Palmer's ideas were not those of the majority of the Army's general staff officers, who were disciples of the pensive Emory Upton, the Army's most influential 19th Century theorist. [...] The staff had updated the "expansible army" of John Calhoun and modernized Upton; but while it had convinced a reluctant chief of staff, Peyton March, to support the plan, it could not sell the program to Congress.In other words, the infamously puny and underfunded interwar Regular Army was "half a loaf" - just a slice of the Wadsworth-Palmer plan.
Palmer recommended a citizen-based army, which he felt was far more appropriate for a democracy. In his plan, while the Regular Army would be the vanguard of the ground forces, the National Guard and the Organized Reserves would provide the bulk of the wartime army. Citizen officers would command most of the citizen soldiers. In peacetime, the Regulars would train their associates in the Guard and Reserves. While Palmer also hoped for universal military service [in Swiss-type reserves - DR], this unpalatable position was not acceptable in peacetime.
The old Hamilton-Jefferson controversy between a purely professional and a militia-based defense force had been resolved in favor, once again, of the militia. Palmer had proposed an army in the American tradition. Politically feasible, the proposal was favored and accepted by the Wadsworth Committee. The Army's official [March] program was discarded because it was too un-American, was so much of the philosophy of the Germanophile, Emory Upton. [...]
All of this looked good on paper, but unfortunately Congress did not provide sufficient funds to implement the National Defense Act [of 1920] fully until 1940.
There is a profound lesson in this for military theorists and planners. There is also an odd twist. Palmer lived to see the Act of 1920 funded. He also lived to serve as the oldest American in uniform by the end of WWII (the picture, top, is from 1945).
p.s. To read more about the March-Palmer contest, you have to dig into out-of-print works like Toward a Post World War I Military Policy: Peyton C. March vs. John McAuley Palmer.