RESPONSIBILITIES IN WASHINGTON
2. WAR COUNCIL: Three groups of conferees.
3. SECRETARY OF STATE: Responsibility for dealing with the Japanese; no
authority to commit the United States to War; indecision of the
Secretary of State November 25-26; advice to the Secretary of War of the
action by the Secretary of State; action by the Secretary of War on the
4. WAR DEPARTMENT: Policy of War Department to avoid conflict; policy
as evidenced in the War Department messages to prevent overt acts; no
information to Short of the Secretary of State's counter proposals;
confusion resulting from the Navy message of October 16 and 24;
confusion from the messages of the 27th and 28th; how the Long message
was delivered and what was done about it; failure to act promptly to
5. CONFLICT BETWEEN THE ARMY AND NAVY MESSAGES: The Army-Navy messages
were conflicting; the Navy messages predominated with warnings of a
conflict; Army messages predominant to avoid overt acts.
6. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIVISION: Field of investigation; necessity
for a larger scope in the future; intelligence a national problem.
7. WAR PLANS DIVISION: Responsibility for Overseas Departments;
responsibility to see the War Plans implemented; no action on Alert No.
1; Gerow's failings; inadequate supervision.
8. NAVY DEPARTMENT: Failure to carry out agreement with the Army for
long-distance reconnaissance; failure to advise of enemy submarine
sinking; failure to give Short information of Jaluit task force.
9. CHIEF OF STAFF: Responsibility for organization and operation of War
Department; failure to delegate authority; responsibility to keep
General Short advised of international situation; delay in sending
message on December 6 and 7; no action taken on Short's report of
measures taken; and lack of knowledge of conditions of readiness in
Hawaii November 8 to December 7, 1941.
1. GENERAL: The preceding chapter has dealt primarily with Hawaii and
the actions of the responsible officers in the Hawaiian Department. It
has to some degree and to a lesser extent, by reason of the
chronological sequence, dealt with what was done in Washington both with
respect to the internal activities in Washington and what Washington
sent to Short. This chapter, therefore, will be devoted primarily to
the activities in Washington and only secondarily in Hawaii.
2. WAR COUNCIL: The Secretary of War, Mr. Stimson, has discussed the
activities of the group in the War Department known as the War Council.
He also described the group consisting of the Secretary of War. He also
described the group consisting of the Secretary of State, Secretary of
Navy, Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of
Naval Operations of the Navy, who were also called colloquially the "War
Council". The third group was that which included the President,
Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Secretary of Navy, usually the
Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations, and occasionally
Commanding General, Air Force, General Arnold.
All three of these bodies were informal and constituted simply a group
of men exchanging ideas and attempting to determine policies without
regularity of record of what they did, as far as this Board has been
able to determine. It was a sort of clearing house for information, a
gathering place for discussion of policies, so that each of the
independent actors in the scene would know what was going on and would
have information to guide him in making his own decisions that were more
or less independent, but at the same time also somewhat dependent on the
action of other members of the group.
3. SECRETARY OF STATE: The responsibility apparently assumed by the
Secretary of State (and we have no other proof that anyone else assumed
the responsibility finally and definitely) was to determine when the
United States would reach the impasse with Japan. It was the Secretary
of State who was in charge of the negotiations with the Japanese; it was
the Secretary of State who had long and numerous conferences with the
Japanese. He was the contact man and the responsible negotiator.
He was doubtless aware of the fact that no action taken by him should be
tantamount to a declaration of war. That responsibility rests with
Congress. It is important to observe that the President of the United
States had been very careful, according to the testimony of the
Secretary of War, to be sure that the United States did nothing that
could be considered an overt act or an act of war against the Japanese.
For, as Mr. Stimson testified in the phrasing of the message of November
27, he was particularly concerned with so phrasing it so as to carry out
the President's directive which was in accordance with our
constitutional method of doing business. Mr. Stimson said:
"I had had a decision from the President on that subject, and I regarded
it as my business to do what I of course normally would do; to see that
the message as sent was framed in accordance with the facts." (R. 4057)
Mr. Stimson was referring to the status of the negotiations of the
previous day on November 26, when the Ten Points were handed by
Secretary Hull to the Japanese, and to the fact that the President, as
of the 27th of November, 1941, was still desirous that no overt act be
the United States.
