Chapter XII: 
Strategy and Command in the War Against Germany
The divergence in strategic thinking between the United States and the United Kingdom in the fall of 1943, apparent in the sparring over the choice and support of operations in the Mediterranean, was also reflected in the fencing over Allied command arrangements for the European-Mediterranean area. With the over-all strategic pattern for the war against Germany outlined at QUADRANT apparently still not firmly accepted, each side sought through the medium of command framework to tip the scales in its own favor. If the strategic pattern for the coalition effort against Germany was still not firm enough to resolve Allied command problems, then favorable command arrangements offered the possibility of influencing the execution of desired operations, and even of helping to "fix" Allied strategy in the preferred mold. In a period of lingering disagreement over basic strategy, maneuvering and debate over the command problem became part and parcel of the strategy story. The structure of the combined command and the nationality and eventually even the identity and personality of proposed Allied commanders were to figure as important elements in that tale.
Normally, thus far in World War II, combined strategy had first been decided upon, then the choice of operations had been made, and only after that had the command problem for particular undertakings been resolved. In the fall of 1943 the emphasis on particular command arrangements, in the absence of firm agreement on the over-all design and related operations, threatened to upset and even reverse that process. The Army staff, striving to retain adherence to the strategic design of QUADRANT, sought to counter command proposals that in its view might jeopardize the over-all pattern.
The Problem of Command Organization
Divergence of British and American strategic thinking as reflected in Washington and London proposals for command arrangements in the European-Mediterranean area was brought into sharp focus in the late fall of 1943. The immediate and specific issue that caused U.S. military planners to crystallize their own position was the British suggestion in early November 1943 to unify command in the Mediterranean under the

 Commander in Chief, Allied Forces.1 Sir John Dill maintained that the British plan would give greater flexibility to operations in the Mediterranean and would place under the CCS the additional forces available in the Middle East.2 Already disturbed by British gestures toward increasing military support for ventures in the Mediterranean, and the eastern Mediterranean in particular, Washington headquarters hastened to offer counterproposals.
General Marshall soon recommended that the JCS take the position that a supreme commander be designated for all British-American operations against Germany.3 Under such a commander were to be appointed an over-all commander for northwestern European operations and an over-all commander for southern European operations, the latter to be responsible for all operations in the Mediterranean. Marshall argued that the close relationship between operations in the Italian and western Mediterranean area and those based on the United Kingdom would eventually lead td centering control in one commander.4 The British suggestion of vesting command of all operations in the Mediterranean in one officer, however desirable in itself, would, he reasoned, further complicate the problem of securing unified direction and coordination of strategic air operations from the United Kingdom and the Mediterranean. Other reasons were advanced for a commander in chief for all Anglo-American operations against Germany. One Army planner pointed out that, if this solution failed to be adopted, the United States and Great Britain would have to fall back on the "intermittent and disjointed coordination" by the CCS committee.5 In his opinion that committee, whose members were charged with multiple military duties and subjected to political pressures, was suitable for evolving strategy but not for conducting operations.
At the same time, the Chief of Staff did not want to discuss with the British the delicate, related problem of eventual unification of U.S. and British air commands, raised by the U.S. Air Staff, until he had secured a decision on the overall European command. With General Handy he examined sympathetically the vigorous organizational and operational measures proposed by General Arnold for broadening and pressing the air war against Germany from bases in the United Kingdom, Italy, and probably the USSR.6 General Marshall and General

 Handy agreed with General Arnold's proposal that to unify the U.S. strategic air forces in North Africa and the United Kingdom would be a step in the right direction, but they thought it unwise to press the question of unifying U.S. and British air commands until the more vital and very pressing problem of unified command in the Mediterranean, as then proposed by the British Chiefs of Staff, and of over-all command in Europe had been settled. If the decisions on these problems were made in accordance with Army views, the problem of Anglo-American air command in the war against Germany, they reasoned, would be settled automatically.
On 9 November General Marshall defended the army views before the JCS.7 As he saw it, the British were pressing for unified Mediterranean command in order to gain added impetus for operations they were undertaking from time to time in the eastern Mediterranean. As matters stood, the CCS controlled the allocation of resources in the Mediterranean. The British, however, often deemed resources under General Eisenhower necessary for their operations in the eastern Mediterranean. From the point of view of the British Chiefs of Staff, if the entire Mediterranean were placed under one command, resources then under the control of General Eisenhower would be more readily accessible for British purposes. If all the Mediterranean areas were placed under one command, General Marshall observed, the British would doubtless soon press for executive control in that area, particularly since United States troops were "rapidly approaching . . . the minority in the Mediterranean areas."8
General Marshall had to agree with other members of the JCS on the probable impracticability of securing British agreement at this time to a supreme commander over the European and Mediterranean areas. Indeed, Churchill was then pressing Dill to leave Leahy and Hopkins in no doubt about his opposition to any such arrangement.9 Admiral Leahy pointed out that the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, was arguing that there was an even greater need for a supreme commander for the Pacific theater. Leahy did not believe that it would be possible to have a U.S. supreme

