4-138 Memorandum for BG W. F. Tompkins, October 20, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 20, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for Brigadier General W. F. Tompkins

October 20, 1943 [Washington D.C.]


Subject: A Single Department of War.1

Paragraph 5 b still does not appeal to me as written. As now drawn it has several unfortunate implications. The Chief of Staff to the President appears as a secondary consideration, and the relationship of the Secretary of War to any form of a General Staff, is not indicated.

As to the latter implication, I think there should be a small working General Staff with each of the three major sub-divisions, Air, Ground and Naval. These would be in the same relationship to the Secretary of War and his Undersecretariat, through the respective Chiefs of Staff for Air, Ground and Navy, as in our present War Department set-up. However, the over-all General Staff should have indicated for it in most general terms, the issues with which it is empowered to deal, and I think you can find the main terms in the Presidential Executive Order on the reorganization of the War Department, defining my relationship to the President.2 That should be in the relationship of the Chief of Staff to the President and his higher General Staff, composed of the four principal officials. This does not, I believe, cover the general financial problem, which has two aspects—the vital problem of proposing through the Chief of Staff to the President, to the President, the size of the military budget, and thereafter the critical problem of the sub-division of the appropriated funds into three parts, for the Ground, Air, and Naval forces.

I do not mean from the foregoing that all this should appear in the paragraph but I do consider that it is important to avoid the implications now involved, in my opinion, in your present draft.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. For previous consideration of this issue, see Marshall Memorandum for General Tompkins, October 13, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-134 [4: 156-57].

2. Paragraph 6 of Executive Order 9082 of February 28, 1942, having described the duties of the secretary of war, stated: “Such duties by the Secretary of War are to be performed subject always to the exercise by the President directly through the Chief of Staff of his functions as Commander-in-Chief in relation to strategy, tactics, and operations.” (Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America: Cumulative Supplement, Titles 1-3 [Washington: GPO, 1943], pp. 1103-4.)

3. Paragraph 5 b was rewritten as follows: “There should be a Chief of Staff to the President, to serve the President in exercising his functions as constitutional Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He would take precedence over all military and naval officers. On matters relating to strategy, tactics and operations, the preparation and presentation of the Joint Military Budget, and on such other matters as he may consider pertinent to his constitutional function as Commander-in-Chief, the President should communicate his instructions to the Department of War through the Chief of Staff to the President. In all other matters, the President’s orders should be transmitted through the Secretary of War. Each of the Armed Forces, Ground, Air and Naval, would retain a small General Staff. There should be a compact U.S. General Staff (joint) which would be headed by the Chief of Staff to the President. The U.S. General Staff would be composed of the Chiefs of Staff of the three Armed Forces and the Chief of Staff for Supply. In working out the organizational details of the U. S. General Staff, advantage should be taken of the experience of the present U.S. Chiefs of Staff in the present war.”

The version of “A Single Department of War” revised as a result of the Marshall memorandum printed here was submitted on October 22 to Marshall, who approved it. (Tompkins Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, October 22, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 381 National Defense (August 16, 1943)].) An expanded and renumbered version of the proposal was submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on November 2. See editorial note #4-356 Papers of George Catlett Marshall [4: 416] for further developments on this issue.

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. 160-161.

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