3-399 Memorandum for the President, November 9, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 9, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

November 9, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


The Secretary of War has informed me of the directions he has received from the Bureau of the Budget dated November 4, 1942, regarding the military estimates for the fiscal year 1944.1 These instructions appear to fix the strength of the Army, so far as the calendar year of 1943 is concerned, at 6,500,000, which is not in accord with your approval of the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 30, 1942, establishing 7,500,000 as the planned strength for the Army by the end of December, 1943. I have in mind your instructions regarding the presentation of estimates for pay and rations for the increased strength, but the communication from the Bureau of the Budget definitely limits the development of the Army.

Simply stated, the reduction of the Army to 6,500,000 at the end of 1943 means that there will be available in the Spring of 1944, when we should be reaching our peak strength, just 14 fewer transportable divisions for combat duty. Unless the anti-submarine and the Mediterranean campaigns are to be marked down as failures, we will have the shipping to throw these 14 divisions into combat in the Spring of 1944. Moreover, late in 1944 we would have no strategic reserve if this reduction is effected, without the possession of which in war it is impossible to meet emergencies or exploit successes as they develop.

It would also introduce in 1943 a break in our training that interrupts the development of the Army. If the training facilities which we now have are not used over a substantial period they are bound to disintegrate and cannot again be brought to efficiency overnight.

I want very much to keep the Air Force program intact and feel strongly that it is wise to do so but, with this reduction, the only alternatives I have are to break up divisions already in advanced state of training or reduce the air program in order to maintain the divisions that are now engaged in overseas combat operations.

If it is intended that at some later date new decisions may be made, I respectfully submit that the complications involved in creating a balanced military force, together with those of production, are too great and require too many months of preliminary preparations to permit of effective alterations in strength by a process of delayed decisions.2

The morale of the hostile world must be broken, not only by aggressive fighting but as in 1918 by the vision of an overwhelming force of fresh young Americans being rapidly developed in this country.

The instructions from the Bureau of the Budget vitally affect our strategical plans for the conduct of the war. In your Executive Order of February 28, 1942, I was made responsible to you in matters pertaining to strategy, tactics, and operations. This was amplified by your letter on this subject of February 26, 1942, addressed to the Secretary of War. It is my considered opinion that the instructions of the Bureau of the Budget referred to jeopardize our success in this war and should be revoked immediately.

[P.S.] Attached hereto is a memorandum showing in greater detail the effect of the reduction.3

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. In revising his initial November 7 draft, Marshall added three paragraphs of explanation preceding this one and deleted the paragraph following this one which read: “Furthermore, I am greatly disturbed by the obvious campaign in a large number of newspapers directed against the increase of the Army and in some instances contending for the principle of our providing the munitions while other troops do the fighting. The success in the Middle East has given impetus to this fallacious and humiliating proposition. A successful TORCH operation will further strengthen this fatal psychology.”

2. The bureau’s letter to the secretary was quoted, in part, in another War Department document: “As a basis for use in preparing the total estimate by December 1, 1942, and the detailed estimates to be submitted March 15, 1943, the President has directed that an average enlisted strength of 6,500,000 for the Army for the fiscal year 1944 be used. In estimating for material and equipment to be procured during the fiscal year 1944 this figure should be increased by 10 percent. Furthermore, in the case of the items of material and equipment which have to be ordered well in advance, requirements should be figured not on the above-mentioned average for the fiscal year 1944 but for the highest point, which will be at the end of that fiscal year. In other words, procurement of long-range equipment should be based on reaching a maximum enlisted strength of 7,533,000 on June 30, 1944.” (W.D.S. [Major General Wilhelm D. Styer] Memorandum for Secretary, General Staff, November 12, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 320.2].)

3. See Edwards Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, November 8, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers (Pentagon Office, Selected); Marshall edited this memorandum into its final form.

President Roosevelt replied the next day: “I wish the Government as a whole would talk in terms either of calendar year or fiscal year but not both! My directions to the Budget are not in contradiction with what I had approved to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 30th. Let me put it so clearly that there can be no misunderstanding. For Budget purposes the strength of the Army is fixed for an AVERAGE of 6,500,000 for the calendar year 1943. In other words, in January the strength of the Army will, in all probability, not exceed 5,000,000 and you will be lucky if it gets over 7,000,000 by December 31, 1943. That means that the AVERAGE of the Army for 1943 cannot possibly exceed 6,500,000. In regard to the equipment for the Army, the Director of the Budget understands that by the end of the calendar year, i.e., December 31, 1943, he must allow for enough equipment for 7,500,000 men. There is no need of saying anything about the rest of yours of November ninth, for there is no conflict of figures on my part. If the Army and Budget people will only do what I have written they will see that there is no argument between them.” (Roosevelt Memorandum for General Marshall, November 10, 1942, 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. 428-430.

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