USMC, SMALL WARS MANUAL -- 1940, Section IV: Relationship with the State Department


1 – 18 Importance of Cooperation.

  1. One of the principle obstacles with which the naval forces are confronted in small war situations is the one that has to do with the absence of a clean – cut line of demarcation between the State Department authority and military authority.
  2. In a major war, “diplomatic relations” summarily severed at the beginning of the struggle. During such a war, diplomatic intercourse proceeds through neutral channels in a manner usually not directly detrimental to the belligerent. There are numerous precedents in small wars which indicate that the policy does not relax its grip on the situation, except perhaps in certain of its more formal manifestations. The underlying reason for this condition is the desire to keep the war “small,” to confine it within a strictly limited scope, and to deprive it, insofar as it may be possible, of the more outstanding aspects of “war.” The existence of this condition calls for the earnest cooperation between the state department representatives and naval authorities.
  3. There are no defined principles of “joint action” between the State Department and the Navy Department by which the latter is to be restricted or guided, when its representatives become involved in situations calling for such cooperation. In the absence of a clearly defined directive, the naval service has for guidance only certain general principles that have been promulgated through Navy Regulations.

1 – 19 Principles Prescribed by Navy Regulations.

  1. The principles of refer to as set forth in Navy Regulations, 1920, are, for ready to reference, here in quoted:

    • 718 (1) the Commander-in-Chief shall preserve, so far as possible, the most cordial relations with the diplomatic and consular representatives of the United States in foreign countries and extend to them the honors, salutes, another official courtesies to which they are entitled by these regulations.
    • (2) He shall carefully and duly consider any request for service for other communication from any such representatives.
    • (3) Although to do with it should be given to the opinions and advice of such representatives, the commanding officer is solely and entirely responsible to a zone immediate superior for all official acts in the administration of his command.
    • 719. The Commander-in-Chief shall, as a general rule, when in foreign ports, communicate with local civil officials and foreign diplomatic and consular authorities through the diplomatic or consular representative of the United States on the spot.

  1. The attitude of the Navy Department towards the relationship that should exist between the naval forces and the diplomatic branch of the government is clearly indicated by the foregoing quotations. Experience has shown that where naval and military authorities have followed the “spirit” of these articles in their intercourse with foreign countries, whether such intercourse is incident to extended nonhostile interposition by our forces or two minor controversies, the results attained have met with the upper level of our government and have tended towards closer cooperation with the naval and military forces on the part of our diplomats.
  2. It should be borne in mind that the matter of working in cooperation with the state department officials is not restricted entirely to hire officials. In many cases varied junior subordinates of the state department and the Marine Corps may have to solve problems that might involve the United States in serious difficulties.

1 – 20 Contact with the State Department Representatives.

The State Department representative may be of great help to the military commander whose knowledge of the political machinery of the country may be of a general nature. It is therefore most desirable that he avail himself of the opportunity to confer immediately with the nearest State Department representative. Through the latter, the commander may become acquainted with the details of the political situation, the economic conditions, means of communication, and if the strength and organization of the native military forces. He will be able to learn the names of the governmental functionaries and familiarize himself with the names of the leading officials and citizens in the area in which he used to operate. Through the diplomatic representative the military commander may readily contact the chief executive, become acquainted with the government’s leading officials and expeditiously accomplish many details incident to the occupation of the country.




  • USMC, SMALL WARS MANUAL -- 1940, Section IV: Relationship with the State Department

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