Memorandum for the Acting Director,
Special Planning Division
November 13, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Saturday I gave instructions for the recall of the Minutes of the General Council which gave the estimates of post-war troop and air strength and the probable costs. I did this because it appeared to me that the estimates were so unrealistic—or rather, improbable of accomplishment, however desirable—that I thought it would do great harm to the entire War Department post-war program—particularly Selective Service, if any rumor of such conception were to get abroad.
I am rather of the opinion that the estimates of officers on post-war military set-ups have gotten considerably out of focus by reason of the present influence of dealing in the tremendous numbers and unlimited appropriations that are now available. Also, it appears to me that the estimates are not based on a sound appreciation of the world situation we should envisage, assuming that the terms of the peace are reasonably within our present desires.
Following an Armistice, and over a period of a year or possibly two years, we probably of necessity will be maintaining a rather large force due to the fact that we cannot either evacuate the troops from overseas theaters as rapidly as we should desire to do or the local conditions in the overseas theaters for the time being make it necessary to hold the troops longer than would otherwise be necessary.
I wish that the entire matter of post-war strengths be re-surveyed, having strictly in mind the debilitation of the Axis powers, the huge resources for a long period of years that we shall possess in the form of Army and Navy materiel, and the vastly increased power which will be given us by an annual program of universal military training—something we have never previously enjoyed.1
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Marshall later ordered that copies of the galley proofs of John McA. Palmer's forthcoming "General Marshall Wants a Citizen Army" be distributed "to all who should see it in connection with the resurvey and with the general policy governing plans for a post-war peace establishment." (Marshall [McCarthy] Memorandum for the Director, Special Planning Division, November 22, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Palmer's essay was published in the Saturday Evening Post, December 23, 1944, pp. 9–10, 56–57. After surveying the history of the struggle over the size and organization of the peacetime army and its ability to expand during war, he concluded: "The Army of the future ... would comprise a relatively small Regular Army, subject to prompt reinforcement, when necessary, from a great citizen-army reserve composed of trained citizen officers and soldiers." (Ibid., p. 57.)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 659–660.