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To General Dwight D. Eisenhower
October 13, 1943 Radio No. 9994 Washington, D.C.
From Marshall for Eisenhower for his eyes only.
I have been greatly concerned over the frequency of reports as to the unsatisfactory type of replacements being sent to your theater. I get these from Troop Commanders over there, by my personal contacts from observers from here who have traveled through your theater and have gotten the same reactions, and also have seen groups of replacements they thought were most unimpressive. We have combed the situation here with detailed inspections under General McNarney’s direct supervision and I have had General McNair and his staff explain to me time after time just what they were doing to remedy the situation. However I am still not satisfied that all is as it should be.
Today I received a new slant as to one of the reasons for the unsatisfactory situation in the North African Theater. It is this: that due to the fact that the replacements are 1st worked over to organize provisional units or to provide selected men for the various base sections or rear installations, the combat divisions get what is left. Now if this is the case I think it should be terminated immediately and I should like you to have your inspector go into the matter including some of the back history.
There is always a distrust at the front of the services at the rear and if base sections or similar organizations are skimming the cream I think it should be terminated instantly.
I am discussing this at considerable length because we have taken exhaustive measures here to improve the situation, we have added 4 weeks to the training period, General Peterson has carried out exacting inspections of details going overseas, turning back those who did not appear to be well prepared in training or equipment, etc. Yet we continue to receive unfavorable reports. We must get at the root of the trouble as quickly as possible.1
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-5617, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. Eisenhower replied that informal reports reaching him from field commanders “have not painted the situation as darkly as you do. I am initiating investigations on the most exhaustive scale possible. . . If base sections have been skimming the cream off my replacements you may be sure that this practice will terminate forthwith.” On November 9 Eisenhower’s headquarters reported that a thorough investigation had cleared the rear echelons of suspicion of skimming. (Papers of DDE, 3: 1138-39.)
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. 154-155.