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Memorandum for the Commandant
December 22, 1927 Fort Benning, Georgia
Passenger Motor Transportation.1
1. I recommend that an estimate for the funds itemized below be submitted for the detailed reasons stated thereafter, these funds to be made available at the earliest possible date.
2. ESTIMATE FOR FUNDS
For 11 motor passenger buses, capacity 25 persons ……..………………………… …..$70,000.00
For operation of buses (gasoline, oil, tires, and
minor repairs) for 8_ months a year ………….………..………………………………..8,000.00
3. Motor passenger transportation is a major need of the Academic Department, The Infantry School. There are two reasons for this requirement.
a. Tactical. The post is located on an edge of the reservation, seventeen miles from the northeastern corner and thirteen miles from the southeastern. With existing means of transportation, about one-half of the available terrain is only occasionally employed in tactical training. The distant terrain is the most desirable for tactical problems, being less wooded and rugged than the ground closer to the post. Also much of the latter is debarred from use in tactical problems because of almost constant firing on the experimental and school ranges. As a result of this situation the tactical instruction at The Infantry School, in my opinion, has suffered materially by reason of its restriction to a very limited and not particularly desirable area with which the instructors have become over-familiar and of which the students soon tire.
Instruction in Infantry tactics in keeping with the importance of this school demands a wide variety of terrain and frequent contact with unfamiliar ground. This is not now the case. To reach the center of the distant plots referred to requires from eleven to fifteen miles by good roads, mostly paved. It is, in my opinion, important that problems in these localities should be the rule rather than the exception. This can be readily arranged if motor passenger transportation is provided. As a matter of fact, it can be more easily arranged than the present system of transporting students by horse or narrow-gauge railroad to the restricted area referred to, because the center of the most desirable area while fifteen miles from Fort Benning is but ten miles distant from Columbus, where all married student officers reside. I understand that at the Field Artillery School such transportation is available in the form of reconnaissance cars, which are in almost daily use.
b. A secondary consideration is the desirability of furnishing transportation for the students from the city of Columbus to the post and return. At present the married student officers at The Infantry School suffer not only the financial and social disadvantages of residence distant from the post, but they are personally obligated to provide their own means of transportation to and from the post six days a week. The average daily distance is slightly over twenty miles and totals for the school term about 4,500 miles. There is a daily train to the post, but as it leaves the city station (approximately two miles from the average student’s residence) at 6:00 AM, it cannot be considered a normal service.
The fact that students have been required in the past to bear this burden of transportation expense and great personal inconvenience in pursuing the courses at The Infantry School is not considered a just argument for its further continuance. As a matter of fact, from my personal knowledge of the efforts to secure the Fort Benning reservation in 1919, those then most interested in the matter were forced to ignore at that time any question regarding the complications presented in transporting the students from the city to the post. Every effort was directed towards obtaining the reservation. As a consequence the infantry student officer has had to bear a heavy burden not approximated at any other post in the army. The obligation to furnish this transportation or to furnish quarters on the post is believed to be an obligation of the government. This particular situation has always adversely affected morale among the students, to the disadvantage of the school. It should be remedied.
Disregarding the benefits in the tactical instruction at The Infantry School which would undoubtedly result from the acquirement of the motor transportation referred to, and considering the matter only as a temporary, though very partial remedy, to the present lack of government quarters, it is desired to point out that the cost of these motor buses represents only the approximate cost of permanent quarters for about seven officers. Since there are more than 24 officers now living in Columbus to be provided with quarters on the post and there are about 225 temporary quarters on the post which must be abandoned or replaced in the near future, the cost of the motor transportation which would meet in a measure some to [of] the difficulties imposed by this situation is a small matter when compared to the large sums which must eventually be made available for quarters.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Chiefs of Arms (RG 177), 451, Chief of Infantry, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Marshall’s memorandum ricocheted through the army hierarchy for nearly six months, accumulating twenty-one indorsements which generally agreed that the request was reasonable. But in the end—owing to declining inventories of vehicles left over from the World War, to inadequate funds, and to insufficient manpower to maintain the vehicles—all Marshall received was permission to take up the idea of training additional enlisted men to improve maintenance on the vehicles already at the school. Probably at Marshall’s urging, the Infantry School commandant raised the issue again in June, 1930, and in December, 1931, with similar results.
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 323-324.