Marshall and “Weapons” of War

41.11 War Dept. Staff heads [1054]Always the innovator, Marshall sought ways to fight more effectively and efficiently. As assistant commandant of the Army Infantry School at Fort Benning in 1927, Marshall revamped the curriculum in anticipation of the next large-scale conflict that he believed would be fought differently from World War I. Curiously, he is oft quoted as saying “study the first six months of the next war,” a comment attributed to him by Captain Walter Bedell Smith, who was one of Marshall’s students at Benning.

Later Marshall told the graduating class of the first Army Officer Candidate School in 1941, “Warfare today is a thing of swift movement—of rapid concentrations. It requires the building up of enormous firepower against successive objectives with breathtaking speed. It is not for the unimaginative plodder.”

Marshall embraced new technology to achieve the ‘swift movement’ he foresaw. At Fort Benning he managed a unit devoted to developing new weapons. Later during WWII then-Colonel Smith introduced Chief of Staff Marshall to the Jeep, the vehicle that played a major role in transportation during that war. In the early days of WWII Marshall planned a fast-moving, mobile “tank destroyer” force, and by the end of 1941 the new vehicle, the M3 GMC, entered the war against the Japanese in the Philippines and soon thereafter in North Africa during “Operation Torch.” Marshall’s role in supporting the growth of an Army Air Corps is well known.

Let us not forget, Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson secretly supervised the development of the most sophisticated and devastating weapon ever produced, the atomic bomb used to force Japanese surrender in 1945.

weaponsexhibitnewSeventy years to the day after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, author and scholar Frank Settle will discuss General Marshall’s role in the Manhattan Project, which was the largest scientific project in history. On August 6, Dr. Settle will talk about some of the research findings he used in his soon-to-be-published book, General George C. Marshall and the Atomic Bomb.

The evening event follows the beginning of the new sequence in the Marshall Legacy Series called “Weapons” of War during which we will examine traditional weapons and “paper bullets.” To open the “Weapons” of War sequence and the new exhibition on “The Art of War” on July 16, award-winning editorial cartoonist Bob Gorrell will discuss political cartooning, demonstrate his craft and explain the thinking behind creating thought-provoking images.

Please join us on July 16. Complete information about the July 16 opening and other events scheduled for “Weapons” of War can be found here.

One thought on “Marshall and “Weapons” of War

  1. Gen Marshall was very keen that the American troops were supplied with quality and reliable weapons. To achieve these results the War Department established an Emergency Technical Committee, which Ed Deming ( played a prominent role. Deming introduced Statistical Process Control (SPC) and the American War Standards. It was also during this time that many of the Non-Destructive Testing, NDT, techniques were developed for pressure vessels, which are required for the modern submarines and bombers introduced in WW II. The ANSI Standards widely used today grew from this committee.

    Upon Gen. Marshall’s return from China and taking on the duties as secretary of DOS in 1947, Deming went to Japan to assist in the rebuilding efforts where he introduced the SPC Quality techniques he introduced to the War Deportment. In the early 1980s when E.I. DuPont commenced company wide “Commitment to Quality”, Demming was used as a consultant to advise on SPC, the very same basic techniques employed by the WWII war department. From the DuPont program the ISO and Lean Six Sigma were developed, which are now industry standards.

    Deming always used the phrase “do it right the first time”, which seems to echo the sentiments of the WWII War Department. This is a very important story that should be better documented.

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