[PW] Origin of "Generals" quote?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Mon Oct 29 12:37:29 PDT 2012

"Generals are always preparing to fight the last war."

Update: During a visit to the library I verified the 1929 citation
containing a precursor of this expression. The article title and
author are given below. Etymological researcher Barry Popik was given
this cite, and he updated the entry that he has for this saying on his

Here is the title and link for the entry on Barry Popik's website
followed by information about the 1929 cite:

“Generals always fight the last war” ("Economists fight the last depression")


Cite: 1929 January-February, The Military Engineer, Volume 21, Number
115, Some Notes on the World War by J. L. Schley [Lieutenant Colonel,
Corps of Engineers], Start Page 55, Quote Page 55, Column 1, Society
of American Military Engineers, Alexandria, Virginia. (Verified on

Short link   http://bit.ly/QWb8as

[Begin excerpt]
It has been said critically that there is a tendency in many armies to
spend the peace time studying how to fight the last war.
[End excerpt]

Garson O'Toole

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