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Memorandum for the Secretary of War
May 15, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Weekly Staff Conference.
The National Defense Act, Section 5b, provided that the Secretary of War, The Assistant Secretary of War, The General of the Army, and the Chief of Staff should constitute the War Council of the War Department, “which council shall, from time to time, meet and consider policies affecting both the military and munitions problems of the War Department. Such questions shall be presented to the Secretary of War in the War Council, and, decision with reference to such questions of policy, after consideration of the recommendations thereon by the several members of the War Council, shall constitute the policy of the War Department with reference thereto.” G.O. 48, War Department 1920, announced the formation of the War Council in conformity with the law.
Mr. Woodring usually had a meeting of a so-called War Council at 11:30 each morning—the Assistant Secretary and the Chief of Staff attending. These meetings were time-consuming, and as they usually followed no definite procedure, were ineffective.
At the present time the business of the War Department has expanded so rapidly and involves so many conflicting matters, that it is believed some such meetings should be held weekly for the purpose of orientation among the principal officials.
The following is suggested as an effective manner of procedure for this purpose:
Attendance. The Secretary, the Under Secretary, the Assistant Secretaries, and the Chief of Staff (accompanied by the three Deputies)—in the office of the Secretary of War.
Time. Monday at 9:15 A.M.
Procedure. Each in turn (normally excepting the Deputies), to be pre-pared briefly to outline such matters as it is believed desirable in the interest of efficient administration for all to be aware of. Discussions to be curtailed as much as possible, at the time, where they pertain only to a minority of the group.
It is suggested that the Secretary of the General Staff be present to keep an outline record of the matters discussed and of any decisions reached.1
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. Secretary Stimson approved Marshall’s agenda on May 16, 1941. (John W. Martyn Memorandum for the Under Secretary of War et al., May 16, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, War Council Minutes].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 504-505.