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To General Douglas MacArthur
June 20, 1941 Washington, D.C.
My dear MacArthur:
In your letter of May 29 you state that the Philippine Army is to be absorbed by the United States Army in the near future, and consequently, that you are closing out your Military Mission. At the present time, War Department plans are not so far reaching. Contingent upon the appropriation of sugar and excise tax funds, Grunert has recommended that about 75,000 troops of the Philippine Army engage in a period of training of from three to nine months, in order to prepare them for the defense of the Philippines. While the decision as to the termination of the Military Mission is yours, the War Department plans do not contemplate taking over all responsibilities of your Mission in the near future.1
Both the Secretary of War and I are much concerned about the situation in the Far East. During one of our discussions about three months ago, it was decided that your outstanding qualifications and vast experience in the Philippines make you the logical selection as the Army Commander in the Far East should the situation approach a crisis.2 The Secretary has delayed recommending your appointment as he does not feel the time has arrived for such action. However, he has authorized me to tell you that, at the proper time, he will recommend to the President that you be so appointed. It is my impression that the President will approve his recommendation.
This letter is also an acknowledgment of your letters to the President and to the Secretary of War. Please keep its contents confidential for the present.
G. C. Marshall
Document Copy Text Source: Douglas MacArthur Archives, Record Group 1, MacArthur Memorial Library, Norfolk, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter signed.
1. MacArthur’s letter is not in the Marshall papers. MacArthur had recommended that the military mission be closed and that the War Department establish a Far Eastern Command with himself as commanding general. In a June 6, 1941, memorandum to Marshall, War Plans Division disagreed with MacArthur’s proposal for two reasons: the British had accepted the burden of strategic defense in the region, and the United States defended only the Philippine Islands. Therefore, War Plans Division recommended that MacArthur, if activated assume command of the Philippine Department. (Louis Morton, The Fall of the Philippines a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1953], pp. 15-16.)
2. Marshall had informed Stimson on May 21, 1941, that he intended to recall MacArthur and “place him in command” if a Far Eastern crisis arose. (Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 34: 50].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 540-541.