George C. Marshall’s tenure as Deputy Commandant of the Infantry School was marked by many innovations in the training of Infantry officers of the inter-war years. One of his innovations was the use of training films. They’re ubiquitous now, but were a rather radical idea at the time. There is certainly no substitute for actually training on a given learning objective. But before the “doing” part, it certainly helps to give an overview of how a certain task should be done. Yes, of course the doctrinal manuals are the authoritative resource. But the dramatic enactment of doctrinally sound operations makes it easier for the student to grasp the fundamentals of the learning objective.
The 29th Infantry Regiment was (and still is, for that matter) the “schoolhouse” regiment at Ft. Benning, providing troops upon which officers at career schools can practice the roles and missions they’ll assume at ever higher levels of responsibility. Having studied a particular task on paper (or film) in the classroom, the students go to the woods of Ft. Benning’s various training areas and put into practice that which they’ve learned.
Marshall was famous for making such learning exercises as difficult as possible through various means, such as providing inadequate maps, or simply no maps at all! Other times, he would issue orders with deliberate ambiguities. The goal wasn’t merely to create officers who could execute the steps of a learning checklist, but rather determine which officers could thrive in the confusion of war, those who could discern the wheat from the chaff.