5-145 Testimony Before the House War Department Subcommittee, May 25, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 25, 1945

Subject: World War II

Testimony Before the House War Department Subcommittee

May 25, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]

Last year, when General McNarney appeared before you in connection with Estimates for the fiscal year 1945, he stated that the present fiscal year would be the first to see the Army at its full effective strength of 7,700,000 throughout the twelve months’ period. However, he pointed out that the deployment overseas would continue to mount throughout 1945, since our full strength could not be exerted upon the numerous battlefields until many months after attaining our planned mobilization strength.

General McNarney predicted that the current fiscal year would be one of offensive operations. Actually, United States forces have retained the initiative against both Japanese and Germans throughout the period, except for the brief and unsuccessful German counteroffensive in the Ardennes last December. The measure of our success is indicated by the collapse of resistance in Europe and by the forward progress of our forces in the Far East.


The preceding year saw the initial equipment of our forces almost completed. Production during the past year has been devoted chiefly to maintaining our armies in the field, the replacement of combat losses, and to equipping and maintaining Allied forces. Our preponderance in equipment and in fire power has held down our casualties, our losses in offensive operations having in most cases been smaller than those of the enemy fighting from prepared defensive positions. The policy has been that so far as possible material would be expended to the maximum degree practicable in order to conserve the lives of our men.

During the past year requirements for guns and for permanent equipment items have decreased, while our requirements for ammunition of various types have increased. In aircraft, the emphasis placed upon very heavy bomber [i.e., B-29] operations resulted in increased requirements in terms of air frame weight without a corresponding increase in the number of planes.

The success of our military operations of the past year, and the accomplishments in production and in supply, were enhanced by the experience gained during the war years preceding. Since 1941 the resources of America have been devoted to the defeat of the Axis. The nation has kept its shoulder to the wheel; and our mighty military machine has moved forward, slowly at first, then with gathering momentum, until today there is behind our war effort a terrific drive, a cumulative momentum which is reflected in a continually accelerated thrust forward toward final victory.

It is of utmost importance that the tremendous power of that momentum be sustained until world peace is actually within our grasp. It would be a costly mistake, a hideous injustice to our men in the Pacific to relax now in optimistic estimates of the situation. The final victory on the battlefields will be ours, but it must not be delayed by optimistic errors of judgment or impatient demands for a return at home to the conditions of peace.


There is little of military secrecy as to the general nature of our plans for the coming year. The offensives in the Pacific are to be intensified to the maximum degree possible. Air strikes of constantly increasing power will devastate the Japanese homeland and pave the way for invasion.

A swift redeployment against our remaining enemy in the Pacific is our most pressing problem. Economy in lives and materiel, as well as the psychology of the American people, demand that we mount a swift, powerful offensive, forcing a victory at the earliest possible date. To this end, the basis for our planning has been not what is necessary to defeat Japan, but rather, how much of our power can we effectively employ against her. We aim to use every man and every weapon practicable.

Until the victory is finally achieved, it is obvious that a large army must be maintained. However, our plans do contemplate the return to civilian life of a large number of men now in uniform who have contributed their share in the armed services of this country. To permit the release of these war-worn men, the induction of those who have heretofore been deferred, and those reaching the statutory age, should continue at a high rate.


To support these operations, the War Department is submitting a Budget Estimate of $40,000,000,000 of which $25,000,000,000 represents required new money and $15,000,000,000 a carry-over of funds available from prior appropriations. The estimates represent carefully computed requirements. They provide for all procurement, operation, and maintenance costs to support an average strength of 7.7 million men. It is estimated that the strength of the Army will be 8.3 million men on July 1st at the beginning of the new fiscal year, with a target strength of approximately 7.0 million at its close. If this planned reduction can be achieved, it will enable us, with the aid of continuing inductions, to return to civil life some two million men who have earned their right to demobilization. But top priority must be given to the redeployment against Japan of our fighting forces and, to the maximum extent practicable, of their equipment. While we are concurrently engaged in redeploying large forces from Europe to the Pacific, an average of 167,000 per month is about the maximum number of men who can be transported home for discharge and handled through our separation facilities. It is hoped that this separation objective can be attained.


The proposed strength of 6,968,000 embraces four major categories:

1. The forces required in the Pacific for future operations which are now planned and for which the commitments are firm.

2. A strategic reserve earmarked for certain eventualities in the Pacific War which may or may not materialize. This reserve will be composed of the last troops to come back from Europe and probably will not be available for effective use until 1946. It may well be that as this force is moved back to the United States, circumstances will be such that all or a part of it will not be needed. In that event an additional demobilization will be ordered.

3. Occupation forces. The eventual strength of forces which must be retained in Europe and elsewhere (other than in the Pacific) of course is not known at this time. Present plans call for a strength of approximately 500,000 of which the occupational force in Germany will be about 400,000. These forces will be reduced as soon as that can safely be done.

4. The forces required in the Zone of the Interior, that is, Continental U.S., and in pipelines, will be discussed in detail by General Handy.

The Army will exercise the strictest possible economy in the use of manpower. However, until such time as the extent of necessary operations against Japan is more definitely known, it would not be prudent to undertake plans for a further demobilization.


In addition to funds required to support the Army, the estimates include International Aid commitments to be supplied in 1946, and civilian supplies for liberated and occupied areas. These civilian supplies in our estimates are restricted to those requirements considered to be essential to prevent disease and unrest during the military period, before civilian agencies take over.


The estimates of preceding years provided for the expansion of plant facilities necessary to attain required munitions production capacity under the appropriation “Expediting Production.” For 1946 no further expansion of over-all production capacity for existing items is contemplated. But as the war progresses, newly developed weapons and other items of equipment are added to our requirements and some of these necessitate additional new production facilities. It is only this required production capacity for newly developed items that we include in the 1946 Estimate under “Expediting Production”.


We now have, in Army hospitals all over the world, more than half a million patients. Many of these are suffering from battle injuries, and many will require all the help which modern surgery and medicine can provide. A large number will necessarily have to undergo a prolonged period of convalescence and physical and mental rehabilitation. Our hospital facilities must be ample and must guarantee that each patient receives any necessary specialized attention to the full extent that modern medical science is able to assist his recovery. During the period of convalescence, we must be mindful of his need for pleasant surroundings and for the exercise and recreation so helpful in speeding recovery. Mind and body must be kept occupied. Our Army hospital system is designed to accomplish these needs.


Now that Allied victory has been achieved in Europe, it is of utmost importance that millions of American soldiers in that theater have their time fully utilized while awaiting the ships which will carry them to the far Pacific or bring them home. An idle soldier becomes a discontented soldier. Just how much time will be allotted to continued military training must be the decision of the theater commander. But in all inactive theaters, time will be allotted to athletic, recreational, and particularly to educational programs.

The Army has made careful and elaborate preparations to facilitate the continued education of the young soldiers whose school work was interrupted by military service. The textbooks were shipped overseas months ago. Literacy courses, upper elementary school subjects, standard high school curricula, vocational courses, and junior college course are being provided. Army university study centers are being established, and arrangements have been made with foreign colleges and universities for attendance of American soldier students on a temporary duty basis. I think that in many cases the soldier will return home with his educational standard above that which would probably have been the case had he not been inducted into the Army.


The estimate presented represents the War Department requirements for the successful prosecution of the war throughout 1946. We do not, we cannot assume a final victory as of any given date. The energies of the Army will be devoted to victorious warfare. But to the extent that we are blessed with victory within the new fiscal year, the reduced requirements of the resulting situation will be reflected promptly in our plans.1


Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Speeches, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed draft.


1. Following his formal presentation, and without waiting for questions, Marshall began to elaborate on matters he thought would interest committee members; this off-the-cuff lecture was two-and-a-half times as long as his prepared remarks. He began by examining the imponderables affecting the army’s size in the future (e.g., “whether or not Russia will enter the war with Japan”), plans for redeployment to the Pacific, and replacement personnel needs. He noted that the fighting in the Pacific and East Asia raised the question of how best “to extinguish this Japanese military power.” He reiterated the army’s determination to minimize U.S. casualties. “We plan to gain the victory speedily by an overwhelming application of force—fire power and men.” (U.S., House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations, Military Establishment Appropriation Bill for 1946: Hearings . . . [Washington: GPO, 1945], pp. 5-13.)

George H. Mahon, a Texas Democrat, asked Marshall’s opinion of the idea that it would be cheaper to defeat Japan through a blockade. That was largely a political decision, Marshall responded; he warned, however, that such a “scheme proposes a very much prolonged war, a much prolonged tax bill, the endurance of a burden through a long period, and it also proposes, on the political level, whether or not we would have left Japan in a position where she would be incapable of doing this thing all over again.” Moreover, the United States would have to consider the Chinese reaction to leaving the Japanese army in their country for a prolonged period. Finally, the United States had to avoid a war of attrition. A blockade “would mean we have got to take other places in order to establish such a blockade. How many people will you lose in taking these other places; and how many would you lose if you went at it as we did in Normandy and settled the job.” The size of the U.S. Army needed to be maintained at the high level the War Department proposed in order to defeat Japan, Marshall concluded. (Ibid., pp. 13-18.)

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. 200-204.


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