The below paper is a historical reflection on one of the factors I believe contributed to the success of post-conflict operations during and after World War II. Obviously there is not a direct link to Phase IV operations in either Iraq or Afghanistan. However, I think recognizing that a) the U.S. Army did a very good job with the post WWII occupation and military government missions, and 2) that it was no accident, but rather was largely a function of very smart army officers recognizing the requirement, understanding the scope and demensions of the task, and then putting resources, talent, and time toward mission accomplishment. The paper doesn’t suggest how to conduct current Phase IV operations or how to ensure we address them adequently in the future. However, by highlighting that WWII success was a function of operational expereince, professional military education, and mentoring, it suggests what preconditions might need to exist for the U.S. Army to better understand and execute Phase IV operations in the future.
Occupation Army: Institutional Culture and Successful U.S. Occupation Operations in WWII
The successful post-World War II economic revitalization and political transformation of both Germany and Japan are virtually without precedent in the history of warfare. However, almost no agreement exists regarding the credit for these successes. The historiography assigns credit to a variety of factors ranging from the unique character of the German and Japanese people, to the brilliance of General MacArthur, to the magnanimous of the Marshall Plan. This paper will argue that one of the major reasons for the success of post-conflict operations after World War II was an institutional culture within the U.S. Army that recognized and accepted the absolute criticality of effective post-combat operations to strategic success. U.S. Army leaders understood that the measure of long-term battlefield success was the ability of the U.S. to shape a favorable post-conflict political environment, and that the army had a vital if not central role in that effort. This understanding was the result of eighty years of institutional experience in which post-conflict operations and related tasks were an accepted mission. The army’s history helped foster a culture wherein leaders like Marshall, MacArthur, and Eisenhower placed priority, devoted robust resources, and conducted detailed planning for the occupation of Germany and Japan. .
The U.S. Army that entered World War II had a distinct culture, which the regular army officer corps most dramatically represented. The army’s organizational culture evolved from several factors. The army’s history was a strong influence on the culture. Also, the interpersonal relationships between army officers and their mentors, friends, and family which ensured that the history was passed from generation to generation was a critical factor. Another factor that effected the culture was the professional education and operational experiences of army officers, particularly in the interwar years. Examining the careers of three key figures in World War II military occupation operations, George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur, demonstrates how the components of institutional culture combined to contribute to the success of Army occupation operations in Germany and Japan during and after World War II.
Read the Rest of the Paper Here.
Book review of two pretty good general works on the important general officers of the occupation era: “Not the President’s Men.”