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hst-mjc_naid2839461-02 - 1945-08-31

Transcript Date

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, AUGUST 31

The President opened the meeting by saying that George Washington instituted the first military policy for the United States. In 1919 - 1920 his policy was implemented. He believes it is now time to initiate a new policy which should be approached on a practical and common-sense basis.

The President read the attached statement on his conception of universal military training. The President then asked for a general discussion.

PROPOSED AGENDA

1. A discussion of future military policy.
2. A discussion of movement of military personnel from foreign theatres.
3. A discussion of availability of transports for personnel movement.

DISCUSSION OF PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT

UNDER SECRETARY PATTERSON

Said that there was no question in his mind that the War Department would approve the President's statement. However, it should be kept in mind that certain commitments of the Department must be considered and obligations of the Department must be met. He referred to the commitments made to the Philippines and others.

THE PRESIDENT

Said it could be set up as a democratic process.

ASS'T. SECRETARY GATES

Said he believes there was a lot of merit in the President's proposal. He was particularly impressed by the training phase of the program and the maintenance of an adequate reserve.

THE PRESIDENT

Stressed the necessity of picking the officers from those experienced and trained in the ranks. He said that the best officer should have such experience as he would be more familiar with the problems of training and the viewpoint of the men in lower ranks. The President stated that this would also create a better understanding between enlisted men and officers.

SECRETARY BYRNES

Stated that it was a very comprehensive program and he believed that the Army and the Navy would be in the best position to evaluate the merits of the program. He restated the question of how officers would be selected from the ranks of men in training and by whom the selection would be made.

THE PRESIDENT

Said that each man would have to earn a reserve commission in training. Covered again the method of selection which was covered in the memorandum on the proposed program.

SECRETARY BYRNES

Stressed the necessity for technical training and commented on the fact that whoever originated the procedure for the selection of candidates for appointments to West Point and Annapolis had performed a meritorious service. He believed that this method of selection leaned toward the idea of achieving and maintaining a democratic Army and Navy.

THE PRESIDENT

Stressed the necessity for a sound military policy. Stated that we must continue to be a military nation if we are to maintain leadership among other nations.

SECRETARY BYRNES

We must not make the mistake made after the last war. It is essential that we profit by that experience. In his mind we are faced with a choice of a two - three million standing Army or a citizens Army, if we are to maintain our present leadership in world affairs.

SECRETARY VINSON

Stated that the plan listens good and believes that it would be accepted by the population.

GOVERNOR McNUTT

Stated his approval of the general objectives of the plan.

THE PRESIDENT

Stated that he intended to deliver a message on the plan to Congress after the cabinet officers have had an opportunity to study the details proposed.

SECRETARY SCHWELLENBACH

Stated that it had come to his attention during his experience with the University in Washington state that the V-12 program of the Navy had presented some very difficult administrative problems. He stated that those problems should be very carefully reviewed so that the difficulties would not again present themselves. Believes the President's proposals for training and additional education were acceptable.

GOVERNOR McNUTT

Stated that in connection with Secretary Schwellenbach's observations, he would recommend Edward C. Elliott, President of Purdue who would make an excellent advisor to the President on this phase of the program. Mr. Elliott worked very closely with the Army and the Navy during the war and was extremely well informed. The President said that he would be happy to talk to Mr. Elliott.

SECRETARY WALLACE

Asked if he might comment on the President's message to Congress. He believes that the message should emphasize the following points: (1) Development and expansion of scientific research and education. He believes that this phase of any post-war program will be increasingly important. (2) Suggested that the Army and Navy and Public Works work together on decentralization of industry and population. (3) Standing committees should be set up to study and work out demobilization plans which might occur in the event of a future war. This should cover not only the Departments of the Army and Navy but also all steps necessary to insure a sound reconversion from war-time economy.

THE PRESIDENT

Agreed to the importance of suggestions made by Wallace and stated that if we had been as powerful abroad at the beginning of this war as we were at home, the picture would have been entirely different.

SECRETARY ICKES

Commented favorable on the general outline of the program. Stated that the education features would provide additional advantages to our national economy. Stated that it was his opinion that West Point and Annapolis have become introverts. He believes that now is the time to get the job done, for it is his opinion that the country is ready for universal military training. Stated that the method of selecting officers outlined by the President would come as a relief to Congressman who have had the burden of selecting men for the Acadamies [Academies].

