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To General Douglas MacArthur
April 12, 1944 Radio No. WAR-21958 Washington, D.C.
For MacArthur’s Eyes Only from Marshall.
Concern has been officially expressed by Admiral King over possible misinterpretation of that part of your radio number C-3227 March 22nd which refers to the introduction into your theater of “Any agency other than a transient Naval force.”1 I assume that it was not your intention to indicate a policy which would prohibit forces of any category not assigned to your area from staging through, mounting from, or temporarily operating from installations in your area, under their own commanders, where such measures would be expedient in the execution of a particular operation. This principle will be increasingly applicable as the operations of yours and Nimitz’s forces become more closely tied together. For example, it will possibly be desirable, in the Mindanao operation, for portions of your forces to stage in or operate temporarily from the Palaus. If I have interpreted your views correctly, I would appreciate early confirmation in your own words as it is desired to reassure Admiral King on this matter.2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret Message File CM-OUT-21958, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. On March 22 MacArthur had sent a message to Marshall regarding plans for development of a naval base at Manus Island. (For background information on this issue, see Marshall to MacArthur, March 9, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-279 [4: 329-31].) “Since this installation lies in an operational area where the coordination of all forces is required, it would be violative of basic principles to introduce any agency, other than a transient naval force, which is not part of the command,” said MacArthur. “The South Pacific force has been projected into operations in the Southwest Pacific area through the artificiality of extending it forward through the Solomons to Emirau but there can be no further justification for its continued operation beyond the geographical boundaries that have been fixed by international agreement.” (MacArthur to Marshall, March 22, 1944, In Log, p. 206-A, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Message Log].)
2. MacArthur replied that the expression “transient naval forces” referred “specifically to the use of the Manus Island Naval Base by forces of Central Pacific. There is of course no objection to the staging through or mounting from this area of forces of any category of another area.” He further stated that “the operation of outside forces, except the Pacific Fleet, from installations in this area however would be violative of the principle of unity of command. This would be particularly dangerous in the case of Air Forces whose employment requires such meticulous coordination with all elements. If support from one command is required by another command the support mission should be prescribed by higher authority leaving the tactical operations in the hands of the forces own commander and subject to mutual coordination between the two commanders concerned.” (MacArthur to Marshall, April 13, 1944, In Log, p. 146-A, ibid.)
For a related topic, see Marshall to MacArthur, April 4, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-333 [4: 388].
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. 403-404.