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Memorandum for General Bryden
February 28, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Defense commands and Air Defense set-up.
I have come to the decision that the Air Defense set-up should be in time of peace under the direction and control of the Commanding General of the GHQ Air Force.1
Please work out the defense command with the foregoing in mind. Also I would like you to consider these factors:
The changing of the Corps Area designation to department, in order to avoid present confusion of terms.
Along with this, some consideration might be given to the possibility of reducing the number of Corps Areas by consolidation of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. This may be wholly impracticable, but I offer it with the thought that since Corps Area Commanders will undoubtedly have to be charged with some defense details, the more nearly the Areas coincide with the defense commands the simpler the solution.
Chaney thinks that the Air Defense Commander, who would really be the Air District Commander in time of peace, should be charged with the organization of the Air Warning Service.2 Emmons feels that while that official is the man most interested and therefore might be charged with the organization, that the Corps Area Commander should handle the details of administration, pay, feeding, etc. I agree with Chaney that the Pursuit people are the ones vitally interested in efficient warning service and therefore would do the job much better than a less vitally interested official. There have been evidences of this already.
In setting up the defense commands I am inclined to think the two most difficult phases will be inter-relation between the Air Defense, as to the availability of antiaircraft artillery, and the relation of the defense commander to the Corps Area commander. All of this, of course, pertains to peace-time set-up. Everyone seems to be in agreement as to the theatre-of-operation set-up. However, there is still another phase of the matter. In all probability the senior commander in a defense area once the army has taken the field will be a Major General of Coast Artillery.
The foregoing is a casual statement and I would rather you treated it for your advice rather than for Staff circulation.
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 discussions of the lengthy debates concerning air and ground defense coordination, territorial and mobile defense of the continental United States, the respective roles to be played by Army General Headquarters and General Headquarters Air Force, and the problems of unity of command which led to the creation, on March 17, 1941, of the four Continental Defense Commands (i.e., Northeastern, Central, Southern, and Western) and of the four Air Forces (i.e., First, Second, Third, and Fourth), see Kent Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer, and Bell I. Wiley, The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1947), pp. 115-27; and Craven and Cate, Plans and Early Operations, pp. 152-55, 289-90. See also the notes on the conferences on air defense of February 13, 14, 18, and 19, 1941, in NA/RG 165 (OCS, Chief of Staff Conferences File).
2. Since October 1, 1940, Major General James E. Chaney had commanded the First Air District (renamed the First Air Force on March 17).
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. 434-435,