Often historical events are recorded with the benefit of perfect hindsight. That is, the way events end are often considered to have been the way they begun. David J. Ulbrich examined a portion of the Commandancy of Lieutenant General Thomas Holcomb from 1936 to 1943 to illustrate this. When Holcomb took over the Marine Corps it numbered 17,239 officers and men. The Fleet Marine Force consisted of two brigades of 1,500 men, with no heavy artillery or armor, and about nine squadrons of aircraft. When Holcomb left, the Corps had expanded to 309,559 men and women, with four amphibious divisions, 15 independent battalions, and four aircraft wings. When the war ended in 1945, 485,053 Marines staffed six divisions and five aircraft wings. This exceeded the vision and planning that started the conflict and provided the foundation for today's Marine Corps and its place in the defense establishment.
Thomas Holcomb and the Advent of the Marine Corps Defense Battalions, 1936-1941 examines what General Holcomb had to begin with in this expansion and how he administered and managed the largest Marine Corps increase. Defense Battalions serve as the case study for this examination as they occupied a significant place in the strategic priorities of Holcomb and the Marine Corps during the pre-war era. It is Mr. Ulbrich's contention that Holcomb, more than any other Marine, guided the Corps' World War II mobilization and then directed its participation during that conflict. He functioned as a leader, manager, pub heist, and strategist Holcomb, Ulbrich notes, deserves much credit for forging the modern seaborne service that helped defeat Japan in the Pacific and later distinguished itself during the Cold War.
Introduction * Chapter 1 * Advanced Base Theory To Reality, 1898-1939 * Introduction * Selling Base Defense Theory To The Corps And The Navy * Advanced Base Defense Theory Takes Shape * World War I Impact On The Corps And Base Defense * Strategic And Fiscal Ramifications Of World War I * The "Orange" Plan And Its Significance For The Corps * The Great Depression * Effects Of The 1932 Election On The Corps * Formation Of The Fleet Marine Force * Holcomb's Appointment As Major General Commandant * Relations With The Public And Congress * Culmination Of Base Defense Theory: The Defense Battalion * Conclusion * Chapter 2 * The Turning Point, 1939-1940 * Introduction * Frugality In The Corps During The 1930s * International Tensions And Creation Of The Rainbow Plans * Bureaucratic And Fiscal Problems * Expansion Fostered By Outbreak Of World War Ii * Marine Reactions To War * More Expansion * Holcomb's Management Style * Growing Pains * War In Europe Worsens * Ramifications For Defense Battalions * The 1940 Election And The Shift In Public Opinion * Conclusion * Chapter 3 * The Race For Preparedness, 1941 * Introduction * New War Plans Affect The Corps * Equipment And Personnel Inadequacies * Meeting The Challenges * Publicity And Recruitment * Development Of Defense Battalions, January To July 1941 * Barbarossa's Ramifications For The Corps * "Are We Ready"-Iii * Evidence Of The Defense Battalion's Significance * Lack Of Readiness In November And December, 1941 * Conclusion * Conclusion And Epilogue * Appendix 1 * Commandants Of The Marine Corps 1891-1947 * Appendix 2 * Strength Of The Marine Corps 1895-1945 * Appendix 3 * Expenditures By The Marine Corps, 1933-1943 * Appendix 4 * Rainbow Plans * Appendix 5 * Marine Distribution Effective 30 November 1941 * Bibliography * Primary Sources * Secondary Sources * Note