The General Staff
THERE is much lay discussion nowadays, in the newspapers and by word of mouth, as to our army of yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow: much about its size, about universal service or universal training, about the militia, about aircraft and ordnance, promotion and demotion, but comparatively little about what should be the real centre and source of our military policy — the General Staff; and what we do hear is usually based upon very imperfect knowledge. There may be something, therefore, of interest to other laymen, to be said regarding it, by a civilian who was daily exposed to military Washington for upwards of two years.
The part played during the war by the General Staff in Washington is not clearly understood, the limitations placed upon it are overlooked, and its accomplishments underestimated. The progressive changes in staff organization, and, perhaps more important, in staff emphasis, growing out of the war emergency, must be reviewed as a condition of understanding its present status and the merits of the current proposals as to its place in the permanent organization of the army.
To begin with the limitations: the crown and pinnacle of staff work to the soldiers’ mind, the direction of actual fighting, was denied to our General Staff in Washington. Before any fundamental change had been made in our staff organization, General Pershing had been selected as Commander-inChief of the A.E.F., and the Secretary of War, on behalf of the President, mindful perhaps of the sorry place played by official Washington during the Civil War, had promised him a free hand in the field, and, what is more to the purpose, had kept the promise scrupulously. Pershing organized his own Staff on lines he found established in the French and British armies; and, it should be noted incidentally, in picking his men he cut down the already pitifully small supply of trained men at home. These ranks were still further depleted as the staff officers in the various divisions in training here went with their comrades to France. Indeed, at the time of the Armistice, but four of the hundreds of staff officers on duty at Washington had had general staff experience prior to the war. Pershing, guided by his Staff, determined what the organization should be, and the strategic mission, and what these involved in men and supplies.
This development of staff work in the American Expeditionary Forces limited the job in Washington to the preparation of the material, human and inanimate, for which Pershing called, and to its prompt delivery at some European harbor — a job of tremendous importance, but also a very fundamental limitation to bear in mind. Further, the staff machine in France was, in its Service of Supply and elsewhere, a machine which closely paralleled in function, though not in details of organization, nearly every element in our staff development in America.
There was further limitation of the staff functions on this side of the Atlantic. While the Secretary of War has never, so far as I know, exercised his constitutional authority in the face of the adverse judgment of his military associates upon any matter of technical military policy, he never hesitated to exercise a controlling influence in any matter which touched the civilian life of the country. He knows more fully and more sympathetically, perhaps, than any man in the administration what the ordinary American man and woman in each of our social groups — merchants, manufacturers, teachers, laborers, mechanics, and all the rest — thinks and feels. He knows the things which they regard as relatively unimportant, and the things about which they feel so strongly that any policy which ran counter to their feeling would be doomed to failure. This sympathetic understanding played a very important, and, I believe, a generally unrecognized part in the selection and training of our army, in caring for the enlisted men as individual American citizens, and surrounding them with wholesome opportunities for recreation, and, incidentally, in helping to solve many of the problems of procurement and transport which faced the General Staff.
In the whole question of the administration of the Selective Service Law, in the field of Military Justice, in the work of the Commission on Training-Camp Activities and of the Labor-Adjustment Board, the Staff was practically freed from responsibility by the direct leadership of the Secretary of War. The work of the Assistant Secretaries of War in many cases paralleled, and sometimes duplicated, that of the Staff, the Assistant Secretary serving as Director of Munitions, and being also responsible to the Secretary of War for the construction programme; the Second Assistant functioning for a time as Surveyor of Purchases, and later as Director of Aircraft Production; and the Third Assistant as Director of Civilian Relations.
Outside of the War Department, the Council of National Defense and, later, the great organizations which had budded off from the Council, notably the War Industries Board, performed many functions which, in any system laid out on a theoretical basis and not resulting from a hurried and confused empiricism, might have been expected to fall to the share of the Army Staff. The Shipping Board, the Railroad Administration, and the Food and Fuel Administration, also encroached upon what in Germany would have been unhesitatingly recognized as the field of the great General Staff.
