The Best Defense

Gen. George C. Marshall on the need for planning 'economical' defense spending

Words for our time?

I have felt that the military departments of the Government did not devote sufficient time, investigation and effort to the evolution or development of a system which would provide the necessary security with the minimum of financial output. We were forced into stringent economies by drastic cuts in appropriations, but there is a decided difference between effecting economies by cuts, particularly under pressure, and deliberately concentrating on the search for a system that permits a more economical set up and operation of an adequate military force.

I think we have erred at times on the side of a too dogmatic statement of requirements without regard to whether or not there was a reasonably practical possibility of obtaining the necessary funds through the years.

--George Marshall to the graduates of the National War College, June 20, 1947

(P. 157, The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, Vol. 6: ‘The Whole World Hangs in the Balance.' Edited by Larry Bland, Mark Stoler, Sharon Stevens, and Daniel Holt. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.)

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