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To Lieutenant General Robert C. Richardson, Jr.1
August 5, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Personal and Secret
With relation to a projected operation, Admiral King was very desirous of having the First or Third Marine Divisions made available from the South or Southwest Pacific, to join up with the Second Marine Division, instead of utilizing an Army Division. This is a natural desire for the purposes of securing a more homogeneous force and complete unity. I declined to acquiesce in the matter because of the logistic embarrassments and interference with MacArthur’s plans which would result from the movement of the additional Marine Division, and I nominated the 27th Division which the Navy has accepted.2
Under the circumstances I want General Smith to be made aware of the critical importance of his training preparations for the operation and of the cooperative spirit of himself and his staff.3 There must be no weakness, no hesitations or reluctances in the action of units once they have landed. There must be no misunderstandings, jealousies, or critical attitudes. If there remain in the Division leaders who cannot be depended upon to carry forward in spite of casualties, lack of support and other difficulties inherent in complicated amphibious operations against a fanatical foe, those leaders must be eliminated now, immediately.
For your and his information we have had too many instances of higher leaders without drive sufficient to carry them through the vicissitudes of climate and heavy fighting with the Japanese. They become demoralized or timid and exercise command largely by asking for reinforcements. They advance too slowly and take large casualties by attrition and malaria, rather than fewer casualties—except for the moment—by aggressive action.
While the training of the 27th is of urgent and immediate importance it might be a good thing to have Smith fly down to New Georgia and get a brief experience of the problems present in these actions. J. Lawton Collins should be able to give him most valuable pointers. If Smith’s Assistant Division Commander is any good he should be able to carry forward for a couple of weeks the program already laid out. If he is not able to do this he should not be continued as Assistant Division Commander.4
Because of my reference to weaknesses displayed by certain Army commanders I should prefer that you destroy this letter and not allow it to get into the files.
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. Richardson was commanding general of the Hawaiian Department.
2. See Marshall Memorandum for Admiral King, July 29, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-063 [4: 73-74].
3. Major General Ralph C. Smith had been commanding general of the Twenty-seventh Infantry Division since November 1942. Richardson noted that Smith was “very much liked by Admiral Nimitz and Admiral Spruance. As the latter is to command the task force I am sure that there will be a most harmonious relationship between General Smith, his staff, and the Navy.” (Richardson to Marshall, August 12, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
4. The Twenty-seventh Infantry Division (New York National Guard) had been in Hawaii since March 1942. It began its combat training program on August 13, after being relieved of defense duties. Major General Collins commanded the Twenty-fifth Infantry Division, which had reinforced the Thirty-seventh Infantry Division in the battle for New Georgia Island on August 2.
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. 80-81.