Having reviewed what, for one reason or another, the General Staff in Washington was not called upon to do during the Great War, and before taking up the consideration of what it did do, let us note that the place of the Staff in our army presents a problem within a problem — the general or external question being the relation of the Staff to the Line and the Bureaus, and the internal question being the relation of the Chief of Staff to the Staff itself, and, in his capacity as chief, to the Secretary of War and to the President on the one hand, and to the fabric of the army on the other.
Though the dominant part played by the General Staff in the conduct of military affairs in the United States dates from the arrival on March 4, 1918, of General Peyton C. March from France (where he had been acting as Chief of Artillery), to serve as Acting Chief of Staff, steps to bring about a reorganization of staff functions had already been taken. General Scott had strongly urged them in his report as retiring Chief of Staff, in September, 1917. The Secretary of War and his associates were by no means satisfied with the progress of affairs on this side of the Atlantic during the winter of 1917 and 1918, and efforts to improve the scheme of organization would have been made in any event. The actual steps taken, however, were undoubtedly accelerated by the investigation by the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, beginning December 12, 1917.
To attempt to follow the whole complicated process through its various steps, in a brief report, would work for confusion rather than clarity, and in any event, the record is available for the serious student in the current report of the Chief of Staff. In general, these steps were taken, or at least it so appears to the layman, with a view to giving a free hand to the strong men whom the critical conditions had brought to the fore, and to bringing under their control matters which were not going forward satisfactorily, rather than to perfecting the scheme of organization from a theoretical point of view.
Though it would be interesting to trace the growth of each of the Staff departments, — as, for example, the Military Intelligence, which grew from two officers, in Washington in April, 1917, to 292 in November, 1918; the Statistical and Morale services; or the development, under staff direction from the first, of certain of the special fighting branches— I must limit myself to two. The organic act creating the Staff in 1903 made provision for a few staff officers under the direction of the Chief of Staff, to carry out the executive functions entrusted to him by that law. Out of this nucleus of nine men — in April, 1917—grew the Operations Division, headed by an Assistant Chief of Staff, which rapidly took over the dynamic qualities of the Adjutant General’s Office, including the new and very important service of classification and assignment of personnel, to such a degree that the once all-powerful A.G.O. became little more than a recording machine.
The most fundamental change—and the most interesting from an administrative point — was the creation and rapid growth of the Staff Division of Purchase, Storage, and Traffic. In 1903, no one could have foreseen the relative importance of the problem of supply in twentieth-century warfare, and it is not astonishing that there is no specific mention of supply questions in the act which created the General Staff. It is perhaps a source of surprise that, even during the years from 1914 to 1917, the Staff was never properly organized to deal with these questions, which were left almost wholly in the hands of the separate bureaus. The inherent defects of bureau control were promptly revealed when we attempted to raise, equip, and move a great army. To quote from the current report of the Chief of Staff: —
There developed a competition for manufactured articles and for raw materials and for labor, which resulted in high prices and in an inefficient distribution of labor, involving a scarcity in certain localities and actual unemployment in others; similarly there resulted a congestion in the placing of contracts and in the location of new manufacturing plants in many localities, irrespective of the labor, fuel, power, and transportation available. Plants and real estate were commandeered or purchased by individual bureaus without consideration of the effect upon the requirements of other bureaus, and no standardized contract procedure obtained to protect either the manufacturers and owners or the United States. The total lack of standardized specifications resulted in a delay in manufacture, a lack of interchangeability, and an increased cost. Nine independent and different systems for estimating requirements were in operation, with a consequent lack of balance in the military programme and inefficient utilization of the available manufacturing plants. There were five different sources of supplies for organizations to be equipped, and five different and complicated systems of property accountability for the officers charged with equipping these organizations.
There existed no agency for determining questions of priority among different bureaus for manufactured articles or raw materials, no effective means of traffic control on land or sea, and no central study of storage problems, or central system of accounts. Step by step, the General Staff took over the responsibility for each of these matters, and built up a special organization to meet each need. The work was not done all at once. Some reforms, because of the detailed form in which our military appropriations are granted, had to await the signing of the Overman Act (May 20, 1918), and others, the development of some separate part of the national war-organization, as, for example, the Railroad Administration.
