George Marshall On A World War I RIP/TOA Some 100 Years Ago

The Long March

By the spring of 1918, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division and several others had already been bloodied during rotations into generally quiet sectors to gain experience, or in support roles with the British Army as the latter sought to contain the Imperial German Army’s Michael offensives.  In the last week of April, the 1st Division made the move into the sector that would in a month’s time earn the division national acclaim: Picardy, in northern France, in which province stood the village of Cantigny.  The Battle of Cantigny is regarded as the first distinctly American victory of the war.

1919, France - Col George C. MarshallPublic domain

A concerned Colonel George Marshall recorded that:

“We commenced the relief of the French units on the night of April 24th, and by the 26th the First Division was established in front of the enemy.  There were no trenches, the men being distributed in individual pits or “foxholes”, and the Headquarters located in any convenient cave or cellar.  This lack of covered communications and the continuous violence of the artillery fire made it almost impossible to circulate in the sector during daylight hours.  Our casualties made a formidable daily list, considering the fact that there was no advance by the infantry on either side. The losses in officers were particularly heavy, as it was necessary for them to move about to oversee their men.  The captains of the machine gun companies, whose personnel was more scattered than others, had a particularly trying task, and most of them were killed or wounded during the first ten days. After the machine-gunners, the field officers suffered most, and we had two Lieutenant Colonels killed and two others wounded in a very short time.” (Excerpted from Memoirs of My Services in the World War, 1917-1918.)


--The communications scheme under which you train may not be the same one you are able to employ when you enter a new area of operations.  Anticipate this and be flexible.

--Leaders will be excited when their first action is imminent.  That is normal and indeed a good sign, but it must be tempered with a sense of caution.  No one benefits when a large number of key leaders are knocked out on the eve of battle.

--Likewise, the junior leaders of combat support units (machinegun companies in this case) are often more vulnerable, less situationally-aware, and may be less experienced when it comes to operating within the big picture.  Be aware of and sensitive to that, and when possible devote some additional time or resources to help them do their job so that their units can subsequently provide you with the best possible support.

John Throckmorton is a business executive who lives with his family north of Atlanta.  He served for 20 years as an infantry officer with assignments at Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, and in Iraq.  His great-grandfather was a machinegun officer with the U.S. 35th Infantry Division (and ironically saw the start of the next war while serving as a senior staff officer with the U.S. Army’s Hawaiian Department on December 7th, 1941).  His World War I reading list can be found here:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.

After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.

But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.

Read More Show Less

That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.

After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.

Read More Show Less

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.

"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.

Read More Show Less

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.

Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.

Read More Show Less