PROCEEDINGS OF THE SMART INQUIRY
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11TH, 1946
The examination met at 9 a. m.
General Thomas C. Smart, U. S. Army, Retired, examining officer and his counsel and assistant counsel.
Major Charles O. Manner. U. S. Army Reserve, took seat as reporter and was warned that the oath previously taken was still binding.
The examining officer decided to postpone the reading of the record of proceedings of the eighteenth day of the examination until such time as it shall be reported ready, and in the meantime to proceed with the examination.
No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were present.
A witness called by the examining officer entered and was informed of the subject matter of the examination as set forth in the preface to the testimony of Col. W. W. Smith,
Record Page 32.
The witness was duly sworn.
Examined by the examining officer:
1. Q. What is your name, rank, and present station?
A. Major Charles O. Manner. U. S. Army Reserve.
2. Q. What duties were you performing during early 1946?
A. Performing the duties of Aviation Aide to the General, Fourteenth Army District West German.
3. Q. That was General Poch?
A. Yes sir.
4. Q. Did the Commander-in-Chief, Occupation Forces German, at that time, feel that the units of his Command were ready to carry out their tasks?
A. He undoubtedly recognized many weaknesses and strenuous efforts were being made to improve the efficiency of both materiel and personnel. Perhaps no Commander is ever completely satisfied of his complete readiness to fight, but certainly he felt that a fairly high standard of efficiency was being developed. There were large numbers of green officers and men, and the complements of most, if not all, units were lower than was to be desired. The anti-aircraft batteries were, in general, far weaker than we desired, and they were being improved as rapidly as material could be made available. There was much concern over lack of radars and the requisite skill in their use. There was also weaknesses in certain aircraft and some difficulties were experienced with patrol planes; engines, I believe. The lack of skilled crews in the patrol planes and the lack of replacement crews was very keenly felt. Transports and artillery were lacking; and there were disturbing deficiencies in armor and in some materials. Notwithstanding matters of this sort, however, it was felt that the handicaps were not too great to cope with such situations, as were envisaged as arising if war commenced.
13. Q. Did you, at that time, sir, concur in the views of the Commander-in-Chief as you have expressed them?
A. Yes, and it may be that in answering the preceding questions that I have erred somewhat toward giving my own views rather than those of General Poch, although they were probably substantially in accord. He was inclined to be somewhat more pessimistic in that regard than myself.
A. We certainly felt that there was much to be done and all hands were working very hard to overcome deficiencies. I believe that, in general, suitable representations had been made to higher authority and that the Commander-in-Chief and his subordinates were taking all corrective measures that they felt within their own power to accomplish. It is doubtful if any were entirely satisfied with the rapidity of progress.
15. Q. Major, going back to the basic Pincher war plan, what was your opinion at the time as to how that plan contemplated that war with the Soviet Union would start?
A. The plan itself may not, probably did not, directly give such an indication, but it certainly must have contemplated that such a war would probably not have been preceded by a formal declaration but rather that it would arise from such hostile attack on the part of the Soviets.
16. Q. In estimating the situation with respect to the West Germany, was a surprise air attack on what are now the NATO forces considered as a course of action available to the Soviets to initiate such a war?
A. Probably not. At least, I, as War Plans Officer, did not hold such a view with respect to Western Germany, although I did consider such an act possible in Iran or even against Korea. It may have been that such a possibility was discussed with the Commander-in-Chief or with other members of the Staff. Probably some such discussions may have taken place, although I have no specific recollection of such a one.
17. Q. Do you recall that during this planning period any consideration was given to the efficiency of the Soviet ground and air forces?
A. Yes. While specific data was lacking, I, and I believe others within the Staff, felt that there was a rather high degree of proficiency in Soviet air organization on a tactical level.
18. Q. Do you recall any discussion as to the ability of the Soviet air forces to conduct such an attack as they did on the 2nd of May?
A. I think perhaps some such discussions, informal discussions, took place. I do remember giving consideration to dangers of ground attacks to the major airfields, particularly after the Soviets attack in Manchuria in 1945; but even though some thought and consideration was given to the possibility of an attack, I personally, never considered it as more than a remote possibility.
19. Q. Major, are you able to state the views that the Commander-in-Chief, West Germany, held at that time in this respect?
A. I feel that if he had entertained the idea that there was serious danger of that nature, I would have heard of it in every emphatic terms. I am certain that he was not anticipating any such attack.
20. Q. General, in your thinking and planning at that time, that is the six months leading up to the attack, do you recall what consideration was given to the characteristics of the Soviet Army leaders particularly Marshal Alexandr Vasilevskij?
A. The leadership in the Soviet Army was discussed from time to time between General Smart, myself, his Chief of Staff, his Operations Officer, his Intelligence Officer, and perhaps others. As I recall now, the general impression that obtained was that in case of war we would have to contend with rather capable and aggressive leadership on the part of the enemy.
