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To Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
January 22, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Senator Lodge:
I have had your letter of December 15th circulated in the Staff before making a reply, and it has only been in the last day or two that I have had an opportunity to read their comments.1
Your observations are most welcome and I am rather agreeably surprised to find how few points there are in which you suggest remedial action.
As to sleeping car accommodations, a decision was made last April that such accommodations would not be provided for troops on maneuvers when the journey involved only one night. At the time this decision was made, money was much more a controlling factor than it is today. Funds saved on transportation could be used beneficially in other phases of the exercises. While this may have caused some discomfort to the troops, I do not feel that it was unjustified. In maneuvers every effort is made to simulate the conditions of war. This should apply to all concentrations of troops, including the initial ones. There is no doubt that in time of peace we could assemble sufficient sleeping car accommodations to take care of the number of troops to be moved to maneuvers. In war, usually such will not be the case. In France and Germany it was often necessary to resort to the use of freight cars, which gave rise to the “40 and 8” branch of the American Legion.2 The use of sleeping cars would also result in a traffic density at the point of concentration which would be considerably in excess of that which would result if chair cars were used because of the greater number of cars required. This would also detract from the desired realism. In our ordinary troop movements, other than maneuvers, whether they be made by individuals or by units, sleeping car accommodations are provided. I agree with you that our soldiers should be provided the same comforts as other federal employees. In this instance, however, I feel that the tactical situation dictates the more uncomfortable mode of travel for the soldier in much the same manner that it requires the soldier to sleep on the ground while the civilian is in a house or hotel.
As to the sleeping bags, the present type are considered too bulky and too costly for general use, although we have issued them for enlisted men in Arctic climates such as Alaska and the North Atlantic Bases. Experimental bags designed for general purpose use to replace the present combat or bivouac equipment have been under test by both the Infantry and the Armored Forces.
It is intended that all soldiers will carry at least one days’ supply of type “C” rations when they are engaged in operations during which it may be impracticable to supply cooked meals from kitchens or when an emergency prevents the arrival of the kitchens.
The uniform question has been a vexing one. In the first place, the rapid expansion of the Army, particularly in its early phases, forced a considerable sacrifice of the ideal of smart, well-fitting uniforms. The Marine uniform has been accepted for a long time as a goal to be worked toward. However, our problem is vastly different from theirs. During the time they have been building up to 50,000 men, we have almost gone to the 2,000,000 mark. I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that where we have an hour to handle an individual, they have a week by comparison. I think our principal failure in this respect lay in not initially providing a tailor shop set-up in reception centers, training centers, and with units. This undoubtedly has been the result of failure on our part to take sufficiently prompt advantage of the increasing liberality of Congress in dealing with the Army. We have been held to such a parsimonious basis in all matters, particularly as pertained to the uniform, over such a long period of time and have been under such constant attack of extravagance in our lay-out proposals, that it has been difficult to bring the planning agencies of the War Department to feel that we can actually secure authority for the provision of such installations.
For example, the original cantonment set-up lacked a number of features which were important to morale. Tent camps did not have day-rooms; they had only tent movie set-ups; they lacked gathering places for officers; there were insufficient accommodations for visitors, etc., etc. Actually the poor staff officer who was working on these things was being attacked on one side for extravagance in his estimates and later cursed for lacking vision in his planning for the Army.
The point you mention in connection with the great advantage of men in the Armored units having available certain rations in case of emergency, was discussed by me as the Red Commander in the critique of the Fourth Army maneuvers in 1937. I stated then that staff technique would have to take into consideration in the handling of the trains, the fact that the troops who moved most freely and comfortably—at that time I was referring to the motorized artillery units—had their kitchens with them, while the hard-pressed foot units, infantry and engineers, were having their kitchens held back by staff direction so as not to accumulate large trains close to the front.
I am looking forward to a talk with you at some convenient time.
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. The Republican senator from Massachusetts since 1936, Lodge was a member of the Appropriations and Military Affairs committees. He had been an active member of the Officers’ Reserve Corps since 1925. The editors have not found Lodge’s December 15 letter.
2. A secret order for white males associated with the American Legion, the Forty and Eight Society was dedicated to good works and to horseplay at national Legion conventions. French military boxcars of World War I carried a label which stated that they could carry forty men or eight horses, hence the organization’s title: La Societe des 40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 78-80.