4-266 Memorandum for General McNair, February 22, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 22, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General McNair

February 22, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


Please note in the Minutes of the General Council for the 21st of February the extracts of The Inspector General’s report shown on page 4 regarding the 4th Armored Signal Battalion1 (there is an extract on page 5 regarding the 388th Engineer General Service Regiment, which I assume comes under the ASF. If not, please include this in the following comments):

Who is the senior officer responsible for the condition of affairs in the 4th Armored Signal Battalion? I am not referring to the commander of that unit but to the higher commanders concerned. It seems to me that drastic action is required here immediately to relieve such people without delay.

I am besieged with letters from fathers and mothers complaining regarding their sons being sent overseas with poorly trained units. The extract referred to is conclusive evidence of the correctness of their claims and it cannot be tolerated.

I wish you would concentrate again on this particular phase of the Ground Forces. I am not concerned about the divisions and the Army Corps but I continue to be very much concerned about the non-divisional units.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. An inspection of the Fourth Armored Signal Battalion at Camp Polk, Louisiana, on February 5-7, 1944, revealed that the unit’s training had not been satisfactorily completed, and supervision of the battalion had been inadequate due to frequent changes in higher and unit commanders. The inspecting officer found no evidence of a “carefully prepared master training program,” and training schedules disclosed a “haphazard system of instruction.” Morale was unsatisfactory, although discipline was satisfactory. Certain items of training equipment had never been available. “The Radio Intelligence Platoons cannot function because of a lack of trained personnel and team training. The Message Center Platoons cannot function because of a lack of clearance of many of its personnel and training in secret and confidential cryptographic systems. The Wire Platoons cannot function because of a lack of qualified specialists in the installation and maintenance and operating sections.” (Minutes, Meeting of the General Council, February 21, 1944, NA/RG 407 [334.8, General Council Minutes].)

2. McNair replied that responsibility of high commanders was divided between the Third and Fourth armies and the Nineteenth and Twenty-first corps. “These commanders interested themselves actively in the battalion and acted adequately and reasonably except that the Third Army and the Fourth Army should not have reported the unit ready when actually it was unready. This situation was brought about by differences of view in technical matters as between the signal officers of the two armies and those of The Inspector General, the latter being correct.” McNair confirmed that the unit was “unready” and would require two months to complete its training, but the equipment was not available in this country. Accordingly he recommended that, subject to the theater commander’s approval, “the battalion be moved overseas without delay as is, and that its training be completed in the theater where adequate equipment will be available. There is no battalion in this country in so advanced a state of training as this one.” In order to prevent a recurrence of this case, McNair said that “positive steps are being taken to institute an adequate system of signal tests throughout the Army Ground Forces.” (McNair Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, March 14, 1944, NA/RG 337 [AG Section, McNair Dersonal File].)

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. 314-315.

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Holding ID: 4-266

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