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Walter Jason

Marshall Report

A Program for War

(29 October 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 44, 29 October 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The most ambitious military program in the history of the world has been outlined in the 70,000 word biennial report of General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Its primary objective is to assure American imperialism the mightiest military power known to man.

Its main theme is a flagrant demand that America begin a world armament race of the kind that disastrously followed World War I.

The report is a major effort on the part of the brass hats to terrify the American people, through nightmarish visions of future war, into accepting the principle of compulsory military training as a permanent peacetime feature of American life.

General Marshall rewrites the history of the war and brazenly tries to whitewash a whole series of tragic errors and blunders of the brass hats. One of the purposes of this is to perpetuate the privileges, power and prestige of the military bureaucracy.

It is of no minor consequence to millions of GI’s sweating out the demobilization process that Marshall lets the cat out of the bag on the real reasons why demobilization appears all messed up.

Let us take up first the matter of demobilization, for it is the acute problem of the moment.

It is customary these days to tell stories of how the Army messed up demobilization, how the situation at separation centers is scandalous, and then to dismiss the whole thing as another example of Army stupidity.

Behind Demobilization

While everything said, especially by the victims, against the present system of demobilization is true, it is not the whole story. The basic cause of the slow and painful demobilization is something the congressmen and senators and the newspapers do not mention. But General Marshall inadvertently tells the reason:

“Our present national policies require us to: maintain occupational forces in Europe and the Pacific; prepare for a possible contribution of forces to a world security organization; maintain national security while the world remains unstable and later on a more permanent or stable basis.

“These policies require manpower. Yet at the same time it is the policy of the nation to completely demobilize the wartime army as rapidly as possible. Unless hundreds of thousands of men of the wartime forces are to remain in service at home and overseas, more permanent decisions must be made.”

In plain words, Marshall says that unless the people want the soldiers to remain in the Army they had better support compulsory military training. Slow demobilization is the club used to attempt to blackjack the American people into committing the grave error of supporting the brass-hat proposal.

The alleged bottleneck of insufficient separation centers is strictly a creation of the brass hats to achieve their aim. Besides, the brass hats have a vital personal interest in keeping the armed forces as large as possible as long as possible. It means retaining their high wartime rank.

The personal ambitions of the brass hats ties in with the insatiable appetites of Wall Street capitalists, who want vast American military forces stationed throughout the world to be a police force protecting their foreign investments and their exploitation of the peoples of the world. When General Marshall speaks of “national policies” that is precisely what he is referring to.

The tremendous pressure campaign by the GI’s to force immediate demobilization around the slogan “Bring the Boys Home Now!” is a direct blow at the imperialist policies of the present administration and the foundation of the brass-hat bureaucracy. The silence of the labor movement on this issue is a grave error which adds fuel to the fires of controversy between veterans and their union brothers.

Now It Can Be Told

For two years the War Department sought to assure the people of America that the soldiers in this Army had the best equipment as well as the best weapons. The iron hand of military censorship was used to silence any possible criticism.

Nevertheless, the situation became so scandalous that the criticisms reached the public press. Stars and Stripes published a series of letters from tank men arguing for a better tank than the Sherman, whose inferiority against German models was costing the lives of many brave soldiers. One very graphic illustration of the inferiority of American tanks was an Associated Press, story by Jack Bell. It told how Sherman tanks engaged the German Tiger tanks and how the American crew members wept in rage and frustration as their shells bounced off the better-armored Tiger tanks and how one shell from a Tiger tank pulverized its American opponent.

Hanson W. Baldwin, New York Times military critic, took the issue up and blasted the ordnance department not only for its defense of the Sherman tank but for the entire system of ordnance work, which precluded fresh ideas and introduction of new and superior weapons.

Now that the war is over, censorship is no longer all-powerful. Thousands of tankmen are coming home and telling their bitter day-to-day experiences. The truth is coming out. The bravery of these soldiers who fought, knowing they had inferior weapons, is a tribute to the courage of these citizen-soldiers.

(Article 2 will appear next week)

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