GLOBAL PRESSURES AND THE FLEXIBLE RESPONSE
WALTER G. HERMES
AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY
ARMY HISTORICAL SERIES
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF MILITARY HISTORY
UNITED STATES ARMY
Global Pressures and the Flexible Response
When President John F. Kennedy assumed office in the opening days of 1961, the prospects for peace were not encouraging. Premier Khruschev had been cool since an American U2 plane gathering intelligence had been shot down over Russia in the spring of 1960. Although the possibility of a general nuclear war had receded, Soviet support of wars of national liberation had increased.
Despite the unfavorable signs President Kennedy was quite willing to renew the quest for peace. As he pointed out in his budget message of March 1961, the United States would make "efforts to explore all possibilities and to take every step to lessen tensions, to attain peaceful solutions, and to secure arms limitation." To Mr. Kennedy, diplomacy and defense were not distinct alternatives, but complemented each other.
Yet the President, well aware that the search for peace might be long, determined to give the United States a more flexible defense posture that would enable the nation to back its diplomacy with appropriate military action. The country should be strong enough to survive and retaliate after an enemy attack, on the one hand, and be able to prevent the erosion of the free world through limited war, on the other, the President informed Congress. "Any potential aggressor contemplating an attack on any part of the free world with any kind of weapons, conventional or nuclear, must know that our response will be suitable, selective, swift, and effective."
The Changing Face of the Cold War
As President Kennedy ushered in the era of flexible response, massive retaliation was officially de-emphasized. Long overdue, the shift in military
policy stressed the need for ready nonnuclear forces as a deterrent to limited war. Besides, other changes under way indicated that America would need a more flexible position of strength in the days ahead.
By 1961 the tight bipolar system that had arisen after World War II and under which the United States and the Soviet Union were the only truly great powers was on the wane. No longer could the Soviet Union claim to speak for all Communists without challenge. In eastern Europe the satellite nations were pressing for more freedom of action and were eager to increase trade with the West. The Chinese Communists, on the other hand, were becoming impatient with Soviet conservatism and strongly opposed peaceful coexistence. And, in the New World, Fidel Castro was pursuing his own program of intrigue with subversion in Latin America. The Communist bloc, therefore, was in the process of splintering, with groups favoring the Soviet, Chinese, or Cuban brand of Communism emerging in many countries.
Dissent was also mounting in the West. With the success of the Marshall plan and the return of economic prosperity to western Europe during the fifties, France, West Germany, and other nations became creditor countries and were less and less dependent for the maintenance of their economies upon the United States. The return of Charles de Gaulle to power in France under a new and strong executive type of government in 1958 produced growing dissidence within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as de Gaulle sought to recapture some of France's former glory by taking an increasingly independent role.
Outside Soviet and American circles the presence of a third force began to make itself felt during the fifties and early sixties. Most of the former colonial possessions in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa were granted independence in the fifteen years following World War II, and although many of them retained economic and cultural ties with the mother country they were generally reluctant to become politically involved in the East-West struggle. Since the new nonaligned nations contained about one-third of the world's population and controlled much of the earth's oil and other resources, they were courted by both sides. Many suffered, however, from basic political instability and economic weakness that made them fertile fields, first for Communist propaganda and subversion and then for wars of national liberation.
In May 1961 President Kennedy, touching on such revolutionary wars, pointed out to Congress that the great battleground of the sixties would be "the lands of the rising peoples." As the revolts to end injustice, tyranny, and exploitation broke out, he noted, the Communists had sent in arms, agitators, technicians, and propaganda to capture the rebel movements.
Working behind the scenes with terrorists and saboteurs, the Communists had extended their control over large areas since World War II and had even broader ambitions. In such conflicts, the President had affirmed, "It is a contest of will and purpose as well as force and violence- a battle for minds and souls as well as lives and territory." The United States could not, Kennedy concluded, stand aside and passively let this fight be won by the Communists.
With half the world still in the balance, the prospects for peaceful coexistence between the United States and the Soviet Union dimmed in 1961. Insurgent movements were already disrupting Laos, Vietnam, the Congo, and Algeria and the threat of revolutionary outbreaks hung over several other countries in South America, Africa, and Asia. In most instances the Communists were abetting the insurgents and the United States was providing aid to the government forces. It was ironic, under the circumstances, that President Kennedy's first brush with the Communists should result from American support of an insurgent group.
Cuba and Berlin
During the closing days of the Eisenhower administration the United States had severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, but the presence of a Communist satellite almost within sight of the mainland remained a constant source of irritation. In April 1961 a band of Cuban exiles launched a poorly conceived invasion of the island at the Bay of Pigs with limited air and no naval support. When the people failed to rise and join the invaders, the operation collapsed and most of the invading force was taken prisoner. Since the United States had sponsored the exiles, their utter failure damaged American prestige and enhanced Fidel Castro's stature. The invasion also brought offers of Soviet help from Premier Khruschev and dark hints that he was ready to employ Russian missile power to aid Castro.
