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Memorandum for General Shedd1
November 22, 1939 Washington, D.C.
Subject: Military Police.
I have glanced over your study of November 10th on the subject of Military Police, and it is not sufficiently along the line I had in mind.2 For example, the requirement, “Should have prior military service with a record of excellent character” practically eliminates the type of men I visualized. It seems to me, that for the control of younger men in the Army, particularly for the type of control we found essential in the rear zones of the army in the Meuse-Argonne, and all over the SOS [Service of Supply], we want men over thirty and up to forty and forty-five, men of some education, men who are keenly desirous of doing something for the country and yet are too old for active troop service and do not have a particular special knowledge so they could be commissioned at their age; men who would be tolerant with the wisdom of years in dealing with the younger soldiers and could advise and guide them, rather than merely tell them “No” and then use a club or a gun to carry out this or that prohibition.
I would have no objection to an older man who had had previous military service, particularly if he were a fine non-com.; but ordinarily I would prefer a man of the other type. We are now being pressed from every direction to find some job for men of some position, in connection with the Army. We do not want to give them Reserve commissions, certainly not at the present time, and we always have to be careful how we open up that gate at any time. It seems to me that the Military Police has fine possibilities. I proposed such a scheme in Paris in July, 1917, and I still think it would have saved General Pershing a thousand headaches that he later suffered from; and it would have been a profound satisfaction to the tremendous number of fine men in this country who found little to do other than make one-minute talks, or worked with the Red Cross or the Y.M.C.A.3
Have this looked over again, please. I do not mean merely to confirm my idea; but I would like it considered and analyzed.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Brigadier General William E. Shedd (U.S.M.A., 1907) had been assistant chief of staff, G-1, since October 1939.
2. The editors have not found the study on military police to which Marshall refers.
3. In a September letter to Chicago Daily Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick, Marshall mentioned his recommendation to General Pershing of July 14, 1917: “I suggested that they cable the United States to raise a group of about 10,000 men over thirty and under forty-five for the Military Police Corps. I think that men of years and consequent judgment in a Military Police force would be much more effective for our type of Army than such an organization composed of young fellows with the natural intolerance of youth, quick resentment to gibes, and too quick resource to violent execution of authority.”
He further observed that when he was senior instructor with the Illinois National Guard (1933-36), he “had the men of the Military Police Company of the 33d Division imbued with the idea that their primary job was to assist and guide individuals and units into their proper slots in the deployments of movements. I had in mind that the officers of the Military Police Company should be of very high grade and be kept informed by G-3 of the tactical movements under way, and charged with the partial responsibility for assisting in carrying out such movements, and also to act as a dispatching service, as it were, to report the progress of movements from critical point to critical point.” (Marshall to McCormick, September 2, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 108-109.