I recall a military anecdote which described a Field Marshal who considered Officers ineffectual if they were unable to write concisely.

I believe the standard applied was that all plans or orders should be kept to a maximum of two pages.

Which Field Marshal is this anecdote about? Is there any truth to this tale?

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    Field Marshall Montgomery required his subordinates to limit their morning briefing of him to 5 minutes each. Perhaps that is what you were thinking of. Leaders of men are too valuable to be fired for a first, third, or even a tenth offense of such a rule, but the peer competition for promotion and preferred assignments would be quite effective. Mar 4, 2015 at 23:58
  • A constant complaint of generals is that their subordinates provide them with wordy, irrelevant, obtuse reports. Nevertheless, the OP must have someone particular in mind. I wonder who that is? Mar 5, 2015 at 3:36
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    @PieterGeerkens: Seeing there's an answer provided now but yours fits the bill as well, perhaps you should post it as an alternative answer?
    – gktscrk
    Jun 12, 2020 at 15:34
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    @gktscrk: I need to track down the original source for that first. I'm away from home for the weekend, but will cheeck that out tomorrow evening. Jun 13, 2020 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


It was General Patton.

It is my opinion that Army orders should not exceed a page and a half of typewritten text and it was my practice not to issue orders longer than this. Usually they can be done on one page, and the back of the page used for a sketch map.

I think this is from his book War As I Knew It, but I don't have a copy. However, I did find this source.

I haven't found any evidence of Patton dismissing staff officers for breaking this rule. Indeed, on one occasion Patton didn't even fire a subordinate face-to-face but got Bradley (who he? Ed.) to do it for him.


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