Posted by Sue Jones on Aug 05, 2019
Our speaker was sponsored by the Marge and Al Brown lecture series at the Jackson Center. The Brown children have issued a challenge grant of $10,000 for this fund at the CRCF. Their investment was very well spent on today’s speaker who held everyone in the audience rapt with attention on his subject.
Popps was a professor of public ethics at West Virginia University but when he found there was information, he wrote his own book. After seven years of research at the Marshall’s Lexington library he and his editor wife, completed the book. During today’s lecture, he linked Marshall to Robert H. Jackson. Jackson was a literary genius, in a class of his own; a brilliant advocate. Marshall was linked to Jackson by values, origin and religion. He created an international government and human rights democracy. There was 11 years difference in their ages and they grew up 100 miles apart.
Jackson grew up south of Frewsburg, then moved to the village and then into Jamestown. Marshall grew up in Uniontown, PA where he was a mediocre student, he loved history, was a prankster, he roamed the countryside and was an entrepreneur. He was very distant from his father who was very austere. He vowed to attend VMI like his brother, because he overheard his brother tell his mother not to let him go because he would embarrass the family. The family was very poor, but mother had an inheritance which she poured into George’s education. He became the top cadet – not a good student, but he excelled at leadership. At graduation he did not receive a commission so he went to the White House where he wheedled his way into requesting the opportunity to take the army exam. McKinley gave him permission to take the test and then he headed back to VMI where he married.
He often filled in for higher ranking officers, so he had to do everything by persuasion and reason. He attended the Army leadership and command school where he was the top student and became regular army, a self-generated expert in leadership skills. General Bell invited him to teach logistics and tactics to men much older than him. During summers, he volunteered to create and oversee war games and then went full-time with the Regular Army in Philadelphia as a major.
General Hap Arnold was watching Marshall’s future develop as a Chief of Staff in action.
He became Chief Operations Officer of the Army in World War I – always a staff officer. He has a mental breakdown and during this time learned how to play –riding horses, playing children’s games with the kids on the post and yet taking time to go to Japan and learn their fighting tactics. He finally returned to teaching US troops.
A member of the 1st Infantry Division-he was one of the first to ship out to France and Britain where he was taught training in trench warfare to educate the US troops. He developed the perspective to see infield tactics and also learned the skills of shipping, building buildings and providing supplies for the troops. He was transferred to Headquarters where he planned to movement of 600,000 allied troops under the nose of the Germans without them even realizing it. He was hailed as the logistics genius of World War I.
General Pershing selected Marshall as his top aide and Marshall set off to visit the German border areas where he found the total collapse of the German Society. Civilian people were starving and he vowed to remake civil governments as his highest priorities.
He worked for Pershing for five years promoting a citizen’s army with a national guard and reserves and a reduced regular army. But then came the Depression and the funding dried up. In 1938 there were only 175,000 in the Regular Army and 75,000 in the Reserves. Our army was the 18th strongest in the world after Hungary – we were in bad shape.
After three years in China, he returned to Washington and his wife died. He was teaching at the War College and hated it. Pershing had also lost his wife and 3 children in a fire at the Presidio and so he sent Marshall off to be Dean of the Infantry Officers School at Fort Benning, GA, where he revolutionized army training and married a women with 3 children – at last a family.
Almost 60 officers he later appointed in World War II were from Ft. Benning – all became generals.
He integrated infantry with other army units and after 5 years, he was off to run the Civilian Conservation Corps where he took men who were suffering from great poverty and brought them into public service by building roads, bridges and parks. Marshall considered this the best role of his life.
In 1938, Marshall returned to the General Staff as a Brigadier General as Chief of War Plans and began US strategy. His strategy was for fighting to take place in Europe first, defeating Germany first and then turning attention to the Pacific and the Japanese.
He became Deputy Chief of Staff and he began beefing up intelligence, cracking the Japanese Purple Cipher, which is why we won the battle of Midway which really won the war. He created 20 extra air wings and is considered the Father of the American Airforce.
General Hugh Drum was odds on favorite to become Chief of Staff, but on 9/1/39, Roosevelt chose Marshall as the Army’s top man AND WWII began. The army was tiny with little power and funding. The neutrality act kept him from aiding the allies, he couldn’t use the army outside the Western Hemisphere and he was limited to the number of men who could be in service. He reorganized the entire department so that as soon as war was declared, Congress could not block his plans.
In 1939-41 is when Jackson and Marshall began their interaction. They worked on a deal with the British for bases and Britain got old US destroyers which laid the basis for the lend lease program.
Jackson was NOT a militarist but he saw the need.
Marshall was not a legalist but saw the need for civil leadership.
Congress opened the country’s wallet.
In the Arcadia Conference, the Brits and America got together and Marshall organized how the two countries could combine forces and leadership and he opened a British staff office in the Pentagon. Marshall wanted a cross channel invasion of France with forces from Britain including tanks, ships, & fuel because of the flat terrain on the beaches. Churchill was opposed due to the tremendous losses in WWI. So North Africa was first because the British needed the victories and the American needed “to be blooded”.  Marshall got Patton to bring in the tanks and they were victorious. Then Churchill wanted to turn to Italy and Sicily.
In 1942, Marshall established the civil governance department IN SECRET, feeling that we had the Germans on their heels. He also began planning the demobilization of the war IN SECRET.
His post war planning included: military tactics, universal military training, a United Nations organization, combined military services into one organization (no petty jealousies), no large land force and focus on intelligence, communications, special forces and espionage. At this time, Jackson was appointed to lead the War Crimes trials. He wanted to rebuild the post war countries as democracies that were human with strong international cooperation and of course NATO.
Marshall became Secretary of State – he saw an arms war coming in the future, he promoted economic aid and monetary assistance to the European organization.
The Marshall Plan WORKED, for the past 75 years there has been an alliance with Europe, the United States and Canada.
We are now seeing a challenge to that paradigm through isolation, tariffs and disengagement. The polarization between Congress and the White House must end.