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Thread: Weight of Combat Gear Is Taking Toll

  1. #301
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Default Belay that KG

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    The Combat Soldier: still pondering, credit card dangerously within range.
    Or at least until you have heard the podcast by the same author. Personally I would think twice (even three times) before accepting the conclusions of anyone who thinks S.L.A. Marshall was "misunderstood" or that any of his work can be considered valid even after his reputation (and thus the truth content of his research) has been so roundly trounced.

    Marshall Myth letter in MILITARY REVIEW May-June 2000
    "I am continually amazed and bitterly disappointed to find the S.L.A. Marshall ratio-of-fire myth alive and well in today’s Army. I refer to Major Kelly C. Jordan’s use of that myth in “Harnessing Thunderbolts” in the January-February 2000 issue of Military Review. Like many of his
    peers, Jordan apparently does not know that Marshall’s ratio-of-fire has been debunked. If he is unaware of why the debunking, I will gladly send him the information.

    I commanded a rifle company in the 84th Infantry Division in northwest Europe for four months during three campaigns from 1944 to 1945 and have disputed Marshall’s findings ever since they first appeared in the old Infantry Journal in 1946- 1947. Marshall never spent a day in combat with any infantry unit in Europe but claimed to have first-hand experience. I want to point out again that Marshall’s ratio of fire has no substance. I would bet that every West Point cadet believes in it, judging from the number of instructors at the Academy who apparently believe it.

    My major complaint with Jordan’s article, though, centres on Marshall’s Operations Research Office (ORO) study, which he did for Johns Hopkins University in 1951. I have an original copy of the study, but I am certain its pagination is the same as the copy Jordan uses. Jordan also states that he uses information that can be substantiated from other than Marshall’s own somewhat suspicious data and a secret formula that died with him in 1977" to demonstrate that “the American infantry platoon’s ratio of fire increased from a high of 25 percent in World War II to approximately 55 percent by the end of the Korean War”. Secret formula? Get real! Other sources? Footnote 6 does not list those sources, but Jordan does tell us in that same footnote that he is publishing another article in a different publication on the same subject. Perhaps he will list those “other” sources with that article. I am looking forward to reading it.

    I would refer your readers to the ORO study, pages 59-62. In those pages, Marshall tells how he arrived at his figure supporting the statement that “well in excess of 50 percent of troops actually committed to ground where fire may be exchanged directly with the enemy will make use of one weapon or another in the course of an engagement”. He then qualifies his estimate: “In the Korean fighting, there is manifestly a higher percentage of participation by riflemen . . . than in operations during World War II. This can be felt, rather than accurately counted, and therefore, it is difficult to arrive at an accurate percentage figure indicative of the increase. However, averaging
    out the night and day operations (emphasis mine) . . . it is considered that . . . well in excess of 50 percent used a weapon”. What a reliable system!

    Marshall also points out the differences between offensive and defensive operations and the different ratios of fire between the two types of operations. He excuses the soldiers in Korea from firing during an offensive operation because of the terrain, but I do not remember him giving us the same slack in Europe during World War II.

    In my opinion, Marshall’s findings in Korea are as much a myth as are his World War II findings, at least as far as a ratio of fire is concerned. Yelling, screaming, shouting at each other? In the defence? Fine. In the offense? Seldom is this sort of thing necessary, except occasionally by leaders. But Marshall loves this sort of thing, so let us make his followers happy.

    Finally, did my men fire? I haven’t the slightest idea, and I question whether any other company commander in northwest Europe during 1944 and 1945 went around after an action checking to determine who did and who did not fire. I remember querying a senior officer who had commanded a company at Hamburger Hill during the Vietnam War on this subject. He assured me every one of his men fired, despite the fact a number had been killed or seriously wounded before they ever got into close firing range. I wanted to know how he knew his men fired. He just knew they did, that’s how. Sounds like S.L.A. Marshall, doesn’t it?"
    LTC Albert N. Garland,
    US Army, Retired,
    Columbus, Georgia
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