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Letter to the Speaker Transmitting the Budget for the Military Functions of the Department of Defense.

April 30, 1951


I transmit herewith for the consideration of the Congress my budget recommendations for the military functions of the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1952.

My recommendations for appropriations amount to $57,604,254,390, including 424,839,700 to liquidate prior authorizations. The balance, $56,179,414,690, represents new obligational authority. In addition, I am submitting an estimate of $4,500,000,000, which represents the funds needed in 1952 for a large military public works program to be recommended soon for authorization. This makes a. total of $60,679,414,690, compared to the $60,000,000,000 tentative estimate contained in the January Budget for fiscal year 1952, and to the $47,590,608,844 which has been enacted or recommended for the current fiscal year.

These recommendations for appropriations do not materially alter the estimates of expenditures made in January for fiscal years 1951 and 1952. The revised estimate of expenditure for 1951 is 19.4 billion dollars, compared to 20 billion dollars carried in the January Budget. For fiscal year 1952, expenditures are estimated at 39.5 billion dollars compared to 40 billion dollars carried in the January Budget.

The major expansion in our defense expenditures is one part of our total program to enable us and the other free nations to save the world from another and more frightful global war. It is also a program to enable us, if general war should be thrust upon us, to halt the enemy's forces and strike back decisively at the center of the enemy's power.

We are now meeting the savage thrust of communist aggression in Korea. Our fighting men and those of our allies are today locked in battle with the armed forces of Soviet satellites. Our men are being supplied with the best in modern military equipment, supplies, and ammunition.

They are inflicting terrible punishment on the communist armies. They have checked the plans of the Kremlin to extend communist control to other parts of Asia. They have won time for the free nations to prepare their defenses against the world-wide Soviet plan of world domination.

The aggression in Korea is only part of the Kremlin strategy to achieve world domination. The Soviet Union is prepared to use armed force elsewhere in the world, and is using many other methods than military force to gain its ends.

The struggle which the Kremlin has initiated is global in scope, and involves almost every aspect of human endeavor. All the free nations, wherever they may be, are affected by the aggressive designs of the despots in the Kremlin. And they are affected not only by the military power these men control, but also by their attacks upon the economic, social and moral life of free men.

To meet this threat the free world must strengthen its military defenses and its economic and social foundations. The free nations must carry the attack to the enemy in the realm of the minds and convictions of men.

This budget estimate represents, therefore, but one of the parts of our national security program. Other parts have already been sent to the Congress, or will shortly be submitted. Last week I submitted proposals for needed legislation to enable our economy to carry out our defense production plans. Some time ago, I forwarded recommendations for the expansion of our campaign of truth. I expect shortly to submit an integrated program to help other free nations build up their military and economic strength, in combination with ours.

All these elements are essential to enable us to win the kind of struggle that the Kremlin has brought about. Together, they constitute approximately three-fourths of the total Federal budget.

In money terms, by far the largest part of this total security program is the cost of building up our own military strength. The funds I am today recommending will carry forward the rapid build-up in military strength upon which our Nation embarked, when the aggression in Korea showed that the Soviet rulers were willing to push the world to the brink of a general war to get what they want.

We are building our military strength in the way best calculated to meet the military threat that confronts us.

The major element in this threat is the military strength and military production of the Soviet Union. The armed forces of the Soviet Union today far exceed any reasonable defense requirements. Its economy is harnessed to war production.

If the Soviet Union chooses to unleash a general war, the free world must be in a position to stop the attack and strike back decisively and at once at the seats of Soviet power. We believe that the best path to peace is through building combined defenses for the free world sufficiently powerful to insure disaster for the aggressors if they launch a new world war.

Our military program must be aimed at this central problem.

We want to keep the conflict in Korea from spreading, if possible, because we are trying to stop aggression without starting a third world war. Furthermore, we need time to prepare our defenses to meet a general war if it is thrust upon us.

Supplies and equipment are now flowing to Korea in abundant quantity. More supplies for Korea are in the pipeline. We will continue to send to Korea the arms that are needed by our forces to repel aggression in that area.

