Squaring an Operational Problem…

“The art of leading, in operations large or small, is the art of dealing with humanity, of working diligently on behalf of men, of being sympathetic with them, but equally, of insisting that they make a square facing toward their own problem.”

Brigadier General S.L.A Marshall (1900 to 1977)

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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