121.893/3–2846: Telegram

Lieutenant General Albert C. Wedemeyer to the Chief of Staff (Eisenhower)7

26845. Info[rmation] to Marshall. Upon release of Secretary Byrnes’ scheduled speech in New York, provided the speech is based on radio 26553, or if the speech is not made, I propose to make a release substantially as follows.

Begin release: In accordance with War Department instructions, plans are being formulated to inactivate China Theater of Operations as of 1st May, Lt. General A. C. Wedemeyer, Theater Commander, announced today.

The announcement reaffirms a statement made by Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, that after May 1st the only army personnel remaining in China will be those needed for the following purposes: To dispose of surplus U. S. property, to assist the Chinese Government in the completion of repatriation of Japanese Nationals and in the movement of Chinese Armies and equipment, to advise and assist in the reorganization and training of Chinese Military Forces, and finally, personnel required for the operation of the Executive Headquarters at Peiping. The latter was established by special envoy General George C. Marshall, in connection with his role of advisor and mediator in negotiations and agreements between the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party.

In announcing the inactivation of China Theater of operations, which he has commanded since October, 1944, General Wedemeyer pointed out [that Army personnel has already been] reduced from a peak strength of more than 65,000 troops to less than 6000. This 90% reduction was effected in consonance with War Department redeployment and demobilization regulations in anticipation of early inactivation of the theater, he said.

General Wedemeyer declared that at the present time there are no Army Air or Ground Combat units in the theater. Anticipation of theater inactivation has already resulted in a reduction of more than 20,000 Marines from China. A continued reduction of the remaining Marine Forces both air and ground now in China will be carried out, he said.

In announcing the 1st May inactivation of the theater over which he assumed command as successor to General Joseph W. Stilwell, General Wedemeyer emphasized that disposal of surplus property, repatriation of Japanese Nationals and other duties will not at this time permit redeployment of all personnel now assigned to the China Theater.

He gave the assurance, however, that redeployment of personnel will be carried out in accordance with current War Department policies, and that no men surplus to actual [operational] needs after 1st May will be retained.

“Personnel of China Theater Headquarters recently were advised that it probably will be necessary to reassign personnel not eligible for [Page 861] redeployment in order to accomplish these duties,” General Wedemeyer said. “It has also been emphasized that no one will be retained in China longer than is necessary to complete the mission outlined herein and that the rate of release will be governed entirely by the speed with which these functions are completed. I will see to it that a minimum number of personnel will be retained to do [these jobs and that] none of those [retained will] be held in China beyond the eligibility date set by the War Department,” he added.

Personnel not eligible for discharge under existing [War Department redeployment criteria will be reported as surplus to the needs of this theater,] and the War Department will make necessary disposition of this personnel.

“It is logical that low point personnel who do not meet current redeployment criteria may be reassigned to other theaters of operations until such time as they are eligible for discharge,” General Wedemeyer said. End of our proposed release.

In view of the short time in which to implement the War Department directive, it is essential that all commanders be informed and immediate steps be taken to inactivate the theater. Your concurrence, therefore, of the above release is urgently requested.

  1. Bracketed insertions made on the basis of telegram of March 29.