Officer Selection, Promotion, and Rejection

The enlargement of the Army in 1940 gave rise to many problems of officer personnel, not least of which concerned the efficiency of Regulars whose physical condition and mental alertness, adequate for peacetime routine, were below the requirements of an emergency. With National Guard and Reserve officers the difficulty was quickly correctible, for in regulations affecting them, based upon the National Defense Act, there was ready authority for retiring or discharging unsatisfactory officers.1  In the Regular service this was less easy, the only means at the time being that provided by the National Defense Act for designating an officer as in Class B, indicating that he was unfit for active duty and subject to retirement. In operation this was a frail reliance. Tabulations made by G-1 in the winter of 1940-41 revealed that during the five-year span of 1936-40 only 61 officers of the Regular Army had been provisionally placed in Class B under statutory proceedings, and of these 24 had been restored to duty; only 37 had finally been removed. These 37 "reclassifications," averaging 7.4 a year, were manifestly few in relation to the 14,000 members of the 1940 officer corps, and the Chief of Staff became convinced both that they were too few, and that the trouble lay partly with the slow-moving machinery (provided by the act) and partly with the protection it afforded the officer who chose to appeal from the decisions affecting him.2


In late August 1940 G-1 provided General Marshall with a memorandum holding that

. . . the initiation of selective temporary promotion and efforts to vitalize the commissioned personnel of the Regular Army should be accompanied by a more effective system of elimination . . . . Any . . . procedure that involves action by five boards, the Secretary of War, and the President before an officer can be removed from the active list will never fully accomplish the purpose for which it is intended.

The memorandum proposed the establishment, rather, of "one board of general officers that shall recommend removal from the line of promotion for any reason deemed by it to be good and sufficient," with the officer facing honorable discharge a year after his removal. Following an inquiry to the Judge Advocate General on 29 November as to its legal sufficiency and constitutionality, a bill to create a board with such powers during the emergency period, and to place dismissal authority in the Secretary's hands, was prepared by the Staff. It was supported by General Marshall, who told a Congressional committee:

In normal peacetime the burden of personal deficiencies in quality can be borne without fatal consequences. But not today when every officer of the Regular establishment, particularly the senior field officer, is an example for others to imitate . . . . The development of our young soldiers must not be jeopardized by insufficient or ineffective leadership ....

. . . We find it takes from six months to a year and a half to process one of these cases and after it reaches the stage of final approval it is sometimes held up for six months by various pressures that are brought to bear . . . .

(The desire is] to proceed on the basis of maximum efficiency . . . and to place the Regular Army, officer personnel on a status similar to that now authorized for the National Guard and Organized Reserve Corps as concerns elimination to improve efficiency.3

The bill met with Congressional approval (Public, 190, 29 July 1941). General Marshall gave assurance that he expected its operation to affect only about 1 percent of the officer corps of the Regular Army, mainly colonels and lieutenant colonels, and this proved to be a fair estimate. The board (initially referred to as the Removal Board and later, because of added functions, less ominously known as the Appointment Board and eventually becoming the War Department Personnel Board) 4  was headed from the outset by General Craig, the former Chief of Staff being returned to active duty for this important function. Its recommendations met with little opposition. For this the board's distin-


guished membership no doubt was largely responsible, but an added factor was the statement of policy under which it acted, enunciated at the outset in G-1 recommendations that bear the penned initials of General Marshall. It read:

. . . It should be clearly understood that the mission of the board is not to weigh a long and successful career against a failure in 1940 or 1941. It is not the function of the board to determine how good a man he has been, rather it is to determine the worth and value of the individual to the Army today. Critical times are upon us . . . . The measure must be today's performance.5

It was this statement of policy that greatly facilitated the board's work. As was foreseen, numerous officers scheduled for separation had friends who were active in their behalf, and many letters were received in protest against compulsory retirement of veterans with excellent records. Some of the letters to the Chief of Staff, urging reconsideration, came from members of Congress, to whom for the most part went carefully worded replies patterned after the language of the G-1 memorandum.6  There was a misguided newspaper protest also that the measure was directed against the National Guard, which was not in fact affected at all by the new statute.7  Even so, need for periodic re-examination of the fitness of National Guard and Reserve officers, as of Regulars, was so apparent that in September, soon after the Louisiana two-army maneuver, the Chief of Staff decided that procedure should be spurred. He accordingly wrote twenty-six letters to the commanding generals of armies, corps areas, departments, and schools, enclosing G-1 charts on reclassification which he said "depict a shocking lack of attention to the important matter of handling such proceedings expeditiously." 8 There seems to have been no discrimination either for or against the inefficient Regular as distinguished from the inefficient Reservist, and the work of conscientiously weeding out from all active lists such officers as were no longer capable of doing satisfactory work met with support from within the civilian components. The commanding general of one of the National Guard divisions addressed to the Chief of Staff a letter whose tone won this approving reply:


You are certainly right about the desirability of releasing from active duty, in certain eventualities, the type of officers referred to in your letter-and of doing this if at all possible without humiliation of the affected individual.9

Precautions Against Discriminatory Treatment of Reserve Components

To win the support of the Reserve groups for methods directed toward their own improvement the Chief of Staff announced in mid-June the intention to create an advisory board to guide the Secretary of War in exceptional cases involving the reclassification of senior National Guard and Reserve officers with unsatisfactory records. The board was to be made up of distinguished ex-officers of the Reserve components for the specific purpose of protecting the War Department from charges of hostility to these services. 10 The potency of this particular safeguard was illustrated in September in the case of a brigadier general in the Army of the United States whom the division commander, supported by the reclassification board, the army commander, and G-1 of the War Department, relieved of his command for "unsatisfactory performance of duties." He had been absent frequently on political matters (he was a member of his state legislature) and in the judgment of his superior had neglected the divisional training and failed to eliminate unsatisfactory officers under him. However, he declined to resign voluntarily as asked by the reclassification board, and G-1 recommended that he be honorably discharged. The Advisory Board felt otherwise, and its canny judgment was shared both by the Chief of Staff arid by the Secretary. The Departmental order simply reassigned the offending general to other duty.11  There was similar reluctance on the part of the Chief of Staff to deprive of federal recognition all those officers who were eliminated from the active list by reason of having passed the revised age-in-grade, General Marshall expressing the view that, as the emergency increased, these older but experienced officers might be useful in other capacities, as in fact hundreds of them proved to be in administrative posts, particularly for the Air Forces.12  A


tabulation in August 1941 indeed showed that already 139 colonels, 252 lieutenant colonels, and 111 majors from the over-age promotion list of the Regular Army were on troop duty.13 In the following spring, with war under way, a report of officers on duty in the corps area commands (as distinguished from troop commands) showed how largely younger men had been winnowed out for field service. Of the 18,084 assigned to the corps areas 2,979 were of troop age and 15,105 (83 percent) were over-age.14 Some higher commanders failed to forward recommendations for promotion of over-age officers, "apparently under the erroneous impression that such officers cannot be promoted." They were advised that officers who were "overage for present grade only may be recommended for promotion if otherwise qualified."15  At approximately the time when General Marshall was predicting that older officers would in time be found amply useful, he was finding a special opportunity to use a few of them in a measure of officer economy. He wrote the several army commanders directing them to establish a permanent board of four overage senior officers at each army headquarters to take over work that currently was being assigned to ad hoc boards whose members were sufficiently occupied with urgent training duties. Each board was to be made up of a major general from the National Guard, two Regular Army colonels, and one Reserve colonel.16

A summation of final action by reclassification during the summer and autumn of 1941 reveals that from June to November 195 Regular Army officers were in fact removed from the active list by discharge or forced retirement. This was more than five times as many as had been removed in five years' operation of the Defense Act, and represented 1.3 percent of all Regular Army officers, or slightly more than General Marshall had estimated. Nearly all were field officers, the list recording 31 colonels, 117 lieutenant colonels (a part of the promotion list's embarrassing "hump" in that category resulting from World


