Military Review 1922-1972

Colonel Forrest R. Blackburn, United States Army Reserve

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The Instructors’ Summary of Military Articles makes its first appearance with the present number. It is contemplated to issue this document the 10th of each month. The publication will be printed to uniform size, 6 by 9 inches prepared for convenient filing.

With this introductory note, the Military Review came into being 50 years ago. Although different in title and only vaguely similar in content, the Instructors’ Summary of Military Articles would, after several changes in name, format, and content, become the Military Review of today.

The first number of the new publication was dated January 1922. The date of issue, 10 February 1922, also appeared on the cover, a practice followed in the early numbers.

Across the top of the cover page was the name of the publishing institution, “The General Service Schools, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.” The history of the Fort Leavenworth schools goes back to 1881 when, by order of General William T. Sherman, the School of Application for Infantry and Cavalry was established. After experiencing several changes of name, the school was reorganized under the National Security Act of 1920, and, by 1922, it had become the General Service Schools, “a true post-graduate institution with the mission of preparing its students for higher command and staff positions.”1

Colonel Forrest R. Blackburn

The General Service Schools consisted of the Command and General Staff School and the Command and General Staff Correspondence School. The publication section of the correspondence school was charged with the publication of the Instructors’ Summary of Military Articles.2

Also appearing on the front cover of the January issue were the “Contents.” Listed under this heading were the titles of the five sections of the Summary:

  • Review of New Books Received in the Library.
  • Digests of Selected Articles and Documents.
  • Documents Received in Instructors’ File Room.
  • Magazines Received in Library During Month.
  • Index of Selected Magazine Articles, Documents and Books.

Sections Added

These five sections continued in the Summary for the three and a half years the publication retained its original name. Two other sections were added in 1923: “Late Books Received in the Library,” and “Important Articles of Military Interest That Have Appeared in Magazines.”

Eight to 10 books were reviewed in each of the early issues although the first one had only five reviews. The first item to appear in the new magazine was a review of an 82-page book, The Battle of the Piave, June 15-23, 1918, published by the Royal Italian Army. By 1925, there were 20 or 25 brief book reviews printed in each issue.

Books for review and articles and documents to be digested were referred to chiefs of sections and instructors in the General Service Schools who delegated the work as necessary to officers in their sections. Officers assigned to write reviews and digests were instructed to be brief and concise, to limit their comments to matters of concern to all instructors and to information pertaining to the doctrine and policies of the schools.3 Often, a review or digest closed with a statement to the effect that the principles set forth in the book or article were sound and in accordance with doctrine taught in the schools.

It is noteworthy that, in the early years, a substantial share of the books reviewed and articles digested were of European authorship and publication. Many of the magazines received by the Leavenworth schools and magazine articles listed in the Summary also were of foreign origin. Perhaps this is an indication of the extent of the influence of European military doctrine in the US Army in the 1920’s.

The documents received were principally from other service schools—the Army War College and the branch schools. Primarily, they gave information about courses taught at the respective schools.

Colonel Forrest R. Blackburn

The Summary kept its monthly schedule through May 1922. It was not published that summer, appearing again in September. Thereafter, it was published quarterly, in March, June, September, and December.

The January 1922 issue had 31 pages. The early issues averaged about 35. With the addition of two sections in 1923, the average was about 55 although the issues varied.

Circulation figures for the Summary can only be assumed from the number of copies printed. The General Service Schools’ Printing Press was ordered to print 500 copies. Distribution was made to instructors and students at the General Service Schools, other service schools, and National Guard and Reserve units. Distribution was free; there were no subscriptions.

A new title appeared on the April-June 1925 issue which was published July 10: Review of Current Military Writings. Added to this, in smaller print, but actually a part of the title, was for the Use of Instructors of the General Service Schools, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This latter portion was dropped from the title with the October-December 1927 number.

The Summary had begun without a volume number, only an issue number, January 1922 being I. S. M. A. No. 1. In September 1928, a volume number appeared for the first time. The issue was designated Volume 8, Number 1, RCMW Whole Number 30.

Major General Charles A. Willoughby

A change was made in September 1929 when the table of contents was moved from the front cover to an inside page. A further change took place in September 1931 with the use of a heavy stock cover, yellow in color at first. Previous covers had been of the same paper as the inside of the magazine.

