4-130 Memorandum for General Handy, October 11, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 11, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Handy

October 11, 1943 Washington, D.C.


I have made a hasty examination of the JCS paper on Strategic Deployment of U.S. Forces.1 It seems to me that possibly several considerations may have been overlooked. As far as I have been able to estimate on a hurried survey of the figures they seem reasonable up to the 31st of March, 1944. However, after that date, in consideration of what we presume has been happening, I am not quite so sure of our ground.

For example, assuming that on June 30, 1944, we are carrying out our various intentions as to OVERLORD and the complementary reaction from the Mediterranean; then it does not seem to me that we are justified in holding 67,000 troops in the Eastern Defense Command, 16,000 in Alaska [Iceland], and 80,000 in the Caribbean. My guess would be that at that time not to exceed 8,000 would be sufficient for Iceland and possibly less. Also that the Eastern Defense Command could be heavily cut and that further cuts could be made in the Caribbean. There may be other places where similar cuts would be appropriate to the changing situation.

When it comes to September 30, 1944, then I am convinced that our figures are too large at the places I have mentioned. I notice in the accepted assumptions in the demobilization planning that the victory over Germany is pointed to October 1, 1944. Well, certainly if we have hopes of a victory over Germany at that time it would hardly seem necessary in the quarter ending September 30 to be holding 67,000 troops along the Eastern seaboard, more than 16,000 in Iceland, etc.

I have not gone into the training and other units but I am beginning to be a little dubious about some of our figures as relate to their consistency with expectations of our strategic plans.2

G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 9, Book 12, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. Joint Staff Planners paper J.C.S. 521, “Strategic Deployment of U.S. Forces to 31 December 1944,” was on the agenda for the October 12 Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting.

2. The minutes of the J.C.S. meeting the next day record Marshall as observing that the personnel totals contained in J.C.S. 521 “were reasonably satisfactory for planning, except for the total figure of 8,248,000, to be reached by 31 December 1944, which he thought was unduly conservative at this time. He said that he felt we should be frank and exact as to our requirements so as not to become involved in debates in defense of our estimates. He felt that possibly it might be better to understate our requirements, and if conditions arose whereby more men were needed, to ask for them rather than to provide for a cushion in overstated requirements.” Marshall asserted that the planners were expecting to deploy too much manpower to defensive areas. The paper was referred to the Joint Staff Planners for reconsideration. (Supplementary Minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, October 12, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].)

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. 152-153.

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