2-047 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, September 7, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 7, 1939

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

September 7, 1939 Washington, D.C.

Reference the question of immediate increase of the Regular Army and the National Guard—

Utilizing present authorized increases:

The last Appropriation Act authorizes increase of the Regular establishment from 165,000 to 202,000, in a series of increments, more than doubling the Air Corps and providing 6,000-odd anti-aircraft and coast defense troops for Panama.

Our urgent necessity of the moment is to complete the missing links of the ground forces of the IPF.1 To utilize the foregoing increase, appropriated for by the last Congress, will create a deficiency in the same manner our proposed increase of the Regular Army to 280,000 would create a deficiency.

Furthermore, successful recruiting demands publicity, and publicity will probably mean an unfavorable reaction as Members of Congress learn that we are diverting the men away from the Air Service to the ground forces. Incidentally, we have already accelerated the Air Corps increments, but definitely do not wish to press it faster—otherwise indigestion.

Necessity for immediate increases:

It is highly desirable from a military standpoint, and I believe from the public reaction standpoint, to start immediately on the increase of the Regular Army and the National Guard to remedy the serious deficiencies in our Initial Protective Force. This is within the law (National Defense Act, which authorized 280,000 for the Regular Army and approximately 450,000 for the National Guard.) Also, it is believed of much importance that an announcement of an increase in the Regular Army should be coupled with a similar announcement regarding the National Guard.

Specific requests for authority:

Authority to increase the Regular Army to 250,000, 30,000 men below the peace strength of 280,000 now authorized by the National Defense Act, is urgently recommended. Similar authority to recruit the National Guard to peace strength (an increase of 126,000 men—or about 130,000 below the strength authorized under the National Defense Act.)2


Both these increases to be made in three increments, the last on February 1st. It is possible, some think rather probable, that voluntary recruiting to the numbers indicated may be a slower process than planned. Publicity is essential in order to make reasonable progress.

Authority and manner for Recruiting National Guard:

Recruitment of the National Guard, under peace conditions is a matter for the respective Governors. The War Department merely authorizes the States to increase the strength of units by certain numbers—meaning that clothing, equipment, weekly drill night pay, and summer two weeks’ training pay and rations, will be provided by the Federal Government. The Governor will increase his military forces above the War Department authorizations, but it would be entirely at the expense of the state, and no government equipment would be provided.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1917- (RG 407), Classified, 320.2 [9-7-39], National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. For information about the I.P.F. (Initial Protective Force), see note 4, Marshall to Daley, July 20,1939, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-015 [2: 17-20].

2. Memorandums were written for Secretary Woodring and he signed letters to the president recommending these increases, but they are in the files marked “Not Used.”

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. 52-53.

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