3. Diary Entry by the President’s Press Secretary (Hagerty)1

[Here follow Hagerty’s notes on another subject.]

Off and on during the day Goodpaster, Cutler and I worked on the draft of a letter from the President to Wilson outlining the President’s philosophy behind the cut in manpower in the Armed Services. All of us, including the President, feel that it is necessary prior to the State of the Union Message to get a clear-cut statement of the President’s beliefs before the American people. The reason for it is this:

Since the manpower cut was announced by the Secretary of Defense in December the Democrats have been chewing at it. They think they have an issue—that they can make an argument to the American people that we are cutting our Armed Services just for budgetary reasons in an attempt to try to save some money. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth and the reasons we are taking the steps we have is so that we can put more emphasis on nuclear weapons, guided missiles and the Air Force.

As the President has said privately many times, it would have been impossible for him to invade the Continent in the way he did if the Germans had had the atomic bomb. The deployment of troops in the ports of debarkation would have been blown off the earth with that bomb and the great mass of ships coming across the Channel would have been actually disintegrated. Consequently in an atomic attack or an atomic war it is going to be virtually impossible to move land troops to Europe or to Asia, and we will have to depend upon long range bombers, guided missiles and the like to carry the attack to the enemy and to stop them from coming over here. In a like manner bombing of our cities is going to create panic and riots within those cities and it is going to be necessary to have a strong ready Reserve to throw into those areas merely to keep order and to get our production going again.

Cutler, Goodpaster and myself think it is very necessary for the President to say to the American people that he has made these decisions as Commander-in-Chief with his wide background of military affairs—that it is a military decision, not a budgetary one. The President agreed fully with this and after bringing in several drafts of the letter to him, he finally said that this was one he would like to work on alone overnight, and we left it with him with an agreement that we would pick it up from him tomorrow and release it for Thursday [Page 6]morning papers prior to the delivery of the State of the Union Message.2

[Here follows Hagerty’s entry on a date for release of the State of the Union Message and the budget.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Hagerty Papers, Diary Series.
  2. On Wednesday, January 5, the White House Press Office issued a press release containing an exchange of correspondence between the President and the Secretary of Defense; for text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1955, pp. 2–6.