4-319 To Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell, March 24, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 24, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell

March 24, 1944 Radio No. WARX-13850 Washington, D.C.


To General Stilwell for his eyes only from General Marshall.

Dear Stilwell:

We have been considering the Burma problem with the U S Chiefs of Staff and the Combined Chiefs of Staff for the past 2 days. A few moments ago I read Mountbatten’s message giving your estimate on the probabilities and possibilities of the Ledo Road force before the commencement of the monsoon.1 I also reviewed my recent messages to you, particularly one regarding the delegation of authority for Sultan to deal immediately and directly with Mountbatten and then the U S Chiefs of Staff regarding air transport diversions.2 I have now come to this conclusion in the effort to find some way to improve the abnormal command relationships in the south east Asia and in the China theaters: It seems to me that so long as you feel it necessary personally to exercise command and leadership of the Ledo Road force, Sultan should have delegated to him authority to act directly with Mountbatten in practically all matters, subject to the policies that you have established. I don’t know Sultan well and don’t know how well you know him but from what I am told he is a very levelheaded, loyal, dependable individual, and inclined to be self-effacing, therefore the type of man who would not abuse such delegated authority.

It therefore seems to me that some such arrangement as that proposed above should be made by you on your apparent initiative. Otherwise we are in a very difficult position in supporting you as Deputy Commander of the South East Asia Theater when you are remote from the officer charged with responsibilities for that theater and are independent of him in a great many matters of vital importance.3

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. Mountbatten’s letter to which Marshall refers is not in the Marshall papers. General Marshall met with Lieutenant General Raymond A. Wheeler in his office at noon and attended a Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting at 2:30 P.M. on March 24. At the Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting the chiefs discussed strategy in Southeast Asia. Sir John Dill informed the group that Admiral Mountbatten could not undertake the capture of the Myitkyina area unless “considerably more air transport were available.” General Arnold said that he was forming four new groups of transport aircraft (four hundred planes) which could be sent to Southeast Asia starting in July. (Supplementary Minutes of the Combined Chiefs of Staff Meeting, March 24, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, CCS Minutes].) At the March 21 meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Wheeler and Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer were questioned regarding strategy in the Southeast Asia Command. (Supplementary Minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, March 21, 1944, ibid., JCS Minutes.)

2. For information regarding delegation of authority to Major General Daniel I. Sultan and temporary diversion of transport aircraft, see Marshall to Stilwell, March 17, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-300 [4: 354].

3. On March 29 Stilwell sent the following reply: “Ref. your msg. on delegation of authority. This has been in effect for some time. Sultan will be given any authority he needs to speed up action on all dealings with S.E.A.C. Hearn has similar authority on matters affecting dealings with the Chinese. Neither Hearn nor Sultan is restricted except on matters of established policy.” (Riley Sunderland and Charles F. Romanus, eds., Stilwell’s Personal File: China-Burma-India, 1942-1944, 5 vols. [Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1976], 4: 1554.) Major General Thomas G. Hearn (U.S.M.A., 1915) was chief of staff of U.S. Army Forces, C.B.I.

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. 372-373.

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