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The Combat SoldierInfantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries$
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Anthony King

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658848.001.0001

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The Marshall Effect

The Marshall Effect

Chapter:
(p.40) 3 The Marshall Effect
Source:
The Combat Soldier
Author(s):

Anthony King

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658848.003.0003

During the Second World War, S. L. A. Marshall, a United States Army officer and official historian, claimed that only one in four US riflemen fired his weapon. There have been numerous criticisms of his work but the empirical evidence suggests that Marshall was broadly correct. The citizen soldier generally performed poorly in combat not only in the Second World War but in all the major wars of the twentieth century, from the First World War to Vietnam. Lacking adequate training and overwhelmed by the lethality of the fire-swept battlefield, the citizen soldier was typically overcome by inertia; he would go to ground and refuse to move or shoot. The chapter discusses the ‘Marshall effect’ and its critics at length in order to set up the central argument of the book; the different forms of cohesion displayed by a citizen as opposed to a professional army.

Keywords:   S. L. A. Marshall, Men Against Fire, Roger Spiller, battlefield inertia, non-firers

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