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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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Civil-Military Meteorological Organization, Advantages and Disadvantages.-Perhaps the most important consideration in regard to the question of militarization of the Weather Bureau is the effect on conversion to war and reconversion to peace. If the national meteorological service were made a part of one of the military services, it is likely that the all-out war effort would result in a weakening of the weather services to a point far below prewar standards, making it ineffective in supporting the effort to win the peace, and bring conditions to normal.

In World War II, the Weather Bureau continued to operate as a civilian organization. If there is any serious criticism of the subdivision of meteorological activities into military and civilian in World War II, it is that the civilian organization, at least during the early stages of the war, was limited in its actual operations more than it should have been. This is true of other phases of the war effort as well as weather. An example will illustrate the problem. It was generally recognized that during the invasion of Italy and later the invasion of France, the United States was losing the peace almost as fast as it was winning the war. The Germans were wrecking and rendering impotent the economy and governments of the countries they were abandoning, causing black markets and arousing the specter of famine. The military authorities were not able to deal effectively with this problem and the support of civilian experts in taking over these problems was inadequate and too slow. This was true in meteorological matters. The military forces invaded, set up temporary meteorological facilities, and moved on. Civilian meteorological personnel, while they may not be trained in military meteorology, are nevertheless more competent to continue weather service in the occupied countries after the military forces move on. The military forces should not be expected to scatter their efforts by continuing to maintain meteorological services once the requirements for these services become largely civil.

As this report is written, a large number of important meteorological stations are being closed in various parts of the world before the national meteorological services in the countries concerned can resume normal activities. The Weather Bureau lacks authority and funds to follow in behind the military service and hold on until the occupied or affected countries take over. Of course, no one expected that the need for such assistance would become so great. It was assumed that there would be a carefully planned deactivation and return of military personnel to the United States; but in a democracy it is usually the case that demobilization is accomplished for political rather than military or economic reasons. The fact remains that if civilian employees had been assigned to fill in behind the military forces as they moved on, it would have been readily possible to complete the international arrangements necessary to continue the stations on a permanent basis.

No matter how carefully the military program is planned, in time of peace it is subject to legislative action. History shows that the longer we continue in a status of peace the smaller and more inefficient our military forces are likely to become. As an illustration of this point bearing directly on meteorology, in 1941 the Army Central Weather Office in Washington included one captain, one clerk and one stenographer. It is quite obvious that in the face of war the expansion of a unit of this size to meet the situation must depend on the national civilian meteorological service.

When war ends, and people return to normal pursuits, the national weather service is capable of reconverting the weather program to peacetime requirements at a time when it is most vitally needed. In practical administration it can hardly be expected that leadership in a single integrated organization can be found capable of directing a weather service to the maximum war effort and at the same time maintaining an efficient and convertible organization for peacetime weather service.

There are, of course some disadvantages in having a civilian organization. By the very nature of things there is reluctance to trust the civilian organization with the confidential and secret information which is available to members of the armed services. To a certain extent this leaves the civilian organization less fully informed as to the objectives of any particular war effort, and there is a certain amount of ineffective work. Furthermore, the military organization is more flexible; its members can be moved around and the hours of duty can be adjusted more readily to meet emergencies. However, this is more than offset by the fact that these civilian employees, if they were to be placed in the Army and Navy, would have to be trained in certain aspects of military meteorology, otherwise the military meteorological organization would not be any more flexible than the civilian. The time required for the training might more than offset any loss of efficiency due to inflexibility of the civilian organization.

The above remarks are in no manner to be considered a criticism of military arrangements during the war. The Weather Bureau was given opportunity to participate in the meteorological working foreign territory and in war theaters insofar as it was able with the personnel available. No greater participation would have been possible without advance planning and legislation which would have permitted the Weather Bureau to prepare in advance for a larger share of the work in foreign fields. As the war proceeded the Weather Bureau was given an increasing share of responsibility, and effective liaison and security measures were adopted to insure progress without undue handicaps.

For many years there has been frequent discussion of the administrative merits of a single meteorological agency incorporating all military and civil meteorological organizations as distinguished from the independent branches used by the United States during World War II. From the professional and scientific points of view consolidation into one organization would have advantages. Among other things it would allay suspicions of competition and duplication. But it is doubtful that such an organization is the most effective means of developing the maximum usefulness of weather information in a war effort. Certainly when war calls for enormous expansion as it required in the United States during 1940-1945, there are large advantages in having a quasi-independent and specialized meteorological organization in each major military branch-Army, Navy, and Air Force, in addition to the basic national weather service under the Weather Bureau. Coordination was accomplished during the war through the Joint Meteorological Committee and there was relatively little wasteful duplication. In fact, integration of meteorological plans and operations through this Committee is an outstanding example of effective interdepartmental cooperation, and there is good reason to believe that overall meteorological applications were more fully developed than would have been the case under a single administration of the form used in a number of other countries. It is generally agreed that American meteorological services were more highly developed and better than those found in any other country.

This report can only outline the activities and administrative relationships of the Weather Bureau's role in World War II. There were many important projects and many far-reaching arrangements that could be described in detail from the proceedings of the Joint Meteorological Committee and related records in the files of the Bureau. The significance of wartime developments in advancing the science of meteorology and extending the services of applied meteorology have only been briefly reported here. These developments have been very great and their total import will be apparent only in the years to come.



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