Title changes occurred in December 1931 when it became Review of Current Military Literature and again in September 1932 when the title became Quarterly Review of Military Literature. With this latter issue, the table of contents was back on the front cover. On the inside of the front cover was printed the following note: “Published Quarterly by the Command and General Staff School Library,” and a library committee of five officers was listed. On the fourth page of the magazine was a list of 19 officers who had contributed to that issue. In addition, on that page, the editor’s name appeared for the first time. He was Major Charles A. Willoughby who was also the school librarian and an instructor in military history and intelligence.

For the first 12 years of its existence, the Military Review contented itself with reviews of books, digests of articles, and lists of articles and documents that might be of interest and value to the officers. At the end of the 12th year, in the December 1933 issue, the Review published its first original article. The title was “Conduct of a Holding Attack” by Major J. Lawton Collins. The section of the magazine created for original articles was called “Original Military Studies.” For several years, only one or two articles appeared in this section of each issue. A favorite subject for original articles in the early years of their appearance was World War I tactics and operations.

Circulation of· the Review was on the increase in the 1930’s. By 1936, it had reached 2;000, and, in 1939, it was up to 4,200. Circulation by subscription had been put into effect in September 1934, allowing for wider distribution. The rate was one dollar a year.

During the 1930’s, the Review increased in number of pages, averaging over 100 per issue. By the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, each issue included well over 200 pages.

In March 1935, Major Fred During, who had been associate editor, became editor of the magazine. Captain G. B. Guenther became the associate editor.

Beginning in 1936, Review authors turned their attention largely to current problems in tactics and logistics. Gradually, articles on current war situations began to appear. The December 1938 number included an article entitled “Behind China’s Battle Lines” by Major J. W. Coffey and Lieutenant J. W. Rudolph. This was followed in March 1939 by “Employment of Supporting Arms in the Spanish Civil War” by Captain Wendell G. Johnson.

Use of Disclaimer

The first use of a disclaimer was in the June 1936 issue wherein the magazine stated that the article did not necessarily convey the views of the school, but was the expression of the opinions of the author. The article was “Field Service Regulations of the Future” by Major E. S. Johnson.

A new editorial staff arrived on the scene in September 1937. Lieutenant Colonel Paul R. Davison became the editor and Major E. M. Benitez associate editor. A picture appeared on the cover for the first time in the December 1937 issue. A representation of several mounted officers, including Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan, in the full-dress uniform of 1888, the illustration was used on three issues.

Illustrations began appearing with original articles in the March 1938 magazine. A picture of Marshal Paul von Hindenburg was the first of these. From this time, illustrations appeared in increasing number. Maps had previously been used extensively in the magazine.

Cover and Title Change

A further change was made in September 1938 when the magazine was enlarged to 9 by 12 inches. A photograph of an armored car appeared on the cover of this issue. From this time on, the cover illustration was changed on each issue. The changes brought a congratulatory letter to the editor, Colonel Davison, from Army Chief of Staff General Malin Craig.

Colonel Benitez became editor of the publication with the June 1939 issue. This brought another change in title. It became The Command and General Staff School Military Review, using, for the first time, the title Military Review. The old title, Quarterly Review of Military Literature, continued as a subtitle for some time.

Colonel Benitez was succeeded in December 1940 by Captain M. R. Kammerer. A few months later, Colonel F. M. Barrows became the editor with Kammerer, now a major, as assistant editor. Articles on the war in Europe and Africa began to appear in 1941. The March issue of that year started a section entitled “World War II.” It included brief summaries of the war on various fronts. By 1942, several articles were being published in each number on World War II Notice the use of the term World War II in the magazine early in 1941. This designation was not generally used until after the entry of the United States into the war late in 1941.

With the issue of April 1943, Volume 23, Number 1, the Military Review became a monthly magazine, having been published quarterly except for the first six months of its existence. For three times as many magazines, the subscriber now had to pay three times as much money—three dollars a year. Just over a year later, June 1944, it became necessary because of wartime economic pressures to decrease the magazine’s dimensions to 6 by 8 inches.

It was during the early World War II period that original articles became the dominant part of the Military Review. The magazine was publishing original US Army doctrine, not just calling attention to that developed by other armies. A typical issue, December 1943, for instance, printed 14 original articles on such subjects as leadership, battle experience, motor marches, night combat, service commands, river crossings, weather, logistics, and training. In addition, the same issue carried an extract from a lecture at the Command and General Staff School on the destruction of German dams.