With this clear understanding, let us see how these serious
responsibilities were discharged. In making this statement we are
deeply sympathetic with the state of mind, the irritation, the
exasperation, the chicanery, trickery and deception of the Japanese
ambassadors with whom the Secretary of State had so long and manfully
struggled. What he did was human, but the results are the things with
which we are concerned.
Undoubtedly the Secretary of State had been frequently advised through
the meetings of the War Council of the inadequate status of the defenses
of the United States. Our Army and Navy were not ready for war, and
undoubtedly the Secretary of State had been fully advised of that fact.
So serious was this situation that General Marshall and Admiral Stark
drafted a joint memorandum under the date of November 27 on this
This memorandum was addressed directly to the President, according to
the testimony of General Marshall. It contained two things; first, a
statement that the most essential thing then from the United States
viewpoint was to gain time and to avoid precipitating military action so
long as this could be done consistent with the National Policy because
of the fact that the Army and Navy were not ready for war; and second,
attention was called to the desirability of counter military action
against Japan in event she engaged in specific acts of aggression
(described in the memorandum). The memorandum then recommended among
other things that "steps be taken at once to consummate agreements with
the British and Dutch for the
issuance of warnings to the Japanese against taking such aggressive
action." (R. 9-10-11) The situation was delicate.
Now let us turn back to Mr. Stimson's testimony. The War Council met
with Mr. Hull on the 25th of November 1941. The *tentative* U.S.
proposals to the Japanese were so drastic and harsh that Mr. Stimson
testifies that when he read it his diary shows this was his
contemporaneous impression of it:
"Hull showed me the proposal for a three months' truce which he was
going to lay before the Japanese today or tomorrow. It adequately
safeguarded all our interests, I thought, secured it, but I don't think
that there is any chance of the Japanese accepting it because it was so
Apparently the Secretary of War, in the light of his long experience
with the Japanese, with whom he dealt extensively when he was Secretary
of State to this government, was concerned at the situation, for his
"We were an hour and a half with Hull, and then I went back to the
Department, and I got hold of Marshall."
Thus the Secretary of War felt the situation that was to be precipitated
by the action of the Secretary of State, Hull, necessitated his
informing the Chief of Staff immediately of the threatened difficulty.
Next, the Secretary of War attended a meeting at the White House. His
diary describes it:
"Then at 12 o'clock I went to the White House where we were until nearly
half past one. At the meeting were Hull, Knox, Marshall, Stark, and
myself. There the President brought up the relationship with the
Japanese. He brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked
perhaps as soon as -- perhaps next Monday, for the Japs are notorious
for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we
should do. We conferred on the general problem."
Apparently, at that time no decision was reached and the
entire matter was left for further consideration.
On the following day, November 26, 1941, the Stimson diary continues:
"Hull told me over the telephone this morning that *he* had about made
up *his* mind not to make the proposition that Knox and I passed on the
other day (the 25th) to the Japanese, but to kick the whole thing over
and tell them that he had no other proposal at all."
Apparently on the 26th in the morning, Mr. Hull had made up his mind not
to go through with the proposals shown the day before to the Secretary
of War containing the plan for the "Three Months' Truce".
Evidently the action "to kick the whole thing over" as accomplished by
presenting to the Japanese the counter proposal of the "Ten Points"
which they took as an ultimatum.
It was the document that touched the button that started the war, as
Ambassador Grew so aptly expressed it.
Again Mr. Stimson's diary relates "The 26th was the day he (Hull) told
me he was in doubt whether he would go on with it." (R. 4051-2-3)
Apparently the Secretary of War was not advised by the Secretary of
State that he had handed this so-called ultimatum to the Japanese. The
diary of the Secretary of War and his actions indicate that to be a
Witness what it says as of the morning of the 27th of November 1941:
"The first thing in the morning, I called up Hull to find out what his
final decision had been with the Japanese -- whether he had handed them
the new proposal which we passed on two or three days ago or whether, as
he suggested yesterday, he had broken the whole matter off. He told me
now he had broken the whole matter off. As he put it, 'I have washed my
hands of it, and it is now in the hands of you and Knox, the Army and
His diary continues:
"I then called up the President and talked with him about it."
