4-201 Memorandum for General Devers, January 18, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 18, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, North African Theater of Operations [Devers]

January 18, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Extension of War Department Manpower Board Activities

to the North African Theater of Operations.

1. The cut-back of the projected military manpower in the Troop Basis from 8,200,000 to 7,700,000 necessitates the utmost economy in the use of that manpower. With this in view, the War Department Manpower Board was created, operating under my direct supervision, and has physically surveyed hundreds of posts, camps and stations and other military installations in the United States. The Board has effected large economies in military manpower in the operation of the above referred to establishments through the elimination of surplus personnel as well as the substitution of civilians where military status was not essential. In addition to the activities of this Board, the Commanding Generals of the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces and the Army Service Forces, have been revising their table of organization units in order to enforce a stricter economy in the use of personnel.

2. The manpower issue has now become so critical that I have now directed the Manpower Board to extend its activities to the U. S. Army communications zones in overseas theaters, and the North African Theater has been selected for the initial survey. The number and composition of the units now employed in the operation and security of the installations, and the greater use of local inhabitants in the support of military operations will be considered, as well as the volume of supplies now stored throughout the entire area, to determine if there are excesses that may be placed to better use elsewhere.

3. A Theater of Operation Section of the War Department Manpower Board under the Chairmanship of Major General Jack W. Heard has been directed to conduct this survey, and to work in close cooperation with your headquarters.1 The Board has been given full information concerning the present and immediate future plans in that area insofar as they are known to the War Department. Please see that subordinate commanders under your jurisdiction extend to the Board full assistance and cooperation, in order that a mutual understanding of your problem and the views and plans of the War Department may be obtained and merged into an orderly solution by indicating changes in the existing set-up acceptable to you, which will result in effecting these changes as rapidly as existing conditions permit, either by you direct or your request to the War Department where such action is necessary.

4. In order that you may have a clear understanding of the function of the Board, you are advised that its action is advisory only. It operates directly under the War Department. The Board, during its surveys of the existing installations will, from time to time, prepare a series of reports showing the changes that, in its opinion, should be made in the existing organization to meet the present and immediate future military requirements in that theater, together with changes, if any, that are being effected. This will be sufficiently detailed to include a resume of the troops required to operate the installations, a list of the organizations considered surplus, as well as the general character and quantity of supplies, if any, made surplus. In the preparation of its reports, the Board will maintain close consultation with your staff. The reports of the Board will be submitted direct to the War Department after obtaining your comments and recommendations.2

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), Project Decimal File 1944-45, 321 WDMB, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Heard (U.S.M.A., 1910) had been commanding general of the Fifth Armored Division before he was assigned to the War Department Manpower Board in March 1943.

2. Major General Lorenzo D. Gasser, president of the War Department Manpower Board, reported to General Marshall that Heard had completed his mission in the North African theater in early June 1944. (Gasser Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, June 3, 1944, NA/ RG 165 [OCS, Project Decimal File 1944-45, 321 WDMB].)

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. 235-237.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 4-201

Rights: Public Information