Colonel Rodger R. Bankson

At the request of Latin-American countries, the Department of the Army authorized publication of a Spanish-American edition and a Brazilian edition of the Military Review, the first issues of which appeared in April 1945. Colonel Andres Lopez of the US Army was the first editor of the Spanish-American edition, and Major Severino Sombra of the Brazilian Army was editor of the Brazilian edition. These editions contain translations of all articles and features appearing in the English edition. They are distributed to Latin-American countries through arrangements with the governments concerned.

The new editions required the assignment of several more officers to the editorial staff, and a production manager and business manager were added. Also, about this time, the Military Review acquired a Washington representative. He acted as liaison officer between the staff of the magazine and the various Army agencies. Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Van Dine of the Pentagon was the first officer assigned to this position. In January 1946, Colonel Lopez, the Spanish-American editor, was named editor in chief to be succeeded in August of that year by Colonel Ramon A. Nadal. The magazine now had three full editors, the Spanish-American, Brazilian, and North American, all under the editor in chief. Another event of interest in 1946 was the redesignation of the Command and General Staff School as the Command and General Staff College. The August number of the magazine carried the new name.

Succession of Editors

Colonel Harold R. Emery succeeded Colonel Nadal in April 1949, who, in turn, was followed by Lieutenant Colonel Donald L. Durfee in March 1952. Lieutenant Colonel William D. McDowell replaced Colonel Durfee in September 1955. He was followed by Colonel Rodger R. Bankson in July 1957. Colonel Kenneth E. Lay was the next editor in chief replacing Bankson in January 1960. In October 1964, Colonel Lay was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel Donald J. Delaney.

The North American editor was dropped in April 1956 and replaced by the managing editor. With the August 1960 number, the managing editor became the assistant editor. From 1944 to 1961, the general appearance of the magazine was relatively unchanged. It remained a 6 by 8 inch, closely printed publication with virtually no margins or other unused space on the pages. The cover design remained the same until September 1949, changing only in color. The college building appeared in the background with a line of military weapons and vehicles across the foreground and an airplane overhead. The design used from 1949 to 1961 shows the globe in the background with several types of military equipment in the foreground.

The content of the magazine consisted of 12 to 14 original articles, a section entitled “Military Notes Around the World,” and “Foreign Military Digests.” Following World War II, many of the original articles discussed various subjects relating to the war.

Subjects Covered

A typical issue in 1946 included these titles: “Breaching the Siegfried Line,” “PTs in the Pacific,” “Sixth Army Quartermaster Operations in the Luzon Campaign,” and “The Twentieth Air Force.” In fact, a study of the Consolidated Index indicates as many or more articles on the war appeared after the war ended than during it. They continued to appear in diminishing numbers into the early 1950’s. Another subject covered extensively during the postwar period was the occupation of Germany and Japan.

During the late 1940’s and the 1950’s, the foreign military digests appeared in about the same number as original articles, occupying almost as much space in the magazine. This was a swingback to more digests after using mostly original articles during the war.

A section devoted to book reviews entitled “Books for the Military Reader,” later becoming “Books of Interest to the Military Reader,” began appearing in the June 1949 magazine. Book reviews, of course, had been one of the features of the magazine in its early years, but had been dropped in 1943. The Korean Conflict brought only minor changes in the subject matter. The number of original articles devoted to Korea changed little with the beginning of the war. In 1949, before the invasion, two articles appeared, and, in 1951, the first full year following the start of the war, three articles were printed. However, those before the war dealt with occupation themes, while those published after the war began had to do with the conflict itself.

Since the Korean War, several crisis periods have occurred which involved the United States. There was little response in the Military Review to the first three, the Lebanon, Congo, and Berlin crises. An article or two on each of them appeared, sometimes several years after the trouble was over. The Cuban affair brought more response, however, as nearly a dozen articles were printed, scattered throughout the 1960’s.

US involvement in Vietnam had a decided effect on the content of the magazine. Even before the US buildup in Vietnam began in 1965, articles relating to the warfare in progress there were appearing. As might be expected, however, US involvement signaled a definite upturn in material on Vietnam. Eight original articles pertaining to the Vietnam war were published in the magazine in 1965. This increased to 11 in 1966, then peaked in 1967 and 1968 with 19 and 18 articles respectively, leveling off with 13 in 1969 and 15 in 1970.

