4-585 To Brigadier General Robert E. Wood, November 16, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 16, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Brigadier General Robert E. Wood

November 16, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Wood:

I have your letters of November eighth and tenth and appreciate very much the constructive and illuminating comments you make.1

In the planning that is going on towards the post-war Army very careful thought is being given to the amount of funds that might reasonably be allocated for national security in peacetime budgets. As a matter of fact, and most confidentially, I returned all the plans to the planners just the other day with the direction that the whole matter be reconsidered because I felt that they were unrealistic, both as to the size of the Army required considering a reasonable expectation of the peace terms as to what the military strength of the world would be, and especially as to the size of the military budget required.2

I felt after hearing the comments of some of your business associates after my talk at Hot Springs, that I had failed to make plain the nature of my appeal to them. It was not my intention to propose any particular size

Army or any particular organization, Army and Navy, though I did state specifically that universal military training from the financial point of view was an absolute necessity, because otherwise no respectable military posture could be taken by this country.

What I was endeavoring to say to your associates, as suggested by listening to their morning discussions on taxes, was that unless they gave very careful thought and the closest attention—meaning continuous influence on groups and on legislators—towards the character of the military organization we set up after this war they would find themselves either suffering taxes from the purely military point of view, which would make the matters discussed by them the other morning of trivial importance, or that we should have no respectable or practical posture of military strength, whatever it might be considered to be.

To my mind it is a matter of first interest to your particular group to see that there is no damned nonsense about the character of the organization we set up, that it is as businesslike as it is possible for a government agency to be and not a welter of bureaus involving interdisputes, duplications, agonizing delays and fallacious arguments before Congress, having in mind some ulterior motive nine times out of ten.

Therefore I was glad to receive your letter and I am having it considered by the planners in order to be more certain that their view is sufficiently realistic.

Faithfully yours,

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

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. On November 4, Marshall had made a speech to the Department of Commerce’s Business Advisory Council at the Homestead resort at Hot Springs, Virginia. He spoke on current military operations and the postwar military establishment. Wood, chairman of the board of Sears, Roebuck and Company, attended the meeting. He wrote to Marshall expressing his support for universal military service and his belief that sentiment in the country also supported it. The real problem, he thought, was “to find the balance between the defense establishment that we need and the funds that this country can afford to allocate to that defense.” Wood noted that the United States developed its powerful industrial machine largely because of relatively light taxation and that the industrial machine was vital to modern warfare. The postwar national budget would probably be “somewhere between $23,000,000,000 and $25,000,000,000 of which $4,000,000,000 to $5,000,000,000 would probably be allocated to military, naval and air establishments. If you go beyond that total budget I think you will get beyond the safe limits of taxation and fetter our industrial progress.” Two days later, Wood sent Marshall a copy of a poll taken in Iowa that indicated strong public support for the general idea of postwar compulsory military training. (Wood to Marshall, November 8 and 10, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

2. See Marshall Memorandum for the Acting Director, Special Planning Division, November 13, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-576 [4: 659-60].

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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 668-669.

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