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To Major General Adna R. Chaffee1
March 31, 1941 Washington, D.C.
I sent a radio last night to the effect that the Secretary of War would not be able to make a visit to Knox this week, which probably means that I will not get there either. However, I am going to make the dash the first opportunity that presents itself.
My purpose in writing to you this morning results from a letter I have received that urges me to see some officers placed in the Armored Force who have as a dominant characteristic imagination and an aggressive mentality—if that is a proper characterization. The fear of the writer was that we would have too much of men who have been immersed in the engineering aspects rather than in the tactical possibilities. I have thought several times that there were evidences of over-doses of imagination, —however I pass this suggestion on to you. What I am coming to think is that we must be careful not to bring in men only who have merely struggled with armored vehicles. You not only will be under the necessity of introducing new blood, but I think it is highly desirable that you do this. Undoubtedly such a proposal on your part would meet an immediate resistance in most of your high ranking staff officers,—at least if my experience in the War Department is any criterion in these matters.2
I hope to get out to Knox some time this week, but things are getting pretty thick.
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. Major General Adna R. Chaffee was the commanding general of the Armored Force at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
2. Chaffee agreed with Marshall on the qualities necessary for leadership of the Armored Force: “Ever since the earliest experiences with the old Infantry Tank Board, when it was under General Rockenbach and I used to see them standing around arguing about the size of a bolt hole to the point where they never got any tanks and never thought about tactics, I have dreaded the same thing happening in any force that I had anything to do with; and from the earliest days I have made it a principle to go on to tactical exercises of any kind that were available, no matter what the materiel at hand has been.” Chaffee informed the chief of staff that while the Armored Force had a lot of “new blood” and little experience, his regimental commanders were “all tops in their branches and have had wide experience in both staff and command other than with armored units.” (Chaffee to Marshall, April 4, 1941, 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. 462,