18. Draftees arriving at training centers still faced shortages in 1941
The draft allowed the Army to amass manpower in 1941, before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it still faced shortages in practically everything needed to equip, train, and feed the new recruits. American industry had begun to focus on war production, thanks to Lend-Lease, but it was a mere fraction of what was required. What supplies were produced were necessarily first needed at advance bases to prepare for defense; the Canal Zone, the Philippines, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Wake Island, and others. New recruits arriving at training centers received haircuts, inoculations, uniforms, and little else. Weapons for training recruits were, in 1941, often unserviceable. Uniforms were poorly fitted, mostly leftover from the First World War. The same applied to boots and shoes. Recruits in 1941 trained with obsolete equipment, some of which were leftover from the Spanish-American War.
Nowhere was the Army’s lack of preparedness more readily apparent than in Washington DC in December 1941. Following the Pearl Harbor attack officers working in Washington, offices were required to appear in uniform. Some of them had not worn their uniform, other than the full-dress used for formal affairs, in decades. According to David Brinkley, who witnessed it firsthand, in the second week of December Army officers appeared in a collection of different uniforms, most out-of-date for years, such as choker collar tunics, leggings and gaiters, riding pants and boots, Sam Browne belts, a variety of caps and hats, all in varying shades of green, gray, brown, and khaki. Obtaining up-to-date uniforms had been impossible on short notice, and many turned to private tailors or the Woodward and Lothrop Department Store for new uniforms as the weeks went on.