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Palmer, John McAuley

Palmer, John McAuley (1870–1955), U.S. Army officer, manpower specialist.Born in Carlinville, Illinois, Palmer was a U.S. Military Academy graduate of 1892 who served on the Indian frontier, in China, and in the Philippines. The Army Staff School at Fort Leavenworth broadened his horizons and led to service on the U.S. Army General Staff, where in 1915–17 he helped prepare plans for an American mass army and for its deployment overseas in World War I. Accompanying Gen. John J. Pershing to France, he was the first chief of operations, American Expeditionary Force. Following service as a brigade commander near Verdun, he returned to the United States as Pershing's emissary on the postwar reorganization of the U.S. Army. In this capacity he became special adviser to the Senate Military Affairs Committee, where he helped write the Defense Act of 1920. He unsuccessfully advocated peacetime Universal Military Training. His wartime experience, however, led him to a lifelong belief in the efficacy of the citizen‐soldier, including the National Guard (the constitutional militia) and the reserve components (under army rather than state control).

After retirement as a brigadier general, Palmer wrote several books promulgating his views on the military manpower problem, especially America in Arms (1941). During World War II, his friend, chief of staff Gen. George C. Marshall, called him to active service as an adviser.
[See also Army, U.S.: 1900–41; Militia and National Guard; World War I: Military and Diplomatic Course; World War II: Military and Diplomatic Course.]


Irving B. Holley, Jr. , General John M. Palmer, Citizen Soldiers and the Army of a Democracy, 1970.

I. B. Holley, and Jr


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