Harry S. Truman photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the National Military Establishment Appropriation Act.

October 29, 1949

I HAVE signed H.R. 4146, a bill making appropriations for the National Security Council, the National Security Resources Board, and the military functions administered by the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1950.

The amounts provided in this bill for most of the components of our defense program will permit operations at the approximate levels contemplated in the original 1950 budget recommendations. For one item, however, a sharp increase in authorizations provided by the Congress represents a major shift in the direction and emphasis of our defense program. If fully utilized, this increased authorization would result in a serious lack of balance in our defense program and would require much heavier expenditures in the future than we now contemplate.

This increased authorization is largely for an expanded structure for the Air Force. In all, the Congress has increased authorizations for the Air Force by more than $615,000,000 above 1950 budget recommendations.

The significance of this change cannot be measured solely from the standpoint of the Air Force or of the Department of Defense. Rather, it must be viewed in the light of total national policies and it must be evaluated in terms of our present commitments.

The defense program submitted last January was the result of an exhaustive examination of all the programs of the Federal Government. At that time, painstaking consideration was given to our requirements for national security and the effect of large military expenditures upon our economy. Our objective was to plan a defense structure which could both meet our security needs and be supported by the country without imposing too great a strain on the domestic economy. Careful account also was taken of this Nation's position in the world. Since the end of World War II, we have been devoting a substantial portion of our resources to the development of a peaceful and stable world through economic assistance to other free nations. Our aid has been a major contribution toward world stability and has been instrumental in lessening world tension. However, my recommendations recognized the fact that, under existing international conditions, a relatively high level of military preparedness must be maintained for a number of years to come.

Our defense program thus represented a balance between security needs in the light of our foreign policy and the economic and fiscal problems facing us domestically.

In the 1950 budget, emphasis was given to air power and the procurement of newly developed weapons with which to reequip and modernize our military forces. Similar emphasis was given to research and development, to industrial mobilization, to reserve forces, and to the integration of operations within the three services. The defense program was designed to be flexible, not rigid. It was drawn up so that changes in the international situation, in technology, and in the domestic economy could be reflected in our defense preparations.

Action at this time by the Congress in increasing authorizations for the Air Force by over $615,000,000 could have a serious effect on our ability to maintain balanced military forces in subsequent years. Although these increased authorizations would have comparatively little effect upon military expenditures in the current fiscal year, the fact that they are largely for the procurement of aircraft would have a serious effect on expenditures in the future. As additional aircraft authorized by this act were delivered, we should have to make corresponding provisions for additional personnel to man them, for higher maintenance and operating costs, and for greater replacement costs. The present authorization for increased procurement would thus be merely the first step in an expanding program which would have to be supported by greatly increased appropriations in future years.

Furthermore, the programs provided in the budget were based on national defense plans in which our air, naval, and land forces were planned and operated under a unified strategic concept. Expansion of one service beyond the planned level would require the reevaluation of that concept. To build up the strength of the other services so that they could complement and support an expanded Air Force would require additional very large appropriations.

It is obviously impossible for the Department of Defense to plan and operate efficiently if there are to be widely fluctuating appropriations and programs. Rapid contractions or expansions inevitably result in confusion and waste.

Increasing the structure of the Air Force above that recommended in the 1950

budget would be inconsistent with a realistic and balanced security program which we can support in peacetime and would interfere with orderly planning for the three services based on a unified strategic concept.

I am therefore directing the Secretary of Defense to place in reserve the amounts provided by the Congress in H.R. 4146 for increasing the structure of the Air Force.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 4146 is Public Law 434 (63 Stat. 987).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the National Military Establishment Appropriation Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230271

Simple Search of Our Archives