Perhaps I can give some idea of the magnitude of the whole enterprise by a few figures. In a single month —July, 1918—1,147,013 soldiers were transported by rail; and on a single day during the return of our troops there were 180,681 men actually on the ocean. Storage facilities for 63,171,131 square feet were provided in this country — much less than half, by the way, of the total space estimated as necessary by the separate bureaus. The yearly purchases of wool for the army were far greater than the normal wool-consumption of the whole nation. The purchase of blankets was more than twice the normal gross production.
Although a separate Embarkation Service had been established in the previous August, the first step in the general reorganization was taken in December, 1917, and curiously enough, was one with which the Staff had nothing to do, namely, the recalling to active service of Major General George W. Goethals to act as Quartermaster General. In the following month the Staff Division of Purchase and Storage was created. This was soon extended to include Traffic, and General Goethals, who had, promptly upon his appointment, initiated a reorganization of the Quartermaster Corps, was made Director and Assistant Chief of Staff, still retaining his position as Quartermaster General. In May, a new Acting Quartermaster General was appointed, to relieve him of detail, and a central Department of Finance was created in August.
Roughly speaking, the modus operandi was to take over as a nucleus, under staff control and direction, the purchase and storage and finance machinery of the Quartermaster Corps, to which, under the old régime, had fallen eighty per cent of the procurement of non-technical articles and the responsibility for storage needs in about the same proportion. It was also by far the largest of the ten separately existing financial agencies within the War Department. In view of the outcry about the Quartermaster Corps during the winter of 1917, it is interesting to note how much of its machinery it was found possible to use to good effect in the new organization. To fill out the scheme, General Goethals took over similarly the machinery and personnel of the bureau, which had developed independently the most effective organization to meet any particular requirement. The machinery for inland transport of material, for example, was taken over from the Ordnance Department, and the Engineer Department was paid the embarrassing compliment of having several of the services which it had built up removed bodily to serve, not only the Engineers, but the whole army. General Goethals used civilians freely in developing his organization, apparently finding no difficulty in fitting them into the military machine without transforming the men he wanted into ‘overnight majors.’
Of all the countless processes of centralization the ones which worked, not only most smoothly, but also most rapidly, were the ones in which the man in charge preceded the issuing of orders by full and informal conferences with the men to be most vitally affected by the new scheme of things. In view of the firmness of opinion, not to say obstinacy, of all masters of accounts, the problem of unifying under a single Director of Finance all the different and independent financial units of the War Department was one which the stoutest hearted might view with alarm. Yet this centralization was actually carried out without a hitch or a ruffle by this process of preliminary conference.
The whole war-time process of staffbuilding was necessarily that of swapping horses while crossing a stream, with all the difficulties and dangers which accompany that process. At every moment, the situation required complicated adjustments and abrupt decisions which, under normal conditions, would be unnecessarily wasteful of time and temper. To a New Yorker the difference between it and peacetime staff-building seems like the difference between constructing the Grand Central Station without disrupting a heavy train schedule in operation on the site, and the construction of the Pennsylvania Terminal on a vacant lot.
It goes without saying, therefore, that the scheme developed plenty of friction in its operation, and it must be remembered that the Armistice halted the process in mid-career, before it had been possible to perfect it. There is no doubt, however, that the Armistice would not have been signed on November 11, 1918, if Purchase, Storage, and Traffic had failed to fulfill the primary purpose for which it was created, namely, the speeding up of the supply and transportation programme of the American Army.
It would require a separate paper to deal with the interesting and instructive staff operations growing out of the cessation of hostilities — as, for example, the return of troops from overseas, the details of demobilization, of contract adjustments, sale of supplies, disposal of real estate, the recalculation of requirements and procurements and restandardization, the taking over of the welfare and educational programmes, handled during the war by other agencies. For our present purpose, it is sufficient to point out that in all these operations the Staff continued to exercise the controlling power which it had assumed during the period of conflict.
