5-113 Memorandum for the President, May 5, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 5, 1945

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

May 5, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]

SUBJECT: Basis for a Post-War Army.

With reference to our talk on the first of May,1 the outline herewith reflects the basis of the post-war Army as we now visualize it.

General Assumption:

Universal Military Training

As a corollary, it is accepted that with universal military training our professional peacetime establishment can be immediately raised in time of emergency to full strength and reenforced by units drawn from the National Guard and the Organized Reserve.

General Organization:

The basic pattern of the National Defense Act of 1920 will remain unchanged; a small professional Army, a National Guard really constituting an effective first-line reserve and useful to the separate states, and an actually Organized Reserve which can be made available within a reasonable time. The plan with respect to universal military training is designed both to fill in the gaps that existed in the pattern of the National Defense Act and vastly to improve the quality of the citizen components.

The Regular Army:

The Regular Army will provide qualified personnel for instruction of the citizen components; supervise universal military training; provide personnel to formulate tactical and strategical doctrine and concepts; and conduct research and development of military weapons. In addition, the professional personnel, assisted in a large measure by reserve personnel on temporary active duty, must provide those units necessary for our security, but which cannot be maintained by the citizen forces, such as essential overseas garrisons and our share of the forces, especially Air units, required to support the proposed world organization.

The National Guard:

The National Guard, as a first-line reserve, will provide units which can actually be made ready for employment shortly after mobilization so that they can be deployed with the Regular Army to cover our general mobilization. To accomplish this, National Guard units should be kept near full strength, be fully equipped and their ranks composed of highly trained men. A unit should be complete within a state; it should not be divided between several states as this divides responsibilities.

State Use of the National Guard:

The need of the states for forces within their borders will mean that sufficient units of a type useful to a state must be provided.

The National Guard Bureau:

This organization will function substantially as heretofore as the agency of the War Department in dealing with the States and Territories.

The Organized Reserve:

The Organized Reserve will be capable of furnishing, in time of emergency, the required number of units effectively organized for rapid mobilization, expansion, and deployment, and in addition, trained commissioned and enlisted personnel for necessary replacements and expansion of the Army of the United States. The Organized Reserve will possess three types of units:

Units Completely Organized:

Such units will be those which it is impracticable to maintain in the Regular Army or the National Guard, but which are necessary for a balanced initial force.

Units Partially Organized:

Units partially organized, with their officers and key enlisted men, which could attain full strength in an emergency by absorbing graduate trainees from the universal military training program.

Units for which little or no degree of organization is necessary



The National Guard and Organized Reserve officers will be obtained from ROTC or officer candidate schools and from qualified AUS [Army of the United States] officers of World War II. Officers for the Regular Army will be selected from those developed in the current war, by the ROTC and officer candidate system, as well as from the USMA.


This proven system will be the source of the bulk of our new citizen officers for both the National Guard and the Reserve forces. Material expansion of the ROTC will be necessary. With universal military training, a two-year course should suffice, thus opening the way for our larger junior colleges to maintain units.

Officer Candidate Schools:

A system of officer candidate schools, similar to that tested successfully in this war, will permit young men unable to take ROTC training an opportunity to become National Guard and Reserve officers, and eventually for those who qualify, to become Regular officers.

Enlisted Men:

Enlisted men for the Regular Army and the National Guard will be obtained in peacetime by voluntary enlistment, but they will have had compulsory training. Ex-trainees will be assigned to an Organized Reserve unit only if they volunteer for further training. While a young man might voluntarily elect to become a member of any of the components, the plan contemplates his completion of the universal military training program. The completion of universal military training is the only mandatory requirement and any further training or enlistment will be on a purely voluntary basis.

Training System:

The war-time organization of the major forces (Air, Ground, and Service Forces) will remain in the post-war Army. These major forces will be responsible for the training of units and elements identified as belonging to their respective forces. In addition, these major forces will supervise training of the National Guard and Organized Reserve Corps under general supervision of the War Department. The National Guard will be trained by a system involving periodic drills and attendance at camps. Wherever practicable, the Organized Reserve will train by unit. Extensive use of Army schools, with special courses, is contemplated for National Guard and Organized Reserve personnel with emphasis on the training of officers, non-commissioned officers, and technicians.

The General Staff Committees:

These Committees as provided in Section 5 of the National Defense Act which requires that policies and regulations affecting the National Guard will be prepared by a committee consisting of an equal number of Regular and National Guard officers, and policies and regulations affecting Organized Reserve consisting of an equal number of Regular and Reserve officers, will be retained. The material relating to the National Guard and the Organized Reserve in this outline was approved for planning on the recommendation of these Committees.

With universal military training, the National Guard and the Organized Reserve Corps will be able to assume their role on a very much higher plane than has been possible in the past. The important mission proposed for the National Guard can be accomplished because its members will be products of a year of intensive training. This applies with equal force to the Organized Reserve. Without universal military training, their proposed missions cannot be accomplished. To gain comparable security, it would be necessary to maintain permanent forces so large that the cost would be prohibitive. Furthermore, it would be impossible to maintain such an establishment by voluntary recruiting.


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. See Marshall Memorandum for General Tompkins, May 1, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-109 [5: 162-63].

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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 165-168.


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