In reply it was pointed out that our problem of repatriation of troops and their demobilization was quite different from that of France or Great Britain. On account of our long line of communications in France and the time consumed by the ocean voyage and travel in the United States, even with the maximum employment of our then available transportation, at least a year must elapse before we could complete our demobilization. Therefore, it was proposed by me that the number of American combat divisions to be maintained in the Zone of the Armies should be reduced on April 1 to 15 divisions and on May 1 to 10 divisions, and that in the unexpected event that the preliminaries of peace should not be signed by May 1 we would continue to maintain 10 divisions in the Zone of the Armies until the date of signature.
The Allied Commander-in-Chief later revised his estimate, and, on January 24, stated to the Supreme War Council that the German demobilization would permit the reduction of the Allied forces to 100 divisions, of which the Americans were requested to furnish 15. In reply, it was again pointed out that our problem was entirely one of transportation, and that such a promise was unnecessary inasmuch as it would probably be the summer of 1919 before we could reduce our forces below the number asked. We were, therefore, able to keep our available ships filled, and by May 19 all combat divisions, except 5 still in the Army of Occupation, were under orders to proceed to ports of embarkation. This provided sufficient troops to utilize all troop transports to include July 15.
62. The President had informed me that it would be necessary for us to have at least one regiment in occupied Germany, and left the details to be discussed by me with Marshal Foch. My cable of July 1 summarizes the agreement reached:
"By direction of President, I have discussed with Marshal Foch question of forces to be left on the Rhine. Following agreed upon: The Fourth and Fifth Divisions will be sent to base ports immediately, the Second Division will commence moving to base ports on July 15, and the Third Division on August 15. Date of relief of First Division will be decided later. Agreement contemplates that after compliance by Germany with military conditions to be completed within first three months after German ratification of treaty, American force will be reduced to one regiment of infantry and certain auxiliaries. Request President be informed of agreement."
As a result of a later conference with Marshal Foch, the Third Division was released on August 3 and the First Division on August 15. I am, Mr. Secretary,
General, Commander-in-Chief, American Expeditionary Forces.