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Memorandum for General Embick1
October 3, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: U.S. Policy in re Russian Participation
in the War Against Japan.
With reference to your memorandum to me of September 30 I agree that the manner and timing of Russian participation in the war against Japan is of great importance to us.2 At first thought it seems to me that our bargaining position in this matter would be weakened rather than strengthened by slowing down the tempo of operations against Japan. On the Russian side they have to consider that their Armies in Manchuria will be confronted by the largest concentrations of Japanese ground troops and therefore the fighting will be bitter in the extreme. Also the further fact that the position of their lines is such as to give the Japanese a decided initial advantage. Should we adopt such a scheme as you suggest the Russians might reasonably think that we are maneuvering to get them into the fight in such a manner that they will suffer the major losses.
In my memorandum of September 1, I indicated some of the aspects of our final operations against Japan which require further study. I agree with you that we should exploit our sea and air power to the utmost during a rapid advance to the heart of Japan. In connection with your thought that there are sound reasons to justify a delay in closing in for the final kill, have you considered the political and economic acceptability of deliberately extending the length of the war with Japan?
As to the question of cost in lives, which is of first interest to me, have you considered the cost in casualties to seize and hold adequate air bases to generate anything like a bombing effort proportionate to that we have launched against Germany during the past year? Such a deployment of air power requires a tremendous number of bases. Even with air power with which we blasted Germany, the German ground forces on the Siegfried line appear capable of strong resistance. Do you think the ground opposition to our divisions landing in Japan will be less under a plan by which we delay the landings, permitting the enemy to build up his forces, or under a plan calling for a rapid movement against the heart of the Japanese homeland, taking full advantage of his increasing transportation difficulties in redeploying his troops due to the heavy sinkings of shipping we are carrying out day by day?
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. Marshall edited this from an Operations Division draft. It does not appear to have been sent to Embick.
2. Embick’s memorandum was an elaboration of his previous memorandums on the subject; see Marshall Memorandum for General Embick, September 1, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-494 [4: 567-69]. In his September 30 memorandum, Embick said that the Soviet Union had a vital interest in ejecting Japan from the Asiatic mainland, but if the United States appeared to regard a speedy end to the war as “of overriding importance, regardless of the cost to America,” and if the United States was prepared to invade Japan without awaiting Soviet participation, “then we may confidently expect that Russia, motivated by her own national interests, will delay her entry into the war until she can occupy Manchuria with a minimum of cost.”
Embick recommended that after the United States had firmly established its forces in the Bonin and Ryukyu islands and on the China coast, but prior to invading Japan: “(a) We will still retain a bargaining position with Russia, pointing out to her that inasmuch as our own security is ensured our further advances will await her cooperation. (b) We can meanwhile exploit to great advantage and at small cost to ourselves, those means (naval and air) which, because of our vastly superior machine production—more than six to one, we possess in so great a preponderance. The employment of such means—to which Japan is singularly vulnerable—will reduce progressively the Japanese war potential, and thus greatly lessen the task involved in the invasion of their home citadel.” (Embick Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, September 30, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 616-617.