War I additions to the corps), 31 majors, and 16 captains. In that same period 269 National Guard and Reserve officers had been similarly reclassified, these, however, being mainly company officers, the list running: 6 colonels, 8 lieutenant colonels, 14 majors, 60 captains, 84 first lieutenants, 97 second lieutenants. Of these, 33 National Guard officers had been reclassified and 94 had resigned; 68 Reserve officers had been reclassified and 74 had resigned. The 127 National Guard officers thus dropped represented three-fourths of 1 percent of the Guard's officer total; the 142 Reserve officers dropped represented one-fourth of 1 percent of the Reserve officers on active duty. In each case, somewhat unexpectedly, the separations from service were fewer, both absolutely and relatively, than the forced separations from the Regulars.17

The General Staff itself on occasion felt it necessary to warn against relieving young Reserve officers from duty with too great celerity, before they had time to prove fitness in an unaccustomed environment. A regimental commander in early 1941, for example, in discussing personnel matters wrote to G-1 his view that while in general the Reservists constituted excellent officer material, some 10 to 20 percent of them were so lacking in aptitude, physique, personality, or other attributes as to be unsuitable for commissioned officers: he wished some simple method of relieving them from active duty, instead of wasting money and effort on them for their normal year's tour. G-1, in a reply which must have echoed instructions from above, observed:

. . . Certain limitations regarding the elimination of inefficient officers of the Reserve components were deliberately adopted. We consider that every officer should have at least three months in which to demonstrate his personal efficiency . . . . The War Department believes that it would be unwise at this time to institute a more speedy system such, for instance, as the one operated in the AEF during the World War. If we were to organize a second Blois [named from the French city in which A. E. F. officers were swiftly reclassified in 1918] at this time, the Regular Army would almost certainly be accused of conducting a pogrom rather than a reclassification of inefficient officers . . . .18

Complaints to the Chief of Staff in person with regard to the fitness of Regular officers brought a variety of actions which the situations presumably called for. They ranged from sharp rebuttal to a sometimes surprising agreement as in the case of a Harvard Law School Reserve officer who had written to Justice Felix Frankfurter criticizing War Department conduct. In replying, via


the White House military aide, General Marshall said with unaccustomed harshness, but with the transparent aim of furthering current legislation:

Major Simpson's criticisms stem from the fact that his Army contacts have been principally with superannuated Regular Army officers on duty with the Organized Reserves. I frankly agree that most of our senior officers on such duty are deadwood and should be eliminated from the service as rapidly as possible. Steps to do this will be taken promptly under the Promotion-Retirement bill [HR 9243] if this bill is approved by the President.19

Expediting Promotion of the Specially Deserving

Hand in hand with the effort to eliminate unfit Regular officers moved the effort to hasten promotion for the exceptionally fit. Special attention was needed because, unlike that of the Navy, the Army's prewar promotion system (save in selection for general officers) operated by seniority only. A crippling complication was provided during the thirties by the "hump" of officers who had originally entered the Army in great number during World War I and remained in it, with the result that within an age group of a very few years were still some 4,200 officers, almost one-third of the entire Regular Corps. Inevitably the "hump" slowed promotion of individuals within and below that group to a discouragingly laggard pace. In 1940 these 4,200 included the lowest 400 files of lieutenant colonel, all the majors, and the upper 900 files of captain's rank. More than 1,000 officers whose age and years of service were appropriate for lieutenant colonel were still captains.20  A War Department proposal fitting grade to years in service, which was designed in April 1939 to provide promotions automatically on a time schedule, was approved by the President but defeated in the Congress because its operation would necessarily have forced the retirement of many officers of under sixty.21  The idea was merely set aside, so far as the War Department was concerned, and a better-organized proposal to accomplish the needed result was initiated for presentation under more favoring conditions of the following year.

Without waiting beyond July, however, the principle of promotion by selection, if only at a high level and in a limited number of cases, was advanced


before Congress by General Marshall who then was Acting Chief of Staff. He explained that, in line with the general rule of seniority, the commander of each of the four field armies then in nominal existence attained his position automatically by being the senior corps area commander in his army area. Possession of that important post therefore might depend on a few months' longer service and nothing more, and might be subject to early change because of the senior officer's retirement for age. In neither case would outstanding merit be the controlling factor. General Marshall's plea was for a reform measure which would substitute efficiency for routine or the accident of a birthday. And he supported a House bill to create four lieutenant generals to command the four field armies.22  The new rank was to be retained only while the individual commanded the field army, and each vacancy was to be filled by Secretarial appointment in order to place in it the most suitable officer, irrespective of seniority. General Marshall identified the bill as one of great importance, designed to increase efficiency and "to develop more rapidly . . . practical preparation for war." Asked whether its denial of the traditional Army privilege of seniority might not have a bad effect, he replied calmly, "We will have to do that if we are going to get efficiency . . . the thing is just cold business.23

This forthright presentation of the principle of selection for efficiency, even on a limited scale, paved the way for proposing further promotion reforms. Accordingly the Department reintroduced in the following March the April 1939 proposal to provide grades in relation to years of service, in order to expedite normal promotion in field officer and higher grades. The plan also sought to make retirement mandatory for officers in upper age brackets.24  Stimulated by the sudden revival of the war in Europe the legislative committees met promptly for consideration of the proposal and summoned the Secretary of War (then Mr. Woodring), General Marshall as Chief of Staff, and Brig. Gen. (later Maj. Gen.) William E. Shedd, his G-1. Said the Chief of Staff:

. . . Some legislation of this nature should be accomplished at the earliest practicable moment. Otherwise we are getting into a rather impossible situation so far as the general efficiency of the officer corps of the Army is concerned. And I mean particularly the leadership . . . .


As it stands now, the officers in that last group . . . will be so old when the time comes that they might eventually reach the grade of colonel and lieutenant colonel so limited in experience in handling men except in small groups that it would be a very unfortunate thing for the Army to have them suddenly jump to positions of high command and control . . . .

When we move troops in the field under the difficulties of a campaign, aggressive leadership is absolutely vital to success . . . the efficiency of the whole army depends upon leadership . . . . We must have those leaders; and they will not be developed under the present system.25

Before the House committee he spoke on the relationship of age to physical endurance:

. . . Leadership in the field depends to an important extent on one's legs and stomach and nervous system and on one's ability to withstand hardships and lack of sleep and still be disposed energetically and aggressively to command men, to dominate men on the battlefield . . . . [In World War I] I saw 27 different divisions of ours engaged in battle- we employed 29- and there were more reliefs of field officers . . . due to physical reasons than for any other cause . . . their spirit, their tenacity of purpose, their power of leadership over tired men, was broken through physical fatigue.26

A New Bill for Selective Promotion

The bill was enacted into law on 13 June 1940.27  Obviously it would do a good deal to push the younger officers upward in mass. It still would do nothing to provide special advancement for individuals of outstanding merit, and in the summer of 1940, as the Regular Army increased in numbers and as added responsibilities for training great numbers of draftees appeared in prospect, it became evident that some such selective advancement was required. The Staff prepared a bill for revising the National Defense Act in such a way as to provide selective advancement and at the same time to assure uniformity of promotion methods throughout the Army, that is, permitting promotion of Regular officers as well as National Guard and Reserve officers to higher temporary grade, in emergency as in war.28


General Marshall was to be away from Washington while the Congressional hearings were in progress, and he designated his G-1 (General Shedd) and G-3 (General Andrews) to attend such sessions as should be called in his absence. A memorandum left word that "the Chief of Staff wishes a very strong presentation to be made" and directed emphasis on, first, the need for such legislation to provide leadership, second, the insignificant cost, third, the fact that it sought authority like that already possessed by National Guard and Reserve. He added: "If it is considered necessary to insure the enactment of the bill which he believes vital to the national defense, General Marshall will return to testify."29

He did in fact return to press his views. In support of the measure he employed arguments almost identical with those used the previous year in advocating the selection for lieutenant general of the best available officers rather than the oldest in service. He explained the desirability of promoting officers currently holding rank not commensurate with their posts, and pointed out that all the way from lieutenant to brigadier, as a result of increased responsibilities of 1940, officers were holding positions that called for higher rank than was permitted by the permanent-grade law which was then in effect. In a personal letter to the Senate Military Affairs Committee which was weighing the Department's request, General Marshall urged early action:

. . . The Regular Army is in process of expanding from a strength of 227,000 to 375,000 without any corresponding increase in permanent commissioned personnel. It is essential therefore that we have authority to utilize our present officer corps to the best advantage. Officers with knowledge, initiative, drive, and leadership must be placed in important command and staff positions. We have the officers and they can be so placed, provided authority is granted to select and redistribute them without the normal peacetime restrictions as to seniority .... Such authority now exists in wartime. It should also exist during an emergency .

