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Notes for the Secretary of War’s Press Conference1
August 8, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
The first reactions to the appearance of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima were to be expected but I am amazed at the rapidity with which conclusions are being formed in this country regarding the effect of such a weapon on our military policy and the present and future strength of the Army.2 We have been working for several years towards the production of the bomb and during that time have given lengthy consideration not only to its immediate effect on the Government and the people of Japan but more particularly to its relationship to military requirements for the future; so it is rather surprising, though typically American, to find complete conclusions drawn in a few hours regarding a matter which those immediately responsible have been laboring with for several years and who have not yet arrived at any such definite conclusions as those announced during the past 24 hours.
I will say this at this time, that in my opinion and that of General Marshall and his associates, the bomb, from a military standpoint, is merely another weapon much more powerful than any of its predecessors, but that it is not an easy way out. We think under the special circumstances that now exist in Japan that that Government must decide immediately whether it will surrender or will choose to be extinguished. That special situation, however, does not in our opinion alter the main requirements for military power in the future. If there is any one fact that has been demonstrated time and again in this war it is that to conclude a victory, to prevent the enemy from continuing destructive action against you, a ground Army must move in and take over control of his resources and his power for destruction. The case of the V-bombs is a perfect illustration of this point. Until the Allied armies overran northern France, London remained under the destructive attack of these frightful weapons.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed notes.
1. The press conference was cancelled. See note 1, Notes for the Secretary of War’s Press Conference, August 9, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-189 [5: 262].
2. At a press conference on August 7, Marshall had distributed a one-page not-for-attribution memorandum entitled “Size of the Army” that assumed that Japan would fight on; thus the overall strength of the army would be reduced only to 6,968,000 by June 30, 1946. “Whether this figure can be decreased will depend upon the success of our operations, the Japanese reaction, the action of the Soviets, etc.” (Size of the Army, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) The army’s peak strength had been reached in May 1945 at 8,291,000. (U.S. Army Service Forces, Statistical Review, World War II: A Summary of ASF Activities [Washington: GPO, 1946], p. 57.)
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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 260.