This is the eighth of some hundred contemplated volumes covering the Army's part in World War II. This particular volume is written from the viewpoint of the Staff of the Army's high command. The Operations Division of the General Staff was the general headquarters within the General Staff with which General Marshall exercised his over-all Army command. Its history presents problems which are likely to arise in future wars. These problems may not all be solved by an Army staff in the future in view of current unification, but what they were and how they were solved is of interest not only to the soldier, but to the diplomat and statesman as well as others.

Dr. Ray S. Cline was a Junior Fellow at Harvard and served in the Office of Strategic Services. In 1946 he was assigned to the Operations Division of the War Department General STaff to write its history. The results shows a great amount of effective research and understanding from within that Division. Its viewpoint is from within and emphasizes the action taken by the Division in carrying out the policies of the high command.

In reading this book, its point of view must be kept in mind and at the same time the fact that General Marshall's character and military knowledge dictated the decisions must not be lost sight of. It must be further remembered that he was in touch with commanders in the field in making these decisions and had great respect for their views. General Marshalls' views will be presented more fully in other volumes on the Army high command.

Washington, D.C.
15 January 1951.
Maj. Gen., U.S.A.
Chief of Military History



The treatment employed in the first volume of this work on the Office of the Chief of Staff requires a brief explanation. The original desire was to provide a fully sequential narrative, but this method was found to lead only to confusion. During any one week of the prewar period the Chief of Staff was likely to be concerned with any number of the numerous large ultimate responsibilities of his Office--administration, training, supply, arming, selecting, planning, guiding legislation, considering public policy, pacifying opposition, pressing for interservice or international co-ordination, and the like. To deal with all these responsibilities and all their variations on a week-to-week basis in a running narrative proved unprofitable. It was clearly better, in dealing with the prewar tumble of activities, to consider one class of responsibilities at a time, to discuss that class as far as possible in a sequential manner, and then to proceed to the next. Even this method could not be pursued with unfailing consistency. The difficulties of presenting a simple narrative of so complex a task as that which faced the successive Chiefs of Staff on the approach of a war for which the nation was pitifully and almost willfully unready will be manifest in the recital.

The narrative undertakes to portray in broad terms, rather than in detail, the extent of that unreadiness, the reasons for it, and the efforts of the Office of the Chief of Staff to correct it with maximum dispatch. Few separate aspects can be fully covered. Since there was hardly any activity of the War Department or the Army which in principle did not touch that Office, however fleetingly, a full account of the Office would in reality be something like an account of the whole Department against a background of world affairs as they affected American foreign policy. Even before Pearl Harbor it was clear that the Chief of Staff himself was in peril of being overwhelmed by detail, but the Departmental wartime reorganization that freed him of much of this detail and hence released more of his time for the major responsibilities of his Office did not take place until March 1942.

Because this volume deals with the approach to war, it deals with the period when the Chief of Staff's concerns were dispersed over the whole width of


preparations and far into their depth as well. The author's treatment of those concerns is primarily functional, for the reasons stated. The powers of the Chief of Staff and their origins are recited, likewise their limitations; his role in the implementing of the nation's foreign policy and, to a degree, in modifying that policy; his role in the planning and the acquiring of materiel for an army whose realization was known to be far in the future, and his adaptation of means to necessity; the raising and training of personnel with an eye on political hazards; the division of materiel with America's prospective Allies--dictated by national policy; the effort to prevent any of these three vast programs from totally dislodging the other two; the special problems of air autonomy; the necessity of combined planning with Britain at a time when secrecy was obligatory; the vital decision to make Germany, not Japan, the first target; the ominous rise of the threat from Japan; the belated scramble to erect adequate defenses at the nation's most vulnerable spots; the tragic failure to do so with precision.

The arrival of actual war at Pearl Harbor has not been regarded as a curtain shutting off all that preceded 7 December 1941 from all that followed. Thus in the discussion of certain items, such as the Victory Program, there is mention of post-Pearl Harbor events that wound up the program and hence logically call for mention. Contrariwise, numerous pre-Pearl Harbor events affecting General Headquarters and others affecting the overseas commands are omitted because the larger developments in those realms took place after 7 December and hence can more logically be considered in the succeeding volume. The present work, in brief, is a part of a much larger whole and a preparation for that which is to follow, precisely as the Army's planning and performing in the years of peace were justified, if at all, as preparation for a war which would one day come. In what was done, and not done, are to be found inescapable lessons for future guidance.

