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Memorandum for Captain Sexton1
July 22, 1940 Washington, D.C.
Reduce this to a series of paragraphs of ideas or policies rather than a prepared speech.2 For example, on the question of selective service,
In the present critical situation, the question of compulsory service is hardly debatable. We have to have more men immediately to fill up ranks of the Regular Army and National Guard, and we cannot obtain them by voluntary enlistments. Therefore, some form of compulsory service is immediately necessary and every week of delay presents a definite and increasing hazard. The exact form that such a law should take is, of course, a matter of public policy, but the situation in which the United States now finds itself this summer demands rapid congressional action.
Today time is the dominant factor in the problem of national defense. For almost twenty years we had all of the time and almost none of the money; today we have all of the money and no time. It is a long time between the appropriation of the money and the actual procurement of the article, especially when it is of a non-commercial nature. A contract for a small weapon let September `39 will produce the first delivery ten months later, November `40. A contract for an anti-aircraft gun let March `40 promises the first delivery in February `41. It requires longer to train the crew for a plane than it does to build the plane, and while it does require longer to build a tank than it does to train the crew for a tank, yet at least a year is necessary for the preparation of that crew. Long years of indifference on the part of the public towards national defense are now crowned by a tremendous impatience to get results immediately.
G. C. M.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. William T. Sexton had recently been designated an assistant secretary of the General Staff.
2. Marshall’s friend Stephen O. Fuqua, formerly chief of Infantry and at this time military editor of Newsweek magazine, had written that he was preparing to deliver an address at Louisiana State University. “I wonder if you would like me to include any particular thought of yours on the subject of national defense. . . . Our magazine is of course watching your work, and as you know, our policy is strong in the support not only of national defense, but of your interpretation of it.” (Fuqua to Marshall, July 18, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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), p. 274.