1-408 Report to the Commanding General, Sixth Corps Area, July 27, 1936

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 27, 1936

Report to the Commanding General,

Sixth Corps Area

July 27, 1936 Chicago, Illinois

Report on the Illinois National Guard for

the fiscal year ending June 30, 1936.

1. In compliance with letter on above subject, from the Commanding General, Sixth Corps Area, dated July 18, 1936 (319.1-2 Gen 80 (20)), the following report is submitted:

a. General condition, particularly with respect to:

(1) Organization and administration.

(a) The partial organization of the Quartermaster Regiment, which closely followed the recent issue of new motor vehicles, will materially increase the efficiency with which this new method of transport is handled.

(b) New units of the 123d Field Artillery have been organized, partially equipped, and will go to camp for the first time in August.

(c) The quality of newly commissioned officers has steadily improved, due to more rigid requirements for appointment, prompted by the realization of higher commanders that commissions must be given only to those men whose mental growth would continue rather than end with the receipt of a lieutenant’s commission.

(d) Administration throughout the State is generally excellent and was the subject of especially favorable comment in reports on the last annual armory inspection.

(e) Particularly gratifying is the fact that officers generally are more careful in reading and more punctilious in complying with instructions from higher authority. This is a distinct and important advance.

(2) Command and Training.

During the past year there has been a marked increase in general efficiency, particularly in the following respects:

(a) Special stress has been placed on cooperation between the various arms and services, and this has resulted in a growing realization of the necessity for team-work and much progress in actually accomplishing it. Staffs have become more thoroughly acquainted with the needs and problems of subordinate units and therefore more thoroughly alive to their own responsibilities in connection with the supervision of the administration, supply and training of these units.

(b) Planned group instruction has replaced the old, careless method of trying to follow a unit schedule without regard to the training progress made by the individuals of the unit. The use of this method develops the latent qualities of leadership in junior officers and NCOs and has done more than anything else toward developing sound, well trained company units.

(c) National Guard officers, exclusively, were used as instructors at the three-day School of Small Arms held in June and the results attained were exceptionally fine. Aside from developing these officers as instructors, this policy, which will be continued, has greatly bolstered the morale of all other National Guard officers. Incidentally, it is at the root of every method for increasing the efficiency of the National Guard.

(3) Equipment.

(a) Most of the overcoats, raincoats and shelter halves, although whole, are in unserviceable condition, due to age.

(b) The new .22 calibre machine gun will greatly facilitate the training of machine gun units.

(4) Housing and Care of Property.

In several rented armories the arrangements are inadequate, but one new armory is in process of construction, and plans are under way for the construction of enough new armories to replace all of these now considered unsatisfactory.

b. Efficiency as compared to the preceding year:

Much improved, with a sound basis established for even greater improvement. This improvement is believed to be basic and lasting, as it concerns the development of able instructors—commissioned and non-commissioned, and the development of efficient staffs—heretofore a great source of weakness.

c. (1) Outstanding Strong Points:

Excellent morale.

Planned Group training.

Staff team-work.

Care of property.

Unit administration.

(2) Outstanding Weak Points:

Lack of effective personal supervision of training by regimental and higher commanders.

Knowledge and application of instructional methods.

Large turnover in enlisted personnel. This is due this year to sudden increase of employment (coupled with fear of men of asking any favors), and poor instruction by company officers and non-commissioned officers failing to hold interest—this weakness is rapidly being corrected.

d. Suggestions for Improvement.

(1) Instructors.

(a) Employment: We have found that wherever instructors work as a group, far better results are obtained than from the continued efforts of a single instructor, week in and week out, with the same organization. Where it has been convenient to assemble instructors, as in Cook County (Chicago), important developments in methods of instruction have been obtained. As a result of this experience, it is planned to utilize this system on a more extended scale during the next training year, treating the instructors more as a faculty to introduce the instructional methods of the special service schools as adapted to National Guard conditions. The instructor’s routine work with his regiment will be an additional duty, rather than his principal duty. The main effort will be concentrated on preparing National Guard officers and selected non-commissioned officers to instruct in the manner taught at the special service schools.

(b) Attitude: Officers on duty with the National Guard often feel isolated; feel that their efforts are not appreciated; and that they are completely out of touch with their corps in the regular army. Whether there is justification for their state of mind or not, I cannot say; but it merits some consideration. A truly efficient instructor with the National Guard does a great deal of good, both for the Guard and for the regular army. He also becomes something of a specialist in the problem of handling the citizen-soldiers in war time. The mediocre instructor lowers the prestige of the regular army and accomplishes little. The poor or lazy instructor does incalculable harm. The time has come, I believe, to require a very high rating of efficiency for senior details with the National Guard, and, so far as possible, for the details in the lower grades. Incidentally, the average of efficiency of the instructors on duty in Illinois is unusually high; and for that very reason the contrast with the mediocre officer is the more glaring and unfortunate.