He then took prompt action to confer with Secretary Knox, Admiral Stark,
and with General Gerow, who appeared to be representing General Marshall
in his absence at maneuvers. He was concerned with revising the draft
radio of General Marshall, which became radio #472. Also, as he says,
"A draft memorandum from General Marshall and Admiral Stark tot he
President was examined, and the question of need for further time was
discussed." (R. 4054)
The advice from the Army and Navy to delay matters and get more time for
defense preparations and not precipitate the issue evidently did not
reach the President or the Secretary of State in time to be considered
before the memorandum of the 26th was delivered to the Japanese. It
seems well established that the sending of this "Ten Point" memorandum
by the Secretary of State was used by the Japanese as the signal for
starting the war by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attacking
force departed from Tankan Bay on the 27-28 November for its attack on
Hawaii. It also appears that the delivery of the 14-point reply of the
Japanese to this memorandum was contemporaneous with the attack.
4. WAR DEPARTMENT: The intentions of the War Department not to
precipitate war, as far as the War Department was concerned, are clear
and unmistakable. The messages sent to the Hawaiian Department show
this to be a fact. The Navy apparently had the same idea because many
of their messages likewise so indicate the situation and the Hawaiian
Department was given the benefit of those messages.
To be concrete: the Navy message of October 16 concluded with the
sentence, "In view of these possibilities you will take due precaution,
including such preparatory deployments as will not disclose previous
intention nor constitute provocative action against Japan."; the message
of November 24, from the Navy Department to Hawaii said in conclusion:
"Inform senior Army officers in respective areas utmost secrecy is
necessary in order not to complicate the already tense situation nor
precipitate Japanese action."; the message of November 27, #472 from the
Chief of Staff to General Short says, "The United States desires that
Japan commit the first over act ... these measures should be carried out
so as not, repeat not, to alarm the civil population nor disclose
intent."; the message from G-2 on the same day warns against an incident
with the Japanese population by saying, "Axis sabotage and espionage
probable". All this had an effect upon Short because his reply to the
message of the 27th was "Department alerted to prevent sabotage.
Liaison with the Navy."
In order to prevent an untoward action by Short the message of the 27th
as originally drafted started with the opening words, "Negotiations with
Japan have been terminated" (R. 4270) were changed by the Secretary of
War after consultation with the Secretary of State to the softer caution
contained in the Stimson-drafted sentences: "Negotiations with Japan
appear to be terminated to all practical purposes with only the barest
possibility that the Japanese government might come back and offer to
continue. Japanese future action unpredictable. Hostile action possible
at any moment." Then followed the caution not to commit the first overt
In continuing on beyond November 27th, was the message from G-2 on
November 28, #484, sent by General Arnold which was devoted to sabotage
and defensive measures. On the same day the War Department sent message
#482 to Short with similar tons and tenor. Short replied to #482 on the
28th with a very long message all dealing with sabotage and espionage.
This ends the communications with Short by the Army until the final
message of December 7, which arrived too late.
Short was never informed of the Secretary of State's action in
delivering the "Ten Points" counter proposals. He testified he first
saw or heard of that document after the White Papers were published.
General Short said, "I know nothing of anything of the kind until a year
or so afterwards, whenever that State Department paper came out."
The message of November 27th did not convey to Short what it was meant
to convey by the people who drafted it. While confusing, it contained
information and instructions the significance of which should have been
appreciated by Short and his staff.
The two Navy messages of October 16 and 24, both of which cautioned
against precipitation of an incident, could have added to Short's
confusion in interpreting the message.
The impression that the avoidance of war was paramount was heightened by
the message immediately following the one of the 27th. In the first
place, Short had no reaction from the War Department to his reply that
he was acting only to prevent sabotage and to keep contact with the
Navy. He felt confirmed in this action by the message on the 27th, from
G-2, saying, "Actions of sabotage and espionage probable".
Immediately following that the next day were two additional messages
dealing with sabotage and espionage.
From that time on, November 28, until the message that was received
after the attack, Short received no other word by courier, letter,
radio, or otherwise. The only claim that he received any additional
information was that he was told of messages of December 3, 4, and 6,
about the Japanese destroying their codes and the Navy being instructed
to destroy some of its codes. Short denies receiving this information.
These acts of omission and commission on the part of the War Department
undoubtedly played their part in the failure to put the Hawaiian
Department in a proper state of defense.
