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To Brigadier General Charles H. Cole
September 26, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just received your letter of September 22d, and appreciate your regrets that I am unable to arrange to be in Boston at the time of the Convention.1
As to your questions: There is an embarrassment regarding the answers at the present time, pending the decision of the Administration as to just what is to be asked of Congress. However, there are some points that I am free to cover, and I pass on the information to you for your use.
While the Regular Army divisions are being reorganized on the new basis, largely because they are incomplete and ineffective in their present condition, we do not contemplate making any changes in the National Guard divisions for the present. The feeling is that to make such a change at this time would merely produce confusion and delay, whereas we wish to expedite training and build up efficiency.
We hope to get a further increase to bring the Guard up to 320,000 in enlisted personnel, but we are not free to make public mention of this at this time. This increase would permit the organization of special units, in which we are so deficient at the present time, anti-aircraft, heavy artillery, and organizations for the army corps. The increase would also carry the strength of division units well up to the full peace standard. What we are particularly desirous of getting is an authorization for 60 drills and for two rations a month; also, and this again is confidential, we are asking for money for two weeks of additional camp. Not that we contemplate calling out the Guard for such a camp, but using the two-week period merely as a basis of calculation for funds.
What we want to secure is the authorization and the money to permit staging at favorable moments for them, full battalion assemblies for two or three days, regimental assemblies for two or three days, and possibly brigade assemblies for two or three days on a pay basis, with the provision of necessary gasoline, etc. to permit such concentrations, and with money for leases where use of property devoid of crops in the winter might afford close-by opportunities for assembly. In other words, we want to have all the means for stimulating and expediting National Guard activity without the necessity of mobilizing the Guard prior to a considerable development in efficiency, if at all; and I wish at all cost to avoid taking men away from their personal pursuits until an emergency develops of such a nature that drastic action becomes necessary.
As an illustration of the general idea, we are not calling on the recently authorized Regular Army enlisted Reserve, which has reached a total of 25,000 at the present time. To call that force in would be a mandatory act and would take older men away from their occupations. However, they have had full training in the Regular Army, some for a number of enlistments, and they are available to be called on forty-eight hours’ notice to raise the ranks of regular divisions to war strength.
I am dictating this hastily, but I am giving you a general idea, and I trust you will use it, so far as the confidential portions are concerned, so as not to embarrass the War Department, because, as I have explained above, we have no Presidential authorization as to a program at present, and with the Neutrality legislation up, this is a very delicate issue.
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. A longtime friend of Marshall (see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-512, [1: 627-30]) and former adjutant general of Massachusetts, Cole wrote to Marshall on September 5 to ask if Marshall could speak to the meeting of the National Guard Association of Massachusetts on October 14 Marshall replied on September 9 that he was committed on that date to attend a meeting of the Pennsylvania National Guard Association. Marshall arranged for Brigadier General Charles F. Thompson, executive for Reserve Affairs in the War Department since September 1938, to speak to the convention. Cole wrote on September 22, “It would be much appreciated if he could tell our officers what is in the offing as far as the new Division organization is concerned, and what, if any, further developments are contemplated for the National Guard in view of present world conditions.” (Cole to Marshall, September 5 and 22, 1939; Marshall to Cole, September 9, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 66-68.