commander in both areas. Admiral King pointed to another complication. One of the factors hitherto determining the nationality of the supreme commander had been the numerical strength of the forces of each nation involved, and U.S. strength was now becoming more predominant in practically all theaters.
As a step toward securing the eventual appointment of a supreme commander for the European-Mediterranean area, General Marshall looked favorably on the idea supported by the AAF of placing control of all strategic bombing incident to OVERLORD under one Air commander. This commander was to be subordinate to the supreme commander for OVERLORD when the latter was finally appointed. Immediate appointment of an Air commander for strategic bombing would bring together hitherto independent strategic bombing operations and would turn OVERLORD into "an immediate operation and make it a going concern."10 In general agreement on the need to come to an understanding with the British, the JCS on 9 November 1943 decided to withstand British pressure for immediate action on the proposal for unification of the Mediterranean command and to thresh out the British and American command proposals at the next international conference (SEXTANT).
As the Chief of Staff prepared to leave for that conference early in November, the War Department planners spelled out in detail their views on the position to be upheld by the United States. They cautioned that the British proposal for unified command in the Mediterranean was "only one of a series of actions designed to free the British from American interference in what they believe to be the proper European strategy."11 To the Army planners, the logic of the British proposal was understandable only if the major British-American effort were to be in the Mediterranean. A unified command in the Mediterranean would be consonant with the American interpretation of agreed strategy only if resources from the Middle East were thereby made available to General Eisenhower. But to the planners it was not apparent in the British suggestion that Middle East resources would come under the over-all commander in the Mediterranean. To transfer resources from Italy to the east, the planners observed, was exactly what the United States did not want. The United States should not permit General Eisenhower to be placed in a position where he would have to withstand direct pressure from Churchill to undertake operations in the Balkans and the Aegean. General Eisenhower would find it difficult to guard the integrity of his forces in Italy, since the Prime Minister, operating through the British Chiefs of Staff, would continue his current policy of going directly to General Eisenhower's subordinate commanders.
Until other basic decisions on strategy and command were reached, therefore, the U.S. Army planners argued, it was most important that the United States should not agree to unified command in the Mediterranean, nor even to transferring command from a U.S. to a British commander in chief. In either of these cases, control would almost certainly be exercised through the British Chiefs of Staff, and control by the United States

 would diminish rapidly. In that event, even though the United States still had in the Mediterranean a half-million troops and the second largest air striking force in the world, it would have nothing to say about Mediterranean operations. The British Chiefs of Staff, moreover, might continue to follow their recent course of unilateral action and could, if they chose, divert resources from the central to the eastern Mediterranean, thereby forcing the United States, willy-nilly, to embark on a Balkan or an Aegean campaign. Such a course of action might result in the postponement or abandonment of OVERLORD, which, as the Army planners saw it, was becoming "more and more obvious the British desire."12
The Army planners considered that solution of the European command problem depended upon the agreement reached on European strategy. They advised, therefore, that the U.S. delegation to SEXTANT not agree to any proposal on command until they secured a clarification of subsequent British-American European strategy. In addition, before accepting a change in the Mediterranean command, the responsibilities of the over-all commander in the United Kingdom, the command setup for the U.S. Air Forces, and control over resources in the Middle East should be determined. Since the British would be reluctant to accede to the Army proposals, the planners recommended that the United States adopt a practical approach and prepare to engage in "a horse-trading game."13
The Problem of Selecting a Supreme Commander for OVERLORD
Structure and organization was one part of the command problem; selection of a commander for the top Allied post in the war against Germany was another. The strategic implications of the command issue were debated in Washington military circles in the late summer and fall of 1943 also in connection with the question of the possible designation of General Marshall to that post. The President and Prime Minister had left Quebec in agreement that the supreme commander of OVERLORD should be an American and that the officer pre-eminently fitted for the post was General Marshall. In the weeks that followed, a report of his selection was circulated in Washington and London and there was much speculation in the U.S. and British press.14 It soon developed that the prospective appointment of the Army Chief of Staff was caught up in a tangled web of conflicting rumors, practical concerns, and strategic aims.
The problem of the prospective appointment of Marshall was by no means simple. British as well as American public opinion had to be considered. There were ugly stories of a "British plot" and of devious Presidential pre-election maneuvering behind the reported proposal to remove Marshall from the Washington scene and his central

