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To General Dwight D. Eisenhower
August 30, 1943 Radio [Washington, D.C.]
From Marshall for Eisenhower’s eyes only.
Reference my number 6055 of August 26th and your reply number W-8405 of August 27th regarding airfields,1 the President sent for me today and said there had come to someone in the White House a disturbing message from a member of the senatorial committee stating in effect that the entire committee was very much exercised over the British and French intentions towards the airfields we have built in Africa and they felt so strongly that they were considering sending some of their members back to take up the issue in this country.2
He read to me some quotations from their letter which referred to considerable freehanded expressions of subordinate officials of ours on airfields regarding the threats of our Allies and the extreme difficulty of these officials in maintaining their position, particularly towards the French. It sounded to me very much like the usual half-baked stuff that comes from underlings but I think you had better trim their conversation a little bit.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. Marshall gave the president copies of these documents. In his August 26 message to Eisenhower, Marshall said that the State Department had informed him that Eisenhower had issued, or was contemplating issuing, instructions turning over to the French or British the Moroccan airfields the U.S. Army had developed at Marrakech, Port Lyautey, and Casablanca. The State Department was opposed to such action as having potentially “far-reaching effects on our post-war position. They are convinced that possession will undoubtedly be nine points of the law when the question of eventual settlements is raised.” The State Department recommended that the U.S. at least keep a skeleton force at each field under a high-ranking officer and make it clear that the U.S. maintained possession and operational control of the fields. Eisenhower replied that he had no intention of turning over any airfields to the French or British, that he and his staff realized that there would be competition for commercial air facilities, that these competing interests would have to be “solved later by proper machinery and on a higher level,” that he was determined to prevent friction from damaging “the mutual confidence and trust existing between the American and British forces in the theater,” and that he would do nothing “to jeopardize national interests,” (Attachments to Marshall Memorandum for the President, August 30, 194.3, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]. Eisenhower’s reply is printed in Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, 2: 1359.)
2. Marshall, seeking to limit the number of visits to theaters by congressional leaders (see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-559 [3: 595]), had succeeded in getting a single five-man Senate delegation (three Democrats and two Republicans) to take a sixty-five-day world tour in a plane he provided. The August-September tour was headed by Albert B. Chandler and included Ralph O. Brewster, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., James M. Mead, and Richard B. Russell. The committee’s October 1943 report, with its strong emphasis on the need for the United States to improve its capabilities in world aviation and communications after the war, is printed in Congressional Record, 78th Cong., 1st sess., vol. 89, pt. 8: 8912-17.
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. 100-101.