5-384 To War Department, Office of the Chief of Staff, March 7, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 7, 1946

Subject: China

To War Department, Office of the Chief of Staff

March 7, 1946 Radio No. GOLD 285. [Chungking, China]

Top Secret

In reply to message from President AmEmbassy 352 February 26 [27], my early departure from China and other circumstances make it inadvisable in my opinion for me to undertake negotiations for contract regarding MAG.1 I propose the following, that General Gillem now here who is eventually to be the head of the group and who in the interim will be representing me during my absence and will shortly take over the position of American Commissioner with Executive Headquarters, to supervise the carrying out of the demobilization and reorganization of the Chinese armies, be designated to initiate negotiations with Chinese Goverment officials immediately but on an informal basis determining their probable acquiescence or otherwise to the general terms indicated in JCS 1330 series.2 Gillem would then communicate this to the official in the State Department designated to finalize the negotiations. A direct liaison between these two individuals should facilitate an early completion of these negotiations.

Another subject: For General Handy. Inform VMI Board that Middleton is outstanding but I am certain is unavailable. Allen and Gruenther are very able but I am uncertain as to local Lexington reaction as to their sharp efficiency. MacLyan and Persons are unknown to me unless it is our congressional Persons. Ruffner I have just met and merely have a knowledge of high opinions expressed regarding him.3

Another subject: For Bowen pass following to Admiral Byrd. Thanks for your message and more thanks for the part I know you played in the operation.4 Another subject: For Hull. I will shortly return and will wish to talk to you and Paul immediately regarding officer situation in China in view of demobilization and reorganization program. Meanwhile please have someone look into this possibility: Gillem tells me that a number of the old type officers were pressing him for a job. I imagine that the War Department is finding difficulty in placing men of this type as it always did in my day. Now out here we have exactly the place for the older officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel and colonel, jobs where age is equally important as rank. Practically every phase of the elaborate agreements reached require the presence of an American officer at the place of execution, otherwise the projects fall apart in the midst of dissensions developed through 18 years of fighting. My expression “at the place” refers to areas in many cases as extensive as Pennsylvania or New York state minus their communications. The American officer stands between the Communist and the Government representative and is not only the adjudicator and source of confidence in the integrity of the procedure but he is the individual who deals directly with the various Chinese high commanders in the region. Those on the twenty-three teams now in the field have done an amazing job but it has been heartbreaking in the circumstances because of the tremendous areas involved and the multitude of crises with only one individual and a jeep to conduct the battle. Strange to say these older American officers who were carrying out the job have entered into it enthusiastically and have given a splendid performance living under conditions of considerable hardship in remote regions. Their recompense has been that individually they have in effect dominated the great areas and have been welcomed by the inhabitants in tumultous receptions in various communities and looked up to as the hope for common people. We need as many of this type as we can possibly get and we need them immediately for a year’s service.

Another subject: I found it necessary to propose the establishment of an elementary school for Communist company officers and for battalion, regimental and division commanders and principle staff officers. A three months course for the juniors to prepare them to carry out the reorganization of their troops into divisions without any intention of teaching them field tactics merely instructing them in the organization of companies and battalions and the higher staffs, the method of functioning, the principle weapons and their care and some elementary knowledge of their use. This has been necessary in order to secure the early integration of Communist armies with National armies otherwise the prospective loss of face by the completely unorganized swarms of Communist soldiers made integration impossible before the lapse of at least a year. I tried to borrow on a short term basis 60 young officers from MacArthur but he wires me that he is 27 percent short and can do nothing for me.5 For much of this work sergeants would suffice. I expect to utilize MAG to the limit and that institution will be charged with the conduct of the school. Wedemeyer is here today and he and I are endeavoring to see what he can leave behind in the closing out of China Theater to help in this project. With the growing Manchurian crisis this business of integration is of dominant importance to the United States (no localitis involved)6 and a very serious effort will have to be made to expedite the integration to enable China to present a solid front to the Russian infiltration.

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. President Truman’s message stated that he had officially directed that a Military Advisory Group [MAG] to China be established and that the State Department conduct the necessary negotiations. Secretary of State Byrnes had asked that Marshall conduct the negotiations. (Foreign Relations, 1946, 10: 823.)

2. The original 1945 Joint Chiefs of Staff paper 1330 on China Theater issues had evolved into a whole series as sections of the original document were modified. By the time Marshall left for China, the series included: J.C.S. 1330/7, “U.S. Military Responsibility in Training and Equipment of Chinese Armed Forces”; J.C.S. 1330/8, “Directive for Inactivation of China Theater”; and J.C.S. 1330/11, “U.S. Military Advisory Group to China.”

3. Thomas T. Handy, a 1914 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, had written that their alma mater’s Board of Visitors wanted Marshall’s views on several candidates for superintendent to replace Major General Charles E. Kilbourne—V.M.I.’s superintendent since 1937 who was planning to retire at the end of the current school year. (Handy to Marshall, Radio No. WAR-98513, February 27, 1946, NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, Messages In].) Marshall himself had consented to become a member of the V.M.I. Board of Visitors as soon as this was permitted by a law then under consideration by the Virginia General Assembly.

The persons mentioned are: Lieutenant General Troy H. Middleton, former Eighth Corps commander; Major General Leven C. Allen, former Twelfth Army Group chief of staff; Major General Alfred M. Gruenther, former chief of staff of Fifteenth Army Group, had recently become deputy commandant of the National War College; “MacLyan” is perhaps Lieutenant General Raymond S. McLain, former Nineteenth Corps commander and then U.S. Army assistant chief of information; Major General Wilton B. Persons had been chief of the Office of the Chief of Staff’s Legislative and Liaison Division since 1942; Major General Clark L. Ruffner (V.M.I., 1924) had been chief of staff of U.S. Army Forces in the Pacific Ocean Areas.

4. Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd had written: “Five Star bill passed House today unanimously. Congratulations. Everything agreeable.” (Byrd to Marshall, February 28, 1946, NA/RG 59 [Lot Files, Marshall Mission, Military Affairs, Messages In].)

Since the inception of the drive to legislate a five-star rank (General of the Army, Admiral of the Fleet), the famous polar explorer had been one of the U.S. Navy’s chief proponents. Originally a temporary wartime measure, the rank was made permanent for the eight men who held it (Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, Leahy, King, Nimitz, and Halsey [Bradley was added later]) by legislation approved by President Truman on March 23, 1946. At his March 28 press conference, “the President said the action creates an elder statesmen’s organization of national defense wherein wartime leadership will be available in peacetime on a consultative basis.” The rank was for life and included wartime salary and benefits. (New York Times, March 29, 1946, pp. 1, 13.)

5. See Marshall to MacArthur, February 22, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-366 [5: 465-66].

6. Localitis was Marshall’s word for the tendency of a commander to think that his most important problems or concerns were or ought to be those of higher command or the nation. Marshall learned the dangers of such thinking during World War I. (See George C. Marshall Interviews and Reminiscences for Forrest C. Pogue, 3d ed. [Lexington, Va.: George C. Marshall Foundation, 1996], p. 211; George C. Marshall, Memoirs of My Services in the World War [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976], pp. 120-21.) The people who had worked with Marshall knew that a suggestion by him that localitis might be infecting a command was a serious criticism; see Eisenhower’s reaction in February 1944 to such a charge in Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-232 [4: 271-72].

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), pp. 491-494.

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