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To Brigadier General John P. Smith1
March 27, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
On my recent trip I gathered data on the length of time it took to get decisions or authority for this or that, as related to camp headquarters, corps area headquarters, and the War Department, and also regarding the degree of activity displayed in putting across the business of the day.
During the past three or four months I have, of course, formed tentative conclusions in the matter, but now I am rather fixed in the belief that some of the headquarters are not functioning at the speed demanded by the emergency. There is too much of the time-clock procedure. I am writing you most informally because I am going to be very frank. The last has been a frequent criticism of your headquarters from any number of directions. I am inclined to think that several of your staff are not sufficiently aggressive, energetic and far-seeing. You have a tremendous problem and I know you personally are working at it very, very hard.
Please quietly survey conditions and see if some corrective is not required. I would prefer that this letter remain confidential between the two of us, and that it does not go into the record. In other words, treat it as a personal conversation, and in any reply you may care to make, address it to me, personal and confidential. I want to avoid at all costs harassing you or upsetting you, but on the other hand, I must be certain that this emergency is being met with the energy and whole-souled cooperation that is so necessary.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Smith, who was to be promoted to major general on April 4, had taken command of the Fourth Corps Area in October 1940.
2. Replying on April 1, Smith expressed surprise at hearing that there had been “wide spread criticism of our operating efficiency,” and he promised to take “prompt corrective measures.” (Smith to Marshall, April 1, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
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. 456-457,