21. Q. Were you, at that time, familiar with the character of Marshal Alexandr Vasilevskij?
A. Not especially so, but I did consider him capable and bold.
22. Q. Do you recall discussing him with Commander Roche, while you were serving together on the Staff of the Commander, Scouting Force?
A. While I have no specific recollection of such discussion, I feel that it is almost certain that a number of such discussions did take place; not only when Roche and I were serving together in the Scouting Force, but also after I came to General Smart’s Staff and Roche was serving with the Intelligence unit in the Fourteenth Division.
23. Q. General, during this planning period leading up to the attack, do you recall occasions on which the Commander-in-Chief communicated with army aviators with respect to the ability of Soviet air forces and the possibility of such attack as occurred on May 2nd?
A. No, although it is quite possible that I was present at some such discussion with General Hall and General Bellinger or perhaps other aviation personnel, including Captain Davis, the Staff Aviation Officer; but I have no recollection of any discussion with any of them with the particular idea in view that we should have to contend with such an attack.
24. Q. Did you have knowledge of any aviator whatever who really foresaw the attack of 2 May and so expressed himself before that time?
A. No, sir.
25. Q. General, in the preparation of the Commander-in-Chief's Contributory Pincher War Plan, was it contemplated, at the time, that it might be placed in effect either in its entirety or in part by order of the Commander-in-Chief, prior to the start of actual war?
A. I believe it was not contemplated that the plan be placed into effect, either in whole or in part, by the Commander-in-Chief without reference to higher authority, because of the rapidity of communications; but, on the other hand, I do not believe that that plan circumscribed the Commander-in-Chief's in any way toward taking any suitable action to meet whatever circumstances that might arise.
A. By preparatory or warning message.
27. Q. General, as I understand your previous testimony, it was your estimate, as well as the estimate of practically all of General Smart's Staff, that a surprise attack on West Gemany was a remote possibility. Will you state the basis for that conclusion?
A. For us to make an attack on the Soviet Union would have massive troop movements easily detected. We felt that the Soviets would find the same considerations would deter them from making such an effort against us. It also seemed highly probable that more attractive targets could be found where their units could be more profitably employed there. We felt that even should such an attack be launched, that the defenses in depth would be sufficient to make the damage inflicted small and that the attacking forces would suffer heavy casualties quite disproportionate to the damage they might inflict.
28 Q. Do you recall that your thinking along those lines gave due value to the power of initiative if employed by the enemy in a surprise attack?
A. I don't think so now; I did think so then. We did anticipate that heavy armored concentrations would be encountered in this area and had considered it quite possible, if not probable, that a mass air attack about the time that considerable forces were on training exercises might be the commencement of the war.
29. Q. Admiral, under the Joint Action, what service was primarily responsible for the defense of West Germany?
A. The Army.
A. In a general way, yes. I had made a tour of the front lines with the Commanding General and some members of his Staff to see the defenses, and, as a part of that tour, attended a short presentation at Fort Rhone with particular reference to AA defenses. With my limited knowledge of the Army requirements and methods of defense, I, personally, felt they were good and adequate, although I knew, and the Army authorities too felt that certain improvements should be made, particularly as to AA.
31. Q. Were you familiar with General Smart’s opinions with respect to the ability of the Army to defend West Germany?
A. I believe that he felt that there was some deficiencies, particularly in the area of troop quality and training. Not to mention the lack of heavy artillery and anti tank guns.
33. Q. General, were you familiar with this letter 2CL-41 (Revised), which is Exhibit 4 before this examination?
A. Yes, I remember this letter. Although it was prepared by the Operations Section of the Staff, I had opportunity to review it and recall having initiated some minor changes in the earlier drafts; although, at this time, I have no particular recollection of what those changes were.
34. Q. Were there, so far as you can recollect, any other directives of a general nature affecting the security or providing for the security of units in West Germany in effect in the months preceding the attack?
A. I do not now recall whether or not there were. In general, such directives, if there were any, were prepared by the Operations Section and I would have seen them and had opportunity to comment before their issuance.
35. Q. Do you recall whether, at the time, that is, in the months preceding the attack, you considered this letter, Exhibit 4, to adequately provide for the security of Army and had the instructions therein been fully complied with?
A. I recall that we were not entirely satisfied with the arrangements for coordinating air warnings, air operations from the different services, and anti-aircraft and the like, and that some discussions and conferences to better perfect arrangements were in progress under the general guidance of Captain DeLany, the Operations Officer. On the whole, however, I must have thought that the security arrangements set forth in this letter were satisfactory, else I would have initiated action to effect a change.
"What's this hearing about Joe?"
"They're trying to find a scapegoat for losing Germany."
"Damn who they zeroing in on?"
"I wouldn't want to be in his shoes."