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To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower1
April 14, 1945 [Radio No. W-68632.] Washington, D.C.
Personal to Eisenhower from Marshall.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the task of readjusting the Army and promptly releasing to civilian life those people who are surplus to the needs of the Japanese war is one which will demand the most unselfish and conscientious efforts on the part of everyone. I fear that the weight of public opinion in the United States will be such that unless the task is handled properly, we may be forced to take measures which will interfere with redeployment and result in a prolongation of the Japanese war.
It is important that we discharge promptly every man who can be spared. It is of equal importance that these men be selected with extreme care. I think it is very important from a psychological point of view that the first shipments of men to be demobilized should be drawn from combat troops and from the divisions deepest in Germany,2 resorting to air transport service to get them to points of ship embarkation, if necessary.
The manner of selecting and preparing units for redeployment is also of critical importance. Upon the conclusion of World War I, it was too often the case that the most convenient unit was the one shipped back to the United States for demobilization at the expense of a unit which was more deserving. This must not happen again. Furthermore, even though it involves a lot of hard staff work and inconvenience to commanders all the way down the line, those units which are shipped direct to the Pacific theaters must contain to the maximum extent practicable only those people who are least eligible for discharge.
I have in mind that many units can be maintained considerably below authorized strength without harm to your military requirements. Those for reshipment through continental United States can be filled up with replacements here.
I wish that at the proper time you would advise all your people of my deep personal concern as to the responsibility of all commanders for a thorough and intelligent application of our readjustment and redeployment regulations. The Army will be severely criticized unless everyone gives his best efforts to this problem. Also please see that staffs do not get too much into blue print designs without sufficient thought for human reactions.3
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), 370.9, Case 127, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. This message was also sent to General Joseph T. McNarney. (Marshall to McNarney, Radio No. W-80438, April 14, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 370.9, Case 127].)
2. The message to McNarney reads instead: “divisions deepest in Italy.” (Ibid.)
3. “I share your concern over the human problem involved in redeployment,” replied Eisenhower. “I recognize that these problems must be solved promptly and with human understanding if the Army is to retain the confidence of the people at home for the continuation of the war against Japan as well as for the future. Our soldiers must be convinced that the system is fair and impartial.” Transfer of troops was under study at his headquarters, where a control group was to give “undivided attention to assure a complete coordination of effort and to give appropriate consideration to the human element.” (The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, ed. Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., et al., 21 vols. [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970-2001], 4: 2621-22.) See Marshall Statement to the Troops, May 8, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-118 [5: 173].
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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 143-144.