2-349 Memorandum for General Gerow, January 21, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 21, 1941

Memorandum for General Gerow

January 21, 1941 Washington, D.C.

I will probably be called before the Foreign Relations Committee on the pending Bill tomorrow or the next day.1 I will certainly be called before the Appropriations Committee very shortly. In either case, it is likely that the following questions will be put to me:

Explain the necessity, in our situation between two oceans, for an army of 1,400,000.

In previous hearing you mentioned the possibility that a much larger force might be necessary of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 men. Please explain the possible requirements for such a large force.

I would like you to have someone draft possible replies for me.2

G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 20822-138, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. Following closely upon President Roosevelt’s December 29, 1940, “fireside chat” on national security, in which he proclaimed that the United States had to be “the great arsenal of democracy,” and upon his January 6, 1941, state-of-the-union message, in which he disclosed the concept that came to be called “lend-lease,” bills to enact this idea were introduced into Congress on January 10 as House bill 1776 and Senate bill 275. (The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940 volume, ed. Samuel I. Rosenman [New York: Macmillan Company, 1941], pp. 643, 668-69.) The House Foreign Affairs Committee began hearings on January 15, and Marshall testified in executive session on January 27 and 28. (See Marshall to Bloom, January 29, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-355 [2: 400-401].)

2. The War Plans Division responded that large forces were now essential to the United States because it, unlike some European powers, had no predetermined theater of operations and no definite knowledge of the enemy forces to be opposed, and because the speed and character of modern warfare made large army and air forces necessary. The 1,400,000-man force would meet the nation’s initial needs for discouraging aggression in the Western Hemisphere, but it was inadequate for war with a major power, and it would have to be doubled if Britain’s fleet was lost and Japan and Germany concerted their actions. If the Axis powers were to gain freedom of action in either the Atlantic or the Pacific oceans, the United States would need army and air forces totalling 4,000,000 men or more. Even this would be small compared to present German forces. (Gerow Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, January 22, 1941, NA/RG 165 [WPD, 3674-47].) Marshall was not required to testify before either congressional appropriations committee until March; these questions were not raised at that time.

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. 395-396.

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