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General George C. Marshall and the Army Staff: A Study in Effective Staff Leadership

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Research paper

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Few dispute George Marshalls role in winning World War II. He is universally recognized as one of its most important leaders. But General Marshall was not a commander in the field. Unlike Generals Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, and Patton, Marshall was the Armys Chief of Staff -- a position normally relegated to historical obscurity. In fact, Roosevelt once asked, Who remembers who the Chiefs of Staff were during the Civil War or World War I Despite his position as a staff officer, Marshall emerged as the wars most respected general. He and his staff directed military operations around the world. In addition, he was Roosevelts most trusted military advisor, a strategist on global terms, and a champion of alliance warfare. He was one of the wars most effective leaders. As with most talented men, one can learn a great deal from George Marshall. His ability to successfully direct the Army Staff during the crucial 3-month period from December 1941 through March 1942 is particularly instructive. It provides some very good insights on how to lead and direct a large staff faced with multiple problems. During this period, Marshall and his staff successfully tackled a wide range of critical problems that would affect the outcome of the war. This article looks at Marshalls preparation to become Chief of Staff, his ability to build an effective team, the character of the staff, and Marshalls interaction with these very talented men. Following this background information, the author investigates how Marshall handled two critical issues the support to the beleaguered forces in the Philippines, and the reorganization of the Army Staff. Lastly, he offers some insights into why Marshall was so successful as a staff leader.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Humanities and History
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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