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Memorandum for General Watson
April 23, 1941 Washington, D.C.
General Greely, who had been in command of the District, has been promoted to the command of the Second Division at San Antonio.1 This leaves a vacancy for the District command.
The troops involved are those stationed at Fort Myer, the Arlington Cantonment, and the Headquarters Company located near the Munitions Building. The District Commander has a competent staff to coordinate military plans concerning the District, to arrange for ceremonies, such as parades, etc. The Commander himself has a great many obligations of a semi-official nature—social and otherwise.
Normally we would bring in a Brigadier General of the Regular Army and assign him to this post, thereby creating a vacancy somewhere in the field which would have to be filled by promotion.
Under the present circumstances, I think it advisable to order to active duty Brigadier General Albert L. Cox, of the Reserve Corps for the command of the District. He is also the Commander of the National Guard of the District, but these troops have been inducted into active service of the Federal Government. General Cox has no command in the National Guard Divisions and, therefore, was not inducted. However, he holds a commission in the Reserve Corps as a Brigadier General.
Cox knows nothing of my idea on the subject. He has made no application for the job and brought no pressure to bear. I have been under continuous pressure from high ranking officers of the Reserve Corps to order them to active duty. In this connection the trouble is, the senior ranks of the Reserve Corps are the weakest sections of the Reserve Corps, including less of preparation and efficiency and more of mediocrity than is found among the lieutenants and captains. The detail of Cox to active duty, especially as the troops concerned are all Regulars, would do much to off-set the irritating pressures for the detail actively of other senior officers. At the same time I think Cox, who has a pronounced flair for public-spirited activities, might be very helpful in meeting the necessities for looking after soldiers on leave in Washington from Meade, Belvoir, Quantico, etc. Should a serious situation develop in the District and it appeared, after some experience, that Cox was not fully competent to handle the situation, his assignment else where could be managed.
I did not care to discuss this with the Secretary, who may have objections, without some indication of whether or not such detail would be acceptable to the President.2
G. C. Marshall
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 18861-157, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. Brigadier General John N. Greely had taken command of the Second Division in March.
2. Edwin M. Watson returned the memorandum to Marshall with the note “OK EMW” penned at the top of the first page. Cox was designated the commanding general of the Washington Provisional Brigade.
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. 484-485.