2-502 Editorial Note on Army Expansion

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Note on Army Expansion

July 1, 1939-June 30, 1941

Marshall reported the state of the armed forces on July 1, 1941, in the biennial report of the chief of staff for July 1, 1939, to June 30, 1941. “Today the Army has been increased eightfold and consists of approximately 1,400,000 men. The ground forces in the continental United States form four armies of nine army corps and twenty-nine divisions, and an Armored Force of four divisions, soon to be increased to six. The Air Force includes 54 combat groups. . . .

“The strength of the Army is now allocated approximately as follows: 456,000 men to the 29 divisions of the field armies; 43,000 men to the Armored Force; 308,000 men to some 215 regiments or similar units of field and antiaircraft artillery, engineers, signal troops, etc., who form the corps, army, and GHQ troops to support the divisions; 167,000 men in the Air Corps; 46,000 men manning our harbor defenses; 120,000 men in oversea garrisons including Alaska and Newfoundland; and 160,000 men who provide the overhead to maintain and operate some 550 posts or stations, the supply depots, and the ports of embarkation; and finally from 100,000 to 200,000 selectees under recruit training in the replacement training centers. Our long coast lines and numerous oversea bases involve the employment of a large number of men not related to the field forces now being developed in continental United States.”

A modern army must be prepared to operate in a variety of climates and terrains, the chief of staff continued. “The members of our armed forces have passed through a winter of rigorous training and are in splendid physical condition. The training and welfare agencies have produced a gratifying state of morale. Although sufficient equipment exists for training purposes, the necessary amount of critical items is still far short of requirements, and only a small portion of the field Army is at present equipped for extended active operations under conditions of modern warfare. However, quantity production has been getting under way for an increasing number of items, and the next 4 months should greatly improve the situation.” (“Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff, July 1, 1941,” in War Department, Report of the Secretary of War to the President, 1941 [Washington: GPO, 1941], pp. 55-56.)

But maintaining an expanded army required more than equipment. Morale was of primary interest to the chief of staff. “The problems incident to the maintenance of a high state of morale in our expanded Army have been of primary importance during the past 2 fiscal years. The introduction of selective service, the induction of the National Guard, and the calling to active duty of a large number of Reserve officers have brought many diverse elements into the Army. This rapid expansion, coupled with the difficulties encountered in housing, clothing, feeding, and training the new Army produced many new problems in the field of morale. These special problems were recognized early in the expansion, and steps were taken immediately to solve them. As a result of these timely measures, it can be reported that a high state of morale is now clearly evident throughout our Army.

“One of the outstanding indications of improvement in morale has been the continuous diminution of court-martial rates. During the fiscal year 1940, the general court-martial rate per thousand enlisted men fell from 11 to 9; the special court-martial rate, from 23 to 21; and the summary court-martial rate, from 56 to 48.” (Ibid., pp. 75-76.)

Creation of the Morale Branch in the spring of 1941 had made evident the War Department’s awareness of the importance of morale activities. While the War Department assumed responsibility for morale work within military reservations, other federal agencies were responsible for morale activities outside military boundaries. Marshall then cited examples of the United States Army providing recreational, social, and entertainment services within the borders of military reservations. Athletic equipment and field houses for athletic programs were available; 185 posts had facilities for showing motion pictures; a system of mobile units to provide volunteer professional entertainment had been initiated; 113 service clubs had been constructed, most of them with a library and a cafeteria; and 297 hostesses and 96 librarians had been employed.

“While the physical comforts and recreational needs will remain in the spotlight of attention,” Marshall concluded, “it is recognized that everything physical and psychological affects human conduct. The Morale Branch is constantly engaged in the study of all factors which contribute and adversely affect morale and the advance planning for morale work in the event of a movement to theaters of operation.” (Ibid., pp. 76-77.)

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. 559-560.

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