3-594 Memorandum for General Wedemeyer, April 6, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 6, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Wedemeyer

April 6, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


I talked to Deane this morning about the reorganization of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff set-up, JCS 159/8, and while I have not had time to examine Admiral King’s comments, Deane went over some of them with me.

At the moment I am inclined to this line of action, and I want your utterly frank comments:1

To refer the paper back to the Planners for report as to the number of individuals of the Navy and Army on each Committee, leaving to Admiral King and to me the decision as to who our respective representatives are to be. That will remove the present confusion from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and localize it in the respective Departments.

The next action would be to propose before the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral King’s suggestion that the representatives on the Planners are representing the policies of the respective Departments and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rather than considering the question in relation to the facts submitted and then presenting their views to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for them to determine individually or as a group as to whether or not a report was in keeping with the desired policies.

Deane feels that more and more we have stalemated ourselves with representatives of the respective Departments or of the two Governments in attempting to deal with each other on an “instructed” basis rather than attempting to reach what seems to them a proper solution and then leaving it to their respective Chiefs on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to decide whether or not the proposal is in accordance with the desired policies.

There are two phases to this last approach, one where we are asking for their views and the other where we are directing them to coordinate something regarding which we express our views at the time of reference.

I am dictating this so that you can consider these points before you come in to talk to me, probably about 11:00 o’clock.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. The superiority of the British planning officers had been demonstrated at the Casablanca Conference. Brigadier General Albert C. Wedemeyer lamented that at Casablanca the American planning delegation had been inadequate, ill-prepared, and disorganized. Writing to Major General Thomas T. Handy, Wedemeyer summed up the conference: “We came, we listened, and we were conquered.” Faced with a large and well-organized British delegation, he felt that he “had not rendered [Marshall] adequate help.” Wedemeyer told Handy that “General Marshall had done a magnificent job but that he had been almost entirely on his own.” (Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! [New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1958], pp. 191-92.) Reform of the American planning staff was necessary before the next large American-British planning conference. (For related information, see Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Operations Division, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1951], pp. 235-37.)

2. At the April 6 afternoon meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marshall pointed out that “in almost every case the British had a finished paper and a better paper at Casablanca, largely because their Planners were uninstructed and allowed to present their own individual opinions.” Admiral King agreed with Marshall “as regards contact with the British and combined planning. He said that as regards joint planning, however, it was almost inevitable that the head Planners should seek advice as to principle from their superior.” At the meeting Marshall emphasized that at future conferences with the British the American planners must “be together and ahead of them.” (Minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, April 6,1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].)

The reorganization effected by May 1943 reduced membership on the Joint Staff Planners to four, two army (including one air planner) and two navy representatives; and the number of issues brought before it was reduced by the establishment of subordinate planning committees devoted to particular aspects of operational planning, such as logistical considerations. The Joint War Plans Committee was also established, which dealt with operational war plans. This committee included three senior members representing the army, navy, and air forces who supervised a large planning staff divided into theater planning teams. The senior members considered the work of these teams, then reported to the Joint Staff Planners, who then reported to the Joint Chiefs. The result of this reorganization of the American planning staff was that at the TRIDENT Conference, held in Washington, D.C., in May 1943, the Americans were better prepared than they had been at Casablanca. (Cline, Washington Command Post, pp. 237-42. Reorganization of the joint staff is discussed in Vernon E. Davis, Development of the JCS Committee Structure, volume 2 of The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in World War II [Washington: Historical Division Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1972], pp. 395-460.)

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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 634-635.

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