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To Morse A. Cartwright1
October 18, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mr. Cartwright:
I had your letter of September 27, together with the previous data on the general subject of Army Educational programs carefully studied by the concerned section of the General Staff. Also I gave some additional thought to it myself.2
In the first place, I do appreciate the fact that you refrained from pressing me in this matter, and if you had any idea of the terrific pressures that I labor under you could better understand my appreciation of your restraint.
As to the educational program itself, I am sorry to tell you that I do not think we can go into it at this time. The fact of the matter is, we have only twelve months in which to produce a seasoned trained soldier instead of the eighteen months we asked for. The majority of the men, selective trainees and prior volunteers, must be trained in the ranks of the National Guard. This organization has a tremendous task on its hands; that is, 30% strength of partially trained men must themselves give complete training to the remaining 70% now entering the ranks. All this must be accomplished in a twelve-month period, and practically all of it will require a tremendous output of physical energy and long hours. It is not believed under the circumstances we can manage another training set-up along the lines you and I discussed and you are now proposing.
We have received some very interesting data with relation to the training and fighting of the French and German Armies. General [E. J.] Requin, of the Fourth French Army,—a very distinguished officer—stated that he was required to spend 95% of his time on morale and educational programs, and had only 5% of the time for real training; the results were all but disastrous. Our observers reported to us that the French Army carried out an extensive program of educational and recreational activities for the soldiers stationed on the Maginot line to such an extent that military training was neglected. It was the observation of our officers and of the French High Command that the results were harmful and contributed to defeat. In contrast, the German Army was kept immensely busy in military and physical training; they had no educational training, as such, their time being devoted exclusively to training as soldiers. In the British training centers, the men worked eight to twelve hours a day and often engaged in night exercises. Obviously there would be little time left for academic work, even if the men’s minds could dominate their physical exhaustion.
One French Division which had an outstanding record for its fighting in the recent battles in Flanders, was conspicuous for the fact that its commander devoted all of the time to military training, declining to emasculate his program in order to work up an educational-recreational program.
I am writing these things to you confidentially, that you may better understand our hesitation at the present time to inject an additional problem into the extremely difficult one that we must solve in short order.
We have given special attention to the development of a library service, and will watch very carefully to see that provision is made to render better fitted for service those men who have language deficiencies or are illiterates. Practically all of our officers are college men, which should help a great deal in these respects. The situation confronting the Army today is somewhat different from that of 1917. Our military training methods involve considerable educational value, and our standards have been considerably raised over the 1917-18 set-up.
I am sorry to tell you that as I see the situation, it will be necessary for the Army to concentrate all its efforts on military training. However, I will re-survey the field in three or four months to see if it appears advisable to alter this policy.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Cartwright was the director of the American Association for Adult Education.
2. Cartwright’s letter is not in the Marshall papers. In March 1940 Marshall had written a memorandum to the Training Division stating: “I have had several communications from Mr. Cartwright and some material. They are very anxious . . . that we have some educational set-up for the men. I told him at the time of their call last fall  that we were completely absorbed in reorganization and in military training at that time; that if later on a mobilization occurred, undoubtedly we would have to consider the matter of educational work for the men.” (Marshall Memorandum for Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, March 26, 1940, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
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. 332-333.