3-177 Memorandum for the President, May 5, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 5, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

May 5, 1942 Washington, D.C.


Subject: Increase in strength of Army.

On January 13th last, you authorized an increase in the enlisted strength of the Army to 3,600,000 by December 31, 1942. Plans then visualized limited overseas movement during the year. Volume production of many items of critical equipment during 1942 was not firmly scheduled. Authorization for additional men in 1942 is now essential to our plans.1

In the intervening four months our war effort has taken more definite form. It has been necessary to secure our lines of communication to Australia by numerous garrisons, and to rush reinforcements to Hawaii, Alaska, and Panama. The enemy internment problem has expanded greatly, as have the requirements regarding anti-sabotage measures, particularly where Japanese are involved. The “Bolero” plan requires a material increase in special troops, eventually requiring some 300,000 men for the ground forces alone to meet the special problems of that operation.

Combat and other units now in training should not be emasculated to furnish men for these new requirements in personnel.2 The need of 750,000 additional men for the Army during 1942 is now evident, making a strength objective of 4,350,000 by next January, instead of the 3,600,000 authorized last January 13th. I recommend that you give your approval to this essential increase as an urgent war necessity.3

G. C. Marshall

Document Copy Text Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers, President’s Secretary’s File, Departmental [War], Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. The army had an actual reported strength of 1,657,157 on December 31, 1941. The January Troop Basis for December 1942 provided for 73 divisions and an air force of 998,000. Estimates of optimum wartime strength ranged from 200 to 334 divisions, and air component personnel might reach 2,700,000. (Kent Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer, and Bell I. Wiley, The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1947], pp. 198-203.)

2. In April 1942 the War Department had given first priority to shipping 1,000,000 men to the United Kingdom for the proposed April 1943 ROUNDUP operation. Ground force units were being stripped of their best personnel to furnish training cadres, officer candidates, aviation cadets, and men for overseas duty; they then competed for inductees with understrength air units and Services of Supply. (Ibid., pp. 201-2.)

3. In a handwritten note at the bottom of the memorandum, Roosevelt asked: “What is present schedule of personnel by months? FDR.” Marshall responded three days later. (Marshall Memorandum for the President, May 8, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 320.2].) The president authorized the additional 750,000 for 1942; two-thirds went to the Army Air Forces and the Services of Supply. (Greenfield, Palmer, and Wiley, Organization of Ground Combat Troops, pp. 202-3.) Marshall asked for a further strength increase in August; see Marshall Memorandum for the President, August 10, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-275 [3: 298-99].

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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 181-182.

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Holding ID: 3-177

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