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Memorandum for General Arnold
February 21, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Confirming my hasty conversation with you yesterday, please get under way the following, for my preliminary consideration Saturday or Monday.
Revise priority policy for distribution of planes: In view of the fact that the security of the Fleet must now be given first priority consideration in allocation of planes to units, a new breakdown or plan should be prepared as the basis of an early discussion, possibly Monday or Tuesday, by you, Emmons,1 Brett, Gerow, and myself. I intended to give the Navy the opportunity to indicate their desires in this matter to the extent of stating where first shipments should go—Hawaii, Panama, Puerto Rico, Philippine Islands. We will probably have to get their views on the basis of partial deliveries, that is maybe single squadrons until more ships are available. We will have to consider Emmons’ necessities from the view point of permitting pilots training and familiarity with new types.
Supervision of supply of materiel: What I intended to indicate to you, hastily, yesterday was that we should immediately get out a radio of instruction to air depots and to Emmons, to the general effect that, in the matter of the supply of materiel to the active units of the Air Corps, there will be a constant check by all parties concerned, forward and back, to see that the units actually have in their possession all the materiel that they need, that is available in the depot. For example, officials of a depot should visit the units which they supply to ascertain if those units have in their actual possession the equipment required. If there is a lack, and the equipment is available in the depot there should be immediate adjustment by telephone or telegraph to be confirmed later by formal requisition. And commanders of Groups, Wings, or Districts, or their staff officers should familiarize themselves with what is available at the depots and see to it that the necessary demands or requisitions are made on the depots and early deliveries secured. A sharp line of responsibility must not be drawn in this matter. While the depots are controlled by the Chief of Air Corps, and the fighting unit with their supply services are controlled by the commander of the GHQ Air Force, the agents of both must cross the line in a cooperative effort to get prompt results as well as to develop a more harmonious relationship. No organizational set-up can succeed without the determined efforts of the principal officials concerned to develop that degree of mutual understanding and cooperation that is essential to efficiency.
The foregoing is merely a rough idea in the matter, but the point is, I find exactly the same situation here that has existed in ordinary supply between Ordnance and Quartermaster Depots, the Corps Areas, the local supply office and the troops. For example, I learned yesterday of a dearth of signal equipment in the hands of the troop of the 44th Division at Camp Dix at a time when the supply had actually been available at Camp Dix in the hands of the local Signal Officer. Instead of his checking the units to see that they had what they needed, he waited for them to come to him with requisitions. On the other side of the fence, instead of the Commanders communicating with the Signal Officer to find out where the equipment could be obtained, there was a failure on their part to display energetic leadership in the matter. I found the same thing regarding part of the engineer equipment for 155 regiments, with an unnecessary delay of several months; I found the same situation with regard to clothing, mess kits, and similar items; and you and I found a little of the same thing with regard to aluminum.
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. Delos C. Emmons had commanded the General Headquarters Air Force since March 1, 1939; he had been a lieutenant general since October 25, 1940.
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. 427-428,