A good CEO is always hiring and a great CEO is always looking for talent — talent spotting.
General George C Marshall was hailed by none other than Winston Churchill as the “Architect of Victory” for the manner in which he planned and executed the decisive American involvement in the war.
The most important element of his work may have been his ability to spot and develop talent within the American general officer corps.
But, what exactly did Marshall do that was so significant as to earn that title?
One of the things he did was spot and promote talent. Comes now the story of the Louisiana Maneuvers of September 1941.
Marshall had been Chief of Staff of the Army (which included the Army Air Corps that would eventually become the US Air Force) since the same day upon which the Germans invaded Poland and he had been in a prior assignment the Commandant of the Infantry School through which every important future general officer passed prior to the start of the war.
He was in a great position to spot and develop talent.
Size of the startup
The US Army would be 91 divisions — infantry, armor, airborne, cavalry, mountain — at the war’s end, but it was planned to be as many as 213 when the war began. A division was about 15,000 men and composed of infantry, artillery, tanks, combat engineers, and a myriad of support units.
It was a massive undertaking and the largest startup in military history. By the end of the war, more than 16,000,000 men and women would serve in the US military.Prior to WWII, Germany fielded 100 divisions, France 90, Great Britain 10, Poland 65.
At the end of 1940, the US had 10 divisions and by the time of the Louisiana Maneuvers that number was 16.
The Louisiana Maneuvers
By the time of September 1941 — only 90 days before Pearl Harbor — the Army was ready to see who could run a division, a corps, or an Army in the field, so they conducted three massive maneuvers. Massive.The Louisiana Maneuvers pitted the Red 2nd Army (aggressor) versus the Blue 3rd Army (homeland).
The operational scenario was an attack by the aggressor army against the homeland which was to meet the attacker, launch a counterattack, and drive the aggressor army off.
This was an army level maneuver and used the entire state of Louisiana as the maneuver area between the Sabine and Red Rivers. It involved the first river crossings attempted by the US Army perhaps since General Washington at Trenton in the Revolution.
Photo credit: Steve Johnson on Unsplash