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Memorandum for General Tompkins
October 13, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Single Department of War.
In general the attached paper is acceptable to me, but I wish paragraphs 5 a and b to be further amplified.1
Paragraph 5 a I think should read:
“The Department should be headed by a Secretary of War with four Under Secretaries, and organized into three major groups, the Ground Forces, the Air Forces and the Naval Forces, together with a general Supply Department. Provision should be made for centralized control of procurement, supply and service functions for the three combat forces, while continuing the procurement of special equipment such as naval vessels under the Naval Forces and airplanes under the Air Forces.” [Written in the margin beside this paragraph: “Don’t take me too literally on this G. C. M.”]
Paragraph 5 b should make clear the idea that the Chief of Staff to the President would not be a member of the Department and that the over-all General Staff for matters strategical, operational, and pertaining to general policy as to strength and equipment, would consist in effect of the present U.S. Chief of Staff organization. It is important, I think, not to give the impression, particularly in initiating this move, that a great General Staff is to be created. On the contrary the Chief of Staff to the President and the Chiefs of Staff of the three Arms with the Chief of Staff for Supply should constitute the General Staff and be served by the necessary subsidiary groups.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. Tompkins, director of the Special Planning Division, had written to Marshall enclosing a revised study on the unified defense department idea designed “to develop the War Department attitude” on the prospect of a unified military department. “It is believed that nearly all the ranking officers of the Army favor a single department. It is known that at least many ranking Naval officers agree. . . . The proposal is so inevitable and so many thoughtful officials favor it that the War Department might well take the initiative in advancing it.” For planning purposes, Tompkins desired to determine the J.C.S. attitude toward a single department. (Tompkins Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, October 11, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 381].)
The enclosed study delineated the justifications for a single Department of War: “the lack of real unity of command has handicapped the successful conduct of this war”; “this war is, and future wars undoubtedly will be, largely a series of combined operations in each of which ground, air and sea forces must be employed together and coordinated under one directing head”; and postwar economic and political considerations would require that numerous functions be centralized, “thus eliminating duplication and overlapping.” Paragraph 5 stated “that the Department of War should be organized broadly as follows:
“a. The Department should be headed by a Secretary of War and organized into three major groups: the Ground Forces, the Air Forces and the Naval Forces. Provision should be made for centralized control of procurement, supply and service functions for the three combat forces.
“b. There should be a U.S. (Joint) General Staff, including a Budget Section, the details and organization of which could well be prescribed by the present Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Chief of the U.S. General Staff should be the Chief of Staff to the President, the Commander-in-Chief. His functions would be comparable to those now exercised by the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, for the Army. He should have the same intimate contact with the President, the Commander-in-Chief, on military operations as presently pertains under the provisional arrangement now in effect.” (Ibid.)
2. For further developments on this issue, see Marshall Memorandum for Brigadier General W. F. Tompkins, October 20, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-138 [4: 160-61].
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. 156-157.