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Memorandum for the Assistant Chief
of Staff, G-3 [Twaddle]
May 14, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Defense Against Armored Forces.
In considering the attached G-3 paper pertaining to the defense against armored forces, I am certain that one of our urgent needs is for development, organization and immediate action on the subject of defense against armored forces, to include an offensive weapon and organization to combat these forces. While antitank defense normally should be a responsibility of each arm, defense against armored forces is a problem possibly beyond the capabilities of any one arm and probably requiring the organization and use of a special force of combined arms, capable of rapid movement, interception and active rather than passive defense tactics. The organization, tactical doctrine, and development of such a force seems beyond the scope of any Chief of Arm and needs thorough coordination as well as strong direction.1
At the risk of placing G-3 in the operating field, I believe that for the solution of this problem you should take energetic and positive steps to push this matter as fast as humanly possible. The subject should be attacked with imagination and with untiring effort. I believe that it is a function of the General Staff and should be initiated and carried through in your office. I do not want the question of another branch or arm brought up at this time.
There seems to be an element missing in the War Department General Staff, namely a group whose sole responsibility is thinking and planning on improved methods of warfare. Our organization and methods should not lag behind developments abroad. You should organize in your division a small planning and exploring branch, composed of visionary officers, with nothing else to do but think out improvements in methods of warfare, study developments abroad and tackle such unsolved problems as measures against armored force action, night bombardment, march protection and the like. Such a group should be divorced of all current matters and should work closely with the National Defense Research Committee, Inventors’ Council, G-2 and the development people in G-4.2
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. Considerable controversy attended the formulation of antitank doctrine after the fall of France. One theory held that armored forces should directly counter the advance of hostile tanks. Proponents of the opposing position, including Major General Lesley J. McNair, argued that specialized antitank units provided the most effective defense. On April 14, 1941, Marshall asked the G-3 division to study the creation of mobile antitank and antiaircraft units organized at the corps and army echelons. On April 29, he requested its opinion on their assumption of responsibility for the development, organization, and tactical doctrine of these units, which he hoped to activate for the autumn 1941 maneuvers. Marshall also proposed that G-3 coordinate all War Department studies on antitank and antiaircraft doctrine in the future. (Orlando Ward Memorandums for the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, April 14 and 29, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 21103-6]; Kent R. Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer, and Bell I. Wiley, The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1947], pp. 73-78.)
2. On May 15, 1941, a planning branch was established in the G-3 division to study foreign military developments and problems in modern warfare. This branch utilized information and facilities provided by the Military Intelligence and Supply divisions of the General Staff, the National Defense Research Committee, and the National Inventors’ Council, as well as the chiefs of the arms and services within the War Department (William E. Chambers Memorandum, May 15, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 21103-6].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 500-501.