443rd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion in World War II

ITALIAN CAMPAIGN

DIVISION AND AAA (SP) BATTALION RELATIONSHIPS

General Walker of the 36th Infantry Division requested Lt. Col. Larson to draw up a response to a memorandum he had received from the 71st MA Brigade regarding, "Advantages of Attaching an AAA (SP) Battalion to a Division", instead of being used by the Brigade in area defense. On 13 February Lt. Col.

Larson sent his report to General Walker. In brief he stated that:

The advantages of attaching an AAA (SP) Battalion to a Division for unit defense instead of being used in area defense by an AAA Brigade are as follows:

1. AAA Advisor and Coordinator. The Division Commander needs an AAA Advisor and Coordinator of all AAA defense of his units and installations. This can only be accomplished by having an AAA (SP) Battalion directly attached to the Division. As part of the Division’s Special Staff the AAA (SP) Battalion Commander becomes Division AAA Officer, totally responsible to the Division Commander for control and coordination of all AAA in the Division as well as protection of all Division elements, based upon tactical priorities. In area defense, attached to a Brigade, this is not possible.

2. ADEQUATE AAA PROTECTION.

a. Normally, one AAA (SP) Battalion is sufficient to protect a Division.

b. An AAA (SP) platoon, attached to a Division unit, keeps in contact with the unit commander, shares in reconnaisance, plans and action and draws support from the unit.

c. Infantry in combat, tanks and tank-destroyers do not need AAA protection.

3. TIMELY, CURRENT INFORMATION Attached to a Division, an AAA (SP) unit receives current, up-to-the-minute information needed in planning and operations. For security reasons, Divisions are reluctant to give certain information to unattached units.

4. REDUCTION OF VEHICULAR TRAFFIC. Relating AAA (SP) platoons to Division units has simplified supply and messing and reduced the number of AAA supply vehicles in forward areas, thus relieving road congestion.

5. MESSING. The advantages of an AAA platoon being able to mess with the unit it is protecting include assurances of balanced and well-prepared meals and proper sanitation and sterilization of equipment.

6. COMMUNICATION. Radio channels are already overloaded and cannot be used for all the administrative functions of a battalion. The current T/O & E does not authorize an AAA (SP) unit any wire for communications. The Battalion (and its units) is dependent upon some unit, such as a Division, to lay wire and permit switchboard hookup. Wire is essential for AAAIS as well as administration.

7. ADMINISTRATION. Administration is handled more effectively and efficiently through an operating Division than through AAA channels. It eliminates divided authority and duplication of effort.

8. SUPPLY. The Division is better able to provide supplies to its attached units than is a Brigade. Divisions take care of organic and attached units equally.

9. RECREATION. An AAA (SP) unit, attached to a Division, enjoys all the recreational and special services provided to the organic units.

10. FUNCTION OF AAA (SP) BATTALIONS.

a. The mobility and fire power of an AAA (SB) Battalion is ideal for front-line operations in any terrain and in fast-moving situations against low, bombing, strafing and diving planes. Towed AAA weapons are more adapted to static situations.

b. AAA (SP) Battalion and Battery commanders exercise all the tactical functions and operational control in coordination with the Division and its units. This would be less efficiently done if complicated by more layering of administration such as would result from AAA Brigade control. The AAA (SP) commanders supervise units by radio and field contact from forward command posts.

c. The Division directs priorities of AAA protection for its units and for its operations but AAA (SP) command exercises tactical control over AAA units. Brigade attachment would not support this relationship.

11. COOPERATION AND UNDERSTANDING. Attachment of an AAA (SP) Battalion over a period of time assures development of mutual understanding of capabilities, function and tactics among commanders of the Division and its units and the AAA (SP) unit. The resulting close contact and cooperation is essential to successful operations. The AAA (SB) unit, to make the most of such relationships, should remain attached to a Division at least through an entire campaign. The AAA (SP) unit will identify itself with the Division and share in its accomplishments, its morale and its esprit de corps.

(Lt. Col. Larson noted that the above memorandum to Division Commander Walker, for transmission to Brigade Headquarters and thence to the AAA Officer Fifth Army, probably jeopardized any chances of promotion in Regular Army Antiaircraft. But he was quite certain of the validity of his analysis).

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