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Memorandum for General McNarney
June 7, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Mr. McCloy was speaking to me this morning about Eugene Meyer’s proposed article on morale conditions in Alaska.1 I am interested only in the possibility that things which might be done in the way of construction, etc., to help the morale of those remaining in Alaska are not being done for some reason or other.
I suggest that you send an Inspector up there right away to see what in his opinion we can do in Alaska to improve morale conditions.
There is the question of the length of tour up there. Of course this is hitched on to the question of the problem of the availability of shipping, etc. However, it may be that under conditions prevailing in the summer, more can be done in rotation.2
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. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy had informed Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph T. McNarney on June 6 that he was concerned over the question of morale in U.S. Army posts located in Alaska. “I was able to kill one rather lurid story which the Washington Post had on the matter,” wrote McCloy. (Eugene Meyer was the editor and publisher of the Washington Post.) Secretary McCloy said he had heard that construction of living quarters and troop facilities had been halted in Alaska due to budgetary restrictions, and he wondered whether such policy was wise. He expressed concern that the two-year troop rotation policy was too long, suggested that increased furloughs should be encouraged, and speculated that the Medical Department might consider whether service in Alaska on a prolonged basis correlated with psychiatric difficulties. (McCloy Memorandum for General McNarney, June 6, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. A two-month investigation by the inspector general’s office concluded that morale in Alaska was unsatisfactory. The problem was not in construction of living quarters or recreational facilities but in rotation policy. On September 13, 1943, the War Department had informed the commanding general of the Western Defense Command that the general rotation policy called for return to the United States after two years. Personnel serving in Alaska came to regard this as a right, not a privilege or a standard for rotation eligibility, as the War Department asserted. The investigators recommended that a definite rotation policy be established. They noted that psychiatric problems were no greater in Alaska than in other theaters, but service beyond fourteen months resulted in a lowering of troop mental efficiency. The availability of replacements, not shipping, was the limiting factor for troops departing Alaska. (Major General Thomas T. Handy Summary of Investigations of Conditions in Alaska, August 31, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 330.2 Alaska].)
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), p. 472.