At the beginning of 1961, a restyled Military Review made its appearance. A study had been made during 1960 to determine what changes should be made. With the January issue, the magazine was increased to 6 by 9 inches in size. The crowded appearance of the pages gave way to a more eye-appealing design with slightly larger type and wider margins. The cover had a new design, simple but attractive.

Colonel Donald J. Delaney

Beginning at this time, the original articles and military digests were no longer separated into sections, but were intermingled. In fact, from the table of contents, it is not possible to distinguish them. The mission of the magazine was changed to read:

To present modern military thought and current Army doctrine concerning command and staff procedures of the division and higher echelons and to provide a forum for articles which stimulate military thinking.

Sources of Material

As is true of any magazine, much of the success enjoyed by the Military Review, much of the service the publication has been able to offer, and much of the esteem in which it has been held has been due to the efforts of its authors. Every publication must have its writers or contributors, its source of material. Fortunately, the Military Review has had available a substantial source of original material in the faculty, staff, and students of the US Army Command and General Staff College. In fact, in the early days of original articles in the magazine, they were sometimes prepared by the editorial staff itself.

From 1955 to 1960, it was a college policy to require faculty members below the grade of colonel to prepare one article for the Military Review during a three-year tour. Also, departments of the college prepared articles on specific subjects upon request. In the 1950’s, it was reported that up to 25 percent of the original articles published had been submitted by college personnel.

The source of original articles, however, has been much broader than the college. It has been worldwide, with authors from a number of foreign countries contributing to the magazine. Authors include, in addition to school personnel, Active Army officers, Reserve and National Guard officers, retired officers, and civilians.

One important source in recent years has been the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. In 1961, the position of associate editor was set up at that college, one of the faculty members being designated for the job. This editor reviews material originating at the college and recommends that which he considers suitable for publication in the Military Review.

In one recent year, 1969, sources of the 111 original articles fell into the following categories: US Army Command and General Staff College seven, US Army War College 19, other active military 22, US Retired, Reserve, and National Guard 16, US civilian 30, and foreign 17. Authorship of the articles digested for the same year was US personnel 13, and foreign 12.

Annual Awards

To provide incentive for high-quality articles, the magazine in the 1950’s began a program of awards for the best article in each issue and for the best article of the year. The annual awards were as high as $350. These awards applied to military personnel on active duty. Civilians and military personnel not on active duty were given honorariums for their articles published. This program was discontinued in 1960, but a similar plan was again put into effect in 1964.

No attempt can be made to name even the most outstanding authors, but a glance at the Consolidated Index reveals many familiar names. One author who made several contributions to the Military Review was the late Dr. Bernard B. Fall. A citizen of France, Fall came to the United States in 1950 where he earned Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees at Syracuse University.

In 1953, he accompanied French troops in combat operations in Indochina. Resulting from this experience were several articles which appeared in the Military Review. He was the author of many other articles and one book on political and military affairs. His article, “Indochina—The Seven Year Dilemma,” published October 1953 in the Military Review, is believed to have been his first article published in this country.4

Editors’ Comments

Another group sharing the credit for the Military Review’s steady development into the outstanding magazine it is today were its editors. It was their initiative, imagination, and energy that brought it to the high position it now occupies. As pioneers in any field have found, there were many obstacles to overcome. Even in recent years, the correspondence files are filled with communications resulting from the efforts of the editors to improve the magazine.

In anticipation of the 50th Anniversary of the Military Review, letters were sent to as many former editors as could be located, inviting them to share some of their experiences in that position and the effect the assignment had on their military and civilian careers. The response was good and interesting. Unfortunately, space allows only brief thoughts from each.

The first editor whose name appeared on the masthead was Major Willoughby. In 1971, Willoughby, a retired major general living in Florida, recalled his principal accomplishments as the new title, new format, and the utilization of foreign students in the Fort Leavenworth schools in the preparation of digests of articles from foreign publications for use in the Quarterly Review. After leaving the magazine, General Willoughby served as General Douglas MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence and has had an outstanding career as writer, lecturer, publisher, and editor.

