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The situation is the following:

  • a country, in theory an industrial power (modern times equivalent), maintains a tiny (but well trained) peace-time army which could be used as a source of officers and NCOs
  • the country is suddenly forced into a proxy war and is likely to enter directly sooner or later
  • relying on its allies is somewhat problematic, because of the distance involved and they are not seriously threatened by the war
  • military equipment and supplies are more than sufficient and not the limiting factor, however high losses would make public opinion livid and the country is not enthusiastic about sending a barely trained army.

What is a realistic amount of time needed to get a trained army to be sent directly into heavy combat? (I don't mean a case, quite popular in RL, of deploying overseas a unit which is intended to still be trained there before actually sending it to the front).

EDIT:

  • Modern: if someone’s data is detailed enough that it starts to matter, then please assume for simplicity AD 2019

  • Army branch - if someone is able to get data for different army branches or specialities, it would be wonderful, however the key here would be for infantry to get their boots on the ground

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    $\begingroup$ Low level troops? Navy? Ground units? Officials? Each of them has different training requirements and training time. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Sep 10 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ I think "modern times equivalent" is still pretty broad...can you give examples of the specific kinds of military equipment and transportation you expect this army to use? $\endgroup$ – Qami Sep 10 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Qami at some point it becomes a bit unreasonable to expect that every question-asker be sufficiently well versed in their topic to provide those sorts of details. Pick something that you like that fits the brief, and answer based on that, perhaps? $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Sep 10 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ I would question the premise in this sense: Why would a military have enough equipment for a large force, while maintaining a small one? Why would you have significantly more jets than pilots to fly them or people to maintain them? Why would you have more tanks than people who can drive them? If you are going to have this in your world, I think you need to explain how you have all this hardware with no soldiers to use it. For example, maybe your previous soldiers were wiped out by biological weapons, leaving the hardware intact. $\endgroup$ – Dan Hanson Sep 10 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ The major limiting factor is very likely to be the scarcity of trained officers. Push comes to shove you can probably rush making an army second lieutenant in about a year, but you really cannot make a competent army captain in less than a few years, and forget making superior officers or generals in a rush. They really need experience in leading large forces if you don't want them to make stupid errors which will cost you the war. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 10 at 19:53

10 Answers 10

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Without logistical hurdles: 8 Months Minimum

Basic Training: 8 Weeks. This provides the basic (minimal) set of soldier skills: Safe weapons handling and use, combat movement and reactions, communications, first aid, and fieldcraft. It also weeds out the unfit and identifies potential leaders.

Advanced Training: Another 8 weeks, though some specialties need much longer. This is where truck drivers learn to drive and convoy, infantrymen learn how to mesh their fighting tools as a team, clerks learn to type and how the forms work, artillerymen how to load/aim/fire their guns, etc.

Some skills take longer: Aircraft pilots, Intelligence Analysts, Medical Technicians, and many other skills need much more than 8 weeks of training if you want them to be effective. If you need effective sky jockeys who can survive, for example, then they become a limiting factor, and your minimum training time for the Army will be an additional four months or so.

Unit Training: Once individual skills are in place, the recruits are (re)organized from Generating Force training units into Operational Force fighting units, and the units begin collective training - how to operate and fight as their intended squads, platoons, companies, and battalions. There is no top limit on this time, more training results in better unit proficiency. I'm calling this four months, which is much less than the full year USA Regulars prepare for a typical deployment...but the question seems to imply that it's a bit of a rush-job. Honestly, longer would be better.

In real life, it's likely that there would be LOTS of logistical hurdles, and inevitable delays will stretch the real time longer. This timeline assumes that 100% of your trainees show up on Day 1 to fully-prepared training camps, which is quite unrealistic. Training camps don't build, stock, and train/man themselves overnight. Drill instructors are trained, not born. Strapping your tank onto a railcar or truck cannot be haphazard, or you will destroy the tank (and the bridge it ran into). Food, pay, corruption, boots, fuel, bedding, heat, transport, pilferage, cyclones, ammunition - so much can go wrong, cause delays...and certainly will go wrong when starting from scratch.

From start to finish realistically, plan on one full year to have your first new units armed, trained, and reasonably ready. Again, additional training time beyond that will mean additional combat proficiency.

