- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Words for our time?
I have felt that the military departments of the Government did not devote sufficient time, investigation and effort to the evolution or development of a system which would provide the necessary security with the minimum of financial output. We were forced into stringent economies by drastic cuts in appropriations, but there is a decided difference between effecting economies by cuts, particularly under pressure, and deliberately concentrating on the search for a system that permits a more economical set up and operation of an adequate military force.
I think we have erred at times on the side of a too dogmatic statement of requirements without regard to whether or not there was a reasonably practical possibility of obtaining the necessary funds through the years.
–George Marshall to the graduates of the National War College, June 20, 1947
(P. 157, The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, Vol. 6: ‘The Whole World Hangs in the Balance.’ Edited by Larry Bland, Mark Stoler, Sharon Stevens, and Daniel Holt. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.)