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Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1 [White]
December 24, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
I have taken up with you several times apparent inequalities in the promotion system, which seem invariably to reflect too rapid promotion at home and too slow abroad.1 In each case your replies have indicated that the present system was sound.
I have just returned from a trip entirely around the world. Practically every place I have been I have found the same situation, lieutenants in important positions rendering conspicuous service for whom no vacancy exists, while here at home men have been advanced on a time schedule senior to these men overseas.
This matter must be corrected and immediately. I am inclined to think that the instructions in the case are so complicated that nobody can figure them all out, but my interest is in “effect” and I am not interested in background.
In some of my memorandums to your section I used examples out of my own family which have illustrated to me the unfortunate situation which now prevails as to promotions in the junior grades. I have one stepson who, after obtaining a commission in the antiaircraft, was hospitalized and then put on limited service. He advanced, I think, in six months from second lieutenant to first lieutenant on a block promotion—no selection, then about six months later he was again advanced to the grade of captain while still on limited service—again no selection.
His brother obtained a second lieutenancy in the Armored Forces. He joins a battalion of medium tanks in Africa and finds the four company commanders are first lieutenants. All have been in action, some a number of times, three have been wounded, one twice, two have received citations, and all had longer service than his brother and all were still first lieutenants. Later the captain of antiaircraft goes to Africa and he finds himself senior to men with whom he is closely associated who have had longer service as well as battle experience.
In Hawaii I have found first lieutenants doing outstanding jobs and still first lieutenants though of longer service than the captain of antiaircraft artillery I have just mentioned. I have noticed this situation pretty much over the world and the information given me here in the War Department does not impress me as an accurate representation of the facts.
Now please go into this for me immediately. It must be straightened out and that rapidly.
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. See Marshall Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, October 1, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-119 [4: 139-40].
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), p. 206.