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Memorandum on Civil Defense Planning.

March 04, 1949

[Released March 4, 1949. Dated March 3, 1949]

Memorandum to the Chairman, National Security Resources Board:

I have recently given considerable attention to the question of the appropriate organization of the executive branch for civil defense.

Under present conditions the essential need of the Federal Government in the area of civil defense is peacetime planning and preparation for civil defense in the event of war, rather than operation of a full-scale civil defense program. Therefore, I see no need to establish at this time a permanent organization, such as a proposed Office of Civil Defense. Rather, I see a definite necessity to continue planning for civil defense and an immediate need to fix in a responsible agency definite leadership for such planning.

Since peacetime civil defense planning is related to, and a part of, overall mobilization planning of the Nation in peacetime, I have concluded that the National Security Resources Board, which is charged with advising me concerning the coordination of such overall mobilization planning, is the appropriate agency which should also exercise leadership in civil defense planning.

I would like, therefore, for the Board to assume such leadership in civil defense planning and to develop a program which will be adequate for the Nation's needs. In doing so, the Board will undoubtedly find it necessary and advisable to call upon the other agencies of the Government and to consult with representatives of the States and local governments in developing the detailed planning for air raid warning, disaster relief, and all the other aspects of civil defense for which they are most appropriately qualified. As a result of the Board's considered analysis of how best to undertake this responsibility, I would like the Board's recommendations concerning necessary actions, including any legislative proposals which may need early attention.

I am sending a copy of this memorandum to the Secretary of Defense so that he may be informed concerning the conclusions contained herein.


Harry S Truman, Memorandum on Civil Defense Planning. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229974

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