. . . Leadership in the field, and especially during the hurried organization of the urgently needed new units, must not depend on seniority, meaning age.30

In the letter and in his discussion of the bill before the committee a few days later 31  he pointed out that (as was the case with the elimination of unfit officers) existing legislation met the needs of National Guard and Reserve organizations for temporary promotion. There was no corresponding law to meet


identical needs in the Regular Army. He remarked that currently seven divisions were under command of brigadiers, rather than major generals; so was the Armored Corps (of two divisions); numerous colonels were performing brigadiers' duties; lieutenants of ten years' experience were commanding companies because, although a 375,000-man army called for 4,697 captains, existing legislation allowed only 2,483; prospective summoning of the National Guard would call for creation of corps and hence for the selection of corps commanders from a group of already underranked division commanders. A source of his argument appears to have been a G-1 compilation of material containing additional data and an occasional sharp expression such as this: "We are left in the position of according command purely on the basis of seniority of colonels, which means that field command where leadership is most important would go usually to the least vigorous physically."

An accompanying tabulation noted the need for 21 additional major generals and 35 new brigadiers to complete the organization for an army of 375,000.32

With the bill's passage questions relating to its application mounted steadily, many of them coming before the Chief of Staff for his decision. They included such odd and personal items as a request from one of the newly named and temporary lieutenant generals for additional allowances similar to those granted by law to the four field army commanders, a suggestion that General Marshall laid on the shelf:

. . . We requested authority for temporary promotions solely for the purpose of facilitating the exercise of command. It was realized at the time that the result would be temporary inequalities in pay and allowances, but the pay question is one which we prefer to leave quiescent at the present time. 33

There was a considerable burst of letter-writing from Congressmen, old Army acquaintances and others, suggesting to the Chief of Staff the names of candidates for consideration as brigadiers. Many of these letters General Marshall answered personally,34  despite the time required for such correspondence. When


the Staff undertook to relieve a much-pressed Chief of Staff of unnecessary interruption by solicitous but ill-informed visitors, he sometimes resisted. There is flickering humor in an example. To an officer who offered his advice to General Marshall, G-1 drafted an appropriate reply, which the Chief of Staff dutifully signed, as follows:

I would be very glad to have any suggestions you may have in regard to temporary promotions. However, I find that there are hardly enough hours during the day to meet the many demands on my time and, as I know you are also busy, I would suggest that instead of taking the time to come down here, you let me have a letter setting forth your views on this question.

So far, so good, but at the bottom of the letter to this old acquaintance General Marshall added:

G-1 drafted this. If you care to come down, and will be satisfied with ten minutes, and take a chance on when I can give you that time, I will see you. G. C. M. 35

Pressure for information on reasons for the promotion policy and on their justification, and of course for the advancement of individuals, continued, and eventually a letter explained at some length the aims of the emergency promotion system. It was drafted by G-1 for signature by The Adjutant General, but it bears the impress of the Chief of Staff's policy direction:

Promotion based on length of service is satisfactory only under the normal conditions of peacetime. In an emergency, in a period of rapid expansion of the army, or during actual war, that system of promotion is much too slow. Already the temporary selection of Regular officers has far outstripped permanent promotion based on length of service. Under present conditions, and in actual war, promotion must be based primarily on demonstrated ability, and must be as rapid as the current situation demands. While expansion is taking place promotion is accelerated. After expansion is completed, the rate diminishes .... No system of promotion based on service-in-grade could adequately meet the needs of an emergency army.

The fact that promotion by selection, based upon demonstrated ability and adjusted in tempo to the varying needs of the Army, leaves some officers of long service in their present grades is recognized as a regrettable but unavoidable result. We cannot let our sympathy for these officers divert us from the prime necessity of preparing a larger number of younger officers for the responsibilities they must assume when the shooting begins.

We cannot well operate two systems of promotion-one on the basis of selection, demonstrated ability, and available positions, and the other on length of service irrespective


of any other consideration. Such a dual system would bring us little but confusion, and the great surplus of senior grade officers that would thus be created could receive no adequate training.

The whole problem of promotion is the subject of continuous study in the War Department, and present policies are subject to change as conditions permit. We consider that we are now in a transition stage from the peacetime promotion system to which you refer to the uniform and adequate emergency system which out present situation demands.36

Policy Determining Selection and Promotion

Within a week of the selective-promotion act's passage on 9 September 1940 G-1 submitted a statement of policy on temporary promotions and General Marshall approved it. Impressive in that initial declaration are the statements that general officers should be selected without respect to grade or rank; that Regular lieutenants should be promoted to fill only Regular Army vacancies (not those in National Guard units); that their selection should be determined by a combination of seniority and fitness; that in the case of all Regulars considered for promotion, other than generals, the recommendation of their chiefs of arm or service would be called for; that eventually a single system of promotion by selection for all components of the Army should be established.37

The principle of promotion for proved capacity only, in each component of the Army, could not be successfully assailed. The same principle was early applied to the selection of new officers as well, being laid down formally by Secretary of War Stimson in October 1940, within a month after passage of the draft act and the summons to the National Guard.38  These instructions were somewhat strengthened more than a year later, following G-1 recommendations to the Chief of Staff, by new and formal instructions to much the same effect, approved both by Secretary Stimson and General Marshall. The new instructions outlined procedure which would assure that

No commission will be given when the job in question can be performed by the individual in a civilian capacity.
No commission will he given for political reasons of any nature.
No commission will be given for personal reasons of any nature.
No action will be taken on the recommendations of an individual for commission.


Only the recommendations of the Chief of the Arm or Service or War Department Bureau or Agency will be accepted for action.39

A month later General Marshall had his own rule tested by an application from Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York (an officer in World War I) for a new commission in the Reserve Corps, for possible service should military government be established abroad. G-1 advised the Chief of Staff that such appointments had been suspended and opposed exception to the rule, especially as no such vacancy existed or was in early prospect. General Marshall accordingly informed Mayor LaGuardia that such an appointment was undesirable at the moment: it could be made, when needed, with dispatch.40

Such were the inflexible principles governing the selection of new officers which now, with war actually in progress, were firmly stated for guidance also in promotion matters. The officer must have proved his capacity and acquired the needed experience. But, beyond this, the advancement in grade should be granted only when the Army's interests were served thereby. That these rules had been generally applied even before Pearl Harbor is well established but that infrequent exceptions were made to the several rules, not surprisingly, is equally true, for such things happen too in civilian life. Because of their relative infrequency the Army exceptions are the more conspicuous in the record. Thus, a quartermaster major doing excellent work was recommended for promotion out of turn, partly because in the higher grade he would gain better standing with officials with whom he dealt, and G-1 believed that "the best interests of the service will be served by making an exception"; so did the Deputy Chief of Staff, who approved it. 41  Again, a state governor holding a captaincy in the Reserve was recommended by his state adjutant for promotion, despite the fact that he lacked certificate of capacity, having failed to complete the necessary courses until the Reserve requirements had been changed; also there was no vacancy. G-1 supported the recommendation, noting the governor's "untiring effort" in matters of interest to the Army and holding that these activities should serve in lieu of active duty, despite existing regulations. The Executive for Reserve and ROTC Affairs refused to concur, contending plausibly enough


that the recommendation was motivated by political considerations, and that the promotion would be unfair to 339 other Reserve captains. The Chief of Staff overruled him and supported G-1.42  It may be assumed that there also were White House requests which were not opposed. On the other hand two promotion requests by the current chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee were refused, both in personal letters from General Marshall himself. The first was expressed with noticeable gracefulness:

. . . On the face of it, waiver of the service requirement for the promotion of a Quartermaster lieutenant who is otherwise qualified seems a small thing to do for the Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. Actually this is one of the cases where more is involved than the advancement of a single individual.