The demobilization practically completed, and with a very different way of doing things established from that in operation in 1917, the War Department found itself last summer at a parting of the ways. Should it recommend legislation to Congress which would result in the resumption of bureau dominance; or should the system of staff control and operation which had developed during the war be perpetuated; or should a middle course be planned, designed to carry into effect, in the light of war experience, the policy which the Act of 1903 had contemplated?
The so-called March-Baker Bill (Senate Bill 2715), presented by the Secretary of War in August, 1919, follows in general the second of these paths. To understand just what its adoption would involve, it is necessary to turn back for a moment. The organization of a General Staff for the United States Army, in 1903, which, by the way, antedated the birth of the British General Staff by one year, was undertaken by one of the ablest men of our generation, Elihu Root, who was then the Secretary of War, and who, with the lessons of the Spanish War clearly in mind, had been hammering away at this question since 1899. Mr. Root was fully cognizant of the traditional independence of the departmental bureaus. He regarded it as a fundamental cause of weakness, and felt that the new organization must have power to meet the situation. To bring this about, we may be sure that, in drawing his bill, he chose his words with care. In interpreting the intent of the Act of 1903, Colonel J. McA. Palmer, himself a Staff Officer, in his recent testimony before the House Committee on Military Affairs, states that in his judgment the Act ‘provided specifically that the Chief of Staff, who is the senior member of the General Staff Corps, should have supervisory power. It did not give that power to the General Staff, but it authorized the Chief of Staff, in exercising that supervisory power, to utilize General Staff officers as his assistants. That office was created as an executive agency, and not as an operating agency. . . . The Act of 1903 created two entirely distinct agencies, so far as the War Department was concerned — a planning agency, the General Staff itself, and an executive agency in the person of the Chief of Staff, acting under the authority of the Secretary of War.’
To the nation at large, however, this distinction was of no immediate interest or importance; for though the Staff was responsible for some excellent work in the professional training of officers, which bore fruit on the battlefields of France, for many years it had little opportunity to show what it could accomplish in any other capacity. Congress, alarmed perhaps by the example of the unceasing encroachments of the Generalstab in every field of the German national life, favored the Bureaus in army legislation as against the Staff, and in general, to quote Secretary Baker, ‘acted with distrust toward the General Staff which it had created, limiting its numbers and circumscribing its functions from time to time.’
With the acute pressure of war conditions, however, emphasis was placed day by day more firmly upon the executive agency for which provision was made in the law of 1903 in the person of the Chief of Staff, until we come to General Orders No. 80 (August 6, 1918), which provides: —
The Chief of the General Staff is the immediate adviser of the Secretary of War on all matters relating to the Military Establishment, and is charged by the Secretary of War with the planning, development, and execution of the Army programme. The Chief of Staff by law [Act of May 12, 1917] takes rank and precedence over all officers of the Army, and by virtue of that position and by authority of and in the name of the Secretary of War, he issues such orders as will insure that the policies of the War Department are harmoniously executed by the several corps, bureaus, and other agencies of the Military Establishment, and that the Army programme is carried out speedily and efficiently.
Under his direction, a rapidly increasing number of staff officers was engaged in administrative, as contrasted with deliberative work. In his current report, General March comments upon this process as follows: —
The consolidation of related activities which was necessary to attain our end required a degree of actual administrative control, if results were to be secured with the expedition and effectiveness that was necessary, which, in some cases, was not essentially or fundamentally a General Staff function. Had a proper and adequate General Staff organization and supervision been in existence before the war, this degree of administrative control by the General Staff would not have been necessary. Under the existing conditions, however, no other alternative existed if the military programme as a whole were to be carried out, and I subordinated all other considerations to the attainment of the end.
In non-military language, what had happened was this: In a critical period during the war, Secretary Baker found in General March a man whose high intelligence, extraordinary capacity for work, and driving power, whose immediate grasp of a specific situation and instant decision as to a means of meeting it, could achieve results that were sorely needed; and the Secretary gave him a free hand in the working of the military machine on this side of the Atlantic (just as he gave Pershing a free hand on the other side). In so doing, he had, I think, the approval of public opinion and, generally, of army opinion.
