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To Reed G. Landis
May 17, 1938 Fort Lewis, Washington
I found your letter of May 6th on my return from an inspection trip from Montana.
I see from the papers that the Reorganization Bill may come up again, and I was interested in your comments about joint purchasing, etc.1
In 1921 I represented the War Department and young Theodore Roosevelt (then Acting Secretary of the Navy) represented the Navy Department in the study of what might be done along the very line you refer to. The Brown Reorganization Project was then in view. We found then that many of the dissimilarities had been or were in process of being corrected, but there was much yet to be done. My principal proposal, which looks better to me today than it did then, got nowhere, because it did not have enough immediacy about it to provide potent political argument. However, I think it was and is the proper basis for relations between the army and navy, or any preliminaries to their consolidation.
I wanted to exchange officers from every section of the General Staff with equivalent officers of the Navy Department. Not as liaison officers, though they would have been this in effectiveness, but actually to exchange jobs. Only in this way, in my opinion, will the navy ever know intimately what, why and how the army does things—and vice versa. I would have carried a similar exchange between the supply departments, the medical departments, ordnance and communication services.
I found both army and navy officers—or officials, strongly opposed to such a measure, because they seemed to feel that the exchanged officer could never satisfactorily perform the job vacated by his opposite number. And, I do not think, they visualized the eventual good that I think would come of such procedure. As a matter of fact, I seem to be out of step with the rest of the world in this particular idea, but to me it is fundamental, and the only effective leadup to the proper coordination of the two services—don’t quote me.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Landis had written of the need for standardization of supply items and the establishment of “some sort of a centralized joint purchasing office through which the requirements of both the Army and Navy could be coordinated. . . . There is little excuse for a Naval screw designed to do a certain job being required in a different material and thread than an Army screw which has to carry the same sort of loading." He also noted the possibility of the reorganization question resurfacing. “I believe it healthy for those of us who are intensely interested in a sound National Defense to spend a small part of our time in thinking about questions such as this, in the hopes that we can avoid being caught with our nether portions exposed in case of an emergency." (Landis to Marshall, May 6, 1938, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Vancouver Barracks].)
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. 593-594.