2-120 To Lieutenant General John L. De Witt, February 3, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 3, 1940

To Lieutenant General John L. De Witt1

February 3, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear De Witt:

I have been intending to write to you ever since my return from the West Coast to give you my reactions on the Maneuvers. However, the tremendous pressure of business, along with time-consuming hearings, have delayed me. Now this morning I have your letter of January 31st, which I have only been able to scan, as I am leaving almost immediately by a B-17 plane for Panama.

I am delighted with your report of the conference. I think the Maneuver was a grand performance and the most practical I have seen in the peacetime training of the Army. Most of all I was impressed with your leadership in making it one of complete cooperation with the Navy and the most practical, realistic training exercise we have yet had. I feel that you have justified in your first two months the policy of having Lieutenant Generals, and I want you to know that I deeply appreciate the fine job you have done.2

Your letter is very informative, and I will see that it is passed around in the Staff and that Admiral Stark sees it.

Hastily yours,

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. De Witt had been given command of the Fourth Army and the Ninth Corps Area—with headquarters in San Francisco—and promoted to lieutenant general in December 1939.

2. Despite communications problems during the maneuvers, De Witt reported, both the army and navy cooperated fully in the operations. He had made certain that his general officers met and knew the senior naval officers prior to the maneuvers. “There was not a single case of friction . . . [and] the basis for it all, of course, exists in the relationship between yourself and Admiral Stark and it has permeated down through all echelons in both services.”

Briefing the chief of staff on his critique, De Witt wrote: “the Army has much to learn and can only overcome the defects existing in its organization and its training by service in the field, and it can only be made ready to accomplish this mission both in peace and war by extended training in the field; to live and work under field conditions, for only by such means can those defects found to exist be corrected. I think one of the finest things that has ever happened to the Army was your action in getting these troops into the field and divisional training started. It is going to pay tremendous dividends in the end.” (De Witt to Marshall, January 31, 1940, GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

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), p. 155.

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