In an emergency, you're tempted to reduce training time or scrimp on skills. You can...but ONLY if you have a thorough understanding of the enemy's likely behavior and capabilities. If you train your army for, say, counterinsurgency, then that's all they will be good at. When a neighboring country invades with Regulars instead, your ill-trained Army will fall apart. Senior leadership at the national level must manage (and prepare contingencies against) many such risks to the chosen strategy and the forces.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 This sounds a lot more like it $\endgroup$ – Ovi Sep 10 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ (+1) I would have said 12 to 18 months, but this is the same ballpark. You might have to turn new draftees into corporals and long-service privates into sergeants, this will take a little more than drilling simply one more class of freshly minted privates. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Sep 10 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Efialtes seems covered in the paragraph of 'Advanced Training' $\endgroup$ – user535733 Sep 11 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Pingcode the question seems to assume that folks are already mobilized: They spend their days training; they live in barracks; they are full-timers until the army releases them. The question ignored mobilize-able reserve units, so the answer ignored it too. Unit training can run as long as the nation is willing to pay for it. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Sep 11 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this answer and think that if anything it is on the conservative side for anything approaching a modern conventional military force. I suspect many of the hurdles you list could be somewhat alleviated if the military in question were designed around the idea of rapidly swelling the force. You could for instance make sure you had dramatically oversupplied training camps during peace time so that in a ramp-up you could have lots of new recruits showing up to fully prepared training camps. $\endgroup$ – TimothyAWiseman Sep 11 at 21:08
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The situation you describe is very close to what happened in the USA during World War II. Before WWII, the US had a very small standing army.

Unlike the professional armies of Germany and Japan, the armed forces that young American men rushed to join after Pearl Harbor had been totally unprepared to wage a world war. In 1940, the U.S. Army had been smaller than that of Rumania: only 174,000 men in uniform, wearing tin hats and leggings issued during World War I, and carrying rifles designed in 1903. The Army still owned tens of thousands of cavalry horses.

The strike on Pearl Harbor drew the US into the war, which necessitated a rapid growth of the armed forces (emphasis mine).

In the Marines, boot camp traditionally last 12 weeks, but Pearl Harbor had cut that time in half. Everything was accelerated. The result was what Sid Phillips remembered as “a contrived nightmare,” intended to transform “silly young men” into “serious, useful warriors” willing to die for one another.

Something that should be noted, however, is that the draft was enacted over concerns the US would get drawn into the war. The armed forces had already grown to 2.2 million strong when the strike on Pearl Harbor happened, so there are some differences.

The primary task facing America in 1941 was raising and training a credible military force. Concern over the threat of war had spurred President Roosevelt and Congress to approve the nation's first peacetime military draft in September 1940. By December 1941 America's military had grown to nearly 2.2 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.

So, a realistic time frame to turn a raw recruit into a trained soldier: 6 weeks.


Another data point can be found with US involvement in the Vietnam War. Unlike WWII, the Vietnam conflict was incredibly visible to the American public. Sending ill-trained soldiers would not be acceptable.

And night after night, Americans turned on the news to see the bodies of their young flown home in bags. Draft injustices like college deferments surfaced, hearkening back to the similar controversies of the Civil War. The average age of the American soldier in Vietnam was nineteen. As the months of the war became years, the public became impatient.

How long did it take to train a recruit during the Vietnam War?

“Basic Training was eight weeks, in some cases nine. From there you went to Advanced Individual Training. AIT for an infantryman (11B) was eight weeks, though in my case, it was nine weeks. By two weeks into Basic you had not even gotten your hands on your rifle yet.

“From the day I enlisted (September 26, 1966) to the day I set foot in Vietnam (March 26, 1967), it was exactly six months. I’ve known a few guys who got there a few weeks short of six months, but not many. Anybody sent into combat with only two weeks of training would last about three minutes (if that) into his first fire fight. But far worse, he’d get half the guys around him killed.”

Answer: 8 weeks.

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    $\begingroup$ This does somewhat fall afoul of the OP's 4th requirement. Back in the day the US was perhaps not as concerned with the number of casualties amongst its own troops as it is now. Still, good lower bound! $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Sep 10 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime I added a second data point. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 10 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Of course, but that would be a matter of fact for any conflict: the longer it goes the more opportunity for the media to cover it and the more likely an event will occur that grabs attention. For the Vietnam War, that event was the Tet Offensive. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 10 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ @DanHanson, In '88 the twelve week Marine boot camp was split into 3 phases. 1st phase included getting into shape, learning history, learning how to march (drill), etc - 4 weeks - no weapons at all. 2nd phase was rifle range, Basic Warrior Training (BWT - learning the other common weapons, M2, SAW, M249, etc.) - 4 weeks. 3rd phase was more knowledge and physical fitness testing, uniforms, drill (with weapons), other miscellaneous stuff - 4 weeks. Get rid of all the knowledge, drill, getting into shape (hold back the unfit ones, push the fit ones), and you can build a basic marine in 8 weeks. $\endgroup$ – Tracy Cramer Sep 10 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ For Vietnam, you are quoting that realistic training time from start of training to arrival was 6 months, why is your answer here 8 weeks (only basic training)? I would say you should at least put it at 4 months (8+8 weeks). $\endgroup$ – Zizy Archer Sep 11 at 6:48
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Two years. You can make a basic rifleman in 6-8 weeks, and turn a mob of them into a decent infantry battalion/brigade/division in 6 months. But the problem is everything else. Good pilots take months, good artillery and tankers take months, good officers take upwards of two years even in rushed conditions. This is especially true if you're leery of heavy casualties. As an example I'd use US Forces in WWII. They averaged 311 men killed every day for the duration of the war. The tankers especially were vulnerable because of the inferiority of US Armor vs German panzers. They got the job done, but generally took heavy losses. Training for a normal WWII US Tank crew was 15 weeks (so 23 weeks from Day 1 of basic to completion of armor school). Now let's look at the "Patton's Panther's" an all-black US Tank formation. They were kept out of the war (because racism) for 2 years before they were allowed into Europe. Until then they were kept stateside and basically did nothing but train. When they got to the war they amassed a frankly astonishing record. Some of that might be down to the more specific selection requirements of the men (the unit was after all specifically created to prove blacks could do "a white man's job" so it was joined by select and highly motivated men.) but most of their success likely stems from having trained for literally years, compared to other US unit's 15 weeks.

You also need to consider your opponent. 8 weeks might make a "basic" infantryman, but basic infantry die like flies if they're up against well-trained infantry, and the odds get even worse the more technical the job. Look at Desert Storm for instance. The US had better equipment, yes. But what really shone through was the training. The Iraqi army of poorly-trained and poorly-led conscripts was utterly annihilated by superior training at every level from rifleman to Corps commander. That same army had fought a 10-year standstill with the equally-ill-trained Iranians not long before. So if your fictional country is leery of casualties AND needs to field an army in a short amount of time, make sure their opponent has badly trained troops. Or have your country start to lose the will to fight as casualties quickly mount when their basically-trained officers lead their basically-trained men against a professional army.

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  • $\begingroup$ fantastic information here! thanks! $\endgroup$ – Fattie Sep 12 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ Members from the 506 Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division ran up and down Currahee for two years, +1. Two years is the minimum amount of time you need, and is exactly why one of the episodes of Band of Brothers is called Replacements. - "l didn't wanna be friendly with replacements coming in because, God, l didn't like seeing them get killed. It just tore me up." $\endgroup$ – Mazura Sep 13 at 3:30
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Your problem is

trained army

Other answers have focussed on the time to get an infantryman trained in the basics of firing and maintaining his or her weapon, and bringing them up to an acceptable level of fitness. That's all.

The problem is, you don't just need that. For starters, you need the weapons. Do you have a supplier of assault rifles and ammunition? If not, you need the factories built for that. Boots, uniforms, packs, Kevlar body armour and so on can probably be sourced from civilian suppliers, but they still need to be specified and ordered. And that gets you a WWII-era infantryman.

What it doesn't get you is a modern army. You need armoured vehicles. If you're part of a larger force then perhaps you don't need a navy or fast jets, but you do still need combined-arms resources. Armoured vehicles of various types, helicopters, aircraft fitted out for air-to-ground roles, artillery, machine guns from SAW up to heavy vehicle-mounted. If you can't buy them, you need to build them. That will take years.

