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Memorandum for Admiral Harold R. Stark
September 10, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
I have given considerable thought to your telephone call of the 6th, and in order that you may have a better understanding of the problem, I feel that I should give you in some detail the space situation within the War Department. A year ago a careful study was made of the space requirements for the War Department in the event of an emergency. It showed a requirement for 805,000 additional square feet. These requirements were sent to the Public Buildings Administration in September 1939, in order that our needs might be anticipated.
In early June of this year, the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Administration informed us of the plan to allocate the Social Security and Railroad Retirement Buildings, about September 1st, to the War Department, but no mention was made of releasing space in the Munitions Building to the Navy. When the official notice of the above assignment was received, it carried the proviso that the Advisory Committee for National Defense would also be accommodated in these buildings. Since that time the office of the Administrator for Export Control has been created and we are also taking care of the requirements of that office. These two activities will reduce our allotment accordingly. To further curtail the War Department space by releasing some 250,000 square feet in the Munitions Building to the Navy would reduce to approximately half the amount of space essential for the present expansion.
When the question of penthouses for both the Munitions and Navy buildings was raised, our representative indicated that our requirements would still not be satisfied, while on the other hand the Navy representative stated the penthouses would meet the Navy requirements.
The plan to release a part of the Munitions Building to the Navy was made before the War Department representative had an opportunity to calculate the effect of such arrangement. Also, at that time the Selective Service legislation and the legislation for calling the National Guard into active service were in the formative stage, and we could not be at all certain that this legislation would be enacted. Now that this legislation has become law, the War Department is faced with a situation which demands the full 805,000 square feet beyond the entire space of the Munitions Building and its penthouses.1
Offices of the War Department are now housed in eleven separate and widely separated buildings. When we occupy the Social Security and Railroad Retirement Buildings, the number of separate buildings will be reduced to seven. The effect of this dispersion will be evident to you. As it is, we must now move the entire establishments of The Quartermaster General and the Chief of Ordnance out of this building, a very serious interference with the transaction of reorganization business at the present moment. If we should be directed finally to turn over the three wings to your Department, it would mean moving the offices of the Chiefs of Infantry, Cavalry and Field Artillery and Coast Artillery away from the General Staff, with whom they are in almost hourly conferences these days when the military establishment is being tremendously enlarged, put into the field and started on the new experiment of selective service. These departments would have to go to some other building, and I understand there is no space, even reasonably convenient, available.
Another factor in our difficulties is the delay encountered in the completion of the Social Security and Railroad Retirement Buildings. They were supposed to be completed by September 1st, but now since the Social Security Building may not be available until as late as December 1st, the Secretary of War has decided that his office must remain in this building. With our new building due for completion on July 1st, 1941, to move the Secretary of War and my office in December would mean a succession of interrupting moves.
Any plan to give the Navy space at this particular time in the Munitions Building places the entire burden on the War Department, which is already suffering seriously from an unfortunate dispersion. I am sorry I cannot find a solution which would permit an adjustment more favorable to you.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. The joint resolution permitting the federalization of the National Guard (S. J. Res. 286) had been approved on August 27. The Selective Compulsory Military Training and Service Bill had passed the Senate (58-31) on August 28 and the House (263-149) on September 7. At the time Marshall wrote this memorandum, the bill was in a conference committee. On September 14 the committee’s report was accepted by both houses and the compromise bill was sent to the president, who signed it at a September 16 ceremony.
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. 301-303.