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To Brigadier General John McA. Palmer
October 25, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
I just received your note of October 24th.1 I told the National Guard group yesterday afternoon that I not only had no objection to their consulting with you but I would appreciate it very much if they did. You probably have already heard from them in the matter.
They started off, I fear, in a state of confusion and probably suspicion, aggravated by the fact that the War Department did not want to scatter these studies around the country with the inevitable release to the press, as the matter is still in too formative a stage. We did want them to be thinking it over, but from what I hear in a very hasty inquiry, they are considerably stirred up and got the impression we were trying to rush legislation through. This is not the case at all. We have been mulling this plan over forward and back for the past five months with the National Guard officers here in the War Department. I have talked over its details formally with the National Guard Association, and particularly with Reckord and Martin, of Pennsylvania, and others. We have to go ahead for planning purposes only at this time, because the law prescribes a certain period for the National Guard. We must have a plan to meet that possibility.2
P.S. Tell Maude confidentially that Katherine had a fall in the house due to the slippery floors, while I was off in South Carolina Thursday. She fell, striking a chair and breaking four ribs and banging her head pretty badly. She has been in Walter Reed since Thursday. They have not yet been able to take an X-ray. I have only seen her once and she cannot see visitors.
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. Palmer had written that Major General John F. Williams, chief of the National Guard Bureau, telephoned me and asked me to meet a group of National Guard Officers who were studying a plan of permanent military organization recently proposed in the War Department. They asked me if I would study the plan with them and advise them especially in its relation to our national military policy. I told them that I could not consider such a proposal except with your knowledge and consent. As they were to have an appointment with you later in the afternoon I told them to speak to you about it.” (Palmer to Marshall, October 24, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. By mid-October 1941 certain National Guard units had been in federal service for a year or more. The problem, as Marshall posed it to his staff at an October 15 meeting, was to establish some device “for preserving the Guard as a Reserve in so far as possible. For the purposes of this discussion, let us suppose that in February or March our status is as it is today; that we are in the war only informally as at present and yet fully on guard. Then suppose that under these circumstances public sentiment would require us, or we would think it desirable, to release the National Guard. What would be the requirements and the procedure to keep it from dissolving so far as to be of no value to us?” The following day Marshall and his advisers tentatively decided to initiate planning on the assumption that certain units should be released beginning in February 1942. Two months prior to this action the new policy would be announced, but it would be emphasized that the nation’s total combat forces were being expanded by the creation of a trained reserve and that the army’s total strength was not being reduced. (Frank McCarthy Notes on Conference in General Marshall’s Office, October 15 and 16, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, Notes on Conferences File].)
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. 652-653.