Marshall Mission Files, Lot 54–D270: Telegram

Lieutenant General Albert G. Wedemeyer to General Marshall in Washington

26553. Present status with reference to early inactivation of China Theater follows. Message was sent to War Department (24194 dated 25 February 4699 refers) indicating China Theater staff working on inactivation plans and requesting Joint Chiefs of Staff to alter existing Theater Directive to require inactivation on or about 1 May. The War Department reply (986841 refers) indicates concurrence in premise that Theater should be inactivated at an early date, however, requested additional information to insure that the target date 1 May is not premature. China Theater reply (25154 dated 8 March 1946 refers) provided additional information requested by War Department and reaffirmed my conviction that the Theater could be inactivated as of May 1st if prompt authorization were received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I have received no instruction concerning inactivation of the Theater. We are planning continuously with the Navy so that we will be prepared to implement promptly the decisions rendered by Joint Chiefs of Staff. The delay in reaching such decisions has caused events to overtake us and it may now be impractical to inactivate the Theater as of May 1st. You may be certain that we will not vacillate or accept delay as a guiding principle but will go all out to inactivate on May 1st should we receive appropriate orders. I mention this to emphasize the urgency of a firm decision from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Therefore the present status of early inactivation of China Theater remains in the planning stage. Personal conferences are continuing with Admiral Cooke.

I have also discussed the possibility of reduction of the Marine Force with General Rockey.2 I explained your tentative plans that, [Page 857] if the 1 May 1946 inactivation date were approved, the Marines would initially be reduced to a force of 1 regiment in Tientsin and 1 in Tsingtao and that gradually all other Marine Forces both air and ground, except limited administrative and logistical personnel, would be removed from China Theater, movement to be initiated about 1 April 1946. I also explained that the Tsingtao Marine Regiment would be evacuated by 1 July 1946. As approved by higher authority, Marine Force in China is now in process of evacuation 1 Fighter Group and reduction ground forces about one-third. It is apparent that at this late date we can not undertake this additional reduction the first part of April.

If we receive firm directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff concerning this subject soon, appropriate orders for inactivation will be issued to subordinate commanders including the Marines.

The following factors are pertinent and some of them have been introduced subsequent to your departure from the Theater.

Soviet Russians are commencing retrograde movement within Manchuria, except for Port Arthur and Dairen where reinforcements are arriving. However this, in the opinion of the Generalissimo and Central Government officials, does not alleviate the situation, paradoxical as that may sound. The Generalissimo feels that he must accelerate the movement of armies already scheduled and approved for Manchuria and has now requested the movement of two additional armies to that area.
A conference of representatives from China Theater Headquarters and the Peking Executive Headquarters was held by General Gillem3 in Nanking recently to consider personnel problems and allocation responsibilities (201530Z4). The minimum projected strength of your Executive Headquarters introduces additional personnel requirement, particularly for logistic support and training purposes.
On my recent tour in North China civilian and military officials, American, Chinese and other nationals emphasized that if the Marines were withdrawn from North China and the first-class National Government troops were not moved in promptly the coal mines at Tang-shan and the communications net in the area would cease to function. There were predictions that sabotage of the mines would result in a 6 to 12 month delay in their operation. General Hockey feels that the Marines should not be withdrawn until and unless definitely effective Central Government troops are firmly established in key localities and installations prior to the withdrawal of his forces. I concur.
Military Advisory Group has not yet been officially created. In our inactivation plan we visualized assigning certain functions to Army Advisory Group on 1 May 1946, however that group may not [Page 858] be officially in existence on that day. I point this out to insure that pertinent negotiations between China and U. S. must be accelerated and finalized before 1 May 1946.

It is understood that inactivation on 1 May 1946 is based upon political desirability and not upon actual completion of present Theater missions by that date. We all recognize that initially at least what we are actually doing is changing the official designation of U. S. Forces in China instead of accomplishing a material reduction in personnel. The movement of the Marines which is really the only remaining combat force in the Theater could be accelerated possibly by the middle of April and thus give increased evidence of our good faith concerning the inactivation of China Theater of operations.

Following is suggested statement for Mr. Byrnes, assuming of course that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have approved the action indicated in the statement:

“The China Theater of Operations will be inactivated on 1 May 1946. As a result of this inactivation the only U. S. Forces, other than naval, remaining in China will consist of those required to dispose of surplus U. S. property, to complete assistance to the Chinese Government in the repatriation of the Japanese and in the movement of Chinese Armies and equipment and to participate in the operation of the Executive Headquarters at Peiping which was established by the President’s Special Envoy, General Marshall, in connection with his important role of advisor and mediator in the negotiations and agreements between the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party.

In anticipation of this inactivation, U. S. Army Forces have already been reduced by 60,000 or 90 percent and there are now no army combat units, either air or ground, remaining in China. In addition plans for the inactivation of the China Theater have already permitted a decrease of 20,000 from the peak strength of the U. S. Marines in China and the remaining strength will be successively released from that country.”

If the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not approve the early inactivation of China Theater, the above statement might be utilized by Mr. Byrnes provided he omits the date stated in the first line. This statement appears to be innocuous in other respects and might ameliorate the feelings of the Soviet Russians relative to projected U. S. withdrawals in China.

Admiral Cooke has seen the above message; however, he does not feel that he can fully endorse the basic premise of such inactivation by 1 May 1946.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Telegram of February 28, not printed.
  3. Maj. Gen. Keller E. Rockey, Commanding General, U. S. Marine Third Amphibious Corps.
  4. Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., representing General Marshall in latter’s absence from China.
  5. Not found in Department files.