There are a great many able junior officers, Regular, National Guard, and Reserve, who are filling positions of equal and greater importance and whose qualifications compare favorably with those of Lieut. . Like him, these officers do not meet the requirements for promotion, and the Quartermaster General is convinced that to single out one individual as an exception to our widely announced policy would have a most unfortunate effect ....

. . . I would be placed in a most embarrassing position if we ordered the immediate promotion of Lieut. contrary to the recommendation of the Chief of his own branch. I can assure you, however, that he will be promoted at the earliest possible moment that this can be done without causing unpleasant repercussions.43

The other letter referred to, addressed to the same Senator, was in response to a personal call on the Chief of Staff some weeks after Pearl Harbor in behalf of a lieutenant colonel who had been passed over for promotion. General Marshall wrote on the same day that the Senator had made personal inquiry. He announced that, whereas the officer's record included a number of "excellent" ratings, nearly 65 percent of the officers in his corps were on the "superior" list and the recommendation board had proposed for promotion no officer with ratings comparable to his. Inquiry also showed that the officer's General Efficiency Rating for the past ten-year period placed him in the low fifth of his grade and arm. In sum General Marshall found that the officer in question was not qualified for "promotion under our present system of. selection based on demonstrated efficiency." 44  Even a memorandum from the Under Secretary,


reporting the high qualifications of Regular Army field officers in his office and recommending that for promotion none be passed over by a junior, was answered with a report some weeks later that the board's current promotion lists for colonelcies and lieutenant colonelcies were complete, but that in the next wave careful consideration would be given the officers referred to.45

The source of recommendations rarely controlled the Chief of Staff's action, but it often determined the degree of friendliness in his reply. Thus, both to a colonel seeking his own promotion and to the sister of a colonel for whom she was urging advancement went discouraging replies, but in different tones. To the sister General Marshall wrote:

. . . I regret that I can give you but slight hope at this time of favorable action in the matter of his promotion. The laws and policies are so restrictive that many fine officers, through no fault of their own, are placed in an unfortunate position when selections are made.

As you state, your brother's age works against him . . . .

Colonel ______ has an excellent record. It shows him to be an officer of the highest type, devoted to his profession, steadfast in his duties, and unusually active for his age. His record has been and will continue to be given every consideration under the laws and policies governing promotion to general officer.46

A much different letter went to the other colonel, who had spoken more favorably of himself, it would appear, than General Marshall felt warranted:

When the appointment of a general officer is in prospect, extremely careful consideration is given to the record of every qualified and eligible colonel. This procedure is followed as a matter of principle. It is unnecessary for an officer personally to bring his qualifications to the attention of the War Department and, frankly, I consider such procedure inappropriate .

. . . Also, due to the great distances which separate many conspicuously efficient officers from personal contact with me, the War Department, and other government officials in Washington, as well as [to] a proper reluctance on the part of officers to introduce the personal element in this matter, I am all the more careful to concentrate on the written record of each individual's career.47

To Vice President Henry Wallace shortly after Pearl Harbor went another frigid letter, signed by the Secretary of War but prepared by G-1 and the Chief


of Staff's Office and dispatched from the latter. Mr. Wallace had urged the promotion to brigadier of a lieutenant colonel serving in one of the numerous nonmilitary defense agencies. He argued that the officer needed the higher rank in order to deal with other officers. The reply, conforming to the policy laid down by the Chief of Staff, follows:

I have given your request careful consideration and I feel very strongly that this promotion of a very junior officer engaged in non-combatant duties would be extremely detrimental to the morale of the officer corps of the Army, many of whom are at this moment actively engaged against the enemy.

The number of general officer appointments is not unlimited. In fact many important command assignments and key positions for general officers of the line are now filled by officers of lower grades. Obviously the War Department must give first priority to conferring general officer grade on officers filling these critical military positions . . . .

. . . I hope you will understand the considerations which force me to disapprove your request.

It is my earnest desire that officers of the Army assigned to your organization perform their duties in a most efficient manner. If Lieutenant Colonel ______ or any others of these officers are unable to cooperate and work in harmony . . . I will upon your request relieve them and provide you with more suitable replacements.48

Because of the importance of especially high capacity among the officers to be named brigadier, the Chief of Staff awaited with special interest the recommendations of the board of officers named for that purpose. General Shedd discussed with him in December 1940 the basic qualifications to be set and in writing suggested:

that the Board consider the records of all colonels and lieutenant colonels of 28 years' service with "superior" ratings;
that outstanding qualities of leadership be noted;
that age be recognized as important, the officer being young enough to reach a major general's grade and serve there for several years (55 was the maximum for Reserve brigadiers as determined a year later, on 6 December 1941);
that every doubtful case should be eliminated;
that failure to appoint an officer previously listed as eligible should call for reconsideration.49

Whether before or after General Marshall's discussion with the board, three added suggestions were made:


to have a trial list for comparison by the board to make sure that no injustice had been done in elimination;
to evaluate the reporting officer too;
to determine the physical ability and alertness of selected candidates.50

There were other principles to govern the advancement in all grades, which the Staff kept voicing. Now, it was the need for proof of necessity for promotion that was laid down by G-1 in the first winter of the National Guard's mobilizations.51  Now, on the other hand, there was need to urge less severity of judgment than the Selection Board was applying in its preparation of a list of Regular Army lieutenant colonels for promotion to colonel. Some 2,521 had been scrutinized before 800 of them were put on the eligible list-a rejection of two out of three. A total of 56 who had received a "Superior" rating for ten years were passed over altogether and G-1 made formal protest.52  Now in an attempt to salvage as many good officers as possible, G-1 recommended reconsideration of officers who had failed to win promotion at the outset, and a series of these recommendations the Chief of Staff approved. In a personal letter to an officer who had failed to make the first promotion list he observed: "I purposely left the door entirely open for the later promotion of those who were not promoted on the first list." 53  As time went on, and the need of trained officers became more obvious, promotions were recommended on a more uniform basis.

Efforts to Stimulate Promotion of National Guard Officers

It was recognized early that special attention should be given, not only to the clear needs, but also to the sensibilities of the National Guard, whose call to federal duty would provide large cadres for no less than eighteen infantry divisions plus a number of other organizations. In October 1940, accordingly, through General Marshall's approval of G-3 suggestions, it was decided that as far as practicable the Guard's officers should be retained, and vacancies in these


organizations should be filled not from non-Guard sources but by the promotion or appointment of personnel from within the same Guard units, and upon recommendation of the division or separate unit commander.54  The 1940 assumption was that the National Guard would be on federal duty for only one year and then go home. This was an added reason for keeping its personnel intact so far as possible. A great many promotions were going to be needed to bring the National Guard units to war strength, a G-1 tabulation of early September indicating the need for 158 promotions to lieutenant colonel, 303 promo Lions to major, 1,564 to captain, 3,481 to first lieutenant, and 1,011 to second lieutenant, a total of 6,517 55  As training advanced, and the entire National Guard was summoned by installments to federal service, with a prospect of duty prolonged beyond the twelve months of the original call, this principle of promotion from within the Guard where possible (except for general officers) was kept in effect and affirmed in August 1941, as follows:

1. Vacancies in National Guard units for commissioned officers in grades above the lowest will be filled by assignment or promotion of qualified personnel within the division or separate unit in which the vacancy occurs. Vacancies for which qualified personnel is not available within the unit concerned will be filled by assignments from other sources .... All vacancies for general officers will be filled by the War Department.

