1-568 To Brigadier General Lesley J. McNair, March 28, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 28, 1939

To Brigadier General Lesley J. McNair

March 28, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear McNair:

I have already thanked you for your nice note regarding the air reconnaissance. Personally, I was gratified to learn from you that the affair worked out so well. I think that very important results, for the general good of the Army, will flow from that beginning. At the moment I am concerned over the preliminary estimates being made for maneuvers and demonstrations to be financed out of fiscal year 1941 funds, and I thought it might be just as well to discuss one of the phases with you direct, at this particular time.

Each year, faculty and students at Leavenworth are taken up to Fort Riley for a demonstration of artillery fire and air bombing. The proposals for 1941 have expanded the affair to six days, at a cost of about $57,000.

The same paper discussed the movement of the mechanized force to Fort Riley for a demonstration before the Cavalry School. The cost of this would be about $168,000. G-3 decided that it would be better to move the faculty and students to Fort Knox and hold the demonstration there, as this would cost only, all told, $15,000.

I find in the estimates such pathetically small amounts as $4,000 for the maneuvers in the First Corps Area and a similar amount for maneuvers in the Third Corps Area, and only $16,000 for the Corps Area concentration at Benning, which is a very large affair; etc., etc. Considering that the ultimate training of the Army is supposed to be taken care of in the maneuvers, these minute appropriations indicate a rather futile basis for the development of genuine field efficiency and leadership.

Now the thought occurred to me—and this is the reason for my letter to you—that to spend $57,000 for a demonstration to the students at Leavenworth dignifies that affair out of all proportion to its importance, when we consider the matter of field training and leadership, as indicated by the small appropriations I have just referred to. And then there is another consideration—the fact that most of the officers at Leavenworth have witnessed similar demonstrations, certainly at Benning, and, I imagine, also at Sill and possibly at Riley.

We discussed with G-3 the advisability of sending the Leavenworth crew complete to the demonstration at Fort Knox, previously referred to as being set up for the Cavalry School people. Firing conditions, on account of trees, are not so satisfactory at Knox, but in view of the fact that most of these people have already seen such firing, it would appear that great economy could be effected, and at the same time very satisfactory results obtained. I believe movement from Leavenworth to Knox and return could be managed for a comparatively small sum of money, which would release important amounts to give the Corps Areas reasonable allocations of funds to carry out their most important work.

I am not asking you for a reply to this letter, and I should prefer that you do not discuss with others the views I am expressing, that is, as my conclusions or those of the War Department, but I want you to have this in mind when you go to Leavenworth so that I may obtain your opinion later as to what you think about things.

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.

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. 710-711.

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