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To Colonel Marshall S. Carter
August 11, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 1293. [Nanking, China]
Delivery should not repeat not be completed reference WAR 96621 at this time, on the eight and one third Air Group Program through surplus property channels.1 Just how long delivery should be delayed I am not prepared to state at this time.2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, GOLD Messages, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. In various ways since the end of the war, the United States had aided the development of the Chinese Air Force (C.A.F.). In late January 1946, Marshall and Chiang Kai-shek had agreed in principle that the U.S. War Department would help create an 8 1/3-group C.A.F. by selling 781 planes at surplus prices. By June 20, 1946, 652 planes had been transferred leaving 129 to be obtained from various Pacific bases. (See note 2, Marshall Draft Statement, January 18, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-330 [5: 425], and Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 767-69. On the number of aircraft involved, see Brigadier General J. P. McConnell to Marshall, October 26, 1946, NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, Chinese Air Force].) Marshall Carter’s Radio No. WAR-96621, August 6, 1946, listed the aircraft types remaining to be delivered and asked Marshall if they should be turned over to the Chinese. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 782.)
2. War Department planners were not pleased with halting the completion of what they considered a contractual commitment by the U.S. government. They were particularly unhappy that the stop order had been issued by the State Department and that Marshall and his Washington staff assumed that a decision by Marshall was the same as U.S. government policy, despite the possibility that such decisions “might in some circumstances not be in the best interests of the U.S. from a global point of view.” Some planners also suspected that Marshall was being misled by “the actions of certain individuals in the State Dept.” (Lieutenant Colonel Trevor N. Dupuy Memorandum for General Lincoln, August 23, 1946, NA/RG 165 [P&O, China Aid Program, Binder 13, Item 6].)
Fear of Soviet intentions was another factor in the planners’ views of Marshall mission actions. On August 14, Colonel Carter sent Marshall a War Department Plans and Operations Division estimate of Soviet aims in China: the exclusion of U.S. influence. Comments in the American press were increasingly common that the Marshall mission’s failure might mean that the U.S. would revert to the status of interested bystander rather than active participant in Chinese affairs. This had to be prevented, the planners asserted. As Carter summarized their views: “Our exclusion from China would probably result, within the next generation, in an expansion of Soviet influence over the manpower, raw materials and industrial potential of Manchuria and China. The U.S. and the world might then be faced in the China Sea and southward with a Soviet power analogous to that of the Japanese in 1941, but with the difference that the Soviets could be perhaps overwhelming[ly] strong in Europe and the Middle East as well.” (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 27-28.)
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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 652-653.