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What if, the Supreme Commander was Marshall?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by JTF-2, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. JTF-2

    JTF-2 Member

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    As Roosevelt suggested (in Quebec) with Churchill agreeing that General George C. Marshall (U.S. Chief of Staff) should be Supreme Commander for Overlord.

    What would of happened? A couple of things could of changed. If Marshall takes the position, that would of eliminated the delay of three or four months in the development of the COSSAC Plan, which in tail would of had D-day in May and not June.

    Once ashore what other changes would of happened? Would Marshall favor one of the top Generals in Montgomery and Patton? Giving one or the other more supplies to give them the chance in attacking on a "narrow front"?? Would he of went for Berlin to beat the Red Army?

    I'm thinking that the difference of decision of who should be the Supreme Commander has a huge impact on the outcome of the war.

    Any thoughts? or am'I wasting your time?

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    You are asking us to post opinions of what a General would do around 60years ago? His tactics and stragety would have been different from Eisenhower, who's to say that it would still have been the invasion of Normandy? The changes in divisions used in the battle from airsupport, basically who knows?
     
  3. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    I agree that the chage would be a huge impact. I also think that there would have not been a large difference in how things were operated. Marshall was not a combat commander and he would have adhered to taking political considerations in his decisions just like Eisenhower. I don't think he would have chosen one commander over another. Now, would he have been more or just as patient with Patton? Good question.
     
  4. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Marshall would not have had the previous year of experince in working with Montgomery, neither did he have a reputation for tolerating egotists. I wonder how he would have got on with Monty during the planning and execution of Neptune, and the early weeks of Overlord?
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Would he insist that Montgomery stay in Italy, taking Alexander's Job. Would he leave Patton in his splendid isolation at FUSAG. Marshall would get all the details right, and the "Broad Front" strategy would work as well as it possibly could. BUT would the US 3rd and the British 2nd armies done as well without thier dynamic commanders? Who would replace Marshall in Washington to help/advise Roosevelt?
     
  6. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    A number of traits which General Marshall had probably wouldn’t have made him a good Supreme Commander in the ETO. First of all would be his absolute inability to be diplomatic when it came to military decisions. A trait which at first put off FDR, but who was so impressed with the trait he elevated him above 34 senior/tenured general staff officers to the position of Army Chief of Staff.

    Another flaw in the idea of elevating him to the position of Supreme Commander in the ETO, is that it might have been counter-productive. He wasn’t a "Pointer", he had graduated in the middle of his class at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), and as a non-governmental college, it wasn’t well respected abroad. Men like Montgomery would have little "respect" for one of VMI’s graduates, he could barely contain his contempt of West Point graduates after all. And Gen. Marshall was not only dour, it was said he was without humor in public and is never captured with a smile on his face during the war years.

    It is said that in his entire career in the Army only one other man ever called him by his given name of George, that was General Joseph (Vinegar Joe) Stilwell. Even FDR only called him George once while he was Deputy Army Chief of Staff, and Roosevelt was given such a cool look in this instance that he never called him anything but "General" thereafter. And that was the Commander in Chief!

    He was brutally honest in military matters, and pulled no punches when talking to superior or inferior grades in the military. In 1933, when Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur assigned then Colonel Marshall to Chicago as senior instructor of the Illinois National Guard, Marshall for the first and only time in his career protested an assignment. In this case he protested through the retired General "Black Jack" Pershing to whom he was aide-de-camp from 1919 to 1924 after WW1; Pershing himself is said to have complained in vain to FDR about the posting, but the assignment stood.

    In 1936, he became a Brigadier General and commander of the 5th Brigade at Vancouver Barracks, thereafter he rose rapidly: Chief of War Plans Division of the General Staff, then Deputy Chief of Staff in 1938, Acting Chief of Staff in July 1939. The day the Nazis attacked Poland, Sept.1, 1939, Franklin Roosevelt reached over the heads of 34 senior officers to make Marshall his own Army Chief of Staff, wearer of the four stars of a full general and, as events turned, one of the principal architects of victory in World War II.

    In his turn, recognizing talent rather than seniority (like FDR), Marshall promoted Eisenhower over 366 more senior officers. Among the other officers he advanced over senior officers; were General George C. Kenney, General Carl A. Spaatz, General Mark Clark and the General George S. Patton. Marshall famously said in an interview after he started promoting younger men over the general officers of the line; "…I do not propose to send our young citizen-soldiers into action, under commanders whose minds are no longer adaptable to the making of split-second decisions in the fast-moving war of today."

    He had seen and appreciated the flaw of this idea in the appointment of General Gamelin in France by tenure/seniority, and Gamelin’s inability to comprehend and respond to modern battle speeds. I believe that of all the senior men in command positions when Marshall became Chief of Staff only two actually commanded troops in the field, Generals Krueger in the PTO, and Fredendall in the MTO. Krueger was successful, Fredendall not so much. All the rest retired.

    When asked (by Marshall) to explain his own choice of Eisenhower over Marshall as Supreme Commander in the ETO, FDR said; "I didn’t feel I could sleep at ease with you (Marshall) out of Washington."

    And it was Marshall, who after Pearl Harbor, saw the need for and pushed for a more integrated command structure back in D.C., and it was under his tutelage that the Joint Chiefs of Staff was established. A system we have yet today, and which also integrated nearly seamlessly with the Generals of the Allied Nations during the war as the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

    Eisenhower himself said that he learned how to approach "problems" by studying Marshall, to replace the student with the teacher may not have been a very judicious use of either man. Eisenhower could be "diplomatic", Marshall didn't have this trait when it came to military matters. And in the contentious and politically influenced ETO, this was not a plus. Just my opinion, but I don't think having Marshall in charge would have been a good thing in this instance.
     
  7. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    At VMI, Marshall was 1st Captain, or in the parlance of my days there he was "the six".

    My Grandfather and George Marshall were infantry 2LTs in the Philippines at the same time, they always referred to each other as "Charlie" and "George".
     
  8. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I don't disagree here Sir, what I meant by "middle of his class" was his academic ranking, not his military standing. I think he was almost exactly in the center of the group.

    Now, as to your Grandfather and he calling each other George and Charlie when they were 2LTs in their youth, I have no doubt that is true. I was merely relating what I had read about Gen. Marshall after he had reached the rank of Major and above. It seemed that only Joseph Stilwell continued to call him George all the time. What he and your Grandfather shared is probably just as unique as the relationship he had with Stilwell and Pershing. I'm sure Pershing felt just fine calling him George as well.

    Few others did however, and FDR learned not to do so darned quick.
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Hard to say. Brooke & Churchill had their say on British commanders selected.

    The FUSAG thing was pure deception. Ike had Patton at the top of his list for army command in France. In Marshalls case Patton was one his favored, being on his old list of capable officers. He had recomended Patton for command of 1st Armored Corps, and command of the Western Task Force for Op Torch, then favored Patton for command of 7th Army to invade Italy. Unlikely he would have left Patton to sit anywhere. He might have favore Devers over Bradley for command of US 1st Army & then 12th Army Group. Devers was another of Marshalls 'capable list' officers & was entrusted with several important commands before taking on 6th Army Group and Op Dragoon.

    Who else did Roosevelt favor & would have had a grasp of the global view? Perhaps Hap Arnold?
     
  10. phil5775

    phil5775 recruit

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    If Marshall gets supreme command in ETO, does Admiral King get the same thing in the Pacific?
     

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