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Mobilizing Manpower and Industry

“Before the end it was found necessary to establish a very comprehensive scheme of control over the entire industrial life of the Nation, and indeed toward the end control was extending beyond our borders to every part of the world from which war supplies were drawn.”
    —Bernard M. Baruch, American Industry in the War: A Report of the War Industries Board, March 1921



Military mobilization means assembling and organizing troops, supplies, and equipment for war. In World War I, the scope of mobilization expanded beyond all previous experience. Producing and distributing the vast amounts of supplies, equipment, and munitions required by armies of millions across Europe became a central goal of war-making.

New terms like “total war” and “home front” testified to the new importance of industrial capacity and to the extension of military control over much of civilian life. As more officers became rear-echelon managers rather than front-line leaders, they increasingly saw their goal as outlasting rather than outmaneuvering the enemy.

These European developments prodded West Pointers into thinking about mobilization and how to accomplish it in the United States. From 1914 to 1917 planning centered in the War Department under chiefs of staff Hugh L. Scott (Class of 1876) and Tasker H. Bliss (1875).



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Hugh Samuel Johnson




Key Figures






Hugh Samuel Johnson
Hugh Samuel Johnson
1882–1942
Class of 1903



Hugh Lenox Scott
Hugh Lenox Scott
1853–1934
Class of 1876



Enoch Herbert Crowder
Enoch Herbert Crowder
1859–1932
Class of 1881





Smithsonian National Museum of American History


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West Point in History Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Mobilizing Manpower and Industry Supplying the Army America at War