The record shows that from informers and other sources the War
Department had complete and detailed information of Japanese intentions.
Information of the evident Japanese intention to go to war in the very
near future was well known to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of
War, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Secretary of Navy, and the
Chief of Naval Operations. It was not a question of fact; it was only a
question of time. The next few days would see the end of peace and the
beginning of war.
If it be assumed that for any reason the information could not have been
given to the Hawaiian Department, then it was a responsibility of the
War Department to give orders to Short what to do, and to tell him to go
on an all-out alert instead of a sabotage alert.
As elsewhere related in detail, when vital information of December 6th
reached G-2 of the War Department, not later than nine o'clock the
evening of December 6, it was placed in
the locked pouch and delivered to the Secretary of the General Staff,
Colonel Bedell Smith, now Lt. Gen. Smith, with a warning from Colonel
Bratton, Chief of Far Eastern Section of G-2, that it contained a
vitally important message. In fact the message implied war and soon.
Whatever was the reason of Colonel Bedell Smith for not conveying this
message to General Marshall on the night of December 6th, it was an
unfortunate one. And further, with the top War Department officials
fully aware of the critical nature of this situation, standing operating
procedure should have required delivery of this vital information to
General Marshall at once. He, himself, was responsible for the
organization and operation of his own immediate office.
This information could have been sent to Short on the afternoon
(Honolulu time) of December 6. Additionally, this same information was
given to General Gerow's Executive, Colonel Gailey, of the War Plans
Division, and there is no evidence of action taken by that Division.
The responsibility of War Department is clearly defined and plain.
Action by it would have been sufficient further to have alerted the
Hawaiian Department. It was in possession of the information which was
the last clear chance to use the means available to meet an attack. It
had the background of the full development of the Japanese preparation
for war and its probable date.
Again, the equally important and vital information of December 7th, the
day of the attack, was in the possession of the War Department at 0900
on the morning of December 7. Colonel Bratton made an immediate effort
to get the Chief of
Staff at that hour. It was not until nearly three hours later that any
action was taken by the War Department, when time was of the greatest
Under the circumstances of the clear and explicit revelation of Japanese
intentions, arrangements should have been made for immediate action to
further warn Hawaii and not leave the situation to be acted upon when
the Chief of Staff could not immediately be reached. The responsibility
is the Chief of Staff's for not providing an arrangement by which
another could act in so critical a situation when he could not readily
Strange as it may appear, the War Department did not know the actual
state of readiness of Short's command from November 27th to December
7th, 1941, though this information was contained in Short's report of
action taken on November 27th.
5. CONFLICT BETWEEN THE ARMY AND NAVY MESSAGES: The practice of having
General Short secure through the Navy in Hawaii copies of the naval
messages tended toward confusion. We have taken occasion to compare the
messages of the Navy and the messages of the Army delivered to General
Short from October 16 to December 7. We find:
*a*. That they were conflicting
*b*. That the Navy messages were predominant with warnings of a conflict
and the Army messages predominant with the idea of avoiding a conflict
and taking precautions against sabotage and espionage.
Short naturally took his choice between the two types of
messages and followed that of the War Department. Examination of the
Navy messages of October 16, 24, November 27, December 3, 4, and 6, will
show that their tenor was predominantly war. One Army message of
November 27 and two of November 28 predominate in antisabotage warnings.
Furthermore, the Navy message of November 27 and the Army message of
November 27 from the Chief of Staff were conflicting: the Navy message
flatly stated, "This is a war warning. The negotiations with Japan in
an effort to stabilize conditions in the Pacific have ended." Now,
contrast the opening sentences of the Army message which indicates that
negotiations may still continue, where it says: "Negotiations with Japan
appear to be terminated to all practical purposes. Only barest
possibility that Japanese government might come back and offer to
The Navy message contained no warning to Hawaii to take precautions
against sabotage or over acts, and no precautions as to the civilian
population. To the contrary, the Army message gave explicit directions
on this subject. This was followed on the same day by a G-2 message,
which said, "It appears that the conference of the Japanese has ended in
an apparent deadlock. Acts of sabotage and espionage probable." The
Navy war warning was further diluted in its effect upon Short by the
Arnold-AG sabotage message on the 28th of November; and the additional
G-2 message on sabotage on the 28th. These November 28 sabotage
messages undoubtedly influenced Short to continue on his sabotage alert.
