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Memorandum for General McNair
June 18, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
At the conclusion of maneuvers in May 1940, a public critique was held in which General Brees discussed principally the leadership of the Commanding Generals of the opposing sides. In addition, he made rather caustic reference to the leadership of the older officers. Further, this was mimeographed and released to the press.1
I do not think that those portions of the critique which refer to the senior commanders should be attended by the junior officers. As a matter of fact, it might even be desirable to confine the portion of such critique to the two commanders themselves, and possibly their chiefs of staff. Certainly, such a critique should not be open to the public or released to the press.
I am inclined to think that a careful segregation of officers should be made in arranging critiques in accordance with what is to be discussed. For officers generally, the common errors should be featured—and I am inclined to think that this should be covered rapidly in a quickly prepared mimeograph, and released to the officers, possibly prior to the critique.
I do not know what your plans or directions are in this matter, but I wish you would go into it in order to avoid a repetition of the procedure of last May. Just where the press fits into the plot I do not know, but I would like you to have Richardson talk this over with you.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. Lieutenant General Herbert J. Brees, the referee of the Third Army’s spring maneuvers, and Major General Walter C. Short had thoroughly criticized all participating officers, including generals, in a final “public” critique on May 25, 1940. They noted the poor performance in such aspects as reconnaissance and intelligence, and criticized the emphasis on speed at the expense of tactical efficiency. The Army and Navy Journal published most of the critique in its June 1, 1940, edition (pp. 943, 962-64) and ran a summary of editorial comments from other newspapers on the critique in the June 15 edition (p. 998.)
2. In introducing his remarks at the critique of the first phase of the Louisiana army maneuvers of September 14- 19, 1941, McNair said: “Rather extensive detailed comments are contained in the mimeographed matter just issued. It is quite possible also that the army commanders will receive later certain additional comments by letter.” And in closing his observations on the second phase (September 24-28), he remarked: “Appreciation also is due the Press. All elements—news, pictures, and radio—strove only to give the true picture, and it was a very real picture. The members who covered the maneuvers accepted restrictions cheerfully, lived with the troops, and earned in many ways the respect and gratitude of us all. We hope that they will come to see us often.” (Comments by Lieutenant General L. J. McNair, NA/RG 337 [Headquarters, Commanding General, AGF 354.2/2(1941)].)
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. 538-539.