2. Twelve months satisfactory active military service in grade will be prerequisite for promotion of National Guard officers to the next higher grade [this could be waived on recommendation of superior officer] and professional examination for authorized promotion will be dispensed with. Officers from the National Guard not on duty with National Guard units may be promoted under the regulations and requirements applicable to members of the Officers' Reserve Corps on active duty.56

At about the same time the Chief of Staff approved the application of age-in-grade principles to the Reserve components of the Army, whereby they would share in the improvement that the Regular Army itself had thereby experienced. And once more, to protect the Guard personnel in its natural desire for promotion to vacancies thus created, he reminded G-1 of this policy.57  Both before


and after World War I General Marshall had been assigned to duty with the National Guard and had a profound understanding of National Guard traditions and views. Now as Chief of Staff he warned his Staff against the use of unreasonably high standards for the promotion of National Guard officers. This view he expressed strongly in a letter to an army commander who was weighing the merits of a candidate for promotion:

In considering the capabilities of a National Guard officer to command a National Guard unit, it is not believed that we should compare him with the best available Regular Army officer. Rather we should consider, in my opinion, whether or not the National Guard officer is capable of discharging the duties of the position in a creditable manner. If he can qualify under that standard, I feel that the National Guard officer should be selected.58

Despite the apparent desire to encourage National Guardsmen in their proper hopes for promotion, there was no relaxation of the principle that fitness should be the determining factor. There was an illustration of this in the case of a vacancy in the command of one of the National Guard divisions, the original commander of which was relieved from duty on 1 November 1941. The basic policy was stated often, not only with reference to this episode but to a great many of the same general nature, thus:

The Chief of Staff is committed to the policy that any vacancy occurring in a National Guard organization will be filled by a National Guard officer if a qualified officer can be found in the unit. This policy applies to all positions, including that of division commander. . . .59

In that first sentence the "if" is to be noted. In examining the three brigadiers in the division, in order to determine which was best suited for the higher command, there was apparently a strong desire on the part of the Chief of Staff to advance one of the two National Guard brigadiers but, the corps and army commanders regarding neither of them as fully qualified, the command was given to the third, a Regular Army officer. In the records of this case is an unsent letter addressed to the commanding general of the Second Army, in which the division in question was a component. Although it was not used by


General Marshall, a shorter note being actually dispatched, the view which it expresses in the second paragraph was in fact a statement of policy which was carried out:

It is regretted that ______ does not measure up to the minimum standards for a division commander. I had hoped, in the case of ______ Division, to find a qualified commander from among the National Guard officers of that unit.

However, we cannot deviate from our sound policy of insisting on adequate leadership. Where no satisfactory National Guard officer is available, I shall have no hesitation in placing a Regular officer in the National Guard vacancy.60

Recalling resentments within the National Guard during World War I over the War Department's frequent reassignment of National Guard officers whom it regarded as too old or otherwise unsuited for battle command, the Chief of Staff was anxious in 1940 to avert recriminations. He insisted therefore that the Regular or Reserve officer assigned to a vacancy should possess the qualifications which the former commander lacked. His particular desire was that no Regular be given such a regimental command unless his fitness justified the replacement and warranted his receiving the full respect of the National Guardsmen in the regiment. The G-1 directive on this point was painstakingly clear:

Whenever an Army Commander has decided to place a Regular Army officer in command of a National Guard regiment, he will assign an officer under fifty years of age whose ability and whose record of service are beyond reproach. This directive does not apply to officers now assigned as regimental commanders nor to National Guard officers assigned in the future, but will apply without exception to all officers of the Regular Army who are hereafter assigned as regimental commanders of National Guard units. If officers of these qualifications are not available within your Army in sufficient numbers, request for the assignment of the additional officers needed will be made to the War Department.61


Within the National Guard there was an understanding of War Department effort to treat the National Guard officers with consideration, and on occasion there was evidence of a reciprocal desire for the welfare of Regular Army officers assigned to that component. An example is afforded in the case of Lieutenant Colonel of the Regular Army who, assigned as instructor to one of the field artillery regiments of the 29th Infantry Division (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and District of Columbia), was given command of the 176th Field Artillery Regiment. The division commander thereupon recommended the officer's promotion to colonel, citing as argument the fact that a National Guard lieutenant colonel assigned at the same time to command of an infantry regiment had already been promoted. G-1 objected, noting that the Regular officer referred to was not on the current list of 800 eligibles and that, accordingly, his promotion would mean his passing over many officers above him in rank and eligibility. General Marshall directed G-1 to discuss the matter with the division commander. The latter accepted G-1's explanation, but stated his desire to retain the officer as regimental commander even in his current grade, and added with appropriate solemnity that "his principal interest was to make certain that no Regular officer would feel that he had been discriminated against while on duty with his Division."  62

There were also less genial exchanges on the subject of the Regular's attitude toward the Guard and the Guard's toward the Regular. At the other extreme was the Chief of Staff's letter to a Senator who had forwarded copies of letters from querulous members of a National Guard division, then at Camp Claiborne, who had complained of Regular Army treatment of the Guard. On this point General Marshall wrote:

Sixth: The writer of the letter mentioned in this paragraph is concerned with "the thinly veiled arrogance of the Regular Army and their constant efforts to put the Guard in a hole." There have been very few Regular officers at Camp Claiborne since the Division arrived, and most of them have been subordinate to National Guard commanders. The Division itself has had six Regular officers, five of whom were rated "superior" and one "excellent" by the National Guard general in command. 63


The first wave of promotion in the National Guard had inevitably brought advancement to a high percentage of officers, first, because the transformation from a peacetime to a war-strength organization automatically created vacancies and, second, because resignations and reclassifications left still other posts to be filled. With these advancements made, the promotion pace naturally slowed and unwarranted new fears of discrimination found expression. G-1 provided The Adjutant General with information upon which to base a reassuring answer to a Congressman's inquiry:

The promotion system applicable to National Guard officers, referred to in your letter of October 7, is in general still in effect. It is true that the number of vacancies to which promotions can be made under this system rapidly decreased as promotions were made to replace eliminations incident to induction and full commissioned strength was attained. Recent application of the age-in-grade policies to all components of the Army will, however, create several thousand new vacancies in National Guard units, which will be filled to the greatest extent possible by the promotion of qualified National Guard officers.

In addition, many officers of the National Guard are being reassigned to available positions elsewhere, and these transfers create vacancies in National Guard units which will maintain some promotion for those still serving with such units . . . .

It is recognized that this will leave some National Guard officers with long service in grade, who cannot be promoted because of the absence of an appropriate vacancy. This is unavoidable . . . . However, the promotion system that has been and is still provided for the National Guard has operated to the advantage of National Guard officers.64

A Halt in Promotions to Attain Uniformity

While National Guard promotions were being thus encouraged, the Department suddenly suspended altogether the permanent promotions of Reserve officers to lieutenant colonel and colonel and revised the rules for promotions in lower grades in the interest of equalizing the promotions of Reserve officers with those of the Regulars.65  This action was something of a shock to the Reserve Officers' Association, whose members throughout the emergency had been hearing general favorable things of their "splendid contribution"; in fact, as early as December of 1940, Reserve officers constituted almost 9o percent of the


lieutenants and almost 60 percent of all officers on active duty with units in the Regular Army.66  The president of the association therefore made protest against the War Department letter of 25 August that had put into effect the order suspending permanent promotions in the Reserve. The situation again was one which called for General Marshall's personal reply. He explained that the suspension applied only to permanent promotions and was itself a temporary ruling (the Department already having in mind a common system of temporary promotions for all components). He proceeded:

In the early stages of any emergency Regular Army officers are at a disadvantage as to grade, in comparison with Reserve and National Guard officers. National Guard officers receive their mobilization grade when the National Guard is expanded to War strength. Reserve officers already have their mobilization grades. Regular Army officers on the other hand enter the emergency with the grades appropriate to a small peacetime Army.

