Professional Development Bookshelf: Reviews of books
that teach us about our craft By: CW5 Thomas Golden Command Chief Warrant Officer Georgia Army National Guard
During the first half of the twentieth century, the United States emerged as the most powerful and influential nation in the world. George C. Marshall’s extraordinary career paralleled this rise to power. These are the two central and interrelated themes of this book. Marshall was a participant in every significant event contributing to the nation’s status as a superpower. As a young officer from his first combat duty in the Phillipines at the turn of the century, through both World Wars, the Cold War and the Korean conflict, Marshall was a key figure in devising and implementing U.S. military strategies and foreign policies. Author Mark A. Stoler emphasizes the years 1939-1951 while Marshall served as World War II Army chief of staff, special presidential representative to China, secretary of state at the beginning of the Cold War and secretary of defense during the Korean War. I have been in the Army nearly 29 years and probably like many others, I am familiar with Marshall’s name from my high school history classes as associated with The Marshall Plan. However, I really didn’t have a complete understanding and appreciation of who this man was and just how far-reaching and significant his contributions have been not only to our modern Army, but to our country and the world as well. Although the author has focused much of his attention between 1939-1951, I believe it’s important to look back at General Marshall’s formative years in order to gain a better perspective on how his exceptional career developed. Between 1902 and 1916, George Marshall served in a series of junior military assignments overseas and in the United States. In these assignments he developed an extraordinary reputation among his peers and superiors but was slow to advance in rank. He received his first promotion in 1907, and not until 1916, at the age of thirty-five, did he become a captain. The responsibilities he held were far beyond his rank during these years, however; by 1916 he was already perceived by many to be a leader destined for greatness. And what a leader he turned out to be! General Marshall’s success as a leader can be attributed to many characteristics but two that stand out in my opinion are the
following; one, he strongly supported preparedness of the citizensoldier concept and demonstrated this concept with his ability to work with the National Guard. Two, he firmly believed that political activity was antithetical to his professional responsibilities and values and that officers should have nothing to do with partisan politics. Throughout his life, he refused on principle to accept any nomination for elective posts or even vote in any election. When first introduced to his political and professional philosophy in the beginning of the book, I was somewhat dismissive of it. However, as I read on and continued to learn more about this man I came to realize that he truly embodied the seven Army values we hold sacred today. Imagine a leader who demonstrated unquestionable loyalty to subordinates and superiors alike. Imagine a leader who understood his duty and carried out his responsibilities in a highly professional manner. Imagine a leader who not only gave respect, but earned it from both subordinates and superiors. Imagine a leader who truly grasped and exhibited selfless service. Imagine a leader who valued the honor of his profession. Imagine a leader whose integrity was always above reproach. Imagine a leader who displayed true personal courage even if it jeopardized his career. George Marshall not on only embraced and embodied the seven Army values, he lived them every day. I believe this book would serve many of our nation’s current leader’s and provide a blueprint to emulate Marshall’s remarkable successes. Imagine our present-day Army if we had such a dutiful, dedicated, and selfless leader such as Marshall to mentor and guide us in these uncertain and turbulent times. How refreshing would it be to serve with such an individual who was far less concerned with his next promotion but was more interested in doing what was right? Marshall was the epitome of the modern military leader who always placed facts before favoritism. He was a true selfless servant who avoided personal credit for the collective successes of his subordinates. He once said, “My service is not for sale and that the honor of serving in the Army was compensation enough.” General Marshall is compared to only one other general in American history and that is George Washington. George Marshall truly was the premier soldier-statesman of the 20th century. George C. Marshall, Soldier-Statesman of the American Century is absolutely worth the time to read. It is highly informative, educational and beneficial to all Soldiers regardless of rank and responsibility.
May 2013 | 16