3-344 Memorandum for Admiral King, September 30, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 30, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral King

September 30, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]


General Deane came to me the other day with the proposal that Colonel Donovan’s organization be given a military status and that the present civilian officials either be commissioned or absorbed in the Army Specialist Corps.

Deane’s reason was this: he felt that there was a lack of confidence in the organization which limited its efficient operation, and very much prolonged the consideration of any proposal made by that organization. He thought that if Donovan and his people were given a military status, Army or Navy, including Donovan himself, the situation would tend to clarify and more valuable service would be rendered.1

I had him, quite confidentially, go over the layout of the Office of Strategic Services to see how many he thought would have to be commissioned and how many could be absorbed in the Army Specialist Corps. There are 203 officers involved in the former and 508 individuals in the latter classification. This personnel would be in addition to some 131 officers, including a brigadier general, 3 colonels, and 11 lieutenant colonels already on duty with the OSS.

What would your view be in this matter? I prefer not to bring up the question before Admiral Leahy and the U.S. Chiefs of Staff until you and I have reached a common understanding.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Following its establishment in mid-June 1942, the Office of Strategic Services operated under Joint Chiefs of Staff control as exercised through an operating subcommittee of the Joint Psychological Warfare Committee (J.P.W.C.). In mid-August this committee was given responsibility for O.S.S. administration, but this proved cumbersome and unworkable—”a state of confusion which resisted periodic attempts at clarification,” the official Office of Strategic Services history later asserted. “From the standpoint of OSS, the situation was frustrating, to say the least.” O.S.S. head William J. Donovan was also chairman of the J.P.W.C., but the other four members represented the intelligence divisions and general staffs of the army and navy. The O.S.S. history stated that there “was a definite resentment of OSS, as such,” by the military, especially by Donovan’s colleagues on the J.P.W.C. (War Department, Strategic Services Unit, War Report of the OSS [Washington: GPO, 1949; reprint, New York: Walker and Company, 1976], pp. 98-101.)

2. King replied on October 9: “I feel that this organization should not be completely militarized,—only those parts that are necessary. The militarization might include Donovan, and a minimized number of personnel. As far as the Navy is concerned, I am willing to assign a very limited number of personnel, officers and men, in so far as the necessity arises for the performance of naval functions. Beyond this I prefer not to go.” (King Memorandum to Chief of Staff, October 9, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 334 OSS].)

A conflict in October and November 1942 over control of psychological warfare activities caused the J.C.S. to eliminate the Joint Psychological Warfare Committee and to designate the O.S.S. to handle psychological warfare and to collect political, sociological, and economic information concerning the enemy. (War Department, War Report of the OSS, pp. 101-5.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 372-373.

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