4-613 To General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, December 19, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 19, 1944

Subject: World War II

To General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

December 19, 1944 Radio No. WAR-79291 Washington, D.C

Top Secret

TOPSEC to General MacArthur from General Marshall.

Your message of December 17 regarding command received.1 Your conception has been pressed for sometime without securing naval agreement. A further proposal along same general lines was in process of being submitted to JCS at time of receipt of your message. We are involved in complications difficult to adjust regarding Hawaii, shipping, etc.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-79291, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. The northern boundary of the Southwest Pacific Area ran just above the Philippines; consequently, under the March 30, 1942, directive establishing two Pacific theater commands (see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-141 [3: 144]), Admiral Nimitz would be in charge of the invasion of Japan, the largest ground forces action of the Pacific war. MacArthur’s chief biographer observes that in late 1944 there was growing realization among Pentagon leaders of both services that unity of command in the Pacific was necessary, but service rivalries and personality differences continued to make this unachievable. On December 17, 1944, MacArthur wrote to Marshall: “I do not recommend a single unified command for the Pacific. I am of the firm opinion that the Naval forces should serve under Naval Command and that the Army should serve under Army Command. Neither service willingly fights on a major scale under the command of the other.” (D. Clayton James, The Years of MacArthur, 3 vols. [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970-85], 2: 722-23.)

2. When Secretary Stimson asked Marshall about MacArthur’s desire for unified army command in the Pacific, he recorded the chief of staff’s response: “He said that in principle MacArthur was right but that he failed to recognize the limitations and exceptions to these correct principles; and he said what we both knew, that MacArthur is so prone to exaggerate and so influenced by his own desires that it is difficult to trust his judgment on such a matter. The problem is further complicated by the bitter hostility which the Navy has for MacArthur, arising out of the early months of the war. He told me, however, that the matter was now under consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and he was trying to work out a correct solution of it.” (December 27, 1944, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 49: 127].) Pacific command negotiations continued until a new directive was issued on April 3, 1945, designating MacArthur commander in chief, United States Army Forces, Pacific.

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), p. 701.

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