2-231 To Brigadier General Adna R. Chaffee, July 24, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 24, 1940

To Brigadier General Adna R. Chaffee1

July 24, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Chaffee:

I recall that I mentioned to you the other day the desirability, in my opinion, of your picking up some educational institutions in the Middle West where a special course could readily be instituted for training men from the armored units. I had in mind engines and radio in particular.

Last week I received a number of letters from heads of universities and colleges pleading with me to give them something to do. They were being solicited by the NYA and other similar activities, but were hearing nothing from the War Department. Gignilliat, of Culver, gave me the best analysis of the situation, and he commented on the fact that the entire technical plants of most of these big establishments were lying idle this summer and yet everybody was talking about the need for such training.2

The situation came to a focus in my mind when I learned of your small disaster by fire out at Knox. I wish you would have someone immediately look over a number of these university plants to see if you cannot set up technical training arrangements for the armored corps on the basis of enlisted men taking the courses, with probably one officer and an assistant at the institution to help out in coordinating matters and to see to the financial arrangements for bed and board. I am convinced that the university people would be enthusiastic over such an opportunity, particularly in the role rather as sponsors of the armored corps. I am assuming that you would start rather in a small way and that you cannot visualize all of requirements or complications; but you can make a beginning and let it be an evolution to avoid building up complete establishments within the army, where existing facilities in civil life may be utilized for the same purpose.3

I am sending you a letter from Bruce Palmer, on which I would like your comments.4

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Chaffee was the commanding general of the Seventh Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized) at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

2. Brigadier General Leigh R. Gignilliat, superintendent of Culver Military Academy, had visited Marshall on June 24; Marshall asked him for suggestions for using some colleges for summer army specialized training programs. Gignilliat replied with a lengthy letter. (Gignilliat to Marshall, July 3, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) An analysis by the G-3 staff stated that colleges and universities were ill suited for the type of specialized training the War Department contemplated and for the caliber of men the army was likely to send. “But these difficulties could have been overcome if there had been any necessity for using the institutions. No such necessity has been discovered or brought to the attention of this Division. The Trade and Vocational Schools are generally much more suited to our use than are the colleges.” (Brigadier General Frank M. Andrews Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, July 20, 1940, ibid.)

3. Chaffee replied to Marshall on July 27. “Considerable spade work in preparation for full utilization of training facilities in civilian institutions for my enlisted specialists has already been completed. . . . I am in complete accord with the view that civilian institutions should be utilized to provide basic training for such army specialists as motor mechanics, radio operators and repair personnel, electricians, welders and like occupational specialists.” (Chaffee to Marshall, July 27, 1940, ibid.)

4. Marshall’s friend Colonel Bruce Palmer was serving with the Sixty-second Cavalry Division of the Organized Reserves. He wrote to Marshall to complain that he was “being completely ignored by the Army” and that “the Army is in essential need of my services at this time.” He believed that the direction of development and organization of the army’s mechanized and armored forces had taken a wrong turn after he had left the Seventh Cavalry Brigade. “The organization of your new armored division, because of the inflexibility of its fighting part and the over-size of its non-fighting part, does not adapt itself to an employment similar to that of the Germans’ in Belgium and France.” (Palmer to Marshall, July 20, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) Chaffee rejected Palmer’s assertions. (Chaffee to Marshall, July 26, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Marshall replied to Palmer that “the organization is purely on an experimental basis until we are quite clear as to the actual experience of similar units in Europe.” (Marshall to Palmer, July 31, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) For additional comments on the Armored Force, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-410 [2: 462].

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. 276-277.

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