Congress watched the proceedings with interest but, comparatively speaking, in silence. When, however, it appeared that the bill submitted by the Department proposed to recognize as the permanent policy of the army the de facto status of the Chief of Staff, there was much to be heard from Congress and in the newspapers, and, when they were called upon for testimony, from officers of distinction in the army itself.
The issue broadened to include also a consideration of the deliberative functions of the Staff, when it developed that the proposed act represented in its essential features the personal judgment of the Chief of Staff, and was presented to Congress through the Secretary of War, unaccompanied by the recommendations of the Staff Corps itself as to certain important questions involved.
This focused attention upon the changes in its wording from the Act of 1903. The planning function of the latter would appear to be transferred from the General Staff to the Chief of Staff by the insertion of the words quoted above from General Orders No. 80, and by the insertion in the section having to do with the duties of the General Staff Corps (in which the language of the Act of 1903 is generally followed) of the phrase 'under the direction of the Chief of Staff shall be prepared plans for the national defense,’ etc.
Colonel Palmer stated in his testimony that ‘it is impossible to escape the conclusion, whatever may be the merits of it, that this law would transfer the function of planning for the national defense from the General Staff to the Chief of Staff, and that it would give to the General Staff the purely ministerial function of working out details.’
So much for the relations between Chief and Staff. As to how far the members of the General Staff Corps, in the light of the record of the past two years, should continue their war-time functions in relation to matters formerly in the control of the bureaus, the issue is not so clear cut, and departmental policy is less directly controlled by legislation. The Staff has proved, for example, the need and practicability of a continued central control of all matters of storage, transportation, and department finance. Whether, however, such matters should be operated by it or by a reincarnated quartermaster corps is open to discussion. As to matters of procurement, and anything else that affects the national supply of raw material, the manufacturing capacity of the country, and the labor market, it has similarly been demonstrated that the machinery for department centralization should at all times be ready to function instantly in time of crisis. Whether such a readiness demands, in peace-time, administrative control, or merely oversight, on the part of the Staff is again open to discussion.
In Colonel Palmer’s judgment the usefulness of the General Staff in this, as in all other matters, depends primarily upon the proper method of selecting and training officers for Staff duties. Let me quote a sentence or two from his testimony.
The real problem is that of providing the General Staff with a properly trained personnel. . . . Nobody ought to be on the General Staff because he is a representative of the Infantry or any other branch; he ought to be there because he is trained in the tactics of all the arms combined. . . . If he is a trained General Staff officer, under the French and German systems, the tactical faculty has been determined and developed in him and that is the primary reason he is there. . . . A trained General Staff officer will inform the supply service as to what they ought to supply in order to conform to the tactical plan; but if you put a former quartermaster in there, who is not a trained General Staff officer, he will think, no doubt, that the only way he can solve the problem is to do the quartermaster’s business for him.
I think it is not fully recognized in the army that there is nothing peculiar to military conditions in the clash between Staff and Bureau and Staff and Line. The conflict between the agency which formulates policies and the agency which carries them into execution is age-long and universal. It is not only in the army that the man who draws the plans wants to work them himself, and the man whose stated task is to carry out the details is constantly reaching back for a chance to initiate them. Perhaps this is an insoluble conflict, and perhaps it is fortunate that this is so, because it keeps both elements in the solution of a given problem on their mettle.
There are certain questions having to do with the place of the Staff in the army and of the army in the nation, regarding which neither the public nor their representatives have as yet shown any particular interest, but which I believe to be of the first importance. In these days an army must, I think, prepare its mind to work in not a few instances under the guidance, and sometimes the control, of outside agencies. Our army will not have learned its lesson if it tries to build up a scheme which is to run the whole show in time of national crisis. Modern war is bigger than any War Department. It should be the function of the Staff to plan and maintain an organization which can be immediately expanded in time of need, and which at the same time will continue and, as need arises, will establish points of contact with agencies outside the department itself. We have as a nation demonstrated during the war the capacity for rapid and effective civilian organization in time of need, in all those matters which bring into play the application of expert knowledge, the control of national resources and of transportation, the mobilization of manufacturing facilities, of labor, and the like. That demonstration, it seems to me, limits the needs of the Staff to keeping together a small but highly efficient group of men to keep abreast of the general situation as it develops from day to day, and to maintaining its contacts at strategic points.
