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To Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons
December 20, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Personal and Confidential
My dear Emmons:
Instructions to the Army and Navy were issued a few days ago assigning unity of command to the Navy in Hawaii. At the same time unity of command was assigned to the Army in Panama.
For your confidential information, this action was taken in the following circumstances: In the first place, the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy1 were determined that there should be no question of future confusion as to responsibility. Further, the efforts I have been making for more than a year to secure unity of command in various critical regions had been unavailing.2 All sorts of Naval details, such as the operations of ships and submarines, the coordination of efforts to locate purely Naval objectives, and similar matters had been raised in objection to Army control wherever that was proposed. I must say at the same time that some of the Army staff brought up somewhat similar objections to Naval control. Both Stark and I were struggling to the same end, but until this crash of December 7th the difficulties seemed, at least under peacetime conditions, almost insurmountable. However, the two decisions I have just referred to have been made and further ones are in process of being made, all of which I feel will add immeasurably to our security, whatever the local embarrassments. Also, I regard these as merely stepping stones to larger decisions involved in our relations with Allies.
I am giving you this information in order that you may better appreciate the problem and, therefore, be better prepared to assist me by endeavoring to work with Nimitz in complete understanding.3
Whatever difficulties arise that cannot be adjusted locally, should be brought to our attention here for consideration by Admiral Stark and myself. These days are too perilous for personal feelings in any way to affect efficiency.
This is a very hasty note, but I want General McCoy to take it off with him this morning.
You have my complete confidence and I will do everything possible to support you.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Frank Knox had been secretary of the navy since July 11, 1940.
2. See editorial note #2-211, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [2: 257-8].
3. Chester W. Nimitz (U.S.N.A., 1905), rear admiral and chief of the Bureau of Navigation since June 1939, had been promoted to admiral and named to replace Admiral Husband E. Kimmel as commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet on December 17, 1941. He arrived in Hawaii on December 31.
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 27-28.