1-555 Memorandum for General Beck, February 7, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 7, 1939

Memorandum for General Beck1

February 7, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Beck:

I think it is time we got started on a possible reorganization of the mobile ground forces of the Army in the event that a new organization for the Infantry Division proves acceptable.2 I have in mind the necessity for a preliminary outline only of the redistribution of troops both in the regular service and the National Guard, particularly as concerns the development of an increase in Corps and army units.

Should a new Division be authorized for the National Guard, I realize that it will be necessary to have the new allocations reported on by a special committee representing the National Guard but, in the meantime,—and confidentially—I would like you to have your people work out a rough outline of the possible new set-up—as to number and location of divisions, the same regarding corps and army troops, and other general details which would be involved.

I think it is very important to have this preliminary study available, in order that we may answer the inevitable pressure that will soon develop for the creation of new anti-aircraft units in the National Guard, or corps and army troops as referred to by the Secretary of War in his statement before the Military Committees of Congress.

Don’t have your people go into exhaustive details in this. All I want at the present time is a rough outline which will permit us to form some conclusion as to probable necessity for creating entirely new units for which additional personnel would have to be provided by Congress. I rather think that the authorization of the new Infantry Division should afford us most of the personnel required for other purposes.

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. Major General Robert McC. Beck, Jr., (U.S.M.A., 1901) had been assistant chief of staff for Operations and Training (G-3) since March 7, 1938.

2. The army had been testing various aspects of a new, smaller, three-regiment (“triangular”) infantry division which, being about half the size of the A.E.F. four-regiment (“square”) division, would be easier to maneuver and administer. The actual creation of new-type divisions did not begin until after war broke out in Europe in September, 1939.

Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 695-696.

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