2-489 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, June 20, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 20, 1941

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

June 20, 1941 Washington, D.C.


The following paragraphs summarize the problems involved in the matter of determining whether or not the National Guard is to be retained in the Federal service:1

MORALE On the whole the National Guard is willing to remain in service. However, Guardsmen are pleading for an early decision in this matter, because of the effect the decision will have upon their personal activities. For example, the renting season is now under way in most communities and to arrange for their families, Guardsmen must know if they are to be released. Young men who expect to return to college are also vitally concerned because registration and other arrangements should be completed now.

EMPLOYMENT OF There are certain laws governing the re-employment of military personnel called into GUARDSMENservice during the present emergency. Employers are insisting upon knowing now if

Guardsmen will return to their jobs at the end of the year’s service.

STATE INTEREST It is imperative that the various States be informed at the earliest practicable date of the future of the National Guard. Many States are now expending funds on Home Guard units which by law must be disbanded when the National Guard is released. Other States hesitate to proceed with such organization in the present uncertainty concerning the National Guard. Some States have released rented National Guard armories

when the Guard was mobilized, while other States rented State-owned armories. In any case advance notice should be furnished in order that armory facilities can be provided.

STAFF PLANNING It takes considerable time to accomplish the demobilization of the National Guard and for disposing of selectees and large quantities of equipment involved. Instructions for demobilization should reach all concerned at least two months before effective date. The critical date for a substantial part of the Guard is July 15. It is imperative that this planning be carefully worked out since it not only involves careful coordination with maneuver schedules, but also personnel, supply and transportation problems. If not retained in the service, some Guard units now overseas must be returned to the United States for discharge early in August.

SELECTIVE SERVICE The decision relative to the Guard vitally affects personnel procurement rates. Requisitions for selectees must be made six weeks prior to delivery date. This entails considerable advanced planning and coordination with the Selective Service which cannot be done until the decision relative to the Guard is made. This planning also involves the provision and adequate training of cadres for units to be activated if the Guard is released. A special training of cadres must be initiated by July 15.

CONSTRUCTION If the Guard is to be retained, additional construction will be necessary especially for new armored force units. This construction should be initiated immediately to avoid winter building and to assure the unimpeded development of the armored force.

BASE AND TASK Regular Army organizations are now being disrupted to provide base and task forces.

FORCES If the National Guard is retained, a part of it could be employed for these purposes. The

preparation and training of these forces for special missions require considerable time. It

is, therefore, becoming increasingly important that an early decision be made as to the

future status of the Guard.2

G. C. Marshall

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (RG 107), Secretary of War Safe, Repeal of Restrictions—Armed Forces, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. Planning for the retention of the National Guard in federal service began in December 1940. The General Staff recognized that those units federalized first would complete their service before the augmented Regular Army was sufficiently trained. On April 28, 1941 Marshall told the House Appropriations Committee that a decision to retain the National Guard would be made by June. No decision was made by then, however. President Roosevelt advised the nation on June 17 that the government was studying the matter and that Secretary Stimson was to make a report to him. (Watson, Chief of Staff pp. 214-18.)

2. On this same day, Secretary Stimson sent President Roosevelt a lengthy memorandum (“Removal of legislative restrictions”) strongly urging that a joint resolution be introduced into Congress retaining the National Guard, the Reserve Corps officers, and the draftees in federal service beyond the year stipulated in the 1940 legislation. The president replied on June 26 instructing Stimson to go ahead and get something started as soon as you can.” (Stimson Memorandum for the President, June 20, 1941, NA/RG 107 (SW Safe, Repeal of Restrictions—Armed Forces); Roosevelt Confidential Memorandum for the Secretary of war, June 26,1941, ibid.) On the history of this measure and Marshall’s views regarding the issue, see editorial note #2-507, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [2: 565-66].

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. 541-543.

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Holding ID: 2-489

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