2-296 Memorandum for General Bryden, October 28, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 28, 1940

Memorandum for General Bryden

October 28, 1940 Washington, D.C.


Subject: Officer Candidate Schools:

In general, the attached proposal appears to be satisfactory.1 However, I would like to be informed on one or two phases.

Is it felt advisable to have men applying for commissions rather than for us to select men for commissions? In this connection, you will probably have the entire colored personnel applying for commissions.2

In paragraph 2of the attached memorandum, the data is partially based on the statement that sufficient men will apply for a second year tour of duty to avoid any difficulties in obtaining desired numbers. In the event of a continued crisis in the international situation, we would want these men; as a matter of fact, we would probably compel these men to continue on active service. But if we are looking at a continuing proposition of peace, even though a somewhat critical period in the world prevails, it would seem to me that we should avoid repeating on these reserve officers and should provide a new quota of considerable size each year. The graduates of the ROTC, particularly if money is provided to increase the advanced student numbers, and the graduates from the Candidate Schools, would provide the new units. I would be interested in knowing about what size the new quota should be under such policy.

If the Candidate Schools are well run, the product should be a very fine one because of the high degree of selectivity employed and because of the fact that these men would have had at least eight months of disciplinary training as soldiers—a much firmer foundation for future usefulness than the more casual disciplinary training of the ROTC. There is the other feature, that the larger this group, the more certain we are to face a continuation of the Selective Service law. And conversely, the smaller the group the more apt we are to have the Selective Service law revoked. If young men can feel, if they think they have the stuff, that after only eight months as enlisted men they can secure a commission, a great deal of the reluctance to such service will have been eliminated.

Coupled with the foregoing thought, it seems to me that there would be a still further adjustment having for its purpose the more rapid elimination of officers from the active list of the Reserve Corps as they approach field grades.

G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1917- (RG 407), Classified, 353 [9-19-40] [1] Sec. 1, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.

1. In September 1940, after having prevented an immediate and heavy War Department commitment to expanding the Citizens’ Military Training Camps concept (see Marshall to Davis, July 20, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-227 [2: 273-74]), Marshall directed G-3 to study the feasibility of establishing Officer Candidate Schools. The Training and Operations Division replied that officers in the training sections of the five branches immediately concerned (Infantry, Cavalry, Field Artillery, Coast Artillery, and Signal Corps) were “unanimous in opposing the project, stating that no necessity existed therefor.” Given the apparently ample supply of men in the Officers’ Reserve Corps—primarily R.O.T.C. graduates—the branch chiefs did not wish to expand the O.R.C. unless the need became urgent. The G-3 memorandum conceded Marshall’s point that Officer Candidate Schools might have some morale value in a democratic system, but it urged that the number of candidates selected be kept to a minimum. (Frank M. Andrews draft Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, September 7, 1940, NA/ RG 407 [General, 352 (9- 19-40) (1) Sec. 1].) Despite this opposition, Marshall directed that planning for O.C.S. proceed.

2. On November 19 Lieutenant Colonel Ben M. Sawbridge presented G-1’s study of Officer Candidate Schools to the chief of staff. Based upon existing Mobilization Regulations, it permitted men in basic training to apply for admission to O.C.S. This would be a mistake, Marshall said. “We will have 10,000 applications; every man will get his Senator on the job. We will invite a vast amount of trouble. We want men who are preeminent in leadership. The Marines got the best group last time and we do not want to lose the next crop. We should set up a policy that the Company Commander will pick a man and final decision will be made by a conference of the officers who are acquainted with the man’s ability. I will accept this because the Regulation has been drawn, but I saw the operation of the Thomason Act and think it was rotten. There was too much desk and not enough field work.” (William T. Sexton Notes on Conference in the Office of the Chief of Staff, November 19, 1940, NA/RG 165 [OCS, Chief of Staff Conferences File].)

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 343-344.

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