On Jan.1, 1942, Maj. Gen. Joseph Stilwell was thick in the planning for Operation Gymnast, the original code-name for the landings in North Africa, when he was summoned into the office of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall. The subject: China. With a relationship poisoned by history, ill will, and conflicting strategic goals, the British and Nationalist Chinese allies were at loggerheads. Roosevelt ordered Marshall to send a high ranking general to China to be a buffer between the two, and keep China in the war. Stilwell, who had served three tours of duty in China, was the army's foremost China expert – not only fluent in Mandarin, he could curse a blue streak in a number of Chinese dialects. The short list contained two names: Lt. Gen. Hugh Drum, and Stilwell.