SENATOR McKELLAR

Believed that the educational feature of the plan should be stressed. Stated that the plan would be more readily accepted if the educational features were emphasized and united with compulsory military training.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

Believed that any opposition to the taking of appointments away from Congress of officer candidates would be a flurry and that Congress would readily accept a new method of selection.

ATTORNEY GENERAL CLARK

Stated that in his opinion no exemptions from compulsory military training should be allowed. He described the problems of administration in connection with conscientious objectors camps. He also stated that there was an urgent need for a sound foreign intelligence program and that such a program should be formulated.

J. B. HUTSON

Stated that the program sounded to him to be generally acceptable but raised the question about the desirability of breaking up the training into periods of four and two months.

THE PRESIDENT

Explained that it was intended to avoid wherever possible any conflict with college educational schedules.

GENERAL FLEMING

Was in general accord with the program and thought that it would be more satisfactory to have a six months training period, as it would produce a more desirable result.

JOHN B. BLANDFORD

Stated that the training should include studies on public works which would be invaluable and applicable in peacetime disasters and other emergencies.

J. A. KRUG

Believed that science and industry should keep up to date in the development of weapons and defenses and believed that adequate mobilization machinery should be maintained.

WM. H. DAVIS

Believed that the educational feature of the proposed program should be strongly emphasized and was in general accord with the program.

LEO CROWLEY

Declined to comment, but said he would like to study the proposal and would prepare a written memorandum reflecting his views.

MOVEMENT OF PERSONNEL FROM FOREIGN THEATRES

THE PRESIDENT

Asked Judge Patterson to express his views on movement of military personnel from foreign theatres.

UNDER SECRETARY PATTERSON

Stated that everything possible was being done to get men home as soon as possible. The Army has plans now for the movement 3 ½ million men back to the United States by July first, 1945. He believed they would have a maximum of 500,000 men in Europe at that time and a minimum of 250,000. In the Pacific, he believed that the occupation will require a maximum of 900,000 men and sufficient information is not yet available to provide an estimate of the minimum number to be required. He stated, however, that the Army's present plans call for a demobilization of 5 ½ million by July first, 1946.

ASS'T SECRETARY GATES

Stated that the Navy plans on a maximum of 500,000 men and 50,000 officers as of September first, 1946. He said that after demobilization gets under way in the Navy, 260,000 can be demobilized per month.

THE PRESIDENT

Stated that to maintain the proposed peace time Navy would require some 35,000 officers. The President asked Gates what the Navy proposed to do to encourage reserve officers to stay in the Navy. He warned that the reserves must be given a break and that the present clique of Annapolis graduates must be broken up if the Nave expects the reserves to remain in the service.

ASS'T SECRETARY GATES

Stated that the Navy is now working on legislation with a view to having an adequate complement of officers. Says that the reserve wants a fair deal now and in addition wants assurance that he will continue to get a fair deal five years from now.

AVAILABILITY OF TRANSPORTS FOR PERSONNEL MOVEMENT

JOHN SNYDER

Said that transportation is showing signs of improvement

UNDER SECRETARY PATTERSON

Frankly does not think that the Army would agree to the release of any sleeping cars now or in the immediate future. Said that the railroads want 400 sleeping cars released at once. The Army opposes this on the ground that taking any equipment away would result in soldiers being required to ride in day coaches for four nights. He stated that if the Army would accept the railroads request the railroads would be forced to reverse their position again and release their equipment back to the Army.

JOHN W. SNYDER

Stated that freight tonnage movement was improving and there are no bottlenecks, although there are some shortages in skilled operators and trackmen on western railroads.

PAUL V. McNUTT

Says that the manpower situation in the railroad industry has improved. He believes that there is now too much unoccupied space in sleeping cars and stated an experience of his own when he was going to Boston and noticed that considerable space was unoccupied. He stated that he believed it was caused by the limitations imposed by the five day reservation regulation. He suggested that reservations be allowed over a period of ten days and that the present limitation of the five day advance reservation be lifted.

SENATOR McKELLAR

Appealed to the Under Secretary of War to get boys out of the Army faster. Stated that on his recent trip to his home state he was flooded with requests from relatives who could not see why their boys could not be shipped home now that the war was over.

UNDER SECRETARY PATTERSON

Stated that everything possible is being done by the Army to insure the release of the soldiers as soon as possible. He stated that it will probably be possible to reduce the point requirements from the present 85 to approximately 45. This will insure a faster return to civilian life for Army personnel.

The President then adjourned the meeting.