The good repute of the Staff in the matter of the establishment of personnel and statistical work, of the chemical warfare (and, to a very large extent, the military intelligence also), was due to the work of civilian experts who had been drawn temporarily into the military service; and unless the Staff continues to have available, either by assignment of reserve officers or otherwise, the same type of experience and skill, these organizations will inevitably suffer.
Indeed, it must be remembered that during the war it was true, not only in the special Staff divisions, but all through the army, that the great majority of our civilian experts in each of the countless matters which modern warfare touches were either in uniform and subject to call by military order, or else immediately available as part of the war machine in the Council of National Defense, the War Industries Board, and the like. Such men cannot be held by the government in peacetime; indeed, practically all of them have now disappeared; and those who plan wisely for the future of the army must bear in mind the need of establishing contacts with the best sources of current information upon a thousand matters which are vital in modern warfareor preparedness therefor, and which can no longer be left to be dealt with upon the comfortable assumption that any army officer, certainly any West Pointer, becomes ipso facto competent to perform without outside guidance the functions of any position to which he may be assigned by military order. What seemed in war-time to be purely military decisions were in reality often expert judgments upon technical points made by experts only recently transferred from civilian life.
In drawing conclusions as to the future, in the light of experience in any particular field, I think there is a tendency to give undue credit to schemes of organization as contrasted with the individuals who perform the work. These individuals are not themselves always competent judges. A successful man is very likely to overestimate the value of the machinery with which he has been operating, and a poor workman notoriously blames his tools. Around the concept of the General Staff have been grouped the various administrative reforms which the pressure of events forced upon the American Army. Some, if not most, of them, would have been undertaken in any event, assuming that a strong man had been placed in control. It was, for example, George W. Goethals who speeded up the whole supply scheme, and not the Quartermaster General or the Assistant Chief of Staff, or whatever his title for the moment may have been; and Peyton C. March or Enoch H. Crowder would have been a dominant figure under any other scheme than the one we happened to be following. I do not want to underestimate the importance of proper organization, but on the other hand, one must not place the entire stress upon it.
At all events, the Department bill, both in what it said and in what it left unsaid, was a keen disappointment to those who felt that the permanent staff organization should reflect and embody the deeper rather than the more superficial lessons to be drawn from the war-experience; that the War Department should do more than request Congressional sanction for maintaining the status quo.
What we had in Washington at the close of the conflict, and what, to a somewhat lesser degree, we still have and call the General Staff, is not an organization complete in all its members, but rather the head and torso of a staff. Its strength lies, not in the logic or the symmetry of its structure, but in the powerful personality of its Chief, his high ability and that of a number of his associates, and in the prestige of a great military accomplishment. Its weakness as a model for the permanent fabric of the army lies in its incompleteness, or rather lopsidedness, in the lack of proper training for its personnel, and in its failure to have won the confidence and support of the great mass of regular army officers. Petty jealousies have undoubtedly had their part in bringing about this distrust ; but it would be a serious mistake to attribute it wholly, or even mainly, to this cause.
The Staff’s primary and permanent function of study and counsel having been subordinated to its temporary one of executive control, a sufficiently strong desire to restore the proper balance has not been shown. It still remains rather the Staff of the Chief of Staff than the General Staff of the army. The present Chief of Staff — and I bow to no one in my appreciation of what he accomplished during the war—is, like the rest of us, an imperfect human being, and like the rest of us, possesses the defects of his qualities. The situation which called him to his high office required a man who was preëminently fortiter in re, and one must not complain unduly if the man who fulfilled this condition proved to be not particularly suaviter in modo. The country needed a man to meet concrete problems with immediate solutions, and such a man is not always one who is strong in the formulation of wise general conclusions reached in close coöperation and consultation with a group, within which he recognizes his position as that of primus inter pares.
The more serious Regular officers and the civilians who had temporarily been a part of the military establishment needed evidence which neither the bill nor the current policies of the Department furnished upon certain matters which seem to them vital and which may be summarized as follows: —
1. A sufficient willingness on the part of the Staff to relinquish operating functions, which, as a war measure, and only as a war measure, it was recognized as fully justified in seizing; even more important, a zeal to take up in their stead the processes of study and coordination.
