officer corps of the 8th Army as unfit when he took command in 1951.

Finally, as I noted earlier, there is nothing about confining troops to the bases that would prevent military training. Military garrisons are where training happens, after all.
 
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