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To Brigadier General Asa L. Singleton1
February 27, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
General McNair is to be the next Commandant at Fort Leavenworth. To prepare him, the Chief of Staff is sending him by air to Barksdale Field, the Air Corps Tactical School, Langley Field, on route to the War Department and to Leavenworth for a preliminary survey.
I doubt if he has more than one day at Benning, but I hope that in that brief time, you can give him a good idea of the practical tactics and technique taught there. I think it very important to have brought to his attention any apparent differences between Benning tactical technique and that at Leavenworth.
For example, during my period, a Leavenworth Infantry battalion order would be two or three pages long, where a similar order at Benning would be less than a page in length. The same applied to G-2 summaries, supply details and so forth. The one was ponderous and cumbersome, while the other at least showed struggle towards simplicity. Benning used geological survey maps and Leavenworth was more inclined to the Gettysburg variety. Bennings procedure suggested more of contact with soldiers and the soil, than did the Leavenworth production. I am writing you most informally to give you some idea as to why McNair is being sent to Benning. Times have changed and maybe there is not the difference today that there was in my day.
Please treat all that I have said here as confidential.
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. Singleton had been commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning since July,1936.
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. 705-706.