4-101 Memorandum for the Director of Special Planning Division, September 3, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 3, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Director of Special Planning Division1


September 3, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Outline of Post-war Permanent Military Establishment.

The outline submitted under date of August 18, in general appears a sound basis for planning purposes.2 Before final decision is made on this matter I would like to have your comments with regard to the following:

Paragraph 2b, Method of Training: The statement is made that this will be accomplished by a “special training organization incorporating a comparatively small administrative and instructional overhead from the Regular Army reinforced by selected citizen officers, etc.”3 We are here involved, I think, with one of the crucial factors in connection with the post-war establishment; that is, how to train and maintain large numbers without a prohibitive financial burden.4 Your statement is rather after the manner of our pre-war citizens military training camps where for a long time a few selected reserve officers were grudgingly used and Regular personnel was insisted upon. All of which, in my opinion, was entirely wrong.

As I view the matter, our only hope is to utilize a tremendous number of new lieutenants for the detailed training of the Selective Service men, this active duty of the young officers to be established practically as a routine part of the ROTC, or whatever other training basis is maintained. By such means the officer would be given a thorough practical indoctrination in handling citizen soldiers and in the maintenance of the proper standards of army discipline and control, and at the same time would provide us with the training personnel which could be maintained at a minimum cost, the pay of a Second Lieutenant. Any other scheme which presupposes a large Regular Army personnel will be wholly impracticable of maintenance.

Incidentally, this same consideration applies very markedly to the Air Corps, they have far too many commissioned pilots today and after the war it would be a tragic mistake to commission all pilots.5 They should be non-commissioned officers, young and vigorous, who will return to civil life after a three or four year period of flying, except the selected few who are needed to form the permanent nucleus of the Air Forces, in various grades. Otherwise the Air Corps will be overwhelmed by older officers for whom there is no appropriate use.

Paragraph 3a, Organization of the Regular Army: The problem of the maintenance of war strength units, both for overseas garrisons and for whatever strategic reserve we may have, is one that I think should have clear definition.6 Again the difficulty will be the cost of maintenance and I think our outlined plan should specifically take this under consideration. We started out after the passage of the 1920 Defense Act with plans for a war strength division in each Corps Area and one at Benning, and we ended up—all of this after the passage of the act—without any because lack of appropriations ruined the entire setup. We must have this clearly in mind when proposing a system. For example, a Strategic Reserve (your Home Forces), or Regular U. S. Army units, can possibly be considered on the maintenance basis of limited strength having in mind that there will be an available trained personnel to call on, as volunteers, to fill the ranks in case of emergency. However desirable it may be to maintain war strength units, my guess is that it will be impossible of accomplishment.

In all of paragraph 3 I am somewhat confused by the intention as to general organizational setup. I am assuming not only the present breakdown between the Air, Ground, and Service Forces, but the inclusion of the Navy in one military department. Just to what extent that would affect your paper for planning purposes, I do not know. If it does not vitally affect the plan it is probably better to let the sleeping dog lie.

General McNarney has talked to you regarding certain phases of the matter, however I am considering for the moment that these are more a matter of detail than of fundamental consideration. I may be wrong about this and will discuss it with you and General McNarney personally in a few days.7

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. Brigadier General William F, Tompkins (U.S.M.A., 1915) had been head of the division since its establishment on July 22, 1943. It had succeded the Project Planning Division as the group working on demobilization and postwar planning.

2. For planning purposes, the Special Planning Division, in consultation with John McAuley Palmer, had developed (and received concurrences from the four General Staff divisions) an “Outline of a Post-War Permanent Military Establishment.” The paper’s basic assumptions were that after the war the United States would: (1) support relatively large armed forces; (2) adopt universal male military training for the able-bodied; (3) reorganize the Regular Army into Overseas Garrisons, Home Forces, and Training Forces; and (4) retain the Reserves but eliminate the National Guard. (Tompkins Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, August 18, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 370.9].) Marshall had read Palmer’s lengthy study of June 29, 1943, on this subject. (Enclosure in Tompkins Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, U. S. Army, August 26, 1943, ibid.) Concerning Palmer’s role as a leading planner for the postwar army, see Marshall Memorandum for the President, June 21, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-023 [4: 23-24].

3. The rest of this sentence was: “and non-commissioned officers on temporary active duty.” Marshall edited the sentence by changing the phrase “reinforced by selected citizen officers” to “the actual training being largely carried out by large quotas of newly commissioned reserve officers,” and by changing the word “temporary” to “12 months.”

4. Palmer estimated that the army would have to cope with an annual group of nine hundred thousand physically fit, eighteen-year-old males. He emphasized that the professional soldiers must not attempt to give this group its year of training. (Palmer Memorandum for Brigadier General W. F. Tompkins, June 29, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 370.9].)

5. At the time Marshall wrote, the number of officers per thousand enlisted men was 156 in the Army Air Forces, 97 in Army Service Forces, and 54 in Army Ground Forces. (Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., Men and Planes, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955], p. xxvii.)

6. Tompkins’s memorandum divided the postwar Regular Army into three parts: (1) Overseas Garrisons (“war-strength units for duty outside continental limits of the United States”); (2) Home Forces (units “maintained at [here Marshall inserted the word limited] war strength as garrison troops in the United States, and as a strategic reserve for minor expeditionary purposes or for the reenforcement of overseas garrisons in emergencies”); and (3) Training Forces (administrators, trainers, and trainees “organized around cadres, personnel coming from the Regular Army reenforced by the Reserves”). Beside this latter paragraph on Training Forces, Marshall wrote: “The only hope I see, from a financial point of view, is to plan that 90% of this training be carried out by the immediate product of our citizen-officer mill production, killing two birds with one stone, i.e. training officers and men.” (Tompkins Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, August 18, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 370.9].)

7. Tompkins replied on September 7 with some explanations focusing on Marshall’s specific concerns and noting that “in submitting this outline … it was intended to include only the general principles and features for approval at this time, with the idea of providing the details later.” After discussing the outline with General McNarney, Tompkins asked Palmer to review Marshall’s and McNarney’s comments. In late October, Major General Handy of the Operations Division further analyzed the outline, and on November 2 Marshall sent it back to Tompkins for reconsideration. (Tompkins Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, U. S. Army, September 7 and October 11, 1943, and Sexton Memorandum for the Director, Special Planning Division, [with Handy’s comments dated October 28 attached] November 2, 1943, ibid.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 116-119.

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