2-131 Memorandum for Admiral Stark, February 24, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 24, 1940

Memorandum for Admiral Stark

February 24, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Joint Air Advisory Committee.

Referring to our conversation of Wednesday morning following The Joint Board meeting:

I suggest that we proceed with the organization of this committee on whatever basis, formal or informal, that you think best. The committee to prepare to advise us on the general subject of the relation of Army and Navy Air interests, (1) as to employment, (2) as to joint operations, (3) as to types of planes, and (4) as to possible joint use or operation of facilities in such special cases as may be found practicable and more economical—research for example, or certain depots, etc. It seems to me that with some such instructions to the committee, we could allow them to reach an agreement for our approval as to various subjects and matters that might be well for them to study.

I have in mind that where there is unanimity of opinion, and we approve, such matters could be placed in normal channels for formal consideration. The principal benefits should flow from the fact that we are getting together, on a more intimate and workable basis than in the past.1

I propose for this committee as Army members,

Major General H. H. Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps.

Brigadier General George H. Brett, Chief of the Materiel

Division, Office of the Chief of the Air Corps.

Lieut. Colonel Thomas T. Handy, G.S., War Plans Division.2

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 20218-50, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. On January 9, 1940, Marshall—in a conversation with Acting Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Lorenzo D. Gasser and Assistant Chief of Staff, War Plans Division, Brigadier General George V. Strong—suggested “an unofficial Joint Army-Navy Air Board” to handle mutual aeronautical interest, and particularly to determine the numbers of planes that each service should procure. At that time three army-navy agencies dealt with aeronautical problems: The Aeronautical Board for materiel and operating facilities; the Army and Navy Munitions Board for armaments and their production; and the Joint Board for functions, missions, and questions of duplication. Strong reminded the chief of staff that annual procurements had never been discussed in army-navy meetings. He preferred that the Joint Board estimate procurement figures, rather than creating a new unofficial committee. Such action presented the danger of freezing air requirements for the army during a period of very fluid international conditions. Strong suggested that the Joint Board provide a mandate for any new system of future planning. He warned Marshall that joint planning might “reopen the Navy.” The assistant chief of staff claimed that naval officers never wanted a joint discussion of naval air procurement. The vague 1935 revision of the “Joint Action of the Army and Navy,” Chapter IV, failed to determine the functions of each service’s air component. Strong advised that a joint committee, however composed, should “avoid scrupulously any effort to transcend its provisions.” (Strong Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, January 13, 1940, NA/RG 165 [WPD, 888-107].)

2. A Joint Air Advisory Committee was appointed on May 16, 1940, for the purposes Marshall outlined. In addition to the army officers nominated by the chief of staff, Admiral Stark appointed Rear Admirals Frederick J. Horne (U.S.N.A, 1899) and John H. Towers (U.S.N.A., 1906) and Commander Forrest Sherman (U.S.N.A., 1917). (Joint Memorandum, May 16, 1940, ibid.) On the problem of army-navy cooperation concerning aircraft, see Memorandum for Admiral Stark, July 7, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-505 [2: 562-64].

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. 166-167.

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