Thereafter Short had only silence from Washington. Short was given no
further clarification of this conflict amongst the messages.
There is no explanation why Short was not told of the so-called
ultimatum. It was known to the Japanese because it was handed to them.
6. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIVISION. Within the scope of its activities,
this division performed well. It gathered much valuable and vital
data. Through Colonel Bratton it insisted on the dissemination of this
information to Field Commanders.
There was a broad field for investigation, however, which was not
touched by it or any intelligence agency of the American Government,
either military or civil. In this field were the mandated islands, the
home land and the home waters of the Japanese empire, and the areas in
which the Japanese Navy and Army were operating.
In these fields, reliance was place upon sources of information which
were inadequate. The Japanese Navy was lost to us for considerable
periods in those months prior to the outbreak of war. The task force
which made the attack on 7 December 1941, left home ports, assembled at
Tankan Bay, and notwithstanding that it was a relatively large convoy,
sailed for thousands of miles without being discovered. Part of its
aircraft was in flight for the targets at Pearl Harbor and on Oahu
before we knew of its existence. Its detection was primarily a naval
job, but obviously the army was intensely interested. Elsewhere in this
report, the mass of detailed information which the Japanese had
assembled relating to American activities has been discussed and is not
Discussing this subject before the Board, General Miles, G-2 in 1941,
testified as follows:
"But to answer your question more succinctly, I do not think any
Intelligence officer ever thought that he could be sure of picking up a
convoy or attack force or task force in Japan before it sailed and know
where it was going. That was beyond our terms of efficiency." (R. 107)
The disadvantages accruing from this situation could have been
calamitous. The Japanese armed forces knew everything about us. We
knew little about them. This should not come to pass again. Our
intelligence service must be brought in line with the part which we are
to play in world affairs.
We must know as much about other major world powers as they know about
us. This is an absolute condition precedent to intelligent planning by
those charged with formulating our international policies and providing
for our security. Out intelligence service should be second to none in
its efficiency. It must not be inferred that this is the exclusive
function of the M.I.D. It is a national problem.
In the past our intelligence service has suffered from lack of funds,
lack of interest, and legal obstacles and regulations. Steps should be
taken to correct all of these.
7. WAR PLANS DIVISION: The War Plans Division, the supervising agency
for the War Department for Overseas Departments, was charged with
directing the preparation of and coordinating the war plans for Hawaii.
It had the responsibility and duty to insure the implementing of such
Aside from the letters and telegrams sent throughout 1941 to General
Short (and there were no letters from General Marshall to General Short
after the first of November 1941,) no action after November 1, 1941,
appears to have been taken by way of communication or inspections, or
full report of
any sort, to reveal whether General Short was doing anything, whether he
was doing it correctly, what his problems were, and what help could have
been given him.
The War Plans Division took no action when Short put the Alert Number 1
into operation and so reported. It took no steps to stop the use of the
Hawaiian Department as a training station and put it on a combat basis,
such as an outpost should have been, with threatened war. It took no
steps to find out if the Hawaiian defenses were being implemented and
built according to schedule and the right priorities. It took no steps
to put the control of the building of its defenses on the Department
Commander so that he could coordinate the building of defenses with his
other defense preparations.
General Gerow's own testimony clearly pictures the lack of organization
and management of the War Plans Division of the Overseas Departments,
such as the Hawaiian Department. The War Plans Division was responsible
for the Overseas Department, said General Gerow. (R. 4334-4335) The
War Plans Division was familiar with the equipment situation in Hawaii,
such as lack of parts for radar. (R. 3425) It was their duty to do all
they could to correct the deficiencies but there is no proof that any
action was taken. (R. 4325-4326) The War Plans Division was
responsible for drafting the operational messages to the Hawaiian
Department. Gerow was responsible for drafting the message of the 27th
and managed the drafting and final sending of that message. He admitted
that he failed to follow up to see if the message of the 27th was being
carried out and that was the War Plans Division's responsibility.
"Admiral Standley: Then who would have been interested in following up
that message to see whether those instructions were obeyed or not?
"General Gerow: The War Plans Division, sir, should have been --
"Admiral Standley: War Plans Division.
