Truman Library, Truman papers, PSF–Subject file

The Secretary of Defense (Lovett) to the President


Dear Mr. President: At the meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on 28 December 1951,1 attended by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Secretaries of each of the Military Departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chief of Staff, Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Staff, Air Force, the Director for Mutual Security, the Director of Defense Mobilization, the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, and others, you directed that I work with the Director of the Bureau of the Budget to revise the budget of the Department of Defense to reflect your decision to stretch out the build-up of the defense program because of material and fiscal considerations. This stretch-out was to be accomplished within expenditures estimated at $44 billion for F.Y. 1952 and $60 billion for F.Y. 1953. It is understood that these estimated expenditure figures cover both expenditures for the account of the Department of Defense and the military portion of the Mutual Security appropriations.

While there was no decision as to the amount of new obligational authority to be included in the budget for F.Y. 1953, it was understood that it was to be adequate to sustain the stretched-out program, and to permit the Department of Defense to achieve a steady build-up of production over as much of this period as possible.

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After consultation with the Secretaries of the Military Departments, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Military Chiefs of each of the Services, I propose the following to give effect to your decision:

1. That new obligational authority for the Department of Defense for F.Y. 1953 be as follows:

Department of the Army $14,300,000,000
Department of the Navy $13,314,155,000
Department of the Air Force $20,922,338,000
Office of the Secretary of Defense $466,265,000
Total $49,002,758,000

Attached is a list2 setting forth new obligational authority by Departments and by appropriations. The above totals for new obligational authority are exclusive of the new authority required for financing public works projects in F.Y. 1953, originally estimated by the Department of Defense as $3 1/2 billion.

That the expenditure limitation be modified to provide for a total of $86.5 billion for the 18-month period of 1 January 1952 to 30 June 1953 (the $86.5 billion represents the unused portion as of 31 December 1951 of the $44 billion estimated for F.Y. 1952, and the $60 billion for F.Y. 1953).
That the funds appropriated for Military Assistance be made available to the Department of Defense in such a manner as to permit the most advantageous overall production program that can be achieved, taking into consideration the combined needs of the U.S. Forces and our Allies.
That the Military Departments, with the approval of the Secretary of Defense, be granted permission, prior to or during the coming Congressional hearing, to adjust the amounts between appropriations if further study of the proposed program indicates that such adjustments would result in a better balanced program within the total appropriations being recommended for each of the Departments. This request is made because of the limited period of time during which the Department of Defense has had to consider the results of the revised appropriation distribution.

There will be forwarded to you for your information a statement prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff3 as to the military implications of these modifications.

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On the basis of the above proposal, the Department of Defense will make every effort to secure the maximum military effectiveness possible within the funds being made available.

With great respect, I am

Faithfully yours,

Robert A. Lovett
  1. No record of the meeting under reference has been found. Documentation from December 1951 concerning proposed revisions in the Department of Defense budget so as to “stretch out” the buildup of the defense program is in the Truman Library, Truman papers, PSF–Subject file.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The same day, Lovett transmitted to the President a one-paragraph response by General Bradley writing on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Bradley memorandum reads as follows: “With reference to the reduction in the proposed military budget for Fiscal Year 1953, the Joint Chiefs of Staff desire to reaffirm that they consider the general period of 1954 to be the most dangerous for the security of the United States in the foreseeable future. Adoption of the reduced program postpones until 1956 our military capability to meet this threat.” The Bradley memorandum and Lovett’s memorandum of transmittal to President Truman may be found in the Truman Library, Truman papers, President’s Secretary’s file.

    On Jan. 21, 1952, President Truman submitted to Congress his Annual Budget Message for Fiscal Year 1953. The budget provided $52.4 billion in new obligational authority for the military services as compared with $61.7 billion in 1952. The President declared that “This reduction is possible because a substantial portion of the obligational authority required to finance our military expansion has already been provided by the Congress.” The President’s Annual Budget Message for Fiscal Year 1953 is in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1952–53 (Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 63–117.