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Draft Statement for the Secretary of War1
August 13, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
Now that hostilities have ceased, the War Department is immediately confronted with three major responsibilities. The first job is to make the victory secure by suitable deployment of our Pacific occupation forces and demilitarizing Japan. The second is to bring home and discharge with all possible speed the men who are no longer required for effective national defense and for the occupational armies in Europe and the Far East and for the normal establishment of the Army. The third is to halt immediately the production of purely war munitions and release facilities for civilian production.
Many of the ships that are now carrying troops and supplies to the Pacific from Europe and from this country will be rerouted to United States ports. Only those carrying men and equipment needed for immediate occupation duty or which are so close to their Pacific destinations that it would be unwise to turn them around will complete their voyages as originally scheduled.
Except for those units which are specifically requested for future shipment by the Commander-in-Chief of Army Forces in the Pacific, General MacArthur, and the Commanding General of the U.S. Forces in the China Theater of Operations, General Wedemeyer, and except for the flow of low-point replacements, the gigantic process of redeployment which started with Germany’s surrender will be thrown into reverse.
Air and sea transportation will be utilized to the maximum to return our high score men now overseas to their homes. Immediate action is being taken to enlarge the Separation Centers in this country so they will soon be able to discharge 500,000 men a month.
Our goal is to reduce the Army by 5,000,000 in the next twelve months, but it may take several months longer. More men will have to be moved in less time and over longer distances than ever before. It is a tremendous undertaking.
In order that there may be no delay in starting discharges under a revised point system, we shall continue for the present to release enlisted men under the old adjusted service rating score of 85 and enlisted members of the Women’s Army Corps under the old score of 44. For officers the present discharge system will remain unchanged, with preference in discharge to be given to those with the longest and most arduous service.
Within two months arrangements will be completed for putting into effect a revised point system, which will allow troops credit for service after May 12. The aim will be, as in the past, to insure that those who have had the longest and hardest service receive first consideration for discharge. In addition, all men 38 years of age or older will be automatically eligible for discharge.
Delay in releases on the grounds of military necessity will be limited to a few highly specialized classifications. These classifications embrace a total of about 20,000 men. As conditions permit, some or all of these classifications will be eliminated so that every eligible man may be restored to civilian life.
To guarantee fairness in meeting continuing military requirements, the War Department considers that inductions under the Selective Service system must continue, but at a reduced rate. This will provide new men to replace gradually the present low score men required for occupation forces and other troops overseas in Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean. In no other way can these veterans find relief, since the numbers are too large to hope to replace by volunteers.
Selection of units for the occupation forces in the Pacific-China theaters must, of necessity, first be made without regard to whether or not they are Army of the United States (Selective Service), National Guard or Regular Army units.
A complete realignment of personnel in all units in this country and overseas will have to be made on the basis of the new adjusted service rating scores. Only in this way will it be possible to give priority of discharge to those so entitled.
The eagerness with which the men of the Army and their loved ones await their discharge is evident, but even now, if we are to secure the peace, some men who have not yet served a full tour of duty overseas will have to sail to foreign shores to relieve others who have been away a long time. They will go to assignments that involve little or no personal danger, but we would all prefer if they did not have to go at all.
The plans for shutting off the tremendous flow of weapons and equipment that has poured from the factories of America to the war fronts of the world are ready, and will be announced by the Under Secretary of War.
All of us are conscious in this moment of victory of the tremendous debt we owe to the fighting men and at the same time we must have in mind the grim responsibility to make permanent the peace for which so many Americans have given their lives. The next war might destroy the world. It must not come.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed draft.
1. Secretary Stimson used this as an attachment to his August 15 statement on army demobilization. (GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 272-273.