"General Gerow: Should have been responsible for following it up, sir.
"Admiral Standley: That was not done then?
"General Gerow: No, sir, it was not.
"Admiral Standley: Then those instructions went by the board; nobody
followed them up, then?
"General Gerow: That is correct, sir; that is, between the 27th and the
7th." (Roberts Report 1857-1858)
And he again admitted that he made an error in not realizing that the
reply of Short, which referred to Message No. 472 by number, referred to
that message. He thought it referred to a G-2 message. (Roberts Record
He also testified as follows:
"General Grunert: Without such coordination, there was liable to be
confusion and misunderstanding as to the intent of each one of the
messages. Was that the War Plans Division? Was it the Chief of Staff?
"General Gerow: It was done, usually, General, I believe by a matter of
getting concurrence between the various divisions of the General Staff,
on something that was going to be sent out." (R. 4336)
"General Gerow: The coordination of concurrences, and then most of
these important messages, I believe, went through the Secretary of the
"General Grunert: Then it appears to be the Secretary of the General
"General Gerow: No.
"General Grunert: It appears you do not know just who does it, do you?
"General Gerow: Well, no, sir." (R. 4337)
He testified that it was not his particular duty in 1941 to coordinate
all messages of the War Department that went to our overseas
possessions. (R. 4338)
Therefore the War Plans Division under General Gerow failed as follows:
a. General Gerow failed to take action on Short's reply showing that he
was taking precautions against sabotage only. He again failed to take
action in that he assumed liaison with the Navy meant Short was taking
the correct steps. The documents in the War Plans Division show that
the Navy's responsibilities did not start until war was imminent or had
taken place and that some formal action by Washington or the Hawaiian
Department putting the agreements into effect was necessary.
b. He was responsible for drafting the confusing message of November 27.
c. He took no steps to deliver to Short additional available
information. As Gerow testified as to Short's reactions to the message
of the 27th: "No one knows what he would have done had he been in the
position and *not having perhaps all information we had here*." (R.
d. He did not check on the Hawaiian Department's activities to determine
its state of readiness from November 28 through December 7. (R. 4306)
e. He relied upon the message of November 27 to give Short all the
information he needed for full preparation for war, but did not check
out if that was a fact. (R. 4256)
f. The joint air estimate of General Martin and Admiral Bellinger under
the joint agreement of General Short and Admiral Bloch as approved by
Admiral Kimmel, stated that air attack was the prime threat against
Hawaii; and when General Gerow was advised in a conference with the
Secretary of War and the report to the Secretary of War from the
Secretary of State, in addition to the intelligence information with
which he was provided as to the status of the international situation,
it was incumbent upon him to do two things which he failed to do:
(1) To correct Short's mistake in going to Alert Number 1 instead of to
Alert Number 2 or 3; and
(2) To direct immediately the activation of the Joint Hawaiian Coastal
Defense Plan to put the Army, in conjunction with the Navy, on a
complete war footing, ready for any eventuality.
8. NAVY DEPARTMENT: The Navy Department undertook by a signed agreement
to provide long-distance reconnaissance in Hawaii. It assumed this
responsibility admittedly without means of carrying it out in Hawaii.
The Navy in Hawaii failed to advise Short of the sinking of enemy
submarines in the outer harbor between six and seven
a.m. the morning of December 7. The Navy failed to advise Short of the
Jaluit task force so that he could evaluate the information for himself.
9. CHIEF OF STAFF: The responsibility for the conditions in the
military component of the War Department as depicted in this chapter
rests with the Chief of Staff.
At about this time, November 25-December 7, 1941, there seemed to have
been in the War Department a firm conviction that war was imminent but
also there seems to have been the conviction that it would start in the
Southwest Pacific and evidently nobody had any belief that Hawaii was
immediately in danger. There was the belief both in Hawaii and in
Washington that war was on our doorstep but not on Hawaii's doorstep.
This resulted in the main consideration being given to General MacArthur
and the Philippines Islands and the resulting second consideration
during this critical time to Hawaii. The unfortunate thing was that the
Japanese "crossed us up" with a daring surprise attack. When the famous
November 27 message was being prepared, consideration first was given to
send it only to MacArthur and then it was decided to include Panama,
Hawaii and the Western Defense Command. This shows the trend.
