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To John W. McCormack
November 9, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mr. McCormack:
This is in response to your request for a letter indicating the effect which restrictions on the use of soldiers will have on the war effort.1
My views on this matter were stated in a letter to Mr. Wadsworth and in testimony before the Military Affairs Committee. In addition I might state that after detailed study the War Department finds that these restrictions will make it necessary to secure authority to induct an additional 500,000 men above our previously calculated requirements. The War Department is faced with a realistic situation and must proceed with the organization of units and replacements in accord with the necessities of the war.
In addition to complicating the critical manpower problem, these restrictions will force the induction of large numbers of men with dependents and others engaged in vital war industries. They will also force us to assign men to combat units who are not physically equipped to meet the rigors of active warfare.
For months the War Department has worked on strategic plans, which are based upon a definite troop and replacement basis. The restrictions referred to will seriously affect these plans, to a degree which I do not believe is generally understood. I most earnestly hope that the Congress will not hamper us at this critical period. I am more interested in giving adequate training to our young men than almost any other individual in this country, because I am fully aware of the peril of employing partially trained troops, and I am in a position of the greatest responsibility in this matter.2
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. In the House of Representatives, those who favored a prohibition against sending eighteen- and nineteen-year-old draftees to combat zones until they had completed at least twelve months of training in the United States (see note 1, Marshall Memorandum for the Under Secretary of War, November 3, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-392 [3: 421-22]) had introduced a resolution instructing the House members of the conference committee to accept the Senate’s version of the draft bill, which included the restriction. (New York Times, November 10, 1942, pp. 1, 17.)
2. House Majority Leader McCormack read extracts from Marshall’s letter during the closing moments of the November 9 debate on the resolution of instruction. The resolution was defeated 178-40. The conference committee removed the Senate’s restrictions, and the bill passed the House on November 10, the Senate on November 12, and was signed by the president on November 13.
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 430-431.