1-475 To Lieutenant Colonel Guy W. Chipman, March 16, 1938

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 16, 1938

To Lieutenant Colonel Guy W. Chipman1

March 16, 1938 [Vancouver Barracks, Washington]

My dear Chipman:

I have just returned from Tucson and will make a brief reply to your letter of February 16, because I find I will probably be away again and do not wish to postpone the matter indefinitely.

About the only advice I can give you is to keep very clearly in mind two or three factors, what I would call the dominant factors, in your work with the National Guard.

In the first place, whatever you do should be directed towards training them to do for themselves. For example, the Division staff was always glad to listen to a lecture. In fact, they preferred lectures. But I would very seldom if ever accommodate them because I found very little profit from such talking. I concentrated on training them to work as a team, expeditiously, smoothly and with a generous understanding of the human side of the troop situation. In other words, I found little opportunity to deal with the extension courses, because those were largely individual performances, and usually regarding purely tactical matters or momentary logistical incidents. What I wanted was a team that knew how to operate in the city, in the summer camp, in the field, or in a flood situation; and particularly, knew how to deal with troops without killing delays and unintentional impositions. In teaching the staff how to make inspections we finally developed one of the most efficient inspection routines I have ever seen, the principal point being that everything was done in an hour and 55 minutes, and that it was usefully done.

When it came to the infantry weapons, I found great inefficiency in their use. The larger responsibility for this lay with the War Department—or Benning because the instructions are built for a permanent army with unlimited time available, and are an absurdity for those who only have an hour and a half a week. Our school of small arms reached that point of perfection where I had eliminated all regular instructors—and we started off with 38; and we not only eliminated the regulars from the setup, but at the same time improved the school, and vastly improved on Benning methods so far as expeditious work was concerned.

We developed the CPX procedure in camp far beyond what it had been, and managed it in a short half day instead of smearing it over 2_ days. Our winter CPX, I believe, was superior to anything attempted in the army.

Part of the foregoing discussion brings me to the second important consideration—the human interest factor. Nobody is interested in a mimeograph discussion, and only a military nut would be interested in these interminable complicated and stilted orders that are so common these days. Therefore we made brevity the soul of all our wit, and tried in every way to play up the interest factor. Hence the two-sided CPX with the enemy strength (reserves) unknown. In these matters I found that if I allowed preparations to take their normal course we were buried in papers and bored to death with formalities. Hence every effort was made by me to find simple expeditious ways for doing things.

The third factor concerns the time element and it should dominate everything you do with the National Guard. I had the best collection of regular instructors that I could imagine being gotten together with the National Guard, yet it was necessary for me to exert a constant and increasing pressure on them for doing things more expeditiously. I found that we often accomplished in 30 minutes what they at first thought would take a day, and did it much better. This may seem an exaggeration, but it is a fairly accurate statement, and today I am appalled at the waste of time involved in the training of regular troops. You can not secure more time for training in the armories, therefore it is vital that the training start on the dot and in a military manner throughout an armory, and that every by-product of this effort be realized. The ideal thing would be to have an armory transformed into a miniature West Point from the moment first call blew for drill until an hour and a half later. Now in this matter we were often at fault in imposing so much literature, or of such laborious requirements of the Leavenworth nature, that the troop commanders and staffs were largely concerned with purely administrative and tactical concerns.

I found it better to let the instructors act more as a faculty than officers isolated with the various regiments; and had them work in teams to demonstrate this or that. But avoid like you would the plague ponderous time-consuming didactic demonstrations.

Much of what I say you will find difficult to understand until you go over the past procedure after you reach Chicago. I offer this more or less confidential, and hope it will be of some benefit.

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Chipman (U.S.M.A., 1910), who had served with Marshall at Fort William McKinley in 1916, had received orders to report for duty in Chicago as senior instructor of the Illinois National Guard upon completion of his assignment as student officer, Special Advanced course, at the Naval War College, in mid-May. He had written to Marshall: “Naturally, I am anxious to carry on this new work in the same efficient manner as you did. I would like very much to have suggestions from you about this particular detail, your method of putting the instruction across, the type and method of instruction, and anything else you believe would be of interest to me” (Chimpman to Marshall, February 16, 1938, GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Vancouver Barracks].)

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. 583-585.

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