Marshall Blinks: Operational Art and Strategic Vision
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In November 1945, when General George C. Marshall accepted the mission from President Harry Truman to broker peace between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Nationalist Party, he understood the obstacles he faced and the strategic importance of his effort. The inability to achieve comity between the warring parties in China risked ceding regional influence to the Soviet Union and, more importantly, risked the hard-fought and hard-won peace in the Pacific Theater. Yet by January 1947, Marshall ended his mission without achieving his objective and a few months later, he prevented an escalation of American military commitment to the Chinese Nationalists. Past explanations for these decisions focus on Marshalls understanding of the strategic context as the deciding factor those in favor of the decision to limit American involvement argue he understood the strategic factors, those against argue he did not. This monograph examines Marshalls reasoning from the operational perspective and finds that Marshalls decision to cease American involvement in China hinged primarily on operational factors rather than strategic. To make the case for this thesis, this monograph surveys the lessons Marshall learned in China as a lieutenant colonel from 1924 to 1927 in terms of mission, enemy, terrain, troops available, civilian considerations and time and looks to how he applied these lessons during his assigned mission from 1946 to 1947. Finally, this monograph looks to Marshalls own explanation for declaring his mission a failure and how his best military judgment came to bear so quickly.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics