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To Lieutenant General Hugh A. Drum
April 26, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Drum:
The attached letter from a soldier of the 44th Division, presumably a selectee, was addressed to one of the Assistant Secretaries.1 I turned it over to McNair for his reaction, and was advised by him that possibly, or rather probably this particular man’s nose was a little out of joint because of failure to be promoted, and that from General McNair’s observation and that of his staff officers, there was a good bit of truth to what this man said.
I have found widely contrasting conditions in National Guard divisions, due largely to the character of young officers commissioned during the past six months. In some divisions better than 50% of these men were selected from the product of the ROTC, in others no ROTC graduate had been commissioned. The contrast in efficiency was marked, particularly as evidenced in the instruction of the selectees. The lack of the really fine background of instruction in technique given the ROTC product, was marked in the case of those commissioned directly from the ranks. The latter officers frequently do not know how to use the manuals, and we found many cases where they did not even know of the existence of the manuals. Once the elementary recruit instruction period had been completed there was a serious falling off in the standards of instruction, along with an increase of criticism and irritation on the part of alert, well educated men who had been called on to give up a year of their lives to the service of the Government.
I have used one illustration a great many times, and may have repeated it to you, but it illustrates very clearly I think the difficulties of the present situation. The ROTC graduate has fired a battery sixty times before he obtains a commission. I have gone through a National Guard division and questioned practically every 2d lieutenant in the artillery, and rarely have ever found a man who has fired a gun more than once, and usually more than 50% of them have never fired a battery at all. The same applies pretty generally to the 1st lieutenants and I found captains with much less experience in actual direction of battery firing than the ROTC’s before he obtains a commission.
I think one of our most serious reactions in connection with the Selective Service Act, which may adversely affect its continuance, will be generated by the alert, well ordered minds of many selectees who have been assigned to National Guard divisions. Therefore, we must do everything in our power to remedy this situation.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), 17529-106, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. The editors have not found this letter.
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. 485-486.