The major emphasis of this budget estimate is upon building up our Armed Forces and our productive capacity toward the level of preparedness necessary in the event of all-out war. In addition to maintaining our forces on active duty, funds are provided for a war reserve of supplies and equipment and for the creation of a mobilization base-including reserve forces, military installations, and industrial capacity--to enable us to mobilize quickly, if necessary, for an all-out war effort. At the same time, the level of preparedness which this budget is designed to create is one which is well within our ability to maintain for many years, if necessary.

This budget is based on our estimate at this time of the military build-up required to meet our security objectives. But our planning must remain flexible. In the event of a change in the international situation, the present program may have to be substantially modified.

The funds I am recommending today will finance the following elements of our armed strength.

In the last ten months, we have more than doubled the active strength of our Armed Forces. During the fiscal year 1952 we will reach our present goal of about 3.5 million men and women. These forces will steadily increase in combat readiness as those now in training status are assigned to combat units.

For the Army, these funds will equip and maintain 18 divisions plus separate combat and supporting units. The Navy, under these recommendations, will maintain an active fleet of 1,161 ships. The Marine Corps will maintain 2 1/3 divisions and other supporting units. The Air Force will continue to build toward 95 air wings.

In addition to these forces on active duty, about 2 million men and women will be in the Military Reserve and ROTC programs and the National Guard establishments. The value of the reserve forces has been proved again in recent months, as 520,000 reserves have been called to active duty. We shall continue to emphasize the training of more reserve forces.

Most of the funds in this military budget will be spent for military equipment and supplies, and for constructing bases, camps, and other facilities. Of the total of 60.7 billion dollars of new obligational authority, about 43 billion dollars is for procurement and construction. About 34.7 billion dollars will be used to purchase heavy equipment such as ships, planes, tanks, artillery, trucks, ammunition, guided missiles, and electronics. Planes alone total 14.5 billion dollars of this.

This equipment will be of the most up-to-date kinds, and will substantially complete the program of modernizing the combat equipment of the Armed Forces.

We shall, at the same time, continue to step up the research and development program. The funds in this budget will support a program about 20 percent larger than in the current fiscal year and about two-and-one-half times as large as in fiscal year 1950.

This military program will have an increasing impact on our economy, especially as equipment orders are translated into actual production.

The present plans for our military and other security programs--including mutual security assistance to friendly countries and the stockpiling program--are estimated to require about 20 percent of the total national output by the end of fiscal year 1952. This is substantially less than the 45 percent of total output which was going to security purposes at the peak of World War II. But it will involve a rapid and substantial shift of resources. It will give us serious production problems and will require forceful action against inflation.

In my message of April 26 recommending the extension and strengthening of the Defense Production Act I urged renewal of the authority under which we are now regulating the flow of scarce materials, so as to assure the performance of defense contracts. I also outlined the tax increases and other measures which must be taken in order to offset these inflationary pressures. These recommendations are vital to our security program. The national defense will be seriously hampered if they are not enacted.

The necessity which is now thrust upon the Government to draw heavily upon manpower, materials, and industrial facilities, for national defense, requires efficient scheduling of procurement, production, and facilities expansion. Both the civilian and military agencies of Government are concerned with these matters, and both are moving to improve their effectiveness as the defense program grows.

This military budget is essential to our national security. The outbreak of aggression, the threat of general war that overhangs the world, make it imperative to increase our defenses rapidly and efficiently.

Our arms must be up to date and adapted to the many facets of the struggle we face. There is no one weapon--no Maginot Line-- that can make us secure. We must work together with other free nations. We must be prepared to use all the great resources of our economy to produce whatever may be necessary for our protection and for the preservation of freedom throughout the world.

If we all work together, as our people have always worked together in time of national danger, we shall succeed.


[Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives]

NOTE On October 18, 1951, the President signed the Department of Defense Appropriation Act, 1952 (65 Stat. 423).

Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Speaker Transmitting the Budget for the Military Functions of the Department of Defense. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230460

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