5-224 Notes on Discussion of Future Military Policy, August 31, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 31, 1945

Subject: World War II

Notes on Discussion of Future Military Policy1

August 31, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]

Top Secret

1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have just received for their consideration a proposed “United States Military Policy” prepared by the Joint Staff Planners in collaboration with the Joint Strategic Survey Committee and the Joint Post War Committee, which after approval by the Joint Chiefs of Staff would be submitted to the Secretaries of War and the Navy with the recommendation that it be furnished to the State Department. A discussion based on this JCS paper, including extracts therefrom, is attached for your use.2

2. In addition to the proposals in the JCS paper above, a discussion of the following points which pertain to the implementation of United States military policy may arise:

a. Single Department of National Defense – The necessity for a single department to facilitate economy and coordination is evident. Now, when major reorganizations appear necessary would be the appropriate time to set up a single department.3

b. It is possible that the size and missions of the Armed Forces will be discussed. The President has referred to the Joint Chiefs of Staff the Navy proposal as to size of the permanent Navy asking for the development of a comprehensive plan concerning the armed services for his consideration. Therefore, discussion and action on size, composition and organization should be deferred until the report of the JCS can be made available to the President.

c. The President informed the Chief of Staff that he was strongly in favor of universal military training. He directed that a plan or program of procedure be prepared as a basis for bringing the question most impressively before the country and to the Congress. Work on this is in progress—largely coordinated by Mr. McCloy. On the 23rd of August the attached letter (Appendix II)4 was sent to the President containing material recommended for inclusion in a Presidential message to Congress to lead off in the program. The letter recommends the President express himself as favoring universal military training and further recommends that the President state that at a later date he will submit to Congress recommendations for needed legislation for the entire program of a permanent military establishment including universal military training.

d. Organization of the War Department. Since the authority for the present organization of the War Department will expire six months after the expiration of the emergency, a board of senior officers is now working to determine the organization which should be put into effect thereafter.5

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department Genera and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), 334.8, Case 87, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed notes.

1. This document, covering the three subjects on the proposed agenda for that day’s Cabinet meeting, was sent to Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, who was to substitute for vacationing Secretary Stimson.

2. Document J.C.S. 1496/3 was approved by the Joint Chiefs and circulated to the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee for comment on October 3. Records of the lengthy process of writing and approving this document are in NA/RG 165 (P&O, ABC 092 [July 18, 1945]). The attached extracts are not printed here.

3. For further developments on this issue, see Marshall Memorandum for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, September 26, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-239 [5: 314-15].

4. Appendix II included Marshall’s Memorandum for the President of August 23, 1945; a draft inclusion to the president’s proposed September message to Congress; and draft letters to the heads of the chairmen of the Senate and House committees on military affairs asserting that the army could not meet its strength goals for occupation and other duties through volunteers and Selective Service inductions at the current rate. (See NA/RG 165 [OPD, 334.8 TS, Sec. II, Case 87].)

5. On the War Department reorganization effective March 9, 1942, see editorial note #3-125, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, [3: 127-29]. This reorganization took place under the authority granted to the president by the First War Powers Act of December 17, 1941. (See U.S. Statutes at Large, 1941-1942, vol. 55, pt. 1, pp. 838-41, Public Law 354.) Marshall and Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph T. McNarney discovered that this reorganization still left problems with intelligence management, personnel functions, and research and development. Moreover, there were continual difficulties between the functionally organized Army Service Forces headquarters and offices of the chiefs of the traditional technical services. The Organization Branch of the War Department’s Special Planning Division had initially worked on the postwar organization of the War Department and the army, but it had been unable to reach a consensus. Consequently, Marshall appointed a Board of Officers on the Reorganization of the War Department under Fourth Army commander Lieutenant General Alexander M. Patch (and after Patch’s death on November 21, under Lieutenant General William H. Simpson). This board’s recommendations were the basis of the “Eisenhower Reorganization” of 1946, which undid many of Marshall’s wartime changes. (James E. Hewes, Jr., From Root to McNamara: Army Organization and Administration, 1900-1963 [Washington: GPO, 1975], pp. 127-28, 151-62.)

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), pp. 291-293.

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