And worse than that, when you have all that kit, you need to train with it. And this really does take years to get good at it, as exemplified by the Iraqi army in Gulf War 1. They didn't have any worse kit than the US, only less ability to use it.

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  • $\begingroup$ OP addressed the availability of equipment in their question, namely "not an issue." According to the original post, the country has a small peace-time standing force but needs a larger force quickly, so the question is about getting "boots on the ground." $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Wandio Sep 11 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ It's quite possible to have a minimal army but a strong weapons-production industry. Just look at the United States going into either of the World Wars: it was a major supplier for one or both sides, but had an army only suited to invading banana republics. $\endgroup$ – Mark Sep 11 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark That doesn't mean you've got all the gear you need, though. American aircraft for example were terrible before they were given British expertise (particularly the Merlin engine). And then there's the last paragraph - you need to train with it. The Brits had figured out anti-submarine tactics, for example, but the Americans didn't want to listen and got nailed repeatedly. $\endgroup$ – Graham Sep 12 at 8:00
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The issue is not basic weapons training, but the a military structure that is capable, trained and experienced

Having troops that are ok with cleaning, loading and firing weapons is only a small component of the military. What you really need, and what takes the most time, is capability in supply lines, command structures, procurement and yes, even training trainers.

So in short:

  • Officer recruitment and training: Officers are your most valuable assets. They strategise, give orders to subordinates, lead men, assess situations, command. They are arguably more important than troop numbers, a bad inexperienced officer can lead thousands to useless deaths quickly, or a good experienced officer can lead a small unit to success. A good officer training course could take as long as 44 weeks, more if you include the degree and selection process. And this is to just get commissioned, experience in the field would be preferable after this, preferably 2 or 3 years prior to command of larger units.
  • Training trainers: Believe it or not, this is actually quite important and may determine the success of your war effort. There are arguments that the Imperial Japanese Naval Airforce and German Luftwaffe during WWII quickly lost their initial dominance by not having as strong a training program as US and UK forces. The allied forces placed their best and most experienced pilots in training positions, sometimes with 2 years of deployment or more during wartime. Without this your forces may be ineffective.
  • Logistics and Procurement: Although you mentioned equipment is not a problem, getting equipment to your troops and supporting them is. Not just in giving it to them initially, but in continuing to give logistical support. This requires again specialist training and systems to be established to support troops. This includes medical, transport, storage, facilities construction and maintenance. Medical support alone requires 5 years of graduate training, with an additional officer training course. In addition, engineering and legal services also require 4 years of training, with officer / administration training time added. You cannot fight without these units.

I have not mentioned specialist units such as Special Forces, Combined Arms, Intelligence or Communication services, you get the gist. I would imagine a military that starts from scratch would be 8 - 10 years before it would become 'properly trained' such that it can be effective against already experienced and operational units - and that is if all goes well and everyone is dedicated and smart and well motivated.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this. An army isn't just a bunch of peopke with guns. It's an organization that requires close coordination with other branches, an effective command hierarchy, complex logistics, and on and on. You can't just 'stand up' an effective fighting force in a few weeks. Plus, a modern army is full of highly trained specialists. Engineers, aircraft techs, technologists working on weapons systems, computer programmers, pilots, mechanics, special forces... Many positions will require years of training. $\endgroup$ – Dan Hanson Sep 11 at 19:05
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There are too many factors to give a simple answer.

How is the culture? If the culture is heavily into hunting, then there is a large pool of recruits who are already experienced with firearms. Is the culture deeply into eSports with millions of dedicated players of games like ARMA (bonus points if in VR)? Then recruits would already be familiar with the equipment and tactics to the point of being fairly quick to train (the concepts are already there). Is the culture one of pacifists who abhor the very concepts of people having guns and repudiating military violence while living sedentary lives of luxury? In that case training is going to be extensive before an effective fighting force could be formed.

Furthermore there is no single hard definition of what a force being "properly trained" means. You can train someone to march in a column and use a basic rifle in just a couple weeks (maybe a handful of days if truly desperate), but while that may have been good enough for Napoleonic war that does not make an effective soldier in the modern world. Training someone who can effectively use and maintain an advanced surface-to-air missile battery could take several months if not a couple years (again depending on how desperate you are and your tolerance for error).

