2-561 Memorandum for the Honorable Robert P. Patterson, Undersecretary of War, September 30, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 30, 1941

Memorandum for the Honorable Robert P. Patterson, Undersecretary of War

September 30, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Morale of the Army.

1. Your memorandum of August 14, together with accompanying papers, relative to the morale of the Army, particularly in National Guard divisions, and suggestions for remedying unsatisfactory conditions, has been noted by me and circulated through the Staff.1

2. The conditions to which you refer have been matters of great concern. As a general comment, I would say that morale is a function of command. Therefore, as far as the efforts of the Army itself are concerned, the initial corrective measure to be undertaken is improvement of officer personnel. We are attempting to accomplish this not only by elimination of the incompetent, but, of greater importance, by gradually sending all of our officers to the service schools. This is a tremendous task, and is taxing our facilities to the utmost. I feel that morale problems will disappear as the professional knowledge of officers is increased. Soldiers will tolerate almost anything in an officer except unfairness or ignorance. They are quick to detect either.

The Regular Army is not bothered by poor morale because its officers have attained professional knowledge either at schools or through practical experience. National Guard officers have not had these opportunities, and the morale of their units reflects the deficiency. Of approximately 25,000 officers of the National Guard or on duty with the National Guard, only 6800 have completed a course of instruction at a service school; many of these were graduated long before the present emergency. We must educate the remaining officers of the National Guard before we can expect a rise in the esprit of their units. We are attempting to do this. At the Infantry school, for example, there are now 2,450 officers undergoing instruction. Of this number, 1400 are National Guard officers and 600 are Reserve officers commissioned from civil life. The school is also training 600 officer candidates, as well as offering specialist courses which train enlisted men as motor mechanics and radio operators. It is contemplated moving the 4th Division from Fort Benning about January 1 in order to permit an expansion of the student capacity of the Infantry school. At that time, it is planned to increase the number of officer candidates in the school to 900 in order to train the Infantry’s share of those to be trained annually.

3. You suggest in your memorandum that the officer candidates be increased to 25,000 per year in order to create more incentive for selectees. We are now training 14,280 officer candidates each year and of these, 60% will be selectees. Adding the number of R.O.T.C. graduates commissioned each year, we are producing 24,000 second lieutenants annually, a figure far in excess of any needs which can be foreseen at this time. Considering the limited training facilities and equipment available, and also a scarcity of qualifying instructors, I do not feel that we can both increase the number of officer candidates and pursue a policy of educating officers now on our rolls. As a measure for increasing efficiency and morale, I consider the latter project to be far the more important.

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. Patterson had written to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson: “I am concerned over the morale of the troops, particularly the troops serving in National Guard Divisions. From sources that are too reliable to be treated lightly, I am informed that large numbers of the men are discontented and dislike the service. They will remain in it after the year is up but without enthusiasm.” He noted four main causes: no sense of urgency; dissatisfaction with officers; lack of work; and lack of initiative. To remedy the situation Patterson suggested that the critical situation regarding national safety be clearly explained; incompetent officers be removed; the training program be stiffened; and the number of men attending Officer Candidate School be increased to 25,000 a year as soon as possible.

At the bottom of the memorandum Stimson had replied: “I approve this. I will talk with you as soon as I return from the West. H.L.S.” (Patterson Memorandum for the Secretary of War, August 14, 1941, LC/R. P. Patterson Papers.)

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. 624-626.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 2-561

Rights: Public Information