1-525 To Colonel Roy A. Hill, November 10, 1938

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 10, 1938

To Colonel Roy A. Hill

November 10, 1938 Washington, D.C.


Dear Hill:

I have just read your letter of November eighth and I am still in some doubt as to your reactions. As you filled the job in G-3 of looking after ROTC affairs, and you now are on such duty—and in a most important post—I am particularly interested in just what you think of the idea I suggested.

I am aware of the objections you mentioned, and very much aware of the latent power of the combined Reserve Corps, ROTC and CMTC.1 What I want to know is your precise view as to how best to handle the matter. Do you think it could best be done as it was done for the ROTC through you in a subordinate position, in the G-3 Section; and, by the same token, do you think the Reserve affairs should be handled in that fashion, rather than having the prestige of a General with the ear of the Chief at his disposal? If you do think these matters should be handled after that fashion, have you any fear that sooner or later in their urgings for consideration, these various groups, through Congress, might obtain a powerful office in the War Department, of the type of the present National Guard Bureau, which would be a powerful agency for interference with the ordinary routine of the General Staff?

I was impressed during your tenure of office and my connection with the Mershon Committee, that your voice and influence in ROTC matters was very weak because of the fact that you were submerged in a large section with its multiplicity of interests. When a college president came to town, he could not find the Chief of Staff intimately familiar with the ROTC problems, and his problem in particular, and he would find almost the same situation with the General officer at the head of G-3. Unless he burrowed down to a comparatively low ranking subordinate at a desk well in the background, he never could have the feeling of having reached headquarters regarding the solution of his difficulties. Apparently, you and such important men found little difficulty in reaching an amicable solution or agreement, but you yourself had difficulties in making the problem understood by your immediate chief, by the Executive of the Section, and finally the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3. Is this correct, or have I been laboring under a misapprehension?

I was much impressed in my few months’ work in the General Staff to find, comparatively speaking (and this is most confidential), the small importance, or rather the little thought given to such tremendous agencies as the National Guard of two hundred thousand men, the ROTC of one hundred sixty-five thousand men, and the Reserve of one hundred thousand men. The larger interests seemed to be centered in construction problems, installations of foreign garrisons, promotion questions, decentralized training problems—mostly of Regular Army concern—and routine business of the day, while the affairs of what concerned 80% of the first war army appeared to be secondary thoughts, though every one, theoretically at least, would immediately admit the importance of the activity.

Now I am writing most confidentially, for your eye alone. But because of your particular experience here, and where you are, I want your frankest reaction. You are a most important witness by reason of your particular experience.

Let me hear from you further.

Faithfully yours,

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. Regarding the proposal to place R.O.T.C. and C.M.T.C. affairs under the war Department’s executive for Reserve Affairs, see Marshall to Hill, October 28, 1938, (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-521 [1: 641]). Hill commented: “It is not necessary for me to tell you that such an organization violates the principles of General Staff organization. This in itself is not an objection which should prevent establishing such an organization if the ends to be accomplished justify it. However, the objection which does occur to me and which you have undoubtedly considered is the question as to where such an organization may lead. It is possible in time the tail may wag the dog. You will recall the difficulties encountered by former Chiefs of Staff in attempting to set up an organization which would run the Army for the best interests of the National Defense rather than for those of a particular branch or bureau of the Army. You are more familiar than I am with the functioning of the present National Guard Bureau and with the methods employed by it in securing special consideration at the expense of the National Defense as a whole." (Hill to Marshall, November 8,1938, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

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. 648-649.

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