Operations: Human vs Material…

“The heart of the matter is to relate the man to his fellow soldier as he will find him on the field of battle, to condition him to human nature as he will learn to depend on it when the ground offers him no comfort and weapons fail. Only when the human, rather than the material, aspects of operation are put uppermost can tactical bodies be conditioned to make the most of their potential unity.”

Marshall, S.L.A. (1947) Men against Fire: the Problem of Battle Command in Future War. Originally published in 1947 by Combat Forces Press, Washington, and William Morrow Company, New York.

S.L.A. “Slam” Marshall (full name, Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall) served in World War I and then embarked in a career in journalism. In World War II, he was chief combat historian in the Central Pacific (1943) and chief historian for the European Theatre of Operations (1945). He authored some 30 books about warfare.

He startled the military and civilian world in 1947 by announcing that, in an average infantry company, no more than one in four soldiers actually fired their weapons while in contact with the enemy. His contention was based on interviews he conducted immediately after combat in both the European and Pacific theatres of World War II.

To remedy the gunfire imbalance he proposed changes to infantry training designed to ensure that American soldiers in future wars brought more fire upon the enemy. His studies during the Korean War showed that the ratio of fire had more than doubled since World War II.


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