2. Evidence that it realizes the vital importance of properly training and selecting men for staff duties and responsibilities.
3. Evidence that it has established machinery for utilizing to the full the experience of the Staff of the American Expeditionary Forces.
4. Evidence of having learned the lesson of t he absolute dependence of the army upon the nation and the vital importance of keeping in touch with the expert outside the regular service.
5. Assurance that the Secretary of War, before initiating matters affecting general army policy, either by the issuance of general orders or by recommending legislation, would have before him, not alone the judgment of any one man, no matter how able and disinterested, but also the judgment of a group of trained staff officers, enjoying the confidence of the army as a whole, who had given careful study to the questions at issue. There must be some men in the army, and the best men available, given time to think, and given freedom to express their thoughts.
These and other questions were brought to the attention of the Military Affairs Committees through the testimony of officers; and as a result, the Senate Committee asked the Department for the services of the staff officer whose opinions have already been quoted in this paper — Colonel J. McA. Palmer — to assist it in drawing up a substitute army bill which is now before the Senate for consideration.
This bill attempts to meet all these problems of staff organization of which I have spoken. Its provides — as in the French Army — for an eligible list from which staff officers must be chosen, made up, originally, not only of graduates of the service schools, but also of all who have demonstrated capacity for staff duties under war conditions. Additions to the list are to be limited to recommended graduates of the Staff School. Provision is made for the elimination from the list of men who cannot demonstrate that they are growing with their jobs, and for the special training of staff eligibles for the duties of the War Department Staff in Washington — as contrasted with staff duties with troops. Civilian contacts are made possible by provision that reserve officers may be called to staff duties because of expert knowledge in special fields. The duties of the Chief of Staff, as outlined in the bill, include the advisory and executive functions contemplated in the Act of 1903; but his recommendations involving legislation must be accompanied by the views of the appropriate officers of the departmental General Staff.
It is, I believe, true that practically all these provisions would have been included in the recommendations of the Staff Corps, had these been asked for in connection with the preparation of the earlier War Department bill.
The new bill presents an entirely new scheme for the solution of the supply problem in making provision for an Under Secretary of War, to be in effect Chief of Staff in all matters having to do with munitions, who may call upon both officers and civilians to assist him. For the consideration of policies affecting both military and munitions problems, there is created a War Council, consisting of the Secretary, the Under Secretary, the General of the Army (Pershing), and the Chief of Staff.
It is for the future to determine whether the new bill, if enacted into law, will place the General Staff in the place it should hold; but it is at any rate a carefully considered and honest attempt to do so, along the lines of the third of the paths which I have mentioned as being open to the Depart-
ment. In my judgment, the expedient most doubtful of success is that involving the segregation of munitions from other military questions.
The House also has a substitute bill in which, however, questions of staff organization are given relatively slight consideration. As this is being written there is a rumor in Washington that, to avoid raising the troublesome issue of universal service just now, the politicians of both parties are scheming to have Congress adjourn without passing any Army bill whatsoever. I hope that this rumor has no foundation in fact.
However far we may feel it wise to depart, for the peace-time army, from the organization and procedure of the wartime Staff in Washington, we must never forget what this hurriedly gathered group of men, with all their human limitations and with all their mistakes and oversights, did bring about under the leadership of their Chief and his Assistants. They expedited, and in many vital respects they initiated and controlled, the details of a programme of military training and procurement of military supplies of mammoth proportions. In an incomparably brief time they accomplished the greatest single migration in history, and performed the miracle not only forward but backward. Indeed, the return of our soldiers to civil life, when the excitement and stimulus of war had vanished, was in many respects a more astounding performance than our transportation of more than two million soldiers to France, with their equipment and maintenance.
If the war had lasted six months or a year longer, and the army had been made ready for this, many of the rough joints would have come to work more smoothly; but, in any event, the Staff accomplished its main purpose, and its accomplishment of that purpose proved to be one of the major factors in the defeat of Germany.