2-313 Memorandum for Admiral Stark, November 29, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 29, 1940

Memorandum for Admiral Stark

November 29, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Tentative Draft, Navy Basic War Plan—Rainbow No. 3.

1. Reference your memorandum of November 22 and our telephone conversation of November 26, I have directed the War Department representatives on the Joint Planning Committee to get together with the Navy representatives and prepare an estimate of the situation based on your memorandum of November 12. I have told our people to give this task first priority.

2. We have gone over your advance copy of Rainbow No. 3. Insofar as the Army is concerned it involves the disposition of forces approximately as follows:

Pacific Area:

Reinforcements, Alaska— 6,000 available at 10M at Seattle1

Reinforcements, Hawaii— 14,500 available at 10M at San Francisco

Reinforcements, Hawaii— 14,000 available between 20M and 60M at

San Francisco.

Atlantic Area:

Depends upon the then existing situation. For planning purposes:

25,000 men available for embarkation at New York by 10M

25,000 additional men available for embarkation by 30M.

We can meet these requirements, but your plan does not appear to provide transportation for the overseas movement of these troops. This will probably be taken care of in the revision.

3. The War Department cannot fully subscribe to the strategical concept of the war or the operations as set forth in the plan. A serious commitment in the Pacific is just what Germany would like to see us undertake, and what the Japanese fear.

4. The directive for Rainbow No. 3 was based on a British-French domination of the Atlantic. Since then, the situation has been materially altered by the collapse of France and the status of the French fleet. Would it not, therefore, be better to approach the readjustment of Rainbow No. 3 on the basis, (1) that our national interests require that we resist proposals that do not have for their immediate goal the survival of the British Empire and the defeat of Germany; and, (2) that we avoid dispersions that might lessen our power to operate effectively, decisively if possible, in the principal theatre—the Atlantic. Such a basis might provide:

a. That our naval threat should be continued in the Pacific so long as the situation in the Atlantic permits.

b. That, so far as Malaysia is concerned, we should avoid dispersing our forces into that theatre. We should, however, assist the British to reinforce their naval set up in the Far East by relieving them of naval obligations in the Atlantic. This would provide a more homogeneous force for Malaysia and would, in effect, concentrate rather than disperse our naval establishment.2

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the War Plans Division (WPD), General Staff, 4175-15, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. The day mobilization was formally ordered to commence was designated “M-Day.” Thus “10M” would be ten days later.

2. There are no drafter’s initials on the file copy of this document, but the original was probably written by an officer of the War Plans Division. Marshall was dissatisfied with the last portion, however, and replaced it with a handwritten draft which explained the army’s objections in greater detail. Marshall’s draft became paragraphs 3 and 4 of this memorandum.

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), pp. 360-362.

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