The timing of the Cuban fiasco was particularly unfortunate, since President Kennedy was scheduled to hold a summit meeting with Khruschev in Vienna in early June on the delicate subject of Berlin. In that divided and isolated city the growing prosperity of West Berlin contrasted sharply with the poverty and drabness of the Soviet sector and West Berlin had become as great an irritation to the Communists as Cuba was to the United States. In 1958 Khruschev had demanded that Berlin be made a free city and threatened that unless western troops were withdrawn in six months he would conclude a separate treaty with East Germany. Although Khrus-
chev later backed off from this threat and even showed signs of a conciliatory attitude on Berlin, at the Vienna meeting he made a complete about-face.
Once again he informed Kennedy that unless the West accepted the Soviet position he would take unilateral action to solve the Berlin impasse. If the Soviet premier hoped to intimidate the new President in the wake of the Cuban setback, he was unsuccessful. Instead, Mr. Kennedy in July requested and received additional defense funds from Congress as well as authority to call up to 250,000 members of the Ready Reserve to active duty.
The President refrained from declaring a national emergency, which would have permitted him to bring up to a million Reserve members back to federal service; he did not wish to panic either the American public or the Soviet Union by a huge mobilization. On the other hand, he determined to strengthen the conventional armed forces in the event that Soviet pressure at Berlin demanded a gradual commitment of American military power.
During August tension heightened as thousands of refugees crossed from East to West Berlin, and the Communists took the drastic step of constructing a high wall about their sector to block further losses. As the situation grew worse, the President decided in September to increase American troops in Europe and to call up some Reserve personnel and units to strengthen the continental U.S. forces. By October almost 120,000 reserve troops, including two National Guard divisions, had been added to the active Army, and the Regular troop strength had been increased by more than 80,000.
The partial American mobilization and the quick reinforcement of Europe with U.S. ground, air, and naval units were accompanied by strong efforts to bring the military personnel and equipment remaining in the United States to a high degree of readiness. Accelerated training and production prepared and outfitted the new and the Reserve troops as quickly as possible. In the event that an emergency should arise in Europe, extra equipment was shipped there to be held in storage for units that might have to be air-transported from the United States in a hurry.
As the Soviet Union became aware that the Berlin challenge would be met swiftly and firmly, it began to ease the pressure again. The new administration had passed its first test. By mid-1962 the Reserve forces called up were returned to civil life, but the Regular increases were retained.
The next Soviet ploy was less direct but more dangerous than the Berlin threat. After the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Soviet Union had dispatched military advisers and equipment to the Castro forces in Cuba, ostensibly to help them repel any future attacks. In the summer of 1962, however, rumors that the Soviet assistance might include offensive weapons
such as the medium-range bombers, and possibly medium-range ballistic missiles as well, increased. Not until mid-October could the conclusive photographic proof of the presence of the missiles in Cuba be obtained. With the pictures in hand, Mr. Kennedy quickly took steps aimed at getting these offensive weapons removed from the island.
The President made it clear that the United States would retaliate against the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons if any Cuban missiles were used against an American nation. The Strategic Air Command's heavy bombers went on a 15-minute alert status with some aircraft aloft at all times. To buttress the defense of the southeastern states closest to Cuba, fighter-interceptor squadrons and Hawk and Nike missile battalions moved in to supplement the local air defense forces. At sea Polaris-equipped submarines left for preassigned stations in case the Soviet Union decided to use the occasion for a nuclear showdown.
On October 22 President Kennedy announced that he would seek the endorsement of the Organization of American States (OAS) for a quarantine on all offensive military equipment being shipped to Cuba, tighten surveillance of the island, and reinforce the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo. With OAS approval, the quarantine went into effect two days later. Meanwhile dependents had been removed from Guantanamo and marines had been lifted by air and sea to defend the base. The Army began to move over 30,000 troops, including the 1st Armored Division, and over 100,000 tons of equipment into the southeastern states to meet the emergency.
As the Navy's Second Fleet started to enforce the quarantine on October 25, hundreds of Air Force and Navy planes conducted surveillance missions over the Atlantic and Caribbean to locate and track ships that might be carrying offensive weapons to Cuba. The continued activity at missile construction sites in Cuba had now placed the world on the brink of its first nuclear war.
The possibility of a clash between American warships and Soviet merchantmen carrying offensive war items to Cuba added to existing tensions. As the crisis mounted in intensity, however, the Soviet Union ordered such ships to return home and no incidents occurred. In the meantime a dramatic series of messages passed between Mr. Kennedy and Premier Khruschev, and the Soviet Union finally agreed on the 28th to dismantle and remove the offensive weapons from Cuba. During the next three weeks the sites were gradually evacuated and the missile systems and technicians were loaded on Soviet ships. Negotiations for the removal of the Russian bombers were completed in November and they were shipped out of Cuba in early December. Although the quarantine ended on November 20, many air
units remained on duty stations to continue surveillance missions in the area to insure that the sites remained inactive. Army forces deployed during the crisis did not return to their home bases until shortly before Christmas.