As a result of the message of November 27 Short ordered only a sabotage
alert and so reported to the War Department as of the same day. The
import of Short's reply was little noticed in the War Department by
either General Marshall or General Gerow. Just as General Short failed
to interpret the full seriousness of the November 27 message, likewise
the Chief of Staff and the Chief of the War Plans Division failed to
interpret the limited defense that Short's reply indicated in the face
of known impending war.
There was failure of understanding at both ends of the line. The
Washington officials had full knowledge of impending events, which full
knowledge was not available to Short.
A cardinal principle in good management is the necessity to "follow up"
on directions. The War Department had nine days in which to check up on
the state of defense in Hawaii, which it did not do.
Repeatedly, since General Short took command in Hawaii in February 1941,
General Marshall during this peacetime had written to him at length,
advising him on details of operation and here, late in November, with
war expected almost daily, he communicated none of those personal
messages containing needed inside information.
The evidence indicates that the manner in which authority to act was
delegated or not delegated had its influence on this situation. The
Chief of Staff had three deputies, Generals Bryden, Arnold, and Moore.
None of these three was given the secret information concerning the
known Jap intentions. When General Marshall went away on November 27 he
had, prior to departure, prepared a first draft of the November 27
message. It was the Secretary of War who initially followed through on
it on November 27. Then it was given to Gerow to complete. Complete
authority to act in General Marshall's absence does not seem to have
been given to any one subordinate. Had there been an officer either
with authority or with courage to act on the information that was in the
War Department on the evening of December 6, and had he sent a message
Hawaii should have been fully alerted.
As has been repeated so many times, there was positive evidence in the
War Department that it was only a matter of days before war would ensure
and the War Department had notice that Hawaii was on only a sabotage
alert, inadequate for full warfare. Had a full war message,
unadulterated, been dispatched or had direct orders for a full, all-out
alert been sent, Hawaii could have been ready to have met the attack
with what it had. What resulted was failure at both ends of the line.
Responsibility laid both in Washington and in Hawaii. Hawaiian
responsibility has been treated in Chapter III.
To summarize: insofar as the Chief of Staff is related to these events
there are specific things which appear in the record with which he was
personally concerned. The following are of this nature:
a. Failure to advise his Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Bryden, Arnold, and
Moore, of the critical situation in the Pacific so that they might act
intelligently for him in his absence.
b. Failure to keep General Short fully informed as to the international
situation and the probable outbreak of war at any time.
c. The delay in getting General Short the important information reaching
Washington on the evening of December 6 and the morning of December 7.
d. Noting without taking action the sabotage message of Short which
presumptively was on his desk on the morning of November 28, 1941.
e. His admitted lack of knowledge of the condition of readiness of the
Hawaiian Command during the period
of November 8 to December 7, 1941.
The Board is impressed with the absolute necessity of considering the
conduct of all responsible officers in the light of the situation as it
existed in November and early December, 1941.
It was a case of intelligent men arriving at the best decision possible
with all the facts that were before them. This is the basis for
successful procedure in either military or civil affairs. In both these
fields occasional mistakes are made notwithstanding that such principles
are followed. Such was the case at Pearl Harbor.
This recital is in explanation, not justification. The thinking in the
War Department and the Hawaiian Department was faulty in that it
emphasized probabilities to the exclusion of capabilities.
10. SUMMARY: In summarizing the "Responsibilities in Washington" it
appears that the issue between the United State and Japan was
precipitated before the Army and Navy could prepare themselves to follow
through on the consequences thereof and that coordination and
cooperation between the State, War and Navy Departments lacked
effectiveness, at least in this respect.
As to the War Department's responsibilities there was:
a. A lack of organization for war.
b. A lack of adequate procedure under which to advise the Hawaiian
Department and to control its action.
c. A lack of instructions to the Hawaiian Department based upon full
knowledge of its actions and full knowledge of the international
d. Failure on November 26-27, November 28, during the period from
November 28 to December 7, and on December 6 and 7, to take adequate and
prompt action on vital information then at hand.
These responsibilities in no way mitigate those of General Short as
Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department. However, they do add
others to the list of those responsible.
Page maintained by Larry W. Jewell, email@example.com. Created: 12/12/96 Updated: 12/12/96