2-435 Editorial Note on 1942 Army Appropriations

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Note on 1942 Army Appropriations

April-June 1941

Appearing before the subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on April 28 and 30, 1941, Marshall testified in support of the 1942 Military Establishment Appropriation Bill for $6,565,424,331. The bulk of this appropriation covered Air Corps purchases of aircraft, engines, and spare parts. In addition, the army proposed to complete its purchases of critical and essential materiel for its 1,418,000-man Protective Mobilization Plan force and critical items for a 2,000,000-man force. (House Appropriations Committee, Military Establishment Appropriation Bill for 1942, Hearings [Washington: GPO, 1941], pp. 5-20.)

Reviewing the past year’s events, the chief of staff reminded the subcommittee: “Europe did blaze in the late spring and then burst into an incredible catastrophe with the fall of France. The Congress did, step by step, make available to the War Department the means for putting the military house in order. But all occurred with almost lightning rapidity, and time rather than money became the vital issue in a chaotic world.” The last year had necessitated changes in mobilization plans and the new appropriation bill would pay for them, Marshall argued. (Ibid., p. 4.)

Comparing the mobilization then under way with that in 1917, Marshall noted: “There has been an opportunity to organize on a very much better basis. There has been more uniformity, more careful inspection, more education, and more logical development.” (Ibid., p. 36.)

Questioned about the excessive cost of military construction, Marshall reiterated his April 22 testimony. The “political processes of the Government which require the War Department to follow certain procedure,” the chief of staff declared, had contributed to the problem. Congress appropriated only a portion of his 1940 requests: “You did not give me anything for Alaska. I got only 57 planes last March, and no money for Alaska of the $12,700,000 we asked for.” (Ibid., p. 37.)

Looking toward the future, Marshall advised the congressmen on preparedness: “I believe that selective service provides the only practical and economical method of maintaining the military force that we inevitably are going to be required to have in the future and I think, with all my heart, that selective service is a necessity to the maintenance of a true democracy.” (Ibid., p. 39.)

Should peace return, Marshall recommended, “we should have all of the necessary available facilities to maintain the military program we think is necessary for our security. . . . We should have a very carefully defined policy of providing, through sufficient appropriation, of funds for research both as to better types of materiel and as to the means of rapidly manufacturing whatever is required. Such a policy would mean a tremendous saving, because it would cut down the reserves to be maintained.” (Ibid., p. 55.)

On June 5, 1941, the House Appropriations Committee recommended a $9,800,000,000 appropriation for fiscal year 1942. This included a $25,000,000 emergency fund for the chief of staff and the provision permitting him to purchase munitions for the new armored force as needed. (Watson, Chief of Staff; p. 217.)

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 487-488.

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