Whenever you hear government or business leaders talking about how hard they work or the various challenges they face, consider what General John J. Pershing had to deal with to prepare the American army for its 1917 participation in the First World War:
- The American army only had 127,588 men. The National Guard had 80,446 men. [Those numbers were minuscule compared to the casualties that the British and French were suffering in single battles.] A draft would be needed.
- The initial planning indicated that one million soldiers would be needed. This turned out to be around half the number that was eventually deployed.
- Huge amounts of training were needed for the troops while they were in the United States and once they got overseas.
- Prior to the war, President Wilson had interrupted army planning for a possible war with Germany.
- Only 55 military airplanes existed and all were used for training. There were few pilots.
- No large scale American industries existed to produce weapons and shells.
- Radios and machine guns were rare.
- Supply resources, such as trucks, were scarce.
- There was an inadequate General Staff. A new one needed to be organized.
- There were limited ways to transport large numbers of troops over waters patrolled by German submarines.
- The housing and feeding of the troops once they arrived in France had not been determined.
- Communication lines needed to be established.
- Intelligence operations needed to be expanded.
- Coordination with the British and French allies had not been done. The allies wanted the Americans blended into their units and under their command. That was strongly opposed by the Americans.
- The front line sector which the Americans would cover had not been determined.
- They would be fighting one of the best armies in the world.
By the way, in 1915, while Pershing was at Fort Bliss in Texas, his wife, son and three daughters were in San Francisco. Their house caught on fire. Only the young son survived.
[For a quick and interesting read, check out Pershing by Jim Lacey.]