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Memorandum for General McNair
September 3, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
I pass on to you the following comment from an observer in Africa:
At Casablanca I visited the 2nd Replacement Center of the Ground Forces which presented a rather discouraging sight. This unit located outside of Casablanca, in which there are approximately 10,000 men, provides trained troops for the ground forces ahead.
I was unimpressed with the flabby, ill-trained look of these men. As soldiers who would soon move into the front lines, they looked soft, incompetent and completely lacking in the seriousness and confidence usually associated with hardened troops. Their average age was reported as 28 years, which, of course, is high. Most of them were fresh from basic training—13 weeks—although some had as much as 4 to 5 months’ training behind them. The frightened and unsure look in their eyes and in their manner was not heartening. They looked exactly what they were—raw recruits—rather than trained fighting men, and they certainly did not compare with many of the trained divisions still in the States who had been trained together for months or more.
We have had a hard time as to the quality of our replacements in Africa. The foregoing recent report is not encouraging. Have we the right men at the head of our Replacement Training Centers? How closely is this supervised, compared to the close check on divisions? The same question applies to other replacements, particularly Medical. I am giving you the impact on me of a number of such reports which, in summation, do not present a favorable impression.1
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Executive File 9, Book 12, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Brigadier General John E. Hull, chief of the Operations Division’s Theater Group and acting deputy of the division, discussed this issue with McNair the following day. Hull reported that he had told the head of Army Ground Forces: “General Marshall feels that the present replacement system, and particularly the training of replacements, needs the concentrated attention of the Army Ground Forces. He feels that possibly the leadership is faulty as regards officers assigned to this type duty. This is not the fault of the Army Ground Forces as they have been required to take officers returned from combat duty. He does feel, however, that this should receive General McNair’s personal attention; and if the officers commanding the training centers of the replacement personnel lack aggressiveness and drive, that they should be replaced by those who have these qualifications. Is the present training schedule and system for training of replacements adequate to prepare them for battle?” (Hull Memorandum for the Record, September 4, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Exec. 9, Book 12].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 113-114.