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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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