Examination of Successful Military Partnership

By Kingseed, Cole C. | Army, June 2007 | Go to article overview

Examination of Successful Military Partnership


Kingseed, Cole C., Army


Examination of Successful Military Partnership Partners in Command: George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War and Peace. Mark Perry. The Penguin Press. 496 pages; maps; black and white photographs; index; $27.95.

History is replete with examples of effective command teams that forged unique relationships which led to military victory. At the turn of the 18th century, John Churchill, later the Duke of Marlborough, and the Austrian Prince Eugene of Savoy proved an unbeatable combination, as did Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman 150 years later. Few senior military partnerships, however, have been as effective as that between U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall and Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II.

In Partners in Command, Mark Perry focuses on how Marshall and Eisenhower worked effectively to produce "the greatest victory in the history of our nation." The book's title is a bit of a misnomer, however, as Marshall was the American Army's senior staff officer and not a commander. As Chief of Staff, Marshall directed a global war while Eisenhower served as a theater commander, albeit in the most important theater of operations as envisioned by strategists in the War Department. Perry's exclusive focus on the Mediterranean and European Theaters ignores Marshall's monumental contributions to victory against Japan.

Equally suspect are Perry's repeated analogies between the Marshall/ Eisenhower partnership and that of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Jackson, for one, hardly concerned himself with the strategic ramifications of the war, instead concentrating on the use of a corps in the Army of Northern Virginia. Based on the political-military implications of directing the Allied Expeditionary Force, Eisenhower was hardly "Marshall's Stonewall Jackson" as Perry states throughout the text.

Perry paints an intriguing portrait of the emergence of Eisenhower. To what did Ike owe his meteoric rise to Allied Supreme Commander? Perry posits that Ike's success was based on a shared strategic view with Marshall on how to best conduct a war against the Axis powers. Accordingly, Eisenhower evolved into Marshall's alter ego in high-level councils and as an emissary to Great Britain during the buildup of American forces in 1942.

Both Marshall and Elsenhower found a common mentor in Maj. Gen. Fox Conner. Marshall met Conner in World War I when Conner served as Gen. John J. Pershing's operations officer of the American Expeditionary Forces. Several years later, Elsenhower was Conner's executive officer in Panama. Eisenhower considered Conner to be the greatest soldier he ever knew, saying, "In sheer ability and character, he was the outstanding soldier of my time." Widely known as one of the Army's most brilliant officers, Conner mentored both officers in the intricacies of coalition warfare and unity of command. Not surprisingly, both Marshall and Eisenhower played critical roles in the development of the Western alliance as it prepared to confront Hitler's Germany following America's entry into World War II. …

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