place in the conduct of the war. None of these had any foundation in fact, but there were real and practical considerations on the American side. There was the problem of finding a replacement for Marshall as Chief of Staff without seriously upsetting the staff and command structure he had built up in Washington or disturbing the smooth relations he had established with Congress. Many sincerely felt that Marshall was indispensable as Chief of Staff. In this group were numbered Admirals Leahy and King and General Arnold, who were in a dilemma, wishing neither to deny Marshall his opportunity nor to break up the winning team represented by the JCS. So disturbed by the reports of Marshall's prospective appointment was General of the Armies John J. Pershing, the distinguished leader of the American AEF of World War I fame and himself a former Army Chief of Staff, that he felt compelled to take up his pen in the late summer of 1943 and protest to the President against what he believed would be
 . . . a fundamental and very grave error in our military policy. We are engaged in a global war of which the end is still far distant and for the wise strategical guidance of which we need our most accomplished officer as Chief of Staff. I voice the consensus of informed military opinion in saying that officer is General Marshall. To transfer him to a tactical command in a limited area, no matter how seemingly important, is to deprive ourselves of the benefit of his outstanding strategical ability and experience. I know of no one at all comparable to replace him as Chief of Staff.15
In reply, the President agreed that General Marshall was by far the best available man as Chief of Staff. Nevertheless, the President continued, the operations for which Marshall was being considered were the
 . . . biggest that we will conduct in this war. And when the time comes, it will not be a mere limited area proposition, but I think the command will include the whole European theater ....
In addition, the British wished to have Marshall to sit with their own joint Staff. More than that, I think it is only a fair thing to give George a chance in the field . . . and because of the nature of the job we shall still have the benefit of his strategical ability. The President concluded on a note that was as forceful as it was disarming: The best way I can express it is to tell you that I want George to be the Pershing of the second World War-and he cannot be that if we keep him here.16
The problem of the relationship of such an appointment to strategy and the conduct of operations was obviously important and much thought was given to it in Washington. Two of the strongest advocates of Marshall for the top command were Stimson and Hopkins. It was Stimson's hunch, he wrote to the President via Hopkins in late summer, that "just at present the P. M. will make almost any concession to get Marshall over to England." The concession to be extracted should be the union of the northern and southern European fronts under Marshall and thus an end to competition for resources between the two. Operational command in Italy should be British. To offset any effort by the Prime Minister to "dilute" Marshall's

direct influence over the troops invading northern France, the Americans should also try to get the British to agree to an American deputy for Marshall. Giving Marshall the rank and title of General of the Armies might preserve his influence over other theaters. In any case, Stimson urged, Marshall should leave to take command in the United Kingdom by 1 November in order to prevent "fatal delays and diversions which may sabotage OVERLORD."17
Though there were good grounds for General Marshall to believe that he was slated for the top Allied European theater command, the political chiefs the President and Prime Minister-still delayed in making a definite formal announcement. In the early fall of 1943, the President, however uneasy he may have become, apparently still wanted Marshall to have that command-a command to be broader than OVERLORD and to include all the Anglo-American forces attacking Germany. On the other side of the Atlantic Churchill, faced with the factor of British public opinion and intent on carrying out his eastern Mediterranean strategy, was becoming disturbed by reports in the press that Marshall was to be given an all-inclusive supreme command over all Allied forces against Germany.18 Nor did Marshall's own attitude simplify the question. During the period of delay he found himself in a most delicate situation-a situation he met characteristically by keeping a discreet silence regarding his own ambitions and personal preference in the matter. He was anxious to get on with arrangements for pressing the war against Germany, but his own code of conduct forbade him actively to seek the top post-the crowning point of any professional soldier's career. As the weeks went by and no announcement was forthcoming on European command he felt that the whole matter was getting out of hand. On 29 September 1943, he pointed out to General Handy and General Arnold that a White House conference of the previous day had failed to produce an agreement on an announcement of command for the European theater. In view of the widespread speculation in the press and Congress, as General Handy later recorded, the business "was getting into more and more of a mess."19  Turning the question over to them, Marshall instructed them to work out a solution for the whole command problem in the war against Germany. He specifically directed them not to be influenced by the fact that he him-

