2-388 Memorandum for General Parker, March 12, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 12, 1941

Memorandum for General Parker1

March 12, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]

Subject: Policies and Objectives.

The Army situation today is entirely different from that on previous occasions when we have discussed Army objectives.2 By June 30, 1941, our force will consist of 1,200,000 men in ground units, training centers and overhead, and 200,000 men in the Air Corps and its services. Ground forces in continental United States will be organized in two armies, nine corps troops, twenty-seven infantry divisions (1 motorized), four armored divisions (later to be further increased), two cavalry divisions and a cavalry brigade, and GHQ troops (including 43 antiaircraft regiments and fifteen medium tank battalions). One set of Army troops and five sets of corps troops will be complete. Other Army and corps troops will lack certain essential units. Nine of our infantry divisions (triangular) will be at full strength (13,000), and other units will vary from 80% to 90% of full strength. The air force will include 54 combat groups containing 208 combat squadrons. Initial equipment requirements for this force will be met with the stocks now on hand and under manufacture, plus those to be procured from funds set up in current estimates. Some shortages will still exist in the requirements of this force to provide for one year of combat operation, largely in ammunition, Air Corps equipment, motor vehicles, boats, etc. Funds to meet these shortages will be authorized shortly.

With respect to the eighteen divisions of the National Guard, we are really involved in two plans. We are operating now under legislative authority which requires the return of the Guard to civil life after one year’s training, and have submitted our Fiscal Year 1942 estimates on that basis. If the present critical world situation continues, it would be dangerous for us to release any seasoned divisions, and under those circumstances, it would be necessary to request funds and authority to continue the Guard in federal service for a longer period. Before making a final decision in the matter, we propose to wait and see what conditions are when the end of the training period now authorized by law approaches.

From the broad point of view, we are not concerned about funds. We do not have to fight for money—it is forthcoming as required and the machinery is in operation to provide us with manpower as needed. We are planning for a large increase in the number of our trained pilots and mechanics, but we do not anticipate difficulty in obtaining approval of this increase.3 What we really need today is support of the program we have under way. Our organization is shaping up remarkably well toward a balanced, seasoned force in accordance with present plans. Our greatest concern is to be allowed to complete this organization without having its effectiveness destroyed by frequent changes. Unfortunately, press reports overemphasize the more spectacular phases of warfare as well as difficulties reference this or that. On this account we are under constant pressure from many directions to change, to reorganize, etc., which would result in a continuous emasculation of our program. The support of the American Legion will be particularly valuable in enabling us to continue to maintain a reasoned balance in our organization.

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 Frank Parker (U.S.M.A., 1894), commanding general of the Third Army before his retirement in 1936, was a member of the National Executive Committee of the American Legion and member of the American Legion mission to Great Britain in February 1941.

2. Marshall briefed Parker on the War Department’s defense objectives in a letter dated September 5, 1940 (GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]), and the staff updated that appraisal on January 23, 1941 (NA/RG 165 [OCS, 20316-20]).

3. On pilot training goals, see Craven and Cate, Plans and Early Operations, pp. 110-11.

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 442-443,

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