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To Brigadier General James L. Collins1
October 4, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
I received your letter of September 30th, with its comments regarding the new division.2 I am very glad to have this frank expression of your opinion and I have had copies of your letter made and furnished WPD and G-3 that they might mull over your suggestions.
I took action in this matter very quickly because the essence of the problem now is the time factor, and I could not possibly enter into details myself. The business has been studied for a year and a half, and War Plans and G-3 here were almost in complete agreement with the report of the officers conducting the tests, and we had to do business without further delay.
I am like you, in that the organization does not please me; but I think it has the advantage of being a carefully considered product of some of the best minds in the Army. What is more to the point, it would be very easy to alter matters at a later date on a war establishment, if this appears necessary; just as it will be easy to modify the existing National Guard square division if it appears desirable after they take the field. The subtraction of a regiment of infantry, a regiment of artillery and a battalion of engineers would make it in effect a stream-lined division. Their infantry regiments are already being reorganized.
This reorganization of regular divisions is practically the only change I have given favorable consideration to at the present time. In the past we always held off and changed everything at the moment of the emergency, which I think is very bad practice.
Thank you for writing.
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. Collins commanded the Second Field Artillery Brigade, Second Division, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, from May 8 to October 7, 1939, when the brigade was disbanded. He then became chief of the artillery section of the Second Division.
2. Collins had written: “The organization appears to be sound. What worries me, however, is how much punch the division will have left after a couple of days of fighting. As a nation, we are inclined to go from one extreme to the other. During the World War we had the largest division, now we are about to adopt the smallest. It is a step in the right direction but I wonder if we have not gone a bit too far. The peace strength of units barely cover minimum requirements so I would like to see a larger factor of safety in our war units. Also, l would like our medium artillery battalions to have three instead of two batteries—as our light battalions have. This could be done without adding a man to either regimental or battalion headquarters and incidentally this change would appreciably reduce the number of artillerymen per piece.” (Collins to Marshall, September 30, 1939, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 71-72.