You deploy when you have to - enemies don't just stand around waiting for you to declare that you feel you are ready (they would prefer to attack before you are so accelerating your training likely accelerates their invasion plans too). Deploying with lesser trained soldiers but doing it quickly, or letting the enemy take the field first then try to dislodge them with a slightly more trained force, is a value judgement which has no one correct answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Though I know many US ground units who enjoy playing those games, I doubt that playing those games alone would train for the real thing. Just to say one thing, no sound card can be as shocking and paralyzing as a real fire fight with bombs. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Sep 10 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Playing tactical shooter video games isn't a complete replacement for military training, but a society where it is a given that the average recruit already knows how to slice the pie and what a flashbang is will be able to train effective soldiers a LOT faster than a society where the average member doesn't even know what a gun is... One gets to skip the theory/intro and go straight to practical training while the other starts from the very bottom. $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Sep 10 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ The average society member starts from a much better physical fitness level than your average call of duty player, so it may balance out. $\endgroup$ – Innovine Sep 12 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Innovine Do you have any actual evidence of that, or is this just based on some bigoted "games are all fat nerds who live in their parents' basement" garbage? I have yet to see any evidence that someone who plays CoD is in worse physical shape than someone who spends all their time sitting on a couch watching HoneyBooBoo. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Sep 12 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know for COD and regular infantry men, but for officiers, War Games, by that I mean simulation from two real officers were practiced quite often. Simulation can't replace real experience of course, but if every army used simulations to train their officers in peace time, there might be a a good reason. Even this kind of experience is better than no experience at all. Mass LARP is another good example of simulation.When doing mass battle you learn to watch your surroundings, to act as a team on the battlefield. I'm sure it's important for a real soldier too. @L.Dutch $\endgroup$ – Kaël Sep 12 at 15:45
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Switzerland has a militia of some 33% of the total population - while only 0.1% of the population are full time professional soldiers.

If the 6 months training figures Frostfyre mentions are too long for your story's purposes, you could give your fictional country a similar tradition - which could justify shorter training.

Of course, as Switzerland hasn't been in any modern shooting wars it doesn't provide hard data on how effective this military structure is when the bullets start flying (although perhaps it proves it's a superb deterrent!)

Of course, you'll still need a decent-sized professional air force if you're taking on an enemy with a the same; your militia can keep practice marching and rifle-shooting at home, but not many people have a practice fighter jet! And a advantages in infantry numbers can be negated if the enemy has much better air forces - look at the six-day war.

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5 Years, if you want to use it to good effect.

As shown by other answers, you can train a modern foot slogger in about 6 months.

Take 2 years for your Noncoms and technical staff to train to standard.

Take 4 years for you Officers to be effective...

Now you have a fighting force, 4 years later!

And you will need more training, mostly for the Officers on how to use that fighting force you just have created.

The Plan:

Year 0:

  • Make a plan of forces needed in the near future, 2 to 5 years.
  • Start training the Hi-er Officer core.
  • Start procuring materials needed.
  • Start training the enlisted trainers.
  • Start building new military bases and training camps.

Year 1:

  • Start training enlisted, use best for leader roles, after 6 months rest go into reserves.
  • Start training the Noncom Trainers.
  • Start recruiting and training the Lower Officers.
  • Train existing forces to (at least) platoon level.

Year 2:

  • Start recruiting and training the Noncoms and technical staff.
  • Start Receiving materials
  • Train existing forces to (at least) company level.

Year 3:

  • Train existing forces to (at least) brigade level.

Year 4:

  • Train existing forces to (at least) division level.

Year 5:

  • Beat your enemy.

*Army and Airforce don't differ much with training times. Airforce will need more time to procure (new) hardware. BUT, a Navy will have way longer lead times just for the building of the ships, that alone can take years.

*Unless you have a pool of trained reservists to fill the ranks.

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One constraint not mentioned in previous posts is "Where do the trainers come from?" In WW2, the US Army Air Force scaled up by a factor of 100x in about 3 years. Here are some hypothetical numbers explaining why it took so long.

