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Statement of General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff.
June 15, 1944 Washington, D.C.
The attack on Japan by the Super-Fortress B-29 from distant bases introduces a new type of offensive against our enemy. It also creates a new problem in the application of military force. Because of the enormous range and heavy bomb load of these Super-Fortresses, far exceeding that of previous strategic bombers, they can strike from many and remote bases at a single objective. The power of these new bombers is so great that the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt that it would be uneconomical to confine the Super-Fortress organization to a single theater. These bombers therefore will remain under the centralized control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with a single commander, General Arnold, acting as their agent in directing their bombing operations throughout the world. The planes will be treated as major task forces in the same manner as naval task forces are directed against specific objectives.
This type of flexible, centralized control recognizes that very long-range bombardment is not a weapon for the Air Forces alone. Under the Joint Chiefs of Staff theater commanders will have a voice in its employment, ensuring that maximum effectiveness will be obtained through missions which will contribute directly to the overall strategy for the defeat of the enemies.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Speeches, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed draft.
1. General Marshall approved this statement on May 16, but the Bureau of Public Relations held it until it had been determined that the B-29 raid on Japan was successful. (H. Merrill Pasco Memorandum for General Surles, May 16, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Forty-seven B-29s bombed the Imperial 1ron and Steel Works at Yawata, on the northern coast of Kyushu, Japan, on June 15, 1944. This was the first strategic air bombardment of the Japanese homeland since the 1942 raid led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle. The Yawata works were an important target, as they manufactured 24 percent of Japan’s total rolled steel production. The initial B-29 operation over Japan was intended to take place simultaneously with the American invasion of Saipan, Marianas Island Group, which the American Second and Fourth Marine divisions assaulted on June 15. Reconnaissance photographs taken on June 18 indicated that direct damage to the Yawata works had been unimportant, although the real value of the strike had been psychological. It demonstrated to the Japanese civilian population, in conjunction with the Saipan invasion, the grim realities of the current war situation. (Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, eds., The Pacific: MATTERHORN to Nagasaki, June 1944 to August 1945, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953], pp. 3, 99-102.)
2. For a discussion of the special command system for the Twentieth Air Force, directed from General Henry H. Arnold’s headquarters in Washington, see ibid., pp. 33-57, 92-94.
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. 483-484.