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To Brigadier General Lesley J. McNair
February 23, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
You have probably already learned that the Chief of Staff has decided to detail you as Commandant of the Command and General Staff School, to succeed Bundel, who goes on leave March 23d.1
I am now telling you, and most confidentially, that considerable feeling has developed regarding the courses at Leavenworth and that the Secretary of War is determined that something should be done immediately to modernize the school methods of instruction. He has heard a great many comparisons unfavorable to Leavenworth with regard to the Air Corps Tactical School especially and to Fort Benning and other Special Service Schools. The Chief of Staff feels that Leavenworth is frozen, as it were, in its routine procedure, and he has noticed that most officers selected for detail as instructors there are opposed to such service; and that this reaction is not true of the other Army schools.
As I said above, it is desired that you treat this as confidential, for your sole information, as General Craig is very desirous that no gossip or publicity be stirred up regarding rumored drastic changes, etc. The Secretary of War wished to have a board appointed to go over the whole situation but we have successfully resisted this idea in order to avoid the disadvantages of the discussion which will be bound to follow.
General Craig has therefore directed me to send you herewith some comments regarding the school which General Embick collected so that you may read these over immediately. If you are agreeable to flying, he would like to send his plane down to fly you to Barksdale Field, Langley Field and Maxwell Field, en route to Washington, where you could have all or a portion of the day at each place to familiarize yourself somewhat with present air developments, particularly at the GHQ Air Force at Langley Field, as to the principles and theories being taught at the Air Corps Tactical School. After some conferences here in the War Department with the Chief of Staff, General Beck and myself, and with the Secretary of War, you could fly on out to Leavenworth for a brief preliminary survey and then proceed to San Antonio preparatory to final departure for Leavenworth.
The Chief of Staff wishes me to tell you that he desires that your arrival at Leavenworth be several days in advance of General Bundel’s departure. It may be, after a preliminary stop there, if you make the flight I am suggesting, that this early arrival will be unnecessary. You could report for duty there on General Bundel’s departure.
Please do not hesitate to send me any inquiries that suggest themselves to you and I will answer by Air Mail. Also, please let me know as early as possible, whether you wish to undertake the plane trip.
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. At this time, McNair was commanding the Second Field Artillery Brigade at Port Sam Houston, Texas. Brigadier General Charles M. Bundel (U.S.M.A., 1899) was preparing to go on leave prior to his retirement at the end of June. Bundel had been commandant at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff School since June, 1936.
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. 702-703.