3-217 Memorandum for the President, June 10, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 10, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

June 10, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


1. The following is in response to the questions raised in your memorandum of June 8, 1942 to the Director of the Budget.1

1. “Why is it necessary at this time to get the money to maintain and operate an Army with a peak strength of 5,323,247?”

I have submitted from time to time requests for increases in the enlisted strength of the Army. The last of these was approved by you on June 8, 1942 for a total of 4,350,000 enlisted men to be reached on December 31st of this year. A strategic estimate previously prepared by the Department indicates that in order to assure the defeat of the Axis powers, the following forces would be needed:

By December 31, 1942, 4.2 million men

By December 31, 1943, 8.9 million men, and

During 1944, 10,400,000 men.

A later estimate indicated that due to the critical shipping situation 2,250,000 men represented the probable maximum which could be transported and sustained oversees by December 31, 1943. With this number overseas, facilities will exist in the United States for the training of approximately 4,000,000 men and at the same time provide for the continental defense of the United States and the expeditious flow of trained reinforcements overseas during the early months of 1944. Because of the fact that the estimates are on a fiscal year basis, the rate of increase which you have already authorized was projected to the end of the fiscal year reaching a total on June 30, 1943 of 4,800,000 enlisted men. With this number of enlisted men and the addition of warrant officers, nurses and officers, the total strength at that date will reach 5,323,247. In other words, the estimates provide for an orderly increase at the rate demanded by the strategic situation and in consonance with your prior decisions and the available facilities for training within the United States. Actually the estimates provide for an average strength of only 3,821,000 which is less than enough for what you have already authorized.

2. “Why is it necessary to get money now to maintain industry at maximum production levels until December 31, 1943?”

The present production program has been worked out in conjunction with the War Production Board, in line with the objectives which you have set for certain specific weapons, the increasing strength of the Army to which reference has been made, and the necessity for providing complementary weapons to those specified by you in order to have a well balanced force. The procedure which has always been followed in requesting appropriations has been to ask for enough to carry the Army and other departments until the end of the fiscal year which will be on June 30, 1943. During times of peace, in addition to the actual money appropriated, contract authorizations were given to permit carryovers and the initiation of work which could not be completed by the end of the fiscal year. This method has proved cumbersome and unworkable during the stress of the present emergency. Unless funds are provided which will permit the Department to place orders now for deliveries after June 30, 1943, it will be necessary to go back to Congress during the fall for such additional funds so that all work will not be terminated abruptly at the end of the fiscal year. This entails additional administrative detail and will not provide for the continuity of effort on the part of industry which is so necessary to maximum production. For many items of equipment delivery does not begin for six months to a year after funds are in hand. The manufacturer must have this time to arrange for raw materials and to provide an orderly organization of his production processes. This is especially necessary for items of Ordnance and fire control equipment, for tanks, airplanes and other difficult items. It is likewise extremely important for all industries which are devoted to mass production, as is the case from almost all of those now supplying the Army. If it be decided to provide funds only until June 30, 1943 at this time, additional funds to carry the program beyond that date should become available early in the fall. To revise the program and process the estimates by that time, a start would have to be made immediately with no better data than we now have. It is strongly urged that no change be made in the present request.

3. “Why is it necessary to get money for critical items of equipment for an Army of 8,900,000, and I suggest that at this time we ask only for critical items of equipment for 6,230,000 by June 30, 1943.”2

Critical items of equipment are items of especial military design not available in the market and requiring considerable time for their manufacture and delivery. Such items include tanks, airplanes, cannon, fire control equipment and other items of that character. Critical items do not include clothing, food, motor transportation and other equipment which can be obtained in the market or within a reasonable time. The budget submitted by the Department is in line with the objectives which you have fixed for certain of these critical items and merely asks for funds to provide for the other complementary weapons which are almost equally difficult to obtain and almost equally important. For the reasons stated above, in order to assure an orderly continuation of the production program, funds should be provided for the expansion required. I hardly need to call your attention to the tremendous handicaps which the Army has been under up to the present time because of the lack of equipment especially in these critical items. The military effort in northern climes must necessarily be carried on at a peak during the better months of the year, namely from March to December, and consequently the flow of supplies should be based on this season rather than on the calendar year or fiscal year. From the production point of view for the reasons previously given, critical items for delivery in the fall of 1943 should be financed at this time rather than in a supplemental estimate early this fall. The strategic situation is not such as to justify any relaxation in our production campaign. Advance planning in such volume requires consideration not only of the completion of end products but extends throughout our entire industrial system back to the production of raw materials. A long time is necessary to thoroughly correlate all processes from raw materials to the finished product.

5. Consideration of effect of shipping.

This problem is with us daily and hourly. The carrying capacity of our shipping is a controlling factor in all strategic plans upon which equipment and other items are based. It must be assumed that the present losses by submarines will be overcome and plans for equipment must be predicated upon this probability. Under no circumstances should the Government be placed in a position where its military effort overseas will be curtailed by a lack of equipment and supplies. The calculations on which the estimates are based are in keeping with the man power, productive capacity, and shipping of the country. Help which may be obtained from Great Britain has been taken into consideration. Operating costs are tied in firmly with current authorized strengths. If future strengths do not attain the planned figures, the equipment and supplies will permit future estimates to be reduced. If future strengths must exceed planned strength, the department will be in a better position to cope with that situation if the lag in procurement is minimized.

I strongly urge the approval of the estimates as they now stand.3

G. C. Marshall

[P.S.] General Somerville [Somervell] can make a very convincing explanation of the necessity for the action recommended. I am sure his view is sound.

G. C. M.4

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. On June 8 President Roosevelt had returned the War Department estimates for fiscal year 1943 to Director of the Budget Harold D. Smith, suggesting that certain items be decreased. His objections are paraphrased in the italicized questions 1, 2, and 3. In paragraph 5 of his message Roosevelt warned that “careful scrutiny should be made as to whether the total tonnage of equipment does not greatly exceed shipping possibilities.” (Roosevelt Memorandum for the Director of the Budget, June 8, 1942, FDRL/F. D. Roosevelt Papers [PSF, Departmental (War)].)

2. Roosevelt told Smith that more materiel could be ordered later. “What I want to avoid is charges already circulated that we are buying more equipment than we can see the use for at this time—for example, the newspaper charge that we have on hand or have ordered enough uniforms for 50,000,000 men.” (Ibid.)

3. “I approve authorization and money for Army peak strength at 5,323,247 men at this time,” the president replied, “but I do not approve the figure of 8,900,000 men by December 31, 1943, or the figure of 10,400,000 men during 1944. We will take that question up again this Autumn. In regard to the estimates for equipment, I approve only enough money at this time to place orders for beyond December 31, 1943 in those items which have to be ordered in the next six months. This should not include items which can be procured in a much shorter space of time. In other words, a clear line must be drawn between critical items and those that can be easily acquired in six months or less.” (Roosevelt Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, June 10, 1942, ibid.)

4. This postscript was handwritten by Marshall. Having read President Roosevelt’s June 10 reply to Marshall’s memorandum printed here, Smith wrote: “The Bureau has had an understanding with General Somervell of the War Department that hereafter War Department estimates will not be prepared in the War Department until there has been clearance with the Commander in Chief as to the basic strength of the Army, a condition precedent to the preparation of budgetary requirements.” (Smith Memorandum for the President, June 11, 1942, ibid.)

Marshall also wrote at the top of the first page of this memorandum: “The House appropriation committee hearings start to-morrow, Thursday, a.m. G. C. M.” The War Department was presenting its estimate Thursday, June 11, 1942, and the next week before the Military Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. (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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 229-232.

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