B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Walter Jason

Marshall Report

What Kind of an Army Gen. Marshall Wants

(5 November 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 45, 5 November 1945, p. 3
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

So General Marshall NOW blandly admits that the charges and criticisms about American tanks were correct! In addition, he now admits that two other basic items of German quipment were superior to American: one, the 88 mm. gun and the other, the smokeless, flashless powder, so vital in concealing firing positions.

The utter contempt which the brass hats have for the intelligence of the American soldier is expressed in Marshall’s brazen excuse for covering up these serious deficiencies! It was necessary, says Marshall, to maintain the confidence of the American soldiers in his weapons! The German Tiger tanks were superior in duels with the Sherman tanks. All the courage in the world would not make up the difference. American soldiers were needlessly dying and they knew it. What was. Marshall’s solution then? A statement of confidence in the Sherman tank issued by General George S. Patton, who, to be sure, never fought in one.

A second argument, equally false, was used by Marshall to justify the War Department’s lies about the tank and other equipment: You couldn’t afford to give the enemy knowledge of what weapons, were doing the most damage. As though the German intelligence did not know that. As though they had not read the articles published in Stars and Stripes.

The truth of the matter is that there was only one portion of the world which did not know these ABC facts. It was the American people. And the reason the facts were suppressed from the people was to maintain the myth of brass-hat invincibility and to keep secure the prestige of the military bureaucracy.

Peacetime armies tend to have all of the vices and none of the so-called virtues of wartime armies. After all, there are more important things than Army regulations and Army red tape to dominate the life of an army in wartime. There are battles to be fought and won.

In peacetime the dead hand of routine grips the Army from top to bottom. It is the most conservative of all institutions. Armies always prepare to fight the former war. Only drastic political changes bringing sharp cleavages in the army itself provide some fresh air in this deadening atmosphere.

In the proposed American peacetime army there is lip service to technological advances which force themselves on every military system, but nothing is offered to counteract the deadly mental paralysis which is inherent in peacetime armies.

Marshall’s proposal for a small professional army as the bulwark of military strength is ambiguous because the General is fishing for a bigger catch. One day the War Department says it desires an army of 400,000 and the next day the’ Air Corps demands 600,000 for itself alone. But more important than numbers is the kind of army!

What Kind of Army?

This question, the kind of army, is decisive. Already the question is answered by the present tendencies in the armed forces. Thousands of officers are seeking to remain in the Army. Why? Not because they are interested in a professional career, but because they have the softest job they ever can hope to find in their lives. The privileges of rank and lack of social responsibility have bought them body and soul. Among the handful of enlisted men rejoining the Army the same tendency is evident. The high grade non-commissioned officers are re-enlisting. The money and the petty privileges are what attract them.

The Army admits it has no attraction for the millions of citizens who served in its ranks during the past five years. Most of them hate the Army. And in this hatred of the present Army we see the kind of Army that it really is, and will be, if Marshall’s proposals are adopted.

The present Army has a totalitarian regime in which the brass hats are supreme. The court-martial system and the Articles of War are the basis of a terrible system of injustice that have no place in an army claiming to serve democratic goals.

Enlisted men are guilty until proved innocent, while officers are innocent until proved guilty. For minor infractions the enlisted men obtain heavy sentences, but the officers’ clique fights to defend its members, irrespective of how grave the crime of the offender.

There is no trial by jury for the enlisted men. The deadly red tape, the antiquated training, the stultifying atmosphere of garrison life – every feature of army life which the citizen-soldier found repugnant to his democratic beliefs and formed-the basis for his hatred of the Army – are to be retained under the Marshall proposals.

A Bureaucratic Cancer

The professional army in. reality is a bureaucratic cancer eating at the democratic rights and-ideals of the people and living off the fat of the land, meanwhile serving as the threat of armed force against the labor and progressive movements. Between Marshall’s proposed army and a people’s army, democratic in its nature as well as purpose, there is a gulf as wide as the distinction between, dictatorship and democracy.

All of the speculation about atomic warfare and the insistence on an armament race are simply a rehash of the military propaganda used after World War I. Then it was poison gas which threatened the existence of mankind. As a matter of fact, the failure to use gas was not inspired by moral grounds, but because both the creator of Dachau and the users of the atomic bomb feared retaliation and political consequences. In the use of the atomic bomb these factors will be as decisive in the future as they were for poison gas in the past.

The American war leaders fought as long as possible against the introduction of airpower. General Billy Mitchell was even court-martialed for advocating it. The atomic bomb development was primarily a civilian project. Even now, the Army is demanding a large ground force, and the Navy a large complement of battleships and other obsolete vessels. The Air Force seeks to maintain its strength, which can be done only by keeping vast fleets of outmoded planes. In each case the impelling urge is the drive to maintain the status quo, which means plenty of rank, prestige and privileges for the incumbent bureaucracy.

The Marshall report does not dare touch on this problem, especially as it reflects itself organizationally. A unified military service is an ABC requirement. Yet the vested interests of the cliques in the Army, Navy and Air Force maneuver around this question today, not from the viewpoint of what is a military requirement, but rather, what is in their selfish interests.

(Article Three will appear next week)

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 28 January 2018/p>