The US mobilization effort focused on industry producing massive amounts of war goods including arms, ammunition, ships, tanks, jeeps and airplanes and employed as many people as possible including women to work in factories. The US Mobilization for WW2 included adopting policies such as the Cost-Plus Contracts to encourage industries to convert to war production to produce materials and vehicles as quickly as possible. US Mobilization for WW2 included the Selective Service and Training Act (draft) and the training and deployment of troops.
US Mobilization for WW2
The United States entered WW2 on December 8, 1941 when it declared war on Japan following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The nation needed to quickly mobilize its economy and military forces to fight in WW2.
The US mobilization effort focused on industry producing massive amounts of war goods including arms, ammunition, ships, tanks and warplanes.
The US government had begun to mobilize the economy before the country had entered the war, aware of the threat posed to the nation through the aggressive and expansionist policies of the Axis powers (Italy, Germany and Japan).
The Neutrality Act of 1939 had ended the US arms embargo in favor of supplying Great Britain and France with arms and ammunition. And the Lend-Lease Act was enacted on March 11, 1941 as "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States".
In May 6, 1940 President Roosevelt had said to Congress that no nation could be too strong and demanded means to stop any war maker "before he can establish strong bases within the territory of American vital interests." He asked for money for at least 50,000 planes and a much bigger Army and Navy. Congress agreed and FDR got the money.
The U.S. government realized that victory the war was dependent on a nation's industrial power and was willing to spend as much money as needed to win the war. The federal budget increased from $8.9 billion in 1939 to over $95 billion in 1945.
Massive war spending saw the end of the Great Depression as war mobilization brought full employment as factories hired anyone they could find. Housewives joined the labor force and students quit school. Millions joined the wartime labor force and others joined the military
To pay for the war, huge sums were raised by taxes. The whole cost of the war came to nearly 300 billion dollars.
The US government provided incentives to industry to encourage and convert to war production and produce war materials and vehicles as quickly as possible.
Companies providing military equipment were no longer required to bid for government contracts as the process was too slow. Instead the government signed Cost-Plus Contracts.
In Cost-Plus Contracts contract the contractor was paid for development and whatever it cost to make a product plus additional payment to allow for a profit. Under the Cost-Plus system the more a company made and the speed it produced the goods resulted in more more money to be made.
In addition to the Cost-Plus system the government gave new powers to the Reconstruction Finance Company (RFC) to provide loans to companies to help cover the cost of converting to war production
By the summer of 1942 nearly all major industries and nearly 200,000 companies had converted to war production. FDR established the War Production Board (WPB) to control the distribution of supplies and raw materials. In 1943 he established the Office of War Mobilization (OWM) to coordinate all government agencies involved in the war effort.
The automobile industry stopped making cars and started to produce jeeps, military trucks, tanks, arms, mines, helmets, aircraft and various other types of military equipment.
Henry Ford built a new factory Willow Run airport near Detroit to produce B-24 bombers on an assembly line (had never been done before). By 1944 the US airplane industry would become the largest single manufacturing industry in the world.
Henry J. Kaiser introduced mass production techniques to shipbuilding and his shipyards were famous for producing Liberty Ships. By 1944 2,100 merchant ships were constructed.
Liberty ships were welded instead of riveted which made them cheaper, faster to build, easier to repair and harder to sink than riveted ships.
Thousands of American women of all ages rolled up their sleeves and went to work in shipyards, factories and defense plants.
A fictional character called Rosie the Riveter was created by the government War Manpower Commission and used in posters and war propaganda to get women to help in the war effort.
Patterns of employment shifted as married women joined the workforce. In 1941 there were 14.6 million working women. By 1944 the figure had soared to nearly 20 million working women, most earned 50% less than men in wages..
Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27% to nearly 37%, and by 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home
Women also joined the military and 350,000 women served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WW2 both at home and abroad. A further 68,000 women served as nurses in the navy and the army.
Congress established the Women's Army Corps (WAC) although they were barred from combat. The Womenís Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) became the first women to fly American military aircraft. In the US Navy there were Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES)
A strong sense of patriotism and participation in the war effort engulfed the nation and labor and business representatives agreed to no strikes or lockouts.
On June 25, 1941 Executive Order 8802 was signed by President Roosevelt to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry. The executive order was issued in response to pressure from civil rights activists A. Philip Randolph and Walter White
There was a wartime struggle against Jim Crow segregation and the "Double V" Campaign was launched by the Pittsburgh Courier, a leading African-American newspaper, spurred by the U.S. crusade against Nazism.
The "Double V" Campaign encouraged African Americans to participate at every level in winning the war abroad, while simultaneously fighting for their civil rights at home. The "Double V" stood for 'Double Victory - victory over Hitler's racism abroad and victory over racism at home
More than 2.5 million African Americans registered for the draft when World War II began; 1 million served.
Congress introduced the Selective Service and Training Act on September 16, 1940 that required that men between the ages of 21 and 35 register with local draft boards. After the US entered World War II, a new selective service act made men between 18 and 45 liable for military service and required all men between 18 and 65 to register.
The US Military remained segregated and African-Americans were initially assigned to non-combat positions (read the story of Doris "Dorie" Miller).
FDR directed the army to put African Americans into combat. Distinguished African American units included the Tuskegee Airmen, the 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion and the 761st Tank Battalion. The US Military was fully integrated in 1948
On the Home Front there were shortages of many basic items, such as meat, coffee, sugar and gasoline. Conserving resources such as scrap metal, rubber and gasoline drew the nation into the war effort. Cooking fats were saved to make powder for bullets.
Rationing began in 1942 when meat, butter, sugar, coffee, gas and shoes were all put on ration. There was also a shortage of cloth as this was required to make the soldier's uniforms. The length of skirts and dresses were shortened and and vests, pockets and cuffs were eliminated from menís suits
The total amount of war materials produced in the United States by 1945 was staggering and astounded the rest of the world. U.S. factories had made hundreds of thousands of trucks and jeeps, 296,000 warplanes, 86,000 tanks, 64,000 landing ships, 6000 navy vessels and millions of guns
American war production turned the tide in favor of the Allies. US mobilization for WW2 played a major part in the outcome of the war and victory for the Allied Forces.
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