For the second time in two years the Soviet Union had demonstrated that it was unwilling to risk nuclear war. With the ending of the Cuban missile crisis, Soviet attempts to challenge the United States directly began to subside and Soviet interest centered increasingly upon support of so-called wars of liberation. For the United States, Berlin and Cuba marked the beginning of the flexible response era, as the American reaction ranged from limited and conventional measures to the threat of general war.
Detente in Europe
The aftermath of Berlin and Cuba produced several unexpected develop meets. Evidently convinced that further testing of the American leadership might be unwise, the Soviet Union adopted a more conciliatory attitude in its propaganda and indicated that at long last it might be willing to conclude a nuclear test ban treaty. In view of the long history of fruitless negotiation over nuclear controls, the Soviet move was a promising breakthrough.
Under the provisions of the accord ratified in the fall of 1963, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States agreed not to conduct nuclear explosions in space, in the atmosphere, or underwater; underground explosions were permissible as long as no radioactive material reached the surface. Although the treaty was weakened by the failure of France to ratify or adhere to it, it marked the first major agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States since the Austrian peace treaty of 1955.
The explanation for Soviet co-operation with the West in the sixties, however limited, may have resulted partly from the growing independence of Communist China. The Chinese had never embraced the concept of peaceful coexistence with the capitalist countries and their criticism of what their leaders claimed was too soft a line by Moscow to the West had mounted. As the Sino-Soviet split widened, the Soviet Union adopted a less threatening role in Europe, and the shift had far-reaching effects upon the carefully built-up alliance system designed to guard western Europe against Soviet aggression.
The defense system of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had been constructed around the American strategic deterrent, but the credibility of the U.S. determination to defend western Europe in the face of a growing Soviet nuclear power that might devastate the United States itself had come
into serious question. Under President Kennedy and, after his assassination in November 1963, under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the United States made several efforts to reassure its NATO allies of American good faith. The reinforcement of U.S. conventional forces in Europe at the time of the Berlin crisis provided NATO with more options in responding to Communist pressure. In 1963 the United States assigned three Polaris submarines to the U.S. European Command and suggested that a multilateral naval force be established but the idea was dropped in 1965.
By that time it was becoming clear that General de Gaulle intended to disengage France militarily from NATO. The French cut the ties gradually by participating less and less in NATO exercises, while the French nuclear strike force slowly expanded. In early 1966 de Gaulle served notice that all NATO troops in the country would have to depart. All remaining French forces would be relieved from NATO command during 1966, de Gaulle stated, but France would not quit the alliance. The French president maintained that conditions in Europe had changed since 1949 and the threat to the West from the Soviet Union had lessened.
The military disassociation of France from NATO was unfortunate, since the chief headquarters and many of elaborate lines of communications supporting the forward military forces were in France. When representations to the French proved fruitless, however, the exodus of NATO troops got under way in mid-1966. Supplies and equipment were relocated at bases in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. In early 1967 Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), moved to Belgium, the U.S. European Command shifted its headquarters to Germany, and the Allied Command Central Europe as well as the ground command was transferred to the Netherlands.
Changes within the alliance had been slow. Despite the fact that the concept of massive retaliation had been discredited except as a last resort, it was not until 1967 that a strategy of flexible response was officially adopted. Apparently the Soviet Union also had decided that nuclear warfare offered only the bleak prospect of mutual destruction. In late 1969 the Soviet Union joined the United States in a series of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in Finland to explore ways and means of stopping the nuclear arms race and of beginning seriously the task of disarmament. Progress was slow because of the many technical points that had to be settled, but at least a start was made.
In the meantime, however, the United States proceeded with its plans to deploy its ballistic missile defense system, using the NIKE-X program, with the long-range Spartan and the short-range Sprint missiles, as its base. The Safeguard System, as it eventually came to be known, envisioned a
phased installation of the missiles, radars, and computers at key sites across the country by the mid-seventies. Although the Safeguard System was limited and was regarded as a thin line of defense, President Nixon was reluctant to halt site development and construction of the missile complexes until an agreement was reached in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Thus, despite considerable Congressional and public opposition, work on the first two bases in Montana and North Dakota was initiated in 1970.
The Growing Commitment in Underdeveloped Areas
The American policy of containment met its most serious challenge in southeast Asia as the Communist revolutionary wars to take over Laos and South Vietnam picked up momentum in the early sixties. Taking advantage of the political instability in these countries, the Communists had built up their political and military organizations and gradually brought large segments of the rural areas under their control. Efforts by the governments to regain these areas through military operations had been largely unsuccessful despite the presence of American