5-067 Memorandum for Admiral King, March 22, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 22, 1945

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Admiral King1

March 22, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]

Top Secret

SUBJECT: Draft of Directive for reorganization and

future operations in the Pacific theater, dated 20 March.

I have had General Hull and my Planners go over this directive with a view to its possible amendment towards producing a directive that would meet both the Army and Navy points of view and I have personally gone into the matter in some detail. After very careful consideration it seems to me that it would be necessary to amend this particular directive to a point where it would look substantially like one of the directives already presented after extensive study and effort by the Joint Staff Planners.2

In my opinion this particular directive is too complicated and too indefinite, and lacking in a direct approach to the main issue in the Pacific. The commanders in chief of the respective forces appear to have indefinite but enormous responsibilities, and yet have no clearly defined command powers. The Army commander, in effect, would have no area in which to hang his hat and no resources and no land area with which to initiate the preparations which he is told to carry out.

There appears an indefiniteness regarding the powers of the Army commander, and possibly the Navy commander, to provide the necessary resources and it is not apparent just how they would make this provision.

Nothing definite appears to be accomplished by this directive in the immediate future towards alleviating the present diffuse and discoordinated situation in the Pacific with regard to the conservation and economical use of Army resources. There would be five major headquarters (six with the CG, Twentieth Air Force) all involved in decisive operations against Japan, but all with their powers, responsibilities and relationships unbelievably complicated, and I think, obscure.

With relation to the apparent difference of opinion regarding force commander and area commander, the directive seems to involve an inconsistency in that it sets up a force commander, CINCAFPAC, who is to undertake plans and preparations on the Army side for the operations against Japan, whereas he is directed to cooperate with CINCPOA, a Navy area commander, who is to undertake the Naval plans and preparations. This is rather difficult to understand, and it makes it seem all the more reasonable to have a parallel set-up with CINCAFPAC undertaking the Army side and the Commander in Chief of the naval forces, CINCPAC, undertaking the Navy side. This would in effect produce the Army solution for organization in the Pacific.

As to issuing a directive for operations prior to a directive defining the command and organization, this to me is unacceptable. The two are intimately related, and obviously the organization should come first in order that the responsible commanders may know what their powers and responsibilities are and may command the tools essential to plans and preparations. The more difficult the transition period, if it is difficult, the more important it is that the reorganization should be undertaken immediately in order that the transition be completed and the organization tested and experienced before the final stages of the softening up process start against the Japanese homeland.

The whole question of organization and command, as well as future operations, has been under exhaustive study for a long time. The most intricate problem of Army redeployment may be upon us any day. The required preparations for this last, as well as the other complicated Army logistical steps, are to a certain extent stalled or proceeding with inadequate guidance and control awaiting solution as to organization for the Pacific.

The involved problem of Army logistics is extraordinarily difficult when applied to extensive land campaigns far from home, particularly with the added complication of redeployment. The interpolation of excessive joint organization and airtight area compartments into this problem complicates an already difficult matter with controls which cannot share what is obviously an Army responsibility. Coordination required between the Army and Navy on the other hand, is a comparatively simple matter to be worked out between the commanders concerned and checked here in Washington.

There appears to be some confusion as to what is meant by unified command. The application of the idea of unified command in the proposal under consideration is not understood since the result seems to be to diffuse and compartmentalize resources under somewhat obscure control rather than concentrating these resources on Japan under two strong commanders. The impression I get is that starting from a general principle, not clearly defined in detail, we are attempting to warp a huge organization and enormous resources to fit the idea.

Finally, I think that under the system of the proposed minutes which I submitted the other day, amended copy attached, most of the complications, at least doubts or uncertainties in our minds, can be obliterated, permitting the directives to be couched in rather simple language. I get the impression that up to this time we are permitting mere details of arrangements and duties of individuals, Richardson3 for instance, to fog the fundamentals concerned in this organization.



The Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that the following message be sent out in connection with the issuance of the directives which they had approved.

In the interpretation of the directives now being issued regarding command and operations in the Pacific, the following is to be understood by all concerned:

The actual offensive operations necessary for seizing holdings in the Ryukyus will be undertaken under the command of Admiral Nimitz and forces allocated to him for this purpose will not be withdrawn from his command until such time as determined by mutual agreement or by directives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

If developments of the war require an operation in the Chusan-Ningpo area this will be undertaken under the command of Admiral Nimitz.

Once the landings have been made good in the Ryukyus and construction of the air strips and similar developments gotten well under way, the control of this area will pass to General MacArthur.

Admiral Nimitz will continue to control the Hawaiian Group and the Marianas.