Colonel Davison, US Army, Retired, who occupied the editorial chair from September 1937 to March 1939, recalls his assignment at Fort Leavenworth as a “very rewarding and happy service.” Colonel Davison speaks of three goals he successfully strove for: to build up the circulation, to get the Review on a self-supporting foundation, and to make it interesting to professional military students.

Following retirement from the service in 1945, Colonel Davison went into the producing, directing, and writing fields of the motion picture industry. He now lives in California.

The lowest ranking editor the Military Review ever had was Captain Kammerer. After serving about eight months as assistant editor, Kammerer became editor when most of the school faculty, including the editor, left the post. Captain Kammerer served as editor for about five months. He now recalls his Military Review duty as the “most pleasant and most unusual” of his 30 years of service. Now, a retired colonel, he lives in North Carolina.

Two Assignments

Colonel Durfee had two assignments on the Military Review. The first was in 1946 when he was made editor of the English edition. After two years, he was assigned elsewhere, returning to the magazine in 1952 as editor in chief. Colonel Durfee remembers getting the magazine settled in its present quarters in Funston Hall as perhaps his greatest achievement. He js now retired and makes his home in Florida.

Colonel Bankson became managing editor of the Military Review in 1956. A year later, he became editor and in another year was promoted to colonel. Colonel Bankson writes that among his achievements were a more aggressive program of soliciting articles, increased use of photos and artwork, a new cover design, and the beginning of negotiations with the US Army War College to get some of the best student theses for publication. Colonel Bankson retired from the Army in 1970 and is now Director of Information for the Aerospace Industries Association of America, Incorporated, Washington, D. C., a position in which he finds his experience as editor ,of the Military Review “extremely valuable.”

In addition to the responses from some of the editors, one assistant editor, Lieutenant Colonel Albert N. Garland, US Army, Retired, provided the story of his Military Review experience in considerable detail. Garland was assigned to the magazine from 1962 to 1965, serving as acting editor in chief three months in 1964.

Colonel Garland’s comments, which deserve more attention than can be given here, tell of the relationships among members of the magazine staff and of the mechanics of getting the editing and publishing accomplished. Looking back, he says, “the three years at the Military Review were good years, some of the best.”

Colonel Delaney has been editor in chief since 1964, the longest tenure of any editor. He retires from active service this month and will be succeeded by Colonel 0. W. Martin, Jr., former editor of Armor magazine. Beginning with the January 1972 issue, the Military Review has returned to a pictorial cover. Perhaps the area of 62 greatest improvement in the past several years is in the scholastic quality of the original articles printed. Another change has been the addition of the “Reader Forum” section, thereby giving readers the opportunity to comment on articles published.

Today, at 50, the Military Review is one of the world’s leading military journals. It is published in three languages, with a total circulation of 22,000, in over 80 countries. The magazine’s influence is even broader than the circulation figures indicate as it is widely reprinted in foreign military journals.

The US Army Command and General Staff College and the US Army War College continue to be important sources of original articles, as are active, retired, and Reserve military personnel, and civilians. Efforts are made to get recognized authorities in military fields to contribute feature articles on topics of current interest. The great majority of the articles received, however, are unsolicited. Of these, approximately one out of six is chosen for publication.

The magazine continues to publish articles on a wide range of military subjects. Vietnam is no longer as popular as a few years ago. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the military activities of the Soviet Union, Communist China, the Middle East, and Latin America, and nuclear weapons and warfare are among the current favorite subjects. Thus, for 50 years, the Military Review has provided a forum for the expression of military thought and a medium for the dissemination of military doctrine. Having taken a look back, we now look ahead to the next 50 years.


  1. Lieutenant Colonel Edward W. McGregor, “The Leavenworth Story,” Military Review, May 1956, pp 62-76.
  2. Instruction Circular Number 1, Series 1923-24, The General Service Schools, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 30 .Tune 1923, p 39.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Letter from Fall’s widow, Dorothy Fall, to Colonel 0. W. Martin, Jr., 7 September 1971.

Colonel Forrest R. Blackburn, US Army Reserve, is a mobilization designee to the Military Review. A member of the staff of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, he holds a J.D. from Washburn University Law School, Topeka, and is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College. He served with the 33d Infantry Division and the 522d Field Artillery Battalion during World War II. A frequent contributor to the Military Review, his most recent article was “Cantonment Leavenworth: 1827-1832” which appeared in the December 1971 issue.

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Military Review
50th Anniversary