The purpose of the suspension of the Reserve Corps permanent promotion to the grades of colonel and lieutenant colonel is to permit the War Department to advance a relatively small number of specially selected Regular Army lieutenant colonels and majors to the temporary grade of lieutenant colonel and colonel, and to make these promotions gradually and deliberately. During the months required to advance these Regular Army officers to temporary higher grade, it was believed advisable to suspend the automatic promotion of Reserve majors and lieutenant colonels. It is not the War Department intention, however, to suspend the temporary promotion of Reserve officers to the grades of lieutenant colonel and colonel, and the War Department has not followed such a policy. A number of temporary promotions to these grades has been made in recent months and the War Department shall continue to make such temporary promotions where it is in the interest of the efficiency of the Army to do so.67

Attention to Complaints from Within the Service

The autumn of 1941 produced complaints from a great many others, less well organized than the National Guard or the Reserve officers, over the extension of service beyond the originally stated twelve months, over the discomforts of training camp, over the inadequacy of training or of weapons, over assignment to this or that unit. For the most part they were answered by routine handling of one question at a time but in September 1941 the Office of the Assistant Secretary referred to the General Staff a letter complaining of so many aspects


of troop morale, training, assignment, and promotion that G-1 was instructed to prepare a considered statement upon each point of complaint in order that it might be used as material for reply to this and other incoming letters. In late October Brig. Gen. (later Gen.) Wade H. Haislip provided an extended discussion on twelve specific complaints:

1. Troop morale was low.
Answer: Reports of dissatisfaction had been exaggerated. Recent maneuvers demonstrated that in field efficiency and "real morale" the Army was moving ahead.

2. National Guardsmen had been imposed on by extending their active duty without concern for family needs.
A: Their original state enlistment committed them to serve the nation in emergency. Concern over economic consequences had been shown; officers and men had been released before induction, and others afterward.

3. Selectees had been discriminated against in National Guard units.
A: In some instances, no doubt, but not as a rule and not for long, because already selectees began to outnumber the original National Guard members in each unit. Many such selectees had been promoted. Their assignment to the Guard units was unavoidable (if the Guard units were to be built to strength) and also this was sound practice; training of selectees was a prime reason for summoning the Guard.

4. Selectees should have been trained in Organized Reserve units, instead.
A: No Organized Reserve division was prepared to begin such training, as Reserve officers knew long ago, following 1939 discussions. On the other hand, National Guard units had been organized, equipped and trained for years for this exact service and enlisted strength in 1940 exceeded that of the Regular Army.

5. National Guard units resented assignment to them of officers from other components.
A: True to a small extent and unavoidable, but likely to end with the elimination of distinctions in uniform and official reference. Creation of one Army was essential and unattainable save by mingling components. A related complaint that Reserve officers were, man for man, better than Guard officers was denied in fact, and evidence given of Guard officers' superior rating at the Staff School and their more consistent training.

6. National Guard officers outranked Reserve officers.
A: Rank was based by law on length of service, of which Guard officers usually had more. In permanent promotion, however, Reserve officers had fared so much better than either Guard or Regular officers that their gain in grade overcame their deficiency in rank.

7. Temporary promotion provided no additional pay, except in time of war.
A: This applied to the Regular Army, not the Reserves.

8. Organized Reserve officers received lower travel pay.
A: Only in exceptional cases when on Organized Reserve duty, the same being true of Regulars. In other official travel the higher rate obtained, and was likewise applicable to all officers alike.


9. Reserve officers enjoyed no disability benefits if on active duty for less than 30 days.
A: Incorrect: they benefited from Employees' Compensation. Disability benefits were defined by law, and distinguished between pensions to a man injured on, say, a 4-day tour and one who had served 40 years professionally.

10. Individual experience in a newly enlarged division had been unhappy.
A: Regretted. The division had lately received a large inflow of inexperienced officers unready for their large responsibilities.

11. The President had vetoed a bill to provide Reserve officers with uniforms.
A: No discussion of the President's motives. Such an allowance was still under discussion, although no such benefit was enjoyed by Regulars.

12. Age was not a determinant of an officer's fitness for field duty.
A: On the contrary, it was a determinant, in important armies. Over-age officers could and would be used in nonfield duty as needed.68

Declaration of War Brings a New Promotion Policy

Little more than a month later the actual declaration of war provided new impulse to the rapid expansion of the Army. It called both for a proportionate increase in the number of officers, with resultant promotions, and for a fully ordered and consistent procedure applicable to all components of the Army. 69  For a basic policy applicable to wartime, the General Staff reached back to planning of two years earlier. A War Department Circular of 1 January 1942 discontinued completely the peacetime promotion systems of National Guard, Reserve Corps, and retired officers (on active duty) of the Regular Army, and put into effect for all officers of the Army of the United States the system prescribed in Appendix B, Special Promotion System, Mobilization Regulations 1-3, which had been prepared on 30 October 1939.70  This was the relevant part of the voluminous Mobilization Regulations prepared in advance for just this situation. Minor changes of the 1939 text of these regulations made allowance for the Armored Force, which had been greatly altered in the two-year period, and also allowed other selection methods for general officers. The new policy, as a normal thing, introduced the principle of trying out a candidate for six months in higher grade before recommending him for promotion to it, but


when efficiency directed otherwise exception was permitted. There was another important change: paragraph 7a of the 1939 version encouraged, as during the prewar training period, the filling of a unit vacancy by promotion from within the unit, with the division commander retaining discretion to seek an officer from elsewhere in the division if desired. Paragraph 7 of the new circular, however, stated that this procedure of routine promotion from within a regiment would be used

. . . only to the extent which will promote the best interest of the Service and the efficiency of the Army. When, in the opinion of a higher commander, the efficiency of the Army will be best served by the promotion of the best fitted officer in one unit and his transfer to another to fill an existing vacancy therein, this procedure will be followed. The primary purpose of temporary promotion is to enhance the efficiency of the Army by promotion of the best fitted to fill existing position vacancies.71

Within a week spokesmen for the National Guard in a joint letter made new protest, partly because of misunderstanding. General Marshall wrote a new letter explaining the situation, this time in necessary detail:

When National Guard units were called to Federal Service, qualified officers who did not hold such rank were authorized immediate promotion to their mobilization rank under the policy governing promotion in the National Guard, to fill position vacancies in their units. National Guard units were also authorized to fill new position vacancies as they occurred, by promotion of National Guard officers under their governing policy. At no time has promotion in National Guard units been stopped. As a result, National Guard units, as of January 7, 1942, have promoted a total of 7643 of their officers, a few of them as much as two grades since induction. This figure included 1542 promotions to field grades. 1n addition to these promotions, there is still a considerable number of promotions to be made in National Guard units of officers who qualified for promotion under policies existing prior to the adoption of our wartime policy on January 1, 1942. Each of these promotions will be made by the War Department as rapidly as each recommendation is processed.

Regular Army units were expanded to war strength and inactive Regular Army units were activated, but mobilization rank was not immediately granted to Regular Army officers. Hence a great number of positions which called for higher grades were filled by junior officers. It was decided to fill a part of existing position vacancies in the grade of colonel and lieutenant colonel by promotion of officers whose records clearly indicated their fitness for promotion, by small increments over a period ending June 30, 1942.