Examination of source material has been on an immense scale, but obviously has not been all-inclusive. Search of all existing records, catalogued and uncatalogued, of possible pertinence, has been too great a task for the author and his research assistants, despite their industry. Furthermore, certain records were not available in the time at hand, some (including those at the Hyde Park Library which required more time for classification) by reason of custodians' regulation, some because they were inexplicably missing from their proper lodging place, some because in all probability they have been permanently lost. Of records in the Army's own control which could have been of significant use for


the present volume, it is believed that literally none has been purposely withheld from the author's examination. Those which, while available enough, have not been scrutinized are the records in which the researchers believed there was a minimum chance of finding important information that was not more readily attainable elsewhere. Future years of study in mountainous piles of records will inevitably uncover useful material in a great many specialized fields which the present author has missed, but none of relevance and importance which he has consciously neglected.

Besides the material supplied by the official records in the government's many vaults and storehouses, newspaper files have on occasion been used in order (1) to disclose data not found in the government records and (2) to throw light on contemporary events which afforded perspective for the episodes under review. The latter category was frequently important, particularly in the study of policy decisions that were made with a watchful eye on the public or Congressional state of mind, which was itself a major factor in determining many policies. To think that such considerations, however distasteful, could be wisely ignored by the Army is to misunderstand the place of the Army in a democracy and the behavior of the high command in the nervous days of 1940-41.

Finally, great use has been made of the memories and private diaries of officers and civilians who were principal actors in the drama. One of the privileges of writing of events soon after their completion (helping to balance the disadvantages of premature appraisal) is that many of the actors still live and think and speak. Their memories may not be precise either as to the sequence of events or as to the motives which guided actions in a somewhat dimmed past, and allowance must be made for such uncertainties. Nevertheless these living but mortal memories are of irreplaceable value in several respects. (1) They suggest names and events which, once brought to attention, point the way to a fruitful search of hitherto unexplored records. (2) They recall circumstances which, tested by others' newly quickened memories of the same things, establish links that had been missing and lucid explanations of what had been inexplicable. (3) They provide vitality to a period of time which the records unassisted could have portrayed only with a dullness all but intolerable.

There is yet another respect in which these living sources have been of indispensable value and to which special tribute must here be paid. Most of the principal actors in the momentous events recorded have been accessible: they have been able to examine the manuscript recording what they and their contemporaries


did, and upon it to offer frank criticism. This process has been of great value to the author. It disclosed omissions or actual errors of fact which consequently could be corrected prior to publication, and it permitted arguments against such conclusions as these well-informed critics felt to be unjustified, affording the author opportunity to re-examine the records and then to make revisions when reconsideration warranted them. In advance of final editing, manuscript of the text which follows was sent to a score and more of the principals whose deeds are recorded. With few exceptions they responded generously by reading the relevant text in full and commenting on it by letter or personal interview or both, often at great length. Useful suggestions came from certain retired officers of whom the text is critical, and this opportunity is taken to remark, with high respect for such integrity, that these stout soldiers asked no modification of the criticism directed against them.

Throughout years of work on this volume the author has received most generous aid from a great number of old friends in the active and retired lists of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Forces, and from civilian colleagues. In many instances the debt is acknowledged in footnotes, but these are far from all-inclusive. Special mention must be made of Dr. Guy A. Lee and Dr. F. Stansbury Haydon, of the Historical Division, without whose scholarship and industry and persistence and wise counsel this volume would have been less thorough and less precise. In the early days of preparation Dr. Harold D. Cater gave much appreciated assistance in painstaking and necessary research. Miss Norma Faust has worked without halt or complaint in patience--testing labors of an all-but-endless nature. For the refinements of the final editing there is a large debt to Mr. Hugh Corbett and his associates, Mr. W. Brooks Phillips and Mr. Joseph R. Friedman; for the copy editing to Mrs. Frances Fritz; for the indexing to Mr. David Jaffé; for the scrutiny of charts and statistical data to Mr. George R. Powell; for photographic selection to Lt. Col. John C. Hatlem. Mrs. Virginia Koschel and Miss Mildred Bucan skillfully accomplished the painstaking job of final typing for the printer. Throughout three years spent in preparation of this volume unfailingly generous advice has come from the Chief Historian and his fellows within the Historical Division and continuously helpful aid from librarians and archivists in the vasty deeps of the Pentagon's record vaults. To all go the grateful thanks of the author.

Washington, D.C.
12 December 1949


Table of Contents ** Next Chapter (1)

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation