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Memorandum for G-2 [McCabe]
January 5, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
There is developing on the Hill the basis for an attack on the Army for extravagance in the setting up of the Corps Maneuvers in the Southeast. This, I think, is largely the result of a misleading Associated Press dispatch which left the implication that $26,000,000 would be spent on these specific maneuvers.1
The 1940 supplemental appropriations proposal will come up for debate almost immediately, and passage is expected within about two weeks. It is therefore important that we have prepared and available suggested presentations for the use of Mr. Woodrum, Chairman of the Deficiency Appropriation Committee, Mr. Snyder, of the Sub-Committee for Military Appropriations, and for any other of the Democratic leaders who have to defend the War Department estimates. These were accepted practically without reduction or amendment by the Budget.2
Please have a draft for the defense of these estimates, so far as pertains to Maneuvers, prepared in language that the layman can understand. In this treatment the following are suggested as points that might be made:
These maneuvers present the first training opportunity for the Army in warfare movement above the division, and on a fairly realistic basis above the brigade, in the peace-time history of the Army.
We have been forced to base almost all of our conclusions, regarding the tactical organization, supply and leadership of bodies of troops larger than a brigade in warfare movement, on theory or hearsay—we have lacked the troops, or rather the organization; we have never had the terrain available, we have lacked the transportation, and all the higher organizations had to be improvised. The Navy has such training; certainly at some time in its history, especially in this time of world crisis, the Army is entitled to at least one opportunity to learn to play the game the way it has to be played in actual campaign. Only thus can wastage of money and human life be avoided, and the national defense made secure.
The cost of these particular maneuvers in the Southeast involves the transportation of units from their home stations to the concentration areas, and the return movement to home stations. This is the heaviest charge and could only be avoided by a complete revamping of the Army station set-up, abandoning numerous small posts, concentrating troops, expending large amounts for permanent construction, etc. If this cost of transportation, in the opinion of the people or of Congress, is considered too heavy to accept, then the answer is that the manner in which the Army is stationed prohibits its training. Along with this should been emphasized the fact that we are confronted by the condition of things as they are in the set-up of the Army, along with an emergency in the affairs of the world. The issue at the moment is not what might in the past have been better done, or what might be done better in the future; the issue at this moment is, what can be done today better to prepare ourselves to defend the peaceful integrity of this country.
Another initial expense involved in these maneuvers is or was for the preparation of the winter cantonments in which the troops have to be sheltered. In every way possible we have utilized existing facilities, borrowing National Guard concurrent camps and summer training camps of the CMTC and ROTC; there has been nothing of extravagance in the arrangements for these maneuver operations. The Army has been raised on too parsimonious a basis to have acquired extravagant habits. Every device or means that we could utilize to accomplish this concentration economically has been employed.
There has been some confusion in the public mind, apparently due to press reports, as to the cost of these maneuvers. The fact that the amounts covered training in the Philippines, Hawaii, Panama, and Puerto Rico, and for troops in the corps areas which are not going to the larger maneuvers, has been ignored. With the cantonment sites in the South set up and with the motor transportation provided, future concentrations, especially on a smaller scale, may be carried out much more economically.
This concentration makes possible the training of the Infantry regiments and the Artillery regiments under the new regimental organization, with actual weapon and fire instruction that would otherwise have been impossible until next summer, the development of the new combat team of infantry and artillery, the first test of the divisions in the new organization, and the beginnings, as it were, of the training of the corps troops and corps staffs of command, which has never before been possible.3
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 editors have been unable to identify this story.
2. Clifton A. Woodrum, Democrat from Virginia, was a member of the House Appropriations Committee. J. Buell Snyder, Democrat from Pennsylvania, also served on the committee.
3. In reply to the damaging Associated Press story, the army issued a press release explaining the use of the $26,000,000 for a number of territorial exercises and joint operations with the navy. The army then publicly explained the need for the additional sums requested to cover the corps and army maneuvers in the spring. (Press release on the cost of maneuvers, n.d., GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
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. 135-137.