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25 Mar 2011
Problems of Subordinate Commands
While sufficient supplies were on hand within the Southwest Pacific Area to provide assault units with almost all the materials they needed for initial operations, some shortages did exist which could not be filled prior to the assault. Other logistic difficulties were caused by the rather hurried organization of the task forces and by the fact that units assigned to the operation were scattered all over the eastern part of the theater. The RECKLESS Task Force G-4 complained that many units scheduled to engage in the operation were assigned to the task force so late that it was nearly impossible to ascertain their supply shortages. General Krueger had originally approved a plan to make the task force responsible only for the supply of units specifically assigned to it. But the task force was later ordered to assure completeness and serviceability of supplies and equipment of
all units scheduled to be controlled by the task force at Hollandia, whenever assigned.
In order to carry out its broad supply duties, the RECKLESS Task Force G-4 Section decentralized responsibility for the supply and equipment of various attached units to the headquarters' Special Staff Sections of corresponding services. This step, which speeded communication between the task force headquarters and the scattered attached units, made possible quick and accurate determination of shortages and insured that steps would be taken to fill requisitions from attached organizations. Nevertheless, because so many units were assigned to the task force quite late, the Ordnance Section declared that determination of numerous ammunition shortages could be made only on "suspicion
Another means by which the RECKLESS Task Force solved some of its logistic problems was to make minor modifications in the Tables of Equipment and Basic Allowances of various units assigned or attached to the task force. ALAMO Force approved this step only on the condition that such changes would not materially affect unit tonnage and space requirements, thereby creating a need for more shipping space or causing major last-minute changes in loading plans.
Subordinate units of the RECKLESS Task Force had their own supply problems. On 8 March, with little more than a week's notice, the 41st Division had to begin moving from Australia to Cape Cretin, New Guinea, where it was to stage for Hollandia. On such short notice a good portion of the division's supply shortages could not be filled on the Australian mainland. The division sent liaison officers to Services of Supply headquarters, to ALAMO Force headquarters, and to Services of Supply forward bases in New Guinea to find out where shortages could be filled and to start the movement of necessary items to Cape Cretin. Most shortages were filled without undue difficulty from New Guinea bases, but there was a permanent shortage of wheeled vehicles. The 41st Division had no 2½-ton 6 x 6 trucks and only 50 percent of other authorized vehicles. Some vehicles were supplied in New Guinea, but the fulfillment of authorized allowances had to await post-assault shipment.
The 24th Division, staging at Goodenough Island, had especial difficulty in procuring certain types of ammunition. The division was unable to procure enough 2.36-inch bazooka rockets to build its stocks to the prescribed level of five units of fire. Theater stocks of bazooka rockets were so low that the success of future operations might have been jeopardized if all those available were issued for the Hollandia-Aitape attacks. Therefore, only three units of fire of the 2.36-inch rockets could be issued to the 24th Division itself and only two units of fire to attached units.
Some lots of 60-mm. mortar ammunition supplied to the 24th Division were found to be defective--a condition which obtained for a large portion of theater stocks of this item. The division was advised that it would have to use the 60-mm. ammunition issued and that the defective lots were not to be fired over the heads of friendly troops.73 One regiment of the division was initially short of both 60-mm. and 81-mm. mortar shells. Most of these shortages were made up from stocks in Services of Supply bases in New Guinea, and the shells were shipped to Goodenough Island by small craft. The remainder was shipped by air from these bases or Australia to Goodenough just in time to be loaded on the 24th Division assault convoy.
Like the RECKLESS Task Force, the 24th Division was not made responsible for the supply of many attached units until late in March. Some of these units had difficulty obtaining needed supplies and equipment, although they made efforts to fulfill their requirements. General Irving, the division commander, felt so strongly about the difficulties of attached units that he requested investigation of the failure on the part of some Services of Supply bases to provide spare parts and maintenance supplies for attached artillery and tank units. Spare parts for artillery mounts, tractors, and tanks were ultimately located at various Services of Supply installations and shipped to Goodenough. However, all the desired spare parts for engineer and ordnance equipment could not be found before the division left its staging area, and provision had to be made to ship such items to the objective on resupply convoys.
The PERSECUTION Task Force had few separate logistic problems. The principal assault element of the task force was the 163d Infantry of the 41st Division, and that regiment's supply problems were solved along with those of the division. The 167th Field Artillery Battalion, which was to support the 163d Infantry at Aitape, had some difficulties. Because of the shortage of shipping space, the battalion's organic transportation could not all be sent forward on assault convoys. The unit's radio and wire would therefore have to be manhandled at the objective, and liaison and fire control parties attached to the battalion were to be without their usual transportation.