2-365 To Major General George Grunert, February 8, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 8, 1941

To Major General George Grunert

February 8, 1941 Washington, D.C.


Dear Grunert:

I have been working on your various recommendations and what might be done to help out despite our great deficiencies in materiel at the present time. I want you to understand that I am keenly aware of your situation and that it is purely a question of our twisting and turning to do as much of the right thing as we can at the right place.1

AIR — While the number of your pursuit squadrons has been increased from one to three and new planes have been made available, we realize that these are not at all up to the standard of performance that you should have though there has been a decided improvement in numbers and in quality. When compared to the performance of the present carrier based Japanese plane, the deficiencies are only too evident. Incidentally, the new Japanese plane is rated at 322 miles an hour, with a very rapid climb, with leak-proof tanks and armor, and with two 20mm machine guns and two .30 caliber guns.

Our present pursuit plane, the P40, while it has a speed of 360 miles an hour, has only four guns. All told we have received 200 of these up to the middle of October, which completed the delivery. I had under consideration equipping the Hawaiian pursuit group with these planes, but some undetermined engine uncertainty has made it inadvisable—at least in time of peace—to fly these planes in training over water. Commencing this month, we receive the improved model of this plane which will have the same speed, leak-proof tanks, armor, two .50 and four .30 machine guns. Quantity deliveries will be under way about the first week in March and the first lot of 50 will be shipped to Hawaii. I am hoping we can arrange to equip at least one squadron of yours with these planes, immediately following the shipment to Hawaii. However, I am going to leave the decision in this matter to Admiral Stark to determine which of two places he wishes, from the viewpoint of Naval defense, to be attended to first, the Philippines or the Panama Canal—I imagine it will be the Philippines.

This month production commences on a medium bomber of 3,000 miles extreme range, without bombs. It has a speed of 320 miles an hour, and carries 2,000 pounds of bombs. Quantity production should be under way by the middle of March. In all probability, the first allotment of these will go to Hawaii, and I then hope to send a few to the Philippines so that you will have one efficient bomber that can safely operate 650 miles off-shore.

The light bomber, of which we have none, should get under way in deliveries in March or April.

GUNS — We had unobtrusively withdrawn from units now in the field in strenuous training, eighteen 3-inch antiaircraft guns for shipment to you in order to provide at least some Army air defense for the Fleet anchored in Manila Bay. However, just as we were about to go through with the shipment to San Francisco, the Navy called on us for sixteen of these guns to equip special Marine battalions which are being sent to occupy islands in the Pacific, including Wake and Midway. This left us with only two guns and we have now added two more. These four will be sent to you at once, and as quickly as more can be made available, they will be sent. You will, of course, understand the difficulties of taking materiel away from units that are actually in training, with an unrestricted press watching everything we do, and a legislative battle in Congress that has reached a peak of intensity.

As to the lighter caliber antiaircraft guns, only a few of the 37mm have been delivered, but what is more important, we have not the ammunition for these guns except on a test basis. Of the caliber .50 machine guns, we must first fill out the defenses of Pearl Harbor, where there is a considerable shortage of this materiel. And naturally the anchorage of the main Fleet is our most vital consideration.

In all matters of materiel, we are in a dilemma of meeting the terrific pressure from Great Britain on the one hand—and a justified pressure, and the demands for the training of 1,400,000 men. Our numbers have increased from about 600,000 on the first of January to about 750,000 today, with the prospect of over 900,000 by the end of the month. You will see what a demand this creates, even for minimum training requirements, and yet we must have these men in shape as quickly as possible. As production gets well under way during the next three or four months, it should not be so difficult, despite all the demands, to withdraw small amounts to help you out in your situation. A very little of really modern materiel will, of course, mean a great deal to you.

PERSONNEL — I directed that you be sent more officers, and I believe 75 were to sail in January and February. I thought that this would give you some reserve of officer material. Since then I secured the President’s approval to double your Philippine Scouts.2 Just what this will require in the way of additional officers I do not know, but I suppose we are hearing from you on this subject. The construction money represents embarrassing difficulties to us though we are going over it for you, because the greatly increased costs over the original estimates have aroused Congress, and an item like yours for these Scouts merely adds fuel to the flame.

I have been setting forth the situation very frankly that you may understand the conditions here, and also that you may feel that we are doing everything we possibly can under the circumstances to assist you.

Certain portions of this letter I think had better be considered for your eye alone, but I leave this to your discretion and judgment.

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. Major General George Grunert had been commanding general of the Philippine Department since May 1940. Since July he had written numerous letters requesting the reinforcement of the Philippines. (See Marshall to Grunert, September 20, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-267 [2: 314-15].) On November 2, 1940, he advised the chief of staff that the Regular Filipino Army was understrength, ill-equipped, and untrained for large-scale mobile warfare. Grunert needed five hundred United States officers for the immediate mobilization and training of Philippine units. The General Staff initially opposed Grunert’s requests because of strategic and physical difficulties: the War Plans Division feared a Japanese preemptive strike and the two-ocean war that would ensue; G-1 and G-3 argued that five hundred officers could not be sent to the Philippines. By December 26, however, Marshall reversed his position. While strategic plans did not include a major commitment to defend the Philippines in the event of war, the army began a gradual reinforcement of that department as a deterrent to Japanese expansion. (Watson, Chief of Staff; pp. 417-24.)

2. See Memorandum, February 12, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-367 [2: 418-20].

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 414-416,

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