Tuesday, July 16, 2013

General Hap Arnold

To Bertha Cozzens
November 13, 1944

There's nothing the matter with General Giles [Arnold's Chief of Staff] except he is, like General Arnold, illiterate; something which is habitually made too much of by people who do a lot of reading and writing. Either is a drawback in the strictly practical affair of getting an army together and fighting with it. Everything you do starts chains of irrelevant ideas (derived from reading and extended by attempting to express in words shades of meaning).  I have a pet theory that one of the reasons we are winning the war it that, markedly in the German case, and relatively in the Japanese case, the Generals who oppose us have a high proportion of intellectuals.  They waste time weighing complex factors and looking beyond the immediate objective and while they ponder, their simple and single minded opponents take them for all they have. It is what Hitler meant when he talked about military idiots. General Arnold, like his C-O-S, seems to me really dumb - their ideas all absurd and infantile, their crochets cheap and tiresome... but the fact remains that, by being what he is, General Arnold performed the impossible in building the Air Force and Giles who acts as what might be called his General Manager, by being what he is, keeps it going  - James Cozzens

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