5-469 To Lieutenant General Thomas T. Handy and Colonel Marshall S. Carter

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 10, 1946

Subject: China

To Lieutenant General Thomas T. Handy and Colonel Marshall S. Carter

June 10, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 860. [Nanking, China]


Carter recommends I clarify War Department impression of my views concerning reorganization of Army Forces in China reurad WAR-90670.1 I do not want any Army commander between me and my Executive Headquarters which has a purely Chinese mission. It is also politically desirable to avoid the connotation of “U. S. Army Forces, China”.

What is needed is something simple akin to a post commander and station complement setup for each of the two main divisions, Executive Headquarters and MAG. Gillem’s original proposal provided this. A temporary Shanghai area command under Nanking HQ Command would complete roll-up activities by 30 September. Gillem’s staff tells me that this arrangement will effect a savings of from 4[00] to 500 men plus a considerable amount of money.

Unified control is a sound principle, but it definitely has no application, from point of view of a military commander, to Executive Headquarters which is only one-third American and operates as my ambassadorial medium for implementing Chinese party agreements. Unified control is now really vested in me for important decisions or policy. However, I must not exercise command in the liberal [literal] sense of the word. Therefore the desirability of the two autonomous command arrangement.2

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Department of State (RG 59), Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, GOLD Messages, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. In WAR-90670, Carter had written: “War Department is under the impression that it is politically and diplomatically embarrassing to you to have a CG, USAF China, and that accomplishment of your mission will be more difficult unless the US Forces are reorganized into two or more autonomous commands, all reporting directly to the War Department. It was War Department understanding that you especially desired unified control, not only of Army, but of practically all U.S. activities in China.” The War Department thought that, for administrative and logistical matters, there should be a single army commander in China, but it was most important that General Marshall’s desires be met. (Carter to Marshall, Radio No. WAR-90670, June 8, 1946, NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, War Department, Reorganization—U.S. Forces China].)

2. The War Department General Staff was still a bit hazy regarding Marshall’s command-structure ideas, desiring that one or the other of the two commands that would replace the present China Theater command (i.e., Peiping Headquarters Group and Nanking Headquarters Command) be responsible for its own administration and partially of the other’s. Marshall insisted upon complete autonomy, since the Peiping group “must concentrate on the activities of the executive Hqs. To have that group administer the Nanking Hqs Cmd, which renders advice to the Nationalist Government only (since a coalition govt has not yet been formed) would present embarrassments that might adversely effect the desired neutral position of the United States in executive Hqs.” (Marshall to Handy, Radio No. GOLD 929, June 18, 1946, ibid.) Marshall’s ideas were implemented on July 1.

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), p. 585.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 5-469

Rights: Public Information