With regard to these same directives the following development of command set-up and territorial boundaries is contemplated:

A speedy reorganization of the command set-up for the Pacific Theater is essential. This reorganization must be accomplished progressively, however, to the end that there be no loss in the present momentum of operations against the Japanese.

General MacArthur will establish a Joint Staff for the invasion of the Japanese homeland.

If an operation can be organized against the Island of Borneo its completion should be followed by the progressive release to the South East Asia Command of the areas in general south of the Philippine Archipelago and the Island of Hainan, with possible specific exceptions, such as Manus Island.

The completion of the mopping up operations in the Philippines and the build-up of the necessary bases in that area preparatory to operations against Japan should be organized under a command set-up not involved in SWPA affairs as relate to Australians, Dutch, British and other Allies and their territories.

Requisitions covering all supplies and equipment common to both Services will be coordinated in the theater insofar as practicable to avoid duplication and will be screened in Washington.4

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. Marshall dictated this memorandum to his secretary, Mona Nason, on March 21. He incorporated information from Joint Staff Planner Brigadier General George A. Lincoln’s comments on the latest directive prepared by Admiral King’s staff. (Lincoln Comments on Attached [not attached] Memorandum for Chiefs of Staff, March 21, 1945, NA/RG 165 [ABC, 323.31 POA, Section 3-A (1-29-42)].) The triple-spaced typed draft edited by the chief of staff is located in NA/RG 165 (OPD, 384 TS, Case 1).

2. Staff Planner Lincoln reported on March 12 that “discussions are proceeding amicably. . . . The Navy Planner [Rear Admiral Donald B. Duncan (U.S.N.A., 1917)] and I have agreed that after careful study of the matter by ourselves jointly, we will not spend time arguing any basic differences developed but will present a clean-cut problem to the Chiefs of Staff for decision. As I see it, the basic problem for decision will be the question of area command versus primary responsibility to commander of forces.” (Lincoln Memorandum for General Hull, March 12, 1945, NA/RG 165 [ABC, 323.31 POA, Section 3-A (1-29-42)].) The staff planners held seven sessions from March 10 to 16 to discuss operations and command in the Pacific. (Minutes of the Joint Staff Planners 192d Meeting, NA/RG 218 [CCS 334, JPS Minutes].)

The Joint Staff Planners reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on March 16 that they were in agreement on the results of their work “except for the fundamental difference as to the basic idea underlying future organization in the Pacific. The Navy proposal continues the emphasis on area command, control and responsibility for operations under the principle of unified command, creates a third area in the Pacific, and leaves Commanders in Chief of the Army forces and the Navy forces in a role which is primarily administrative and logistical. The Army proposal places emphasis, including command responsibility for operations (to be undertaken under the principle of unified command), on the role of the Commanders in Chief of the Army forces and Navy forces respectively and while retaining for the present the two area commands, concentrates most of the command and control of forces and operations in two commanders. The Planners do not consider they can resolve this basic difference.” (Report by the Joint Staff Planners, March 16, 1945, Enclosure to J.C.S. 1259/3, Directive for Reorganization and Future Operations in the Pacific Theater, ibid. Hull Memo for General Marshall, March 17, 1945, and attached Lincoln Notes on J.C.S. 1259/3, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 384 TS, Case 1].) For previous correspondence regarding command in the Pacific, see Marshall Memorandum for General Hull, March 19, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-065 [5: 91-92].

3. Lieutenant General Robert C. Richardson, Jr., army commander in the Pacific Ocean Areas, resented Admiral Nimitz’s control of military shipping and the subordination of the army in the area. (Coakley and Leighton, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1943-1945, pp. 579-80. For previous information regarding the domination of navy authority in the area, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-482 [4: 553].)

4. “The Navy did not once mention unified command,” Lincoln reported on March 26, and “are backtracking on their basic directive, which includes the Japan area, and now state they do not accept that idea. The reason may be that on further consideration they have discovered how much power it would eventually give General MacArthur.” Vice Admiral Charles M. “Cooke is now laying great stress on the `amphibious phase’ of the operations and implies that this includes command and control of practically everything by Admiral Nimitz until such time as General MacArthur is able to step dry-shod on the soil of Japan. . . . The Navy wish is obviously to get out a directive for operations and leave the matter of command and control to some other time.” (Lincoln Memorandum for General Hull, March 26, 1945, NA/RG 165 [ABC, 323.31 POA, Section 3-A (1-29-42)].) On April 3, 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued J.C.S. 1259/4, Command and Operational Directives for the Pacific. (Ibid.) For further information regarding command in the Pacific, see Marshall to MacArthur, March 29, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-076 [5: 104-5].

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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 94-97.

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