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Letter from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Leonard T. Gerow, 1943 February 24

Letter from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Leonard T. Gerow, 1943 February 24
Letter from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Leonard T. Gerow, 1943 February 24
Letter regards the importance of training and Dwight D. Eisenhower's military-related advice to Leonard T. Gerow.


  • 1943 February 24



From the Collection: 0.50 cubic feet : Approximately 120 items


Office of the Commander-in-Chief
24 February, 1943.

Dear Gee:
I could never be too busy to answer such a letter as your latest one to me. Of all the oongratulations and felicitations that I have received on this latest promotion yours, more than in any other case, I know to be absolutely sincere and disinterested. I especially appreciate your sentiments because I can never get over the feeling, one that I have held ever since I made Second Lieutenant, that in every respect you have deserved recognition far above myself. If, therefore, I felt that personal fortune and promotion had any slightest importance in this war, I should have to feel almost regretful that such a distinction came to me instead of to you. But you must know, as well as I do, that certain fortuitous circumstances, more than any indication of peculiar merit, were responsible for my advancement.

The letter I wrote to Hartle on training was from my heart. Moreover, it is not nearly as strong in its language as I would like to make it. I got back this morning from the battlefront. I wish that every Division Commander in the United States Army could go up there right now and see the consequences, the appalling consequences, of failure to achieve in advance some measure of battlefield discipline, to teach his men the essentials of scouting, patrolling and security, to insist upon initiative on the part of every leader from Corporal up, and finally to harden his men to the point that the physique of man can achieve no more. After the first few days our men did splendidly but in those first few we paid a big price. We have the greatest material in the world but our men meat learn what a serious business this is, they must know that their own lives depend upon the thoroughness with which they learn the lessons taught, and officers that fail to devote themselves completely and exclusively to the task must be ruthlessly weeded out. Considerations of friendship, family, kindliness and nice personality have nothing whatever to do with the problem. We owe it to the service to which we belong and certainly we owe it to the men, whose lives depend upon the energy, keenness and thoroughness that we display.

I feel so strongly on this subject that I could write reams. It is enough to say that yours is one division in which I know that everything that one man can do will be done. The only thing on which I would venture to give the slightest advice is that you must be tough. You may not be able to discover among your men those that will be the best battle leaders, but you can find those who are this minute endangering the battle success of your whole command. They are the lazy, the slothful, the indifferent or the complacent. Get rid of them if you have to write letters the rest of your life. Special subjects I would bring to your attention are mine detection, the use of land mines in defense, thorough training in every possible means of anti-tank defense, and in defense against low-flying aircraft. Ground troops themselves must provide their own protection against the dive-bomber. The 50 caliber and rifle fire must be used. Insist that your men get under cover and start a volume of well directed fire into the air. If you don't, in their first battle they will be demoralized, an easy prey to the enemy's infantry and tanks that may come along even in inconsequential numbers. Battle casualties among personnel from the dive-bomber are almost nil, but their moral effect is tremendous. Your truck and vehicle discipline must be perfect; otherwise the enemy's aircraft will knock out 40 or 50 at a whack. That is a sad sight to see along the road when you realize how much shipping space you gave up to bring those same trucks thousands of miles across the ocean. For God's sake don't keep anybody around that you say to yourself "He may get by"--he won't. Throw him out and I am sure that your Theater Commander, knowing the deadly seriousness of all this, will back you up to the hilt.

Your letters are always a treat. Write me again when you have the chance, and again many thanks for the thoughtfulness of your note. As ever,

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450