  • Initial training, to the level of getting your pilot's wings: 6 months, with approximately one experienced pilot for every 4 trainees.
  • Advanced training: an additional 6 months, with a 1:10 ratio. (At this stage, the newbies don't need a second person in the aircraft, but they still need some supervision.)
  • So after the first 6 months, every 6 months 3 instructors can produce roughly 8 new pilots. Let's call it 9 for ease of calculation.
  • Between 100% and 50% of the newly trained pilots can be used as instructors. If there is zero active need for pilots, you can get close to 100%.
  • This assumes little attrition along the way. Attrition = dropouts and casualties. In fact the attrition rate was probably 20% or higher.

So we have a geometric series. Start with 3 instructors. Months:6 12 18 24 30 3. 3. 3+9new = 12 12+36 new =48 48 + 144 new = 192

Thus in 2.5 years we have turned 3 pilots into almost 200 pilots. This is optimistic, but it gives a sense of the magnitudes. Here is data I compiled on this. New pilots trained went from 600 in 1939 to 60,000 in 1943. enter image description here

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You have a number of real world armies to draw upon

First World War

The British Expeditionary Force was deployed from the small Regular Army and was effectively destroyed in the fighting in 1914. The remnants were reinforced and held the line until they were augmented by a wholy new army created from scratch-

Kitchener's Army, initially a volunteer army of 500,000 but ultimately the basis of the entire British (conscript) Army over the course of the war was established shortly after the opening of hostilities in 1914 and was not expected to see action before mid-1916 (approx 18 months). Military necessity saw part of it used in the Battle of Loos in September-October 1915 (12 months) although it had been "in the line" prior to this.

The First Australian Imperial Force was formed on 15 August 1914 and deployed at Gallipoli on ANZAC Day, 25 April 1915 - 8 months. The New Zealand forces were assembled in a parallel time period. The Gallipoil campaign lasted until December 1915.

The Canadian Expeditionary Force first saw battle at Second Ypres from April to May 1915 although they had been "in the line" prior to this. This is a similar timeframe to the Australians and New Zealanders.

The American Expeditionary Forces was established on July 5, 1917. Troops were first deployed to the line to gain combat experience in Spring 1918 and had its first battle on 28 May 1918 at Cantigney.

Apart from the British, all of these armies had to cross major oceans to reach the battleground but they all took 8 to 12 months to see their first battle (ready or not).

Second World War

At the outbreak of war, the British Army had 892,697 officers and men in both the full-time army and the Territorials (reserve army). By the end of 1939 this had reached 1.1 million, by June 1940 1.65 million (effectively doubled) and 2.2 million by June 1941. The army peaked in June 1945 at 2.9 million, however, Britain's manpower reserves had effectively been drained. Note that these are raw numbers and they would not all have been combatants and, of those that were, many would be unavailable due to illness or injury or still in training.

The Second Australian Imperial Force was formed on 15 September 1939. It ultimately consisted of 4 Infantry (6th-9th - the 1st to 5th having formed the First AIF) and 1 Armoured Division (the accurately named 1st Armoured Division). However, it only had 1 division, the 6th, for more than a year with that division serving in the Western Desert Campaign and Greece beginning in January 1941. The New Zealand division was engaged ina similar timeframe.

The circumstances of the war meant that the Canadian Army was not really utilized until 1943 but, no doubt, it could have been if it was needed.

The United States is more complex. They started from a smaller base than the British: 174,000 in 1940 but they had begun to mobilize before it was at war, Federalizing the National Guard and introducing conscription. By the outbreak of hostilities in December 1941 the army had about 2.2 million troops. This 'new' army first saw major action in November 1942 in the invasion of North Africa although significant defeats at the hands of the Germans in Tunisia showed that it wasn't really "battle ready".

Doing it today

In some ways you have things easier - your recruits can probably drive and type, among other skills that earlier generations lacked.

In others much, much harder. Modern warfare requires a greater deal of training and battlefield acumen far lower down the chain-of-command (i.e all the way down) as well as instantaneous communication and coordination of air-sea and land forces to an extent unimaginable to the mass conscript armies of the Second World War (or even the Vietnam War). Infantry attacks that would have been made in company or even a battalion strength are carried out by sections.

How Long?

8 months if you're desperate, 18 months if you can get it.

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