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Memorandum for the Commanding General, Army Air Forces1
October 26, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Army Service Force Responsibilities.
1. As a result of Circular No. 388 of 27 September 1944 General Somervell has raised with me basic questions of Service Force responsibilities and organization.2 General Arnold also has discussed these questions in a memorandum of 23 October 1944.
2. I doubt the advisability of initiating any substantial organizational changes at the present time. No matter what is done now, the entire question of War Department and Army organization will have to be considered at the end of the war and at that time the comments of overseas commanders will carry great weight. If we are ever to secure acceptance of the idea of a single department, I believe that we must first demonstrate within the Army a satisfactory relation of service agencies to the combat forces.
3. It is my desire that the Commanding Generals of the three major commands meet and endeavor to resolve the over-all question of service and supply functions and responsibilities and their relation to command. It is my hope that it will be possible in this way to settle minor differences that may arise from time to time without the necessity of appealing to me for a decision. Where differences cannot be so resolved then I desire that there be made to me for my decision a combined presentation of clear-cut issues with a statement of your differences. In addition, I should like a statement giving your combined views on how the provision of supplies and the rendering of common services should operate.
The Deputy Chief of Staff is charged with the coordination of the foregoing.3
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. This memorandum was also directed to the commanding generals of Army Ground Forces and Army Service Forces.
2. The lengthy conflict between the Army Air Forces and the Army Service Forces over control of funding, procurement, and services is examined in John D. Millett, The Organization and Role of the Army Service Forces, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1954), pp. 124-37,157-65. Circular No. 388, which transferred most services and functions at air bases and air installations from the Army Service Forces to the Army Air Forces, was an attempt to solve the conflict.
3. The heads of the three commands—Air Forces (Arnold), Service Forces (Somervell), and Ground Forces (Lieutenant General Ben Lear since McNair’s death in mid-July) began holding a series of meetings aimed at reaching an agreement on the role of the Service Forces. On November 27, they sent Marshall a report in which they admitted that they found it impossible to reconcile the differences. Arnold wanted airmen to control all activities that contributed to operational effectiveness; he insisted that the intercession of a service command into fields the air service considered vital to its mission of aerial superiority threatened to produce “fatal divided responsibility.” Somervell and Lear argued that the combat forces should rely extensively upon a separate service force operating behind the front lines and throughout the United States. Deputy Chief of Staff Handy sought to resolve the conflict, and in a December 28 memorandum to the three commanding generals, he in essence reaffirmed the status quo established by Circular No. 388. (Ibid., pp. 165-68.)
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. 638-639.