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Memorandum for the Inspector General [Peterson]
March 31, 1942 Washington, D.C.
I have been disturbed by the “slack” appearance of soldiers in the District and at Myer as to uniform and bearing. But I have been even more disturbed by the casual attitude with relation to guard duty and in the bearing of noncommissioned officers in charge of detachments. For example, when horseback riding I have seen sentinels changed at Myer by merely stopping the truck and permitting the new man to jump out while the man on post jumped in. The transaction was more like the movement of a picnic party than the formal establishment of a man on a post of duty. I have seen sentinels on post, guarding the Radio Station at Myer, for example, gossiping together leaning up against the cemetery wall. I have seen noncommissioned officers in charge of a section or platoon at setting-up exercises alongside the Memorial Highway just south of the Bridge, giving a most unfortunate impression of inefficient leadership due to the casual manner of the management of the men.
If this is the situation in the District, particularly in a garrison under command of regular officers, I am greatly disturbed as to what may be the situation at other places. Please put an inspector on the job of checking on this for quite a period in this vicinity, to see if it is necessary to take special action.1
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), 333, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. The inspector general confirmed Marshall’s criticisms of soldiers in the District but reminded the chief of staff that regulations allowed an informal changing of the guard. Inspectors attributed the slackness to a “very real lack of command and control exercised by the Commanding General of the District of Washington,” Brigadier General Albert L. Cox. The inspector general recommended that Cox be replaced, that the garrison be concentrated and Reserves added, and that a unified command of all armed services in the District be established. (McCarthy Brief of Inspector General’s Report on Troops in Washington, April 11, 1942, NA/ RG 165 [OCS, 333].)
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 154.