Cabinet Meeting Minutes, February 1, 1946. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.
CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1946
Asked the Secretary of War to make a report on his recent trip during which he inspected military installations throughout the world.
Presented an engraved Bolo knife to the President which he brought back with him from Manila. The knife originally came from Mindanao.
At the present time there are 232,000 troops in Japan and we are called upon to police the entire nation. He found no violence on the part of the Japanese and they have been completely submissive. No incidents of violence were experienced by the Secretary during his trip. Great progress has been made in military control and the education of the Japanese in democratic processes. Disarming of the nation has been remarkable. Freedoms have been installed, including suffrage and other democratic processes.
General McArthur [MacArthur] alone is the boss. They have a Japanese government which is effective and the work is found to be far easier than in Germany where no government exists. He estimated that the 232,000 troops in Japan would be cut to 140,000 in June. Military forces in Korea have been reduced to three divisions.
In the Philippines the principal problem is in connection with surplus property. There are 3 ½ million tons of surplus in the islands. This is accounted for by the fact that the Philippines were to be the jumping off place for a full scale invasion of Japan which did not materialize. He is certain that the War Department will have to take radical measures to get this equipment loose. The troops in the Philippines are providing all the police protection that exists and it is necessary to maintain adequate police force in the Islands to protect our property. There were 800,000 men in the Philippines in August of 1945. Estimated that this force be reduced to 79,000 by June 30th. Situation among the soldiers in Philippines is much more touchy than in Japan. They consider themselves to be surplus and see no reason why they should not go home. In Japan, on the other hand, the men are conscious of their responsibility and only look forward to rotation as a means of returning to the United States.
India, Burma and Egypt will be evacuated by May 1st. The only problem in these areas is surplus property but this is not in as great quantities as it is in the Philippines. The only exception will be the ATC which amounts to a few hundred men.
There were 50,000 men in Italy as of January 1st. It is estimated that this number would be reduced to 28,000 by June 1st, 1946. Surplus situation in Italy is not serious. The Pacific area, France and Germany pose the real surplus property problems. General Clay in Germany is working to a ⅔ civilian and ⅓ military force by June 1st. It is very difficult to get civilians to do the work. They get depressed with the conditions they find in Europe. The exposure of civilians who have had no previous contact with the war ruins has brought about a morale factor which is difficult to offset. The Nuremburg trials are found to be of much interest throughout central Europe.
It is estimated in Germany we will have 307,000 men by June 30th. General McNarney is very anxious to have this reduced to 180,000 men by that time. He stated that the Army is doing everything possible to take care of displaced persons but that UNRRA apparently has contributed little to this phase.
In summary, he believes that the most important problems facing this government were: (1) Occupation of Japan and Germany. (2) Minor theatres must be closed out quickly to conserve strength for Japan and Germany. (3) Need for replacements for men with over two years service. He believes that selective service must be extended. It will require 400,000 new men from January 1st to June 1st if quota is to be maintained. The induction rate has not been steady. (4) The need of doing something to recruit Philippine scouts to relieve United States troops in the Philippines and Japan. They will have need for 150,000 and up to now they have recruited only 150 men. He stated that the reason is that the pay is not found to be attractive to the Philippine scouts. A pay adjustment is being worked out now with the intention that the United States will contribute and supplement the Philippine expenditure. (5) Men of two or more years of service in large majority want to come home. Replacements must be found. He believes that it is vital to the peace of the world to keep up a fair force in Germany and Japan and doubts that enough volunteers can be found to maintain 1½ million man army as of June 30th. It is hoped to reduce the Army to 1 million men during the year.
He said there was a lot of misunderstanding about need for more than 1½ million men right now. Disarming of Japs must go forward and the task will not diminish until this job is done. He recalled that there were 4 million men in the Army as of January 1st, 1946.
He defended the point system as the only way demobilization could be accomplished. In the last war men were discharged by divisions. It was found impossible to do this after this war as the transportation and redeployment problems were much more complicated. He conceded that the AAF in Japan are now in a terrible shape with practically no ground force left and it is found almost impossible to operate planes as mechanics have gone out on points. No capable replacements were obtained.
We have over three million Japs to move back to Japan from occupied islands and other countries. It presents quite a problem. There have been moved at the present time one million Koreans-Formosans, and others who were brought into Japan as slave labor. In addition to this one million Japs have been returned to Japan.
Food situation in Japan and Germany is not too bad. It is much more serious in Italy and Poland. They found the Japs to be extremely apprehensive of Russian occupation. They would much rather have American troops if their country is to be occupied.
Suggested that the Secretary of War might consider a broadcast to the nation on his findings. Such a broadcast might be very helpful.
Also stated that he is asking the Civil Service Commission to work out a uniform retirement program which would be applied to all the departments. Pointed out that we are now faced with wild speculative market and wants memorandum from the members on this situation. Said that something must be done to offset wild speculation in our markets.
Stated he has prepared a food report and would like to take the secret tag off all the supporting documents. Desirous of releasing the report.
Suggested that action should be taken with respect to report before releasing it to the public.
Suggested a joint committee, Agriculture, Commerce and State, should decide when the report is to be released.
Suggests that the recommendations in report be read.
Commented that this should be considered carefully and not passed upon too quickly.
Asked each member to read report and to submit their view on the Cabinet luncheon on the following Tuesday at which time Cabinet would be able to take action.