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Memorandum for General Gasser
November 28, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Increase of Regular Establishment to 280,000.
In my appearance before the Bureau of the Budget, I gathered the idea from Mr. Smith that he was hopeful we would not press for further increase to 280,000.1 Just what the attitude of the President is I do not know, but probably we will learn a little later.
In a conversation this morning with Mr. Woodring, I learned that he is hopeful, if the European situation does not develop into a fierce land struggle, that we will not have to press for a full increase to 280,000. He has in mind as a compromise figure about 20,000 more men, giving the Regular Establishment a strength of 245,000 or 250,000. However, he does not intend to give any indication of this until we are forced to come to a decision.
Of course the whole thing is going to depend on the state of the war in Europe at the time of the Committee hearings and the actual voting in Congress. My idea at the moment is that if things remain virtually as they are now we should fight hard to get at least as many more men (1) as may be necessary to cover the two antiaircraft regiments we have borrowed for from the Air Corps; (2) to fill out two more divisions, which will form the basis of the corps to be maintained in the South for winter training, (3) to provide the necessary corps troops for a second corps, (4) to provide for the necessary Regular Army component, if it is to be a split unit for a corps cavalry reconnaissance outfit for each of the remaining seven army corps.
This is my thought at the moment, and it seems best for me to give it to you in writing. However, I do not think we should allow to creep into a general understanding of the staff any idea that we are giving up on the proposal to get 280,000 men.
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. Harold D. Smith was the director of the Bureau of the Budget. Marshall had appeared before the bureau on November 9, and on November 20 he and Smith had met with President Roosevelt at the White House.
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. 112-113.