3-320 To Major General Harold R. Bull, September 8, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 8, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Major General Harold R. Bull1

September 8, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Bull:

I would like you to write to me direct and give me your very frank views on three subjects.

First, the present course at Leavenworth and the qualifications of the Commandant and the Assistant Commandant. Is the course realistically practical? Are the right people being selected to go to Leavenworth (in the past I have found they were avoiding housecleaning in divisions by palming off weak officers on Leavenworth).2

Second, do the Officer Candidate Schools of the various services compare favorably with each other, in other words, are they pretty much on the same basis as to efficiency of methods, sternness of purpose, etc. I have rather gotten the opinion from talking to various successful candidates that there are wide differences among these schools.3

Third, do Benning, Sill, Riley and Monroe stand on about the same basis as to modern and expeditious methods of instruction, etc., etc.4

Be sure to come in to see me the next time you are in Washington because I would like very much to talk things over with you.

Faithfully 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. Formerly assistant chief of staff, G-3, Bull had been promoted on May 21, 1942, to major general and given command of the Replacement and School Command, Army Ground Forces, in Birmingham, Alabama.

2. Bull’s initial response concerning the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth—which was not part of his command—was that indeed some commanders probably had been “palming off” mediocre officers there. But after visiting the facility late in the month he reported that the practice was rapidly disappearing. The chief problem, he noted, was getting qualified instructors, especially from the air components, as such men were in high demand; there was a similar problem regarding the quality of Air Forces students. To remedy this he suggested more direct and vigorous supervision by G-3. He praised the school’s commandant, Major General Karl Truesdell, and assistant commandant, Colonel Martin C. Shallenberger. (Bull to Marshall, September 14 and October 1, 1942, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 352].)

3. Reporting on an inspection trip he had made in late September to various Officer Candidate Schools, Bull said: “Recognizing the variations in tactics and technique of the combat arms, I was gratified to find in each school a great similarity to Benning in spirit, methods, instructional technique, and forceful, enthusiastic presentation of the course of instruction. . . Training is severe and strenuous and students are dead earnest in their serious attempt to absorb every bit of value in the three months course. They really are magnificent. I am sure they join their units with great confidence and zeal and a high sense of duty and responsibility.” At the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, he noted, “this old desk soldier found himself inspecting in the dark in order to catch the first morning training period. There was much dash and enthusiasm and alertness on the part of all.” (Bull to Marshall, October 1, 1942, ibid.)

4. The best school was still the Infantry School at Fort Benning, in Bull’s opinion; it “continues to amaze me with its ability to maintain its high standards in spite of its rapid and continuous expansion and truly mass production methods. It keeps abreast of the times, is intensive and strenuous, and is turning out fine junior leaders.” The Field Artillery School at Fort Sill was “a close second”; he was impressed with “the constant efforts there to simplify methods in keeping with modern combat demands.” Fort Riley’s Cavalry School “is gradually coming out of the depression caused by the long uncertainty of the past and lack of support of their efforts. Removal of the last Chief of Cavalry’s suppression of modern thought, in my opinion, is their greatest help. . . I am not satisfied with it now, but am sure that action has been and is being taken along the right lines.” There were special problems at the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, and while it was “doing good work,” it still retained “too much of an academic peacetime atmosphere.” (Bull to Marshall, September 14, 1942, ibid.)

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. 349-350.

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