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Memorandum on the Transfer of Admiral Denfeld From the Post of Chief of Naval Operations.

October 27, 1949

Memorandum for the Secretary of the Navy:

Over a long period of time I have devoted considerable thought to various aspects of the problem which you discuss in your letter of today's date.

The action which you recommend meets with my approval. Accordingly, I hereby authorize you to arrange for and carry out the transfer which you recommend.


Note: In his letter of October 27, also released, Secretary Matthews began by recalling the circumstances at the time of his appointment. The President had then emphasized the importance of successful implementation of the Unification Act of 1947 and had "pointed out how essential it would be to have the proper military personnel in key positions, up to and including [the] Chief of Naval Operations, in order to attain that much desired result."

Very soon after he had assumed office, the Secretary continued, "it became evident to me that there was definite resistance on the part of some naval officers to accepting unification of the Armed Services .... That condition was reflected by public and private statements from various sources .... "

He had recommended the reappointment of Adm. Louis E. Denfeld as Chief of Naval Operations because he had every reason to believe that they were in complete agreement on all important questions affecting the administration of the Department of the Navy. However, Secretary Matthews added, his relations with Admiral Denfeld had finally become such that he found it increasingly difficult to work with him. "A military establishment is not a political democracy. Integrity of command is indispensable at all times. There can be no twilight zone in the measure of loyalty to superiors and respect for authority existing between various official ranks."

Secretary Matthews closed his letter by requesting the President to authorize the transfer of Admiral Denfield to other important duties.

Adm. Louis E. Denfeld's appointment to be Chief of Naval Operations was confirmed by the Senate on December 8, 1947. He was succeeded in the post by Adm. Forrest P. Sherman on November 2, 1949.

Harry S Truman, Memorandum on the Transfer of Admiral Denfeld From the Post of Chief of Naval Operations. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230263

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