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To General Asa L. Singleton
February 28, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
In my various trips I have been following up delays that have resulted in the War Department towards the supplying of troops in the field. There have been many that came about through the functioning of depots, and we are obtaining valuable information about the inevitable delays that would result in the event of mobilization, particularly as to supplying of the various items of a single equipment where they are not stored in the same place.
However, there are other delays that have been checked up as a result of my various trips, and one of them occurs at Benning. I do not want to move into official channels for this, but I do want to follow every one to its source. The question of this particular delay resulted from my pressure as to the supplying of equipment to newly organized units, and it pertains to engineer equipment for field artillery of the First Division. One delay was of eighteen days at Fort Benning, according to dates on requisition of November 10, 1939 from the Field Artillery Section, First Division. Whether this delay occurred in the Division or in the office of the post engineer officer at Fort Benning, or between the two of them, the records do not show, but there was an eighteen-day delay in clearing a paper which had for its purpose the prompt supplying of materiel to troops in the field.1
Incidentally, I find that Corps Area Headquarters, or the young Engineer officer, imposed apparently an arbitrary cut of 50%. Altogether you can see that this is not a very helpful procedure.2
I do not want to stir up any official investigation over this, but I wish you and Short3 would talk to each other and your respective people and see just who caused this eighteen-day delay at Benning; because if this is multiplied out in general effect, it would result in an appalling delay in mobilization, and I am endeavoring to find the necessary permanent corrective measures against such procedure.
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. Singleton, commandant of the Infantry School, replied in detail to Marshall’s inquiry. He submitted data to justify the eighteen-day delay necessary to process the requisitions for the First Division. Given the shortage of personnel and the increased workload, Singleton believed that the period was not excessive. (Singleton to Marshall, March 20,1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. Singleton’s staff noted that this requisition cut was not made at Fort Benning. (Ibid.)
3. On March 1, Major General Walter C. Short would assume command of the Fourth Army Corps.
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. 174-175.