Upon the declaration of war, the problem of an early and rapid expansion confronted us. As a first step in meeting the demands of this problem, the War Department decided to fill as far as possible the existing position vacancies in the grades of colonel and lieutenant colonel in Regular Army units and installations immediately instead of pursuing its previous


policy of filling them by small increments over a long period. This step was imperative in order to equalize rank and responsibility in the Regular Army.

Your information that promotions in the Regular Army were made en masse, is somewhat in error. All temporary promotions to grades of colonel and lieutenant colonel have been made from eligible lists prepared by a board of officers secretly convened for that purpose. Of the total number of lieutenant colonels whose records were examined by the board, only an average of two out of five were considered to have records sufficiently superior to warrant their temporary promotion. Likewise a conclusion that promotions were without regard to existing position vacancies is in error. There have been approved positions for all grades to which promotions have been made, which have been filled for many months by junior officers. In fact, the officers recently promoted were not sufficient in number to fill the existing vacancies. No officer has been promoted simply as a reward for merit or to give him rank comparable to his professional background and attainments. The War Department has consistently refused to promote officers to higher temporary grades unless position vacancies actually existed for those grades. This policy is to be continued, as is indicated in the published wartime promotion policy.

During our current expansion, the outstanding officers of the National Guard to whom you refer in your letter of January 6, will undoubtedly be placed by Army commanders in positions which carry rank and responsibility commensurate with their recognized attainments. Such procedure is contemplated and specifically provided for in Circular No. 1. That directive definitely provides for seeking out and promoting the best fitted to higher positions, regardless of the component in which they are currently serving. However, in order to insure that no injustice is done a lieutenant colonel of the National Guard, if you will secure and send to me the names of the 75 to 100 lieutenant colonels to whom you refer, I will have their records carefully examined on the same basis as were those of the lieutenant colonels of the Regular Army. Each officer whose record measures up to the standard demanded of the Regular Army officers recently promoted will be ordered promoted to the grade of colonel to fill existing position vacancies.72

In the following month, in answer to a related inquiry from a Senator, Brig. Gen. (later Maj. Gen.) J. H. Hilldring, as G-1, again outlined both the old and new policies of Guard promotion, thus:

Upon induction of the National Guard, each unit was instructed to bring its officer personnel to war strength by the promotion of qualified personnel from National Guard sources. At that time plans contemplated the release of the National Guard from Federal Service at the end of one year's training of each unit. This condition required a system of unit promotion to provide each unit with officers trained in the higher grades to fill vacancies which might exist when the Guard was returned to State control.

Under this system of promotion, the following number of officers in the National Guard have been promoted to include January 31, 1942:


36 lieutenant colonels to colonel
403 majors to lieutenant colonel
1,184 captains to major
2,153 first lieutenants to captain
4,305 second lieutenants to first lieutenant.

When war was declared and it became evident that the National Guard would remain in Federal Service indefinitely, the War Department immediately adopted a system of promotion based on selection of officers of demonstrated ability to fill all position vacancies without regard to component. The new method of promotion was announced in War Department Circular No. 1, and became effective February 1, 1942. As a result, National Guard officers may now be promoted on the recommendation of their immediate superiors to fill existing position vacancies within or without their own units. In the formation of new divisions, National Guard units are furnishing officer cadres in the same manner as the Regular Army divisions. As a result it may be expected that even greater numbers of National Guard officers will be promoted in the future. The criterion is demonstrated capacity to perform the duties of the higher grades.73

Corresponding data accumulated at about the same time provided statistics on the Reserve officers, showing that promotions of Reserve officers on extended active duty from 1 July 1940 to 31 January 1942 were as follows: colonels 78, lieutenant colonels 548, majors 3,758, captains 8,730, first lieutenants 12,250, total 25,364.74  Thereafter promotions were made without regard to the component in which the officer had been commissioned.

Controlling the Inflow of Young Officers

At the outset of rearming, in 1940, there had been no recognized shortage of Reserve officers. So little was any foreseen that in December 1940 the Staff was discouraging talk of increasing the program for officer procurement from that source-partly because any substantial increase in ROTC units would require the detail of additional Regular officers for their training, and Regular officers were already in acute demand for the training of the expanded combat forces.75  G-1 estimated that of the 106,000 Reserve officers then eligible for active


duty only half would be summoned by the following June, by which time 8,000 more would be commissioned, so that "for the contemplated Army of 1,400,000 there are more than enough Reserve officers to provide for the turnover for the next two years." 76  This view prevailed in the following spring, when a Senator wrote critically of the War Department's delay in summoning to active duty senior Reserve officers, who apparently had made their complaint to the Senator. General Marshall in reply declared that the reserve of officers for emergency was then "more than ample to meet our current needs" and that it "would be an uneconomical use of public funds" to call any officer "until the need for his services had actually developed." He spoke warmly of the Reserve Corps as "probably our greatest asset during this present expansion." 77

The number of young Reserve officers available on order, already selected, disciplined, trained in ROTC, and needing only the harder training of the 1940-41 camps, was in itself one of the encouraging factors of 1940, if not literally the "greatest asset" of General Marshall's impulsive estimate. It made possible, to a degree unknown in 1917, the Army's insistence upon proved capacity as a requirement both for original commissioning and for promotion. It is not surprising that Reservists were summoned to active duty in such numbers that in October 1941 their inflow passed the budget allowance and had to be suspended temporarily.78 The suspension order was dictated wholly by budgetary restrictions since the need for officers was still mounting, even though a new source of young officers was developing in the Officer Candidate Schools.


These last named schools had been opened both as a means of getting new officers and as a quickener of trainee morale. The program for them was laid down in September 1940 by General Marshall and pushed through over the surprisingly strong objections of G-1, G-3, and chiefs of arms, who felt that the Officers Reserve Corps was already large enough to meet requirements for the visible future, and that additions to it would make officer eliminations unnecessarily difficult. 79 General Marshall, in a memorandum to General Bryden, pointed to the high disciplinary value of training in the ranks, and to the certainty that commissioning from the ranks would increase the popularity of the Selective Service Act. (A year later Under Secretary Patterson protested that in selecting draft troops for the schools the schedule was too slow for morale purposes, and General Marshall defended the current pace as one geared to other developments in an Army already short of materiel. Time was to show that in this matter, as in materiel, the Under Secretary was setting his sights for distant needs which actually came to pass). The value of this early start in the production of new junior officers and particularly in the development of draft troop morale was high. Appointments to the schools were given to trainees giving greatest promise of leadership, selected on a unit-allotment basis by commanders of the units to which the recruits were assigned and after they had received six months' training.80  This arrangement, it was soon realized, provided no immediate opportunity for youths in the replacement training camps (as distinguished from those sent direct to field units for their training), and General Marshall, after discussion with the Chief of Field Artillery and others, proposed that quotas be allotted to those camps also, and to recruits of only four months' service, instead of six. To G-1 he expressed the belief that this might bring to attention a number of men highly qualified for leadership and-perhaps dominant in his thinking-a further belief that "this procedure is almost vital to the morale problem we are going to have on our hands this fall and winter." Again G-1 opposed the suggestion stoutly and, with G-3 concurrence, argued both against relying on replacement training centers as candidate sources and against reducing the qualifying period of service below six months. A study to this effect was prepared, but the Chief of Staff held to his views and


they went into effect in February 1942, thanks in part, no doubt, to the increased pressure for officers that the war brought to pass.81  The incident affords an example of controversial suggestions originating at the top of the General Staff with General Marshall himself, and pressed through in spite of Staff objections.

