2-121 Editorial Note on Caribbean Inspection Trip, February 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Note on Caribbean Inspection Trip

February 4-14, 1940

Flying in a B-17, Marshall left Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., on the morning of February 4, 1940, for a whirlwind inspection trip of the army’s installations in the Caribbean. He inspected the defenses of the Panama Canal Zone and the new Puerto Rican Department. Having logged 5,250 miles in the air, Marshall was back at his desk in the Munitions Building on the morning of February 14.

Part of the reason for his trip, he later told members of the House Appropriations Committee, was to study the possibilities of further army-navy cooperation. He also pressed the congressmen for larger appropriations for land acquisition and construction in the region. Could not money be saved, Democrat David D. Terry from Arkansas asked the chief of staff on February 26, by combining army and navy facilities? Despite his desire for interservice cooperation, Marshall was opposed to the “overconcentration” that would result when enormously large and complex bases were combined: “we do not want to put all our eggs in one basket.” Moreover, Marshall observed, “each service is responsible to our Government for the efficiency and economy of its own particular operations. These responsibilities cannot be delegated, one to the other. More important, though, and I say this very specifically, we must not concentrate too much.” (House Appropriations Committee, Military Establishment Appropriation Bill for 1941, Hearings [Washington: GPO, 1940], pp. 31-32.)

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 156.

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