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Memorandum for the Joint Chiefs of Staff
April 19, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Air Offensive Against the U-Boat.
I am deeply concerned with the matter of the present organization and technique for the employment of aircraft in the anti-submarine effort, and I therefore propose that this be considered by the Joint U.S. Chiefs of Staff in all of its ramifications.
The Secretary of War in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy dated April 1st, proposed, more or less as a stop-gap measure, the organization of a small Task Force within the Air Forces Anti-submarine Command, to function during the experimental period more or less in an independent status. The reply of the Secretary of the Navy indicated that both he and the Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, felt that such piecemeal action was unsound in its tactical application.
I personally am now strongly of the opinion that the ultimate solution for the employment of the Air arm in connection with anti-submarine operations, particularly, and possibly exclusively as applied to VLR aircraft, should be based on an organization under a unified command responsible for temporary allocation and technique of employment. This would result in overriding what appears to me to be the limiting effect of its present employment under the system of naval districts and sea frontiers.
Further, I have come to the conclusion that unless a single individual is charged with the development of efficiency in this matter, both as to materiel improvements and as to the technique of employing the aircraft with these improvements, we will tend to limp along under the unavoidable difficulties that always exist when a new procedure has to develop under normal staff routine and operational organization.
In all of this matter I have realized that there is the difficulty of directional control under seemingly divided authority. However, I am sure this deficiency can be met and, as I stated before, I have reached the conclusion that unless we take drastic action in this matter we fail of our duty.
As an initial proposal for consideration of this matter by the Joint Chiefs of Staff the following is suggested:
a. That the United States shore-based air forces operating against submarines in the Atlantic be organized to provide highly mobile striking forces for offensive action, in addition to affording convoy coverage in certain critical areas.
b. That the Joint Staff Planners be directed as a matter of urgency to undertake the solution of the difficult problem of coordinating operations in a single area.
c. That the command proposed in a. above operate directly under the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to policy, in a manner analogous to a theater commander.
d. That in view of the urgency of the matter the Army and Navy each provide for such command VLR B-24 airplanes at the rate of 12 per month during May, June, and July, these planes to be in addition to the 75 (Army) and 60 (Navy) VLR aircraft presently allocated to anti-submarine operations.1
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 Joint Chiefs of Staff deferred action on Marshall’s proposal pending receipt of a report pertaining to this subject being prepared in the Navy Department. (Minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, April 20, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].)
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. 651-652.