 self was involved personally in the matter.
With the aid of suggestions from Mr. Robert A. Lovett, Assistant Secretary for Air, and from General Arnold, who was leaving for the west coast, Col. G. A. Lincoln of the Operation Division's Strategy Section drafted a set of recommendations that, after being reviewed by Generals Handy and Hull, were submitted to General Marshall.20 According to these proposals, the formula adopted for the system of command must not upset the original concept of the CCS and the existing structure of the CCS and the U.S. and British Chiefs of Staff.
Combined staff machinery providing brakes on un-co-ordinated, unilateral action must be retained. The strength of U.S. Army representation on the JCS and of U.S. representation on the CCS must also be maintained. Forces of each nationality must fight, except in emergencies, under echelons of command of their own nationality. Since the greater portion of the troops committed to the Mediterranean were British, the command of all operations against the European Axis in the Mediterranean should pass, at a suitable time, to a British operational commander. Since the great mass of ground forces and the majority of air forces, as well as resources, for OVERLORD were to be American, the supreme commander of that operation should be American.
According to the Army proposals, the point in the war had been reached at which the command of all British-American operations in the European-Mediterranean area should be vested in one individual, under the broad strategic direction of the CCS. General Marshall, who had been largely influential in fashioning the Western strategy in the war against Germany, was the logical leader to translate the strategic concepts into tactical victory. Action should be taken at once to designate General Marshall as the over-all commander in the war against Germany. He was to retain the title of Chief of Staff, but his numerous administrative duties in that capacity should be shifted to an Acting Chief of Staff. The Acting Chief of Staff was then to take Marshall's place as a member of the JCS and CCS and help the CCS maintain a global point of view. General Marshall's authority and position were to be clearly established by a directive that would enable him to make minor strategic decisions and give him considerable latitude in the system of staff control throughout his command. To make the transition period easier (and for reasons of security) General Marshall should set up his headquarters and small combined staff in Washington. That the War Department leaders were anxious to keep General Marshall as something more than a theater or even a super-theater commander is clear. As General Arnold put it: "It is quite apparent to most of us in the War Department that for the Chief of Staff to be appointed Commanding General of OVERLORD makes him just another theater commander."21 The War Department was reluctant to see General Marshall leave Washington and thereby to

 lose his valuable stabilizing influence in Army, JCS, and CCS deliberations.22 The Army proposals envisaged that General Marshall would be kept in a position to give over-all advice to the President and to advise the CCS on all matters affecting the European theater, and that the way would be kept open for him eventually to return to Washington and resume his duties as Chief of Staff, or, possibly, for him to be appointed supreme commander of the war in the Pacific. The proposals showed the Army desire to maintain the continuity of U.S. strategic concepts that General Marshall and his planning staff had so largely fashioned and that he had so strongly upheld in joint and Allied councils. They also reflected the Army view of the necessity for keeping the lead strings in the conduct of the global war centered as far as possible in the Army, joint, and combined mechanisms in Washington rather than shifting to virtually independent theater super commands of the Pershing or Foch types of World War I.
Upon receiving these proposals, General Marshall suggested certain changes, mainly in method of presentation, and recommended that General Eisenhower be designated U.S. Army Group Commander in OVERLORD. At Marshall's direction the proposals were submitted to the Secretary of War, who signified his approval. Later General Arnold, upon his return to Washington, also endorsed them.23 After the War Department leaders had given their approval, General Handy, at General Marshall's direction, presented the recommendations to Admiral Leahy. On 12 October Admiral Leahy reported to General Handy that in general the solution presented was acceptable to the President, but, Admiral Leahy concluded, "its sale ability on the other side of the water is doubtful."24  
Down to the departure of the U.S. staff for the SEXTANT Conference in early November the matter was unsettled. Announcement by the President and Prime Minister of the commander for OVERLORD was still not forthcoming, the President informing Churchill in late October he could not make Marshall immediately available. Inclined to the idea that Marshall command both OVERLORD and the Mediterranean, the President apparently still had not resolved in his own mind all the problems of such an appointment. On the other hand, the Prime Minister appeared to be as eager for an announcement of command for OVERLORD and as willing to accept Marshall for it as he was determined that OVERLORD and the Mediterranean not be united under a U.S. commander. 25

Churchill went so far as to assure Marshall: "I do hope to hear of your appointment soon. You know I will back you through thick and thin and make your path here smooth." Marshall expressed his appreciation for the Prime Minister's offer of support,, which he considered "vital to the success of OVERLORD."26
The questions of the structure of command and the announcement of the name of the top commander were thus to be held in abeyance-along with the resolution of basic related strategic issues in the war against Germany-pending further discussion with the British at the next conference. British pressure for changes in the Mediterranean command setup in the absence of an agreement on over-all command in the war against Germany confirmed the fears of the U.S. Army planners that the strategic pattern accepted at QUADRANT might be upset. Seriously disturbed, they prepared in conjunction with the rest of the American staff, in the late fall of 1943, to argue once again the whole case on European strategy with the British. What made Army concern over British pressure toward the Mediterranean all the more acute was the pressing realization that the time had at last come to correlate British-American strategy with the plans and expectations of the other major ally in the war against Germany, the Soviet Union.


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