3-483 To Lieutenant General Joseph T. McNarney, January 10, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 10, 1943

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Joseph T. McNarney

January 10, 1943 [Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico]

Dear McNarney:

I had such a rotten head Thursday and Friday that my brain was not up to the job and I forgot one most important matter.

Remember, I talked to you before your Leavenworth trip about a Central Investigating Board and subsidiary boards in each Service Command, Defense Command and Army Command to make a thorough examination of our manpower deployment in Continental U. S.? Well I would like to have you get this started as quickly as possible. I am leaving out the Air Force for the time being.

My idea was that we would take some high ranking officer, retired or about to retire, give him a man from the Inspector General’s Department, a couple of able, detached civilians of some national importance and some working members from air, ground and SOS. Have this board informed of what we are striving to do, have them go over the Washington, New York and Sault St. Marie setups; then draft instructions for the subordinate boards and establish a working basis to produce recommendations to us in Washington.

I thought the working basis might be a meeting with senior subsidiary board members to outline procedure. The latter would return to their areas and make an over-all inspection, prepare data and propose specific reductions. Then the senior or Washington board would visit each board in turn, check up to see if they had done the job thoroughly and had been reasonably hard-boiled, hear the local commanders’ reclamas1 and pass on the recommendations.

Some reductions could be made almost immediately by acquiescence of local commanders or by advance reference to Washington. In the end we would have the complete survey from the viewpoint of detached people, some civilians, with an over-all knowledge of conditions throughout the country.

It might be that later on we would try the same system in the Caribbean, though that would be a much more delicate proposition because active operations would be involved. However, I am sure that many economies, in the services there, could be effected.

The important thing is to get started on this business promptly and quietly or else we will have charges of extravagance directed against us which will be difficult to refute and will weaken the whole cause of our Army program.

These are some of the men I had in mind to head the board: W. D. Connor, Engineers (very hard boiled and would be irritating to commanders and his civilian asociates, but would do the job) C. D. Herron, Frank McCoy (we have rather overworked him) Lear, (approaching retirement), Stanley Ford (former C. O. of Second Army—agreeable and has some prestige. Very loyal. Maybe not sufficiently hard boiled, but I think would enforce our desires. Lives in Philadelphia), Van Voorhis (firm, but supersensitive and very opinionated, but would probably do the job).

Of all these I would favor McCoy, but I think we have over used him and he would be resented. Next possibly Lear might do best, having in mind that this would solve the embarrassment of his passage from active command. However he might approach the job with a feeling of some resentment over withdrawal from command.

I have not had any good ideas about particular civilians but I do think it desirable to have some on the master board not only for their point of view, but to offset manpower attacks on us. Possibly Dow Harter, former Congressman from Akron, who is now in Washington might do. Arnold suggests Lowell Thomas but I hardly think he fits in. We need an expert on personnel economies though a special part of the board’s job will be to eliminate unnecessary guards, individuals, detachments and large garrisons.

I am sorry I did not get this started, at least go into details with you, before I left. However, your good judgment will dictate the best course.2

Faithfully yours,

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. A colloquialism from the Philippines, reclama meant complaint.

2. Over the next few weeks, three committees were appointed to study various aspects of the manpower problem. The most important of these was the War Manpower Board, headed by Major General Lorenzo D. Gasser, which began functioning in March 1943. The Gasser Board reported directly to Marshall and, unlike the General Staff, gave the Office of the Chief of Staff the ability to supervise the field commands’ military and civilian personnel requests. (Otto L. Nelson, National Security and the General Staff [Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1946], pp. 558-59; Byron Fairchild and Jonathan Grossman, The Army and Industrial Manpower, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1959], p. 54.)

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. 512-513.

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