4-153 Memorandum for Admiral King, November 4, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 4, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral King

November 4, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: British proposal for exchange of

officers on Joint Planning Committees.

Dear King:

Attached is Dill’s letter to you and to me of the 23rd of October with its proposal to have a British officer on our Joint Planning Committee and that we have one on theirs.1 I understand from Handy informally that your people do not favor this.

It seems to me that Dill’s proposal is sound unless we assume an attitude of suspicion in relation to the matter. We have to work with these people and the closer the better, with fewer misunderstandings I am certain. At the present time we are going through an illuminating experience over here with General Morgan.2 He is in the Operations section. He is present at our daily operational meetings with Arnold, Handy, and me. We discuss all these matters with complete frankness and my impression is that he is so heavily on our side now as a result of such procedure that it may be embarrassing in his relation to the British Chiefs of Staff in London—though I am not unduly concerned over this phase of the matter.

In other words I believe we should go at this business with extreme frankness and openness which would be the case if on the Joint Planning Committees was a man from the other side. We are fighting battles all the time, notably in regard to the Balkans, and other places, and the more frankness there is in the business on the lower level the better off I believe we are; particularly because it seems to me in a majority of cases the younger elements on the British side favor our conceptions rather than those of the Prime Minister, for example, and therefore our chances of avoiding too many rough spots are bettered by the presence of these men on the staffs.3

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. Dill stated that British planners did not believe that previous efforts to improve combined planning had gone “far enough in providing continuous interchange of thought and of varying points of view on a low level.” The British Chiefs of Staff proposed that officers be exchanged to represent their own planning staffs and with the power to communicate directly to their respective chiefs of planning. (Dill to Marshall, October 23, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 381, Case I96].)

2. Lieutenant General Frederick E. Morgan was head of the cross-Channel invasion planning organization. See editorial note #4-109, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [4: 127].

3. King sent to Marshall his staff’s reply opposing the British proposal: existing cooperation arrangements should be sufficient; the navy did “not have officers to send on missions of this sort unless there is a specific planning job in view,” and a single officer merely for observation would not be profitable; and “it would mean the injection of a low level group into our Joint War Plans Committees which would permit us no privacy in the consideration of problems which are purely those of the United States.” The navy suggested that Marshall tell Dill that the British proposal was not “entirely suitable” and would not “produce the results which we desire.” Rather, the British should establish a Joint War Planning Team in Washington to work with selected U.S. teams when combined problems were to be considered; the United States would do likewise in London; and “the present exchange of ideas on the Directors’ level be continued and more freely used.” (B. H. Bieri Memorandum for Admiral King, November 7, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 381, Case 196].) Marshall forwarded, over his own signature and without emendation, the navy’s draft reply to Dill. (Marshall to Dill, November 9, 1943, ibid.) Later, in Cairo, the heads of the U.S. and U.K. military planning groups agreed that a British team should be constituted in Washington. (Dill to Marshall, February 15, 1944, ibid.)

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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 176-178.

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