Army Service Forces

The Army Service Forces was one of the three autonomous components of the United States Army during World War II, the others being the Army Air Forces and Army Ground Forces, created on 9 March 1942. By dividing the Army into three large commands, the Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, drastically reduced the number of officers and agencies reporting directly to him. The Army Service Forces brought together elements of five different components of the Army: elements of the War Department General Staff (WDGS), especially its G-4 division (responsible for logistics); the Office of the Under Secretary of War; the eight administrative bureaus; the nine corps areas, which became service commands; and the six supply arms and services, which became known as the technical services. The Army Service Forces was initially known as the United States Army Services of Supply but the name was changed on 12 March 1943, as it was felt that the term "supply" did not accurately describe the broad range of its activities. The Army Service Forces was abolished on 11 June 1946 and most of its functions were taken over by the War Department General Staff.

Army Service Forces
Army Service Forces Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
Active9 March 1942 – 11 June 1946
CountryUnited States
Branch United States Army

For most of its existence, the Army Service Forces was commanded by General Brehon B. Somervell, with Lieutenant General Wilhelm D. Styer as his chief of staff. After Styer left for the Pacific, he was succeeded by Major General LeRoy Lutes on 18 April 1945. Brigadier General Lucius D. Clay was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements and Resources, and as such he was responsible for the development of the Army Supply Program, the operation of the Lend-Lease program, and liaison with the War Production Board concerning the allocation of raw materials. Although he had his own logistics staff in the G-4 division of the War Department General Staff, it was to Somervell and Styer that Marshall turned to for advice on logistical matters, and it was Somervell who attended the important wartime conferences.

Six supply arms and services became part of the new organization: the Corps of Engineers, Signal Corps, Ordnance Department, Quartermaster Corps, Chemical Warfare Service and the Medical Department. They were designated "supply services" in April 1942, and "technical services" in April 1943. A seventh technical service, the Transportation Corps, was created in July 1942. The technical services developed military equipment, manufactured or purchased it, stored it in depots, maintained and repaired it, and issued it to the troops. Each had its own budget, and together they accounted for half of the Army's appropriations.

The service commands were the field agencies of the ASF. There were initially nine of these, each responsible for a different geographical region. In August 1942 the Military District of Washington also assumed the status of a service command. The Northwest Service Command was created in September 1942. It was responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Alaska Highway, the operation of the railway between Skagway, Alaska and Whitehorse, and the Canol Project. Army installations in the continental United States that were placed directly under the service commands included recruiting stations, induction and reception centers, repair shops, enemy alien and prisoner of war camps, medical and dental laboratories, Reserve Officers' Training Corps units, dispensaries, finance offices, disciplinary barracks and named general hospitals except for the Walter Reed General Hospital.

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