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To Brigadier General Asa L. Singleton
March 23, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just received your detailed reply to my note of February 28th, regarding the requisition for engineer equipment. I appreciate the careful check you made on this because, as I inferred in my letter, while the matter involved is very small, it does represent the trial of a system.1
I have been following up a number of similar matters to see what the prospect was of our being able to activate a number of units and really equip them within a reasonable time. At the present moment I have come to this conclusion,—that the present system, in general, is all right, but that we must effect a decided change in the state of mind of all staff officers, particularly in the War Department and at Corps Area Headquarters, to the end that anything that concerns troops in the field will be considered as of more importance than any other matter to be handled at the moment. Also, that the officer first concerned will feel a definite responsibility to speed the matter on its way in the most effective fashion.
In the incident of getting blankets for the First Division, I found delays all along the line, but most of all here in the War Department, with the final touch, after weeks of delay, when the officers concerned at Benning were informed in a routine manner to submit a requisition, notwithstanding the facts that weeks had elapsed, that the troops were in the field, and that the coldest winter of many years was creating a critical situation.
I am going into this detail so that you will not feel that I was being critical in any way of your administration, but rather that I was in the general business of stirring up all officers involved in supply to a feeling that any delays in supplying troops rebounds directly in the lap of the Chief of Staff. I do not know any other way to bring about a change.
Thank you for your letter, and incidentally, I knew the cut of 50% was made at Atlanta.
I hope to get down to see you again because I have not forgotten the loss of that turkey.
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. For Marshall’s letter to Singleton, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-137 [2: 174-5].
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), p. 178.