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Memorandum for General McNair
April 25, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
I am sending you a report of the Inspector General to me on a recent trip in the south. There are two or three points I would like to have you look into.
The practice of attaching Army troops to Corps Headquarters was started in France and I am afraid it is rather a policy of passing the buck of responsibility for units that are difficult at best to develop effectively.
The practice has the advantage of permitting Corps Commanders to use these troops for combined training; however, I think the general result is to create “orphan” establishments.
Might it not be a good thing to give Army Commanders an extra Brigadier, with a small training headquarters to handle these Army troops on a command basis? Just how the administrative problem would be handled I don’t know. I have had several indirect evidences, correspondence between National Guard commanders of Army troops and people at home, which would indicate that the present system is not productive of a high degree of efficiency.1
I am disturbed by what Peterson says regarding General Ord, will you check up on this.2
In my rides and walks about Fort Myer and between there and the War Department, I have seen a great deal of what appears to be an abuse of motor transportation. I get the impression that it is being used in an unsupervised manner, resulting in unnecessary consumption of gas, wear and tear on tires, and deterioration of vehicles. Too seldom you see soldiers walking, they are usually riding, one or two to a truck, and the loads in the trucks would not seem to justify a trip.
I don’t know how we should go about this rather natural American wasteful procedure. I dislike voluminous statistics and reports, and checks of that nature, however something must be done to get this under control. Of course the difficulty applies to all services, the Air and the SOS as well as the Ground Forces, but I believe it best to approach control in this matter through the commanders of these forces—each to solve his own problem. The same procedure will have to be followed in the case of the commanders of the First and Fourth Armies.3
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. Inspector General Virgil L. Peterson reported that Third Army’s attachment of its autonomous support troops to its corps headquarters had reduced the effectiveness of those headquarters. McNair responded that he intended to create a special troops organization, with its own commanding general, as Marshall suggested. In some cases, he intended to omit the army corps from the channel of administration altogether. McNair informed the chief of staff that he would use Fourth Army Corps as the “guinea pig” to test these new ideas. (Maxwell D. Taylor Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, April 24, 1942, and McNair Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, April 27, 1942, NA/ RG 337 [Adjutant General’s Section, General McNair’s Personal File].)
2. Peterson also had reported that Major General J. Garesche Ord had ignored weaknesses in the development of his division. McNair reminded the chief of staff that Marshall had voiced reservations about Ord’s competence when Ord was given the division. McNair wrote that he had Ord’s case “under careful surveillance,” but he did not recommend his relief at this time. Ord was relieved on June 20, 1942. (Taylor Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, and McNair Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, ibid.; on Ord’s assignment to the Twenty-eighth Division, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-596 [2: 669-70].)
3. McNair enclosed a copy of his March 31 directive to all ground forces to economize on motor transportation, as a model for garrison troops in the District of Washington to follow, and observed that recently lowered fuel allowances would reduce unnecessary travel. (McNair Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, April 27, 1942, NA/ RG 337 [Adjutant General’s Section, General McNair’s Personal File].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 171-172.