From the foregoing excerpts of letters signed by the Chief of Staff in person it can be seen that in matters of personnel as in many others he frequently dealt with performance as well as policy, and with the particular as well as the general. The examples illustrate his disposition to answer directly and in a non-routine manner all inquiries of Congressmen, friendly or otherwise, and the demands from pleaders for the National Guard and Reserve which he was desirous of merging completely in the new Army of the United States. All these personnel attentions he apparently regarded as in the public interest. Further, he was so intent on guarding against variations from stated policy in the matter of officer appointment that until mid-1941 he examined a great many individual papers, dealing with Reserve Corps appointments that for one reason or another did not conform to policy. G-1 took the initiative in relieving him of that detail, requesting authority to take final action where G-1 regarded the waiver of existing policies as not desirable; where affirmative action was recommended, however, final action would still be taken by the Chief of Staff. This procedure was approved.82

Special Attention to Important Personnel Assignments

If the policies governing the selection of new officers and the promotion or elimination of old ones ranked high in General Marshall's interests, inevitably the assignment of officers to important posts did also. Assignments to the General Staff of the War Department the Chief of Staff historically has regarded as a personal concern not satisfied wholly by statement of policy. In May 1939, for example, General Craig laid down a policy of selecting incoming replacements so as to keep the Staff alert to the needs of the field. New officers for the Staff should be those with "extensive and recent troop experience" and the majority of them should be under forty. Some of them "should be officers who are not graduates of the Command and General Staff School or the Army War


College." This was done apparently in the desire to stress knowledge of the line and recent experience in it, to a greater extent than had been the case in the past.83  The German success of May 1940 did not lessen the need for new men, but it added to the need on the General Staff for officers who were experienced in its operations and in its current planning. As a result General Marshall decided for the time being to waive those restrictive policies which forbade more than a four-year tour of duty in Washington and required a three-year lapse between General Staff details as well as between Washington assignments.84  In August, when it appeared that something more than temporary authorization was called for, there was a formal suspension of these restrictive policies and of certain others that had limited Staff "repeaters" to 25 percent and forbidden assignment to Staff for officers who had not yet served a two-year minimum in current assignments. There also was a restatement of the policy for proportionate representation of the Air Corps in each Staff division. In recognition of large 1940 additions to the Army's field forces, it was recommended that additional National Guard and Reserve officers could profitably be assigned to the Staff, 85  in excess of the limited number that Section 5 of the National Defense Act assigned to the Staff. As a result, Staff officers wholly familiar with recent military developments and with the Chief of Staff's views, and hence of great value in their current positions in the Army's mechanism, could be retained instead of being sent away on completion of their normal tours of duty. Other experienced Staff men who by the normal rule were not yet eligible to return to Washington, however great the need for them, now could be brought back to the Staff. These were general authorizations, the need for which had been clear enough to catch General Marshall's attention. His concern with specific cases of individuals considered for the Staff was equally sharp, and the record reveals the regularity with which candidacies were submitted to him for his personal approval.86

As the preparations for war advanced, General Marshall, with the apparent desire to make the Staff more responsive to the views of the Army's branches,


asked G-1 to consider the wisdom of obtaining Staff replacements in part from the offices of the chiefs of arms and services. General Staff officers were occasionally in conflict with the specialists, and the aim was apparently to reduce this friction. The suggestion received only limited encouragement from the Staff divisions. G-3 opposed wholesale assignments from the branches, and WPD warned that the plan might cause an undesirable turnover in those offices. The Personnel chief found further objection to General Marshall's suggestion, expressing bluntly his doubt that an intimate knowledge of the branch chiefs' office affairs was a qualification for Staff duty; rather he felt that it might encourage an excess of "branch consciousness" injurious to Staff thinking. His recommendation, in lieu of the original suggestion from General Marshall, was that Staff officers be chosen carefully from officers "with recent close contact with the field forces or with one of the civilian components," and that officers currently on duty with the chiefs of arms and services be chosen "only where the qualifications of the individual concerned especially fit him for such detail." This revision was an almost complete rejection of the original suggestion, but it apparently convinced General Marshall, for he approved it. 87

The Chief of Staff's scrutiny of individual candidacies for the Staff at Washington was no more intensive than his attention to major assignments in the combat forces. There has been reference to his insistence upon high qualifications for division commanders and, in specific replacement cases, for regimental commanders. With him rested the final responsibility for the choice also of divisional chiefs of staff, even though it was still the Department's stated policy "to permit division commanders to select their chiefs of staff in order to insure good cooperation, teamwork, and efficient functioning of the headquarters." 88  (Divisional staff officers below the chief of staff were not so chosen.) Things did not work that way in 1939-41. Routine procedure indeed called for the division commander to name the officer he wished, or provide a list of those desired in order of his preference. But G-1 then reviewed the suggestion, checked the officer's qualifications, eligibility, and availability, and made recommendation to the Chief of Staff. Normally the G-1 recommendation was approved but this was not an invariable rule, and on occasion the recommendation was initiated by General Marshall. In the files examined no divisional


chief of staff was selected without approval of the Chief of Staff or his deputy.89  It would appear that corps area chiefs of staff also were so approved, as were the president of a Second Army reclassification board, an associate professor at West Point, and the like.90

This same intense attention to individual cases was applied in many instances to regimental commanders, both as to appointment and relief. Of the latter sort one may note the case of an infantry colonel whose assignment to duty as assistant commandant of the Infantry School, recommended by the Chief of Infantry with G-1 concurrence, was referred to the Chief of Staff for final approval, which was given. The critical consideration appears to have been that it involved taking away an officer from a regimental command in the field, an action not to be taken hastily: beyond that, the assignment to the school was one of the things upon which a Chief of Staff meticulous about personnel details desired on occasion that he himself, or surely his office, be consulted.91

There was less maneuvering necessary to dispose of requests for or against reassignments that were sought only for the convenience of individuals. Some of the requests came from members of Congress. They were normally disposed of by routine, usually in letters that were prepared for General Marshall's signature, and usually as polite rejections.92  The existing emergency provided a useful explanation of necessity, as follows: "During the present emergency I


have, through force of circumstances, been required to assign general officers to details which I knew were not entirely to their liking, but the basis on which we have been forced to operate has been that personal wishes must be secondary to the interests of the service . . . ."

On occasion it was an appointment by a general, rather than of him, which came to the Chief of Staff's personal attention-as in September 1941, when he learned that some general officers had assigned personal relatives to their staffs. In nineteen identical memoranda to commanding generals of corps areas, armies, departments, and branches he directed that, throughout the command of each, steps be taken "informally and quietly" to have all such relatives assigned to other duties before the end of the year.93

The records of 1940-42 indicate that in assignments as well as promotions of general officers instructions were repeatedly issued by the Office of the Chief of Staff. The directing memoranda, generally signed by General Bryden, the Deputy Chief of Staff, covered almost every character of assignment and were so numerous as to suggest that often the initiation of action, as well as the decision, was that of the Office of the Chief of Staff. Suggestions from G-1 also appear in the record; but in such of these cases as have been examined the recommendation was approved or disapproved by the Chief of Staff or his Deputy. One of the memoranda alone listed assignments for seventeen major generals and thirty-three brigadiers.94

Although recommendations from field commanders or staff advisers were sought and were accepted much more often than they were rejected, decision on assignment of general officers was no simple item of routine. Frequently recommendations from the corps commander, from the chief of arm, from GHQ, and from G-1 were in conflict as to priority if not as to actual endorsement. In such cases the view of G-1 or GHQ was likeliest to be supported, but on occasion the Chief of Staff made a wholly different choice. An extreme example is found in the case of a group recommendation from G-1 for five assignments for brigadiers; General Marshall struck out one altogether and, while approving the other four, gave to them all assignments different from those recommended by G-1.95 This, as stated, was an extreme example. Normally there was great reliance upon G-1 guidance, but the case cited illustrates the


intensity with which General Marshall himself examined what might be thought of as "routine" Staff decisions. In this instance it was a matter of assignment to duty: comparable attention was given in numerous cases of promotion and relief of officers in posts of even moderate importance.


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