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Memorandum for the Secretary of War
May 28, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Promotion of General McNair.
Last summer in order to decentralize the task of the War Department General Staff, and in accordance with mobilization regulations, a nucleus of General Headquarters for the direction of the field forces was created from the faculty of the Army War College. Major General Lesley J. McNair was designated as Chief of Staff and charged initially with the direction and supervision of the vast training program in contemplation.1 He has acted for me in my temporary capacity as Commander of the Field Army. Since last September he has flown some 43,000 miles in the discharge of his duties.
The training program is approaching the peak in the large maneuvers now getting under way. The coordination of these maneuvers and the direction of the inter-army maneuvers is the task of General McNair and his staff. Also he will be intimately involved with the critical and delicate matter of relief or re-classification of high ranking officers, as a result of training inspections and of the coming maneuvers.
General McNair is personally and frequently in contact with five Lieutenant Generals and some thirty-five Major Generals. He has devised and directed the most impressive training program our Army has ever attempted. He must soon undertake the further development of his staff to take over the normal planning and operative duties of a GHQ.
General McNair has one of the best minds in the Army. He is conspicuous for loyalty, modesty and soldierly qualities. He should have greater prestige for his arduous and highly responsible duties of the coming months, especially since I am being held rather closely to Washington. Therefore I urge his immediate advancement to the temporary grade of Lieutenant General.2
No increase of pay or allowances is involved.
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. On McNair and the activation of General Headquarters see Marshall to Van Voorhis, August 22, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-245 [2: 293-94].
2. McNair was promoted to lieutenant general on June 9, 1941.
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), p. 519.