(c) Property Inspections: The employment of instructors in counting and inspecting property seriously interfered with instructional work, and it is not believed that much of importance was accomplished by these inspections. The state officials conduct a very thorough and satisfactory inspection in Illinois.

(d) Mileage for Instructors: The increased allotment of funds for travel by instructors during the past year made it possible to greatly increase the value of the instructor to the state. Even so, officers operated at times at their own personal expense. Lack of funds in previous years limited to a serious degree the effectiveness of the instructors. If it can possibly be avoided there should be no cut in mileage allotments; about a twenty percent increase would be desirable.

(2) Sergeant-Instructors.

The present situation as to sergeant-instructors is unsatisfactory. In the first place, there are too many outstanding non-commissioned officers of long service and holding difficult positions, for whom promotion prospects seem well nigh hopeless. It does not seem right that men of special and proven talent, holding very responsible positions, should be held down year after year, while other men, lacking the same ability, are promoted solely because of length of service. I, therefore, recommend that sergeant-instructors be removed from the present promotion list, which includes other men on DEML [Detached Enlisted Men’s List], and placed on a separate promotion list, as was formerly the case in this Corps.

The other difficulty refers to training. Sergeant-Instructors who remain for more than four years with the National Guard not only get out of touch with training and administrative developments in the regular army, but what is much more serious, they lose the disciplinary attitude of a soldier of the regular army. Refresher courses are good things, but I would personally prefer to see sergeant-instructors returned—in grade—for at least a year of troop duty with the regular army after four years with the Guard. Whether they would be redetailed as sergeant-instructors could be determined later, but they should not be returned to the same state.

(3) Infantry Communication Units.

Due to the difficulty of maintaining such small units as infantry battalion headquarters companies and the fact that communications training requires exceptional uniformity, thus making it necessary for the battalion and regimental groups to constantly work together, it is believed that morale and efficiency would be greatly increased if all of the communications personnel of an infantry regiment should be included in one company unit, i.e., the regimental headquarters company.

The increasing importance of communications and the high degree of technical and executive proficiency required of communications officers emphasizes the need for giving those officers rank commensurate with their duties. The regimental communications officer should have the rank of captain and battalion officers the rank of first lieutenant.

Increase in grade or higher specialists ratings should be given to the enlisted communications technicians, particularly radio operators.

(4) Howitzer Companies (Infantry).

Several adverse factors, stated below, combine to make the maintenance and training of these units very difficult. Improvement will occur as soon as these handicaps are removed.

(a) The howitzer company is allowed three less sergeants than other line units of the same strength. The bad effect of this condition is particularly noticeable where this company is housed with other units.

(b) The allowance of .45 calibre pistol ammunition is wholly inadequate.

(c) No .22 calibre pistols are provided for indoor pistol practice.

(d) No satisfactory sub-calibre device for indoor firing of the howitzer weapons is provided.

(e) The gunners test is too long drawn out, laborious and complicated, with the result that few men of the unit ever become eligible to actually fire the weapons, even when suitable ranges are provided, which is seldom the case. It may be satisfactory for regular army units, but it is very unsatisfactory for the National Guard.

(5) Training Supervision.

Regimental and higher commanders should exercise closer personal supervision of training, and they should show more vigor and initiative in correcting deficiencies. Too much of the burden of recruiting and training is placed on the company commander and too much of the business of fault-finding is left to the instructor.

(6) Qualification Courses.

(a) A more satisfactory machine gun qualification course should be devised. The present course, using the .22 calibre machine gun, is too easy and it is not a real test of ability to use the weapon.

(b) More insistence should be placed upon exact compliance with regulations governing record practice. There is a wide variance between States with regard to the degree of adherence to these regulations. Under existing conditions a unit firing a record course in exact compliance with regulations is made to appear inferior by comparison with other units which have been more lax in their observance of the rules, when, as a matter of fact, the very reverse may be true. The truth of this statement has been conclusively demonstrated in this State and I am sure that it can be equally well demonstrated elsewhere. Laxity in this respect does much to lower the integrity of the officer corps with resultant loss of potential combat efficiency. The condition is largely due, in my opinion, to the insistent pressure from higher headquarters for high percentages of qualifications. Until this condition is corrected, I am inclined to oppose further listing of units in order of supposed excellence in target practice.

(7) Instructional Methods.

The three-day School of Small Arms conducted in Illinois in 1935 and again in 1936 has tremendously improved the general standard of instruction in infantry weapons. Future schools will stress tactics and other phases of training. However, the field is so large and the need so great that I think that the service schools should be requested to prepare some extension courses particularly adapted to the needs of the National Guard. These courses should cover, at least, all of the basic training subjects and the tactics of small units, and should be especially complete with regard to explanation of instructional methods. In preparing them due consideration should be given to the short time available to the National Guard for preparation and presentation. Also, I think it very important that the officers preparing the courses should have had actual experience on duty with the National Guard.

G. C. Marshall

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the United States Army Continental Commands 1920-1942 (RG 394), Records of Sixth Corps Area, Illinois National Guard File, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed report signed.

Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 494-499.

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