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Memorandum for the President1
December 12 , 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Employment of Latin American units in Africa.
General Marshall and his associates handling matters in North Africa do not believe that it would be advisable at the present time to undertake the sending of Latin American token forces to North Africa as recommended by Ambassador Hayes.2 They give a number of reasons for this point of view, the principal one being that General Eisenhower is now engaged in a difficult battle in Tunisia and the organization of his forces against the possibility of a surprise descent by Germany through Spain to close the mouth of the Mediterranean. He is also heavily involved in the necessary diplomatic adjustments with Darlan and Boisson,3 and will soon have on his hands a number of civilian agencies from the United States concerned with economic questions in North Africa.
Detachments of foreign troops of the character suggested are difficult at best to handle, and under the present circumstances it is felt that the complications for General Eisenhower seriously outweigh the suggested advantages. At a later date such an arrangement probably will be found desirable.
There are also the problems of the availability of shipping, the delicate issues involved in pay and rations, and the further fact that the attitude of the French would probably have to be ascertained.
This matter I find has been under discussion by General Marshall with Secretary Hull for some time. It has been given very careful consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as they wish to take every precaution against a threat to our communications through the Straits of Gibraltar.
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. Marshall wrote this document on December 5 for Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson’s signature. Patterson signed it and it was sent dated December 7. The copy in the Marshall papers is dated December 12.
2. No message on this subject from Carlton J. H. Hayes, United States ambassador to Spain, is in the Marshall papers or the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1942, 7 vols. [Washington: GPO, 1956-631.)
3. A formal agreement describing Admiral Darlan’s relations with the Allies had been signed on November 22. A week later Pierre Boisson, governor-general of French West Africa and Togoland, arrived in Algiers to arrange terms of collaboration by his colony with the Allies. Eisenhower had submitted a draft of this understanding to the Combined Chiefs of Staff on December 4 and the modified version was publicly announced on December 7. The military facilities at Dakar were henceforth available to the Allies. (Howe, Northwest Africa, pp. 270-72; Papers of DDE, 2: 782, 787-90, 810-11.)
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. 470-471.