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49 CHAPTER 3 Mastering the Profession of Arms For most men, the matter of learning is one of personal preference. But for Army officers, the obligation to learn, to grow in their profession, is clearly a public duty.—Omar Bradley1 Edwin Forrest Harding ’09, Fort Wright, Spokane, WA, September 1915 Bradley reported to the 14th Infantry Regiment in September 1915. Like most peacetime regular infantry regiments, its three under-­strength battalions were scattered all over: the 1st Battalion was in Alaska, the 2nd in Seattle, and the 3rd Battalion, to which Bradley was assigned, at Fort George Wright, near Spokane, Washington, in the foothills of the Rockies. Bradley heard that the grouse shooting was good there, and he hoped to try out his new 12-­ gauge Winchester pump shotgun. In garrison, the newly commissioned officer began his experience of life in the old Regular Army infantry.2 As a young officer in the F Company, 3rd Battalion, he commanded seventy-­ five men, more or less depending on how many were still drunk in the morning. It was a rough, uneducated bunch; the privates were paid $13 a month, the same as during the Civil War, no matter how long their term of service. Bradley’s monthly pay was $142. The regiment, like most regular outfits, was led by older, mostly capable veterans, some from the 1898 Spanish-­ American War. It was a typical assignment for a West Point grad in the infantry, except for drawing an exceptional roommate and mentor. Bradley and two 1915 classmates, goats Henry Dabney and Earl Price, shared a large duplex apartment with 2nd Lt. Edwin Forrest Harding ’09. In addition to the luxurious accommodations, the best Bradley would have for a long time, the association with Harding, who had already spent a half dozen years 50 Part I Becoming a Commander in grade, was another stroke of luck as well as a stark reminder of the pace of promotion in the infantry.3 Harding was an exceptional man and officer, just as likely to be reciting his own published poetry as discussing principles of infantry doctrine. His impact on the army was far greater than most of his contemporaries, or historians, realized. It was manifest in two ways: first, in his lifelong influence on many younger officers who served with him, and second, through his assignments, most important a stint as head of the Fourth Section at the Infantry School under Marshall during its Golden Age, the so-­called Benning Revolution. He was responsible for publications, and Harding’s legacy of editorial and intellectual achievements includes his four-­ year tenure as editor of the Infantry Journal (forerunner of Army Magazine) during which he took it from well-­ deserved obscurity to a highly respected professional military journal, read by influential thinkers around the globe, including our enemies. Harding’s service culminated in wartime command of the US 32nd Infantry Division in MacArthur ’s New Guinea Campaign in 1944, where he was relieved of command by his classmate and corps commander Lt. Gen. Robert M. “Bob” Eichelberger ’09 at the insistence of MacArthur. The reasons are not clear, but Harding’s long association with George Marshall, a known disciple of Pershing, was not viewed favorably by MacArthur. After the war, Harding became the first chief of military history and was a guiding spirit of the “Green Books,” the multi-­ volume official history of the US Army in World War II.4 Harding sponsored a weekly group discussion for young officers at Fort Wright to preview upcoming tactical exercises, and he invited Bradley to join them. The gathering eventually expanded into an informal seminar on military history and a discussion of reports on current operations in Europe. Harding, by force of personality and intellectual power, became a mentor and convinced his younger colleague that unless an officer studied his profession throughout his career, especially military history and the great captains, he could not hope to master it or advance. “I always gave Harding a great deal of credit for starting me right. I’m a great believer in the study of military history as I think we learn by the successes and mistakes of our predecessors. It’s simple. Avoid their mistakes and emulate their successes.”5 For a man who was discovering an affinity for tactical-­level thinking, appreciation of terrain, and the usefulness of history in formulating doctrine, the association with Harding provided a firm grounding for the defining direction of Bradley’s infantry career. Because...


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