2-015 To Brigadier General Edmund L. Daley, July 20, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 20, 1939

To Brigadier General Edmund L. Daley1

July 20, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Daley:

I am sorry I did not have an opportunity to see you before you left for Puerto Rico, or during my recent visit to the Island. There was, and is, a great deal I would have liked to talk over with you, matters that do not lend themselves well to a written discussion.

I am intensely interested in the development of the Puerto Rican Garrison. The Air Base is first priority, but that problem can be handled in the usual manner. I am particularly concerned now with the problem of furnishing an adequate garrison to secure the defense of the Air and Naval bases. War Plans has outlined the garrison they think suitable for this purpose, and you have been called upon for your views. There is not much question as to the suitability or adequacy of the garrison recommended, but there is considerable question as to the availability of the necessary regular troops for the purpose.2

It is conceivable that we might be able to secure the necessary increase in next year’s legislation, or it is possible that a portion of the troops for this purpose might be secured when the units now existing in the United States are reorganized into the new smaller divisional organization. However, to build up a fairly large garrison of regular troops in Puerto Rico means that the military budget will have to be increased. I anticipate that sooner or later we will be faced with a cut in military appropriations and be called upon to undergo a strenuous process of economizing. Pay and rations are the simplest and most effective cuts that can be applied by Congress, so that we will therefore probably be subjected to serious reductions in regular personnel. We would then be concerned with the necessity of emasculating the ground forces of the Army within the United States in order to maintain our foreign garrisons.

I would, therefore, like to avoid building up a heavy regular personnel in our foreign garrisons, if this can be done without serious prejudice to their security.

I have in mind a scheme of making more effective use of the National Guard. For political and economic reasons, the National Guard can resist reductions better than can the Regular Army. At the same time, the use of National Guard units avoids the large cost of barracks, quarters and maintenance necessary for each additional regular unit.

For some time I have had the idea that the standard of Mobilization Day efficiency of certain categories of National Guard units could be materially raised and their availability for actual operations correspondingly speeded up, by a more intimate integration with Regular Army organizations.

I believe this can be accomplished by a close association between a regular unit and a corresponding National Guard unit in peace time training. This will be particularly true if the command and headquarters unit can, in effect, be that of the subordinate National Guard unit. For example, take antiaircraft troops. A skeleton regimental headquarters and possibly a full battalion would be regular troops, or maybe merely a battalion head quarters and one battery each of 3-inch and of 37 mm. guns. With this higher headquarters and regular unit, there could be affiliated two or more National Guard battalions. These later would have the identical status and standing of National Guard troops elsewhere as to control, training, etc. Instead of having merely an inspector-instructor from the Regular Army, they would have available the invaluable assistance and cooperation of the personnel of the Regular troops with whom they are associated. Their training should be particularly improved by supervision by the higher headquarters and by the use of selected non-commissioned officers. Upon being mobilized, these units would step off under regular regimental control. Additional separate battalions of antiaircraft might be added, all under the guidance of the higher regimental headquarters referred to above.

In like manner, instead of having a battalion of regular engineers, as proposed by the War Plans Division, it might be desirable to have a single engineer company of the Regular Army, with a skeleton battalion or regimental headquarters, paralleled by a battalion of National Guard engineers.

I look upon Puerto Rico as a natural laboratory in which to try this experiment. It would have to be accomplished with new units which would be in addition to the existing National Guard organizations on the Island. Governor Winship3 and The Adjutant General of Puerto Rico assured me that they had the talent along the desired lines. The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is in favor of this procedure and it is my belief that politically it would be much easier to initiate this scheme in Puerto Rico than in the United States. It would not be suitable in Panama because of lack of personnel. In Hawaii, race mixtures complicate the problem.

I believe the type of organization outlined above is particularly adaptable to those organizations which do not have the compelling necessity for that iron battle-field discipline essential to infantry. National Guard Field Artillery seems to develop more efficiently than Infantry. The reason for this, apparently, is the greater simplicity of procedure. In addition, the heavy artillery materiel serves as an anchor for the personnel. There is not the great dispersion incident to infantry developments.

I have found that very satisfactory engineer units can be maintained in the National Guard, especially if the units are located near large cities where careful selection of technically trained personnel is possible. Highly satisfactory Medical and Signal Corps units can also be developed in the National Guard.

It is believed, therefore, that a large portion of your field artillery might be National Guard, likewise a major portion of your signal, medical and quartermaster troops.

The people there in Puerto Rico want a National Guard observation squadron to take care of the local missions around the island. From personal experience, I know that such an organization can be maintained at a high state of efficiency, more easily in some respects than in the Regular Army where the pilots are all anxious to get into the GHQ Air Force. In addition there are frequent changes in personnel and the air units do not serve intimately with ground troops. However, I believe that the proper organization for this mission in Puerto Rico would be a reserve squadron. Such a squadron could be maintained there with practically no expense other than the routine training of Reserve Pilots. It would not be necessary to have a full time engineer officer, mechanics, parachute service, etc., as are required in a National Guard squadron, because all of this service could be conveniently provided by the regular army base personnel in Puerto Rico. In other words, repairs, maintenance and other service, and storage could be handled without difficulty by the regular army. The pilots would come from those Reserve Officers, several of whom, I understand from Winship, are already flying their own planes. Some of them own private flying fields.

I wish you would think this over and then write to me, personally and confidentially, giving your impressions. My concern is to provide a reasonable means of defense, to conserve budget funds for much needed materiel, particularly in corps and army artillery, and at the same time to avoid the emasculation of our continental IPF in the near future.4 I would like you to treat this whole matter, as far as my initiating and suggesting it are concerned, as personally confidential until we arrive at an acceptable base of departure.5

Faithfully yours,

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

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Daley (U.S.M.A., 1906), former commander of the First Coast Artillery District in Boston, Massachusetts, had been assigned to command the Puerto Rican Department which was activated on July 1. Initially the command’s strength was less than one thousand. (Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, pp. 15-16.)

2. The War Plans Division proposed an ultimate commitment of “Air Corps organizations and ground installations, a highly mobile force of infantry and field artillery, a considerable component of antiaircraft troops and installations, and, in all probability, a moderate project for harbor defense armament.” Air strength expansion was to be accompanied by a comprehensive defense project. The division also envisaged an expansion of the local National Guard. (George V. Strong Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, February 7, 1939, NA/ RG 407 [Classified, 323.231 (4-14-36)].)

3. Major General Blanton Winship had been governor of Puerto Rico since January 1934.

4. The I.P.F.—Initial Protective Force—was the emergency defensive force of currently existing Regular Army and National Guard units (on paper some 400,000 enlisted men at this time). The I.P.F. was the ready component of the P.M.P. (Protective Mobilization Plan) which, when a national emergency was declared, provided for the mobilization of 280,000 regulars, 450,000 guardsmen, and 270,000 new recruits for a total force of 1,000,000. General Staff planning between 1933 and 1939 aimed at providing weapons and equipment for the P.M.P. force, but Congress consistently refused to appropriate sufficient funds. (Watson, Chief of Staff pp. 29-30, 128.)

5. Daley replied that he agreed fully with Marshall’s ideas. “The National Guard is a splendid force for developing national spirit in the Island. Increased opportunities to serve in the National Guard, Organized Reserves, and R.O.T.C. will have definite values in bringing insular Puerto Rico closer to the continental United States.

“I am confident that an adequate defense of our Air and Naval bases will be planned which will make minimum demands on troops from the continental United States. As the National Guard components are progressively trained, the regular components in Puerto Rico may be somewhat reduced.” (Daley to Marshall, July 28, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 17-20.

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