4-005 Notes for Conference with Admiral King, June 8, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 8, 1943

Subject: World War II

Notes for Conference with Admiral King

June 8, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Anti-submarine warfare.1

I have had a brief opportunity to go over your note to me of June 5th. I am sorry to find on my return from Africa that this matter is still one of apparent complete misunderstanding.2

It seems to me that the first step in reaching a solution is to determine whether or not joint Air command in this matter, regardless of whether it is an Army or Navy officer, is to be operated throughout the echelons under the provisions of JCS 263/2/D.3 My view is that it should be so operated. If this is not acceptable then it appears that the matter should be taken to the President.

Apparently the portion of JCS 263/2/D on which an agreement can be reached is the following:

“Normally in operations, this will consist of the assignment of their respective missions. In carrying out its mission the tactics and technique of the force concerned are the responsibility of that force.”

As to paragraph 3 regarding training it would seem that tactics and technique should be developed along uniform lines. However, as I understand it, Naval training now in progress for very long-range aircraft is quite similar to Army training. If this is correct no material dislocation will occur.

With further reference to the question of concept of command as discussed in paragraph 4: it seems to me the difficulty has been that details of operations which are to be carried out by aircraft alone are covered in the orders of commanders who are not technicians as to the particular weapon involved. For example, the issue of dropping bombs in train rather than by salvo, which occured in the Caribbean Arch. It required the cumbersome procedure of a Board. It seems to me that such operational details should be a function of the higher Naval command, meaning in this particular case the Sea Frontier commander.

I have spoken to General McNarney regarding the system of command and it is his view that no reorganization of Naval command whatsoever in the Atlantic is required or was implied in his statements to Admiral Edwards.4

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed draft.

1. The control of aerial antisubmarine warfare had been debated by army and navy leaders for a year. See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-227, #3-610 [3: 241-42, 651-52]. See also Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, August 1942 to December 1943, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949), pp. 384-92, 402-6; and Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1948), pp. 508-17.

2. On June 5 Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King sent Marshall a memorandum regarding his understanding of the current army position on the aerial antisubmarine warfare issue. Paragraph 2 stated that Deputy Chief of Staff McNarney had given the navy the impression that an army officer should command all the long-range bombers used in antisubmarine warfare and that he proposed a command system that would require the navy to reorganize its Atlantic command structure in order to create an air command separate from other navy arms. In paragraph 3 King insisted that he could “not assent to any such scheme” involving disunity between air and surface forces. Moreover, he was unwilling to shift responsibility for tactics, technique, training, and operational use of naval aircraft to an Army Air Forces commander who “might be expected to modify all that the Navy has so far done.” Regarding which concept of airpower command—army or navy—would be followed, King stated in paragraph 4: “In view of the fact that I am responsible for anti-submarine operations, and that Army aviation, if it comes into the picture, is to be added to a naval force already in being, it seems to me not unreasonable that naval principles of command organization be followed.” (King Memorandum for General Marshall, June 5, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 560].)

3. Joint Chiefs of Staff Serial 263/2/D was dated April 20, 1943, and titled “Unified Command for U.S. Joint Operations.” Under this decision, command of joint forces would be determined by the nature of the mission to be performed. (See Minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, April 20, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].)

4. Vice Admiral Richard S. Edwards (U.S.N.A., 1907) was deputy chief of naval operations. He had been responsible for directing antisubmarine operations from January 1942 until May 1943, when the Tenth Fleet was created to do this. For further developments in the control of antisubmarine activities, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-014 [4: 14-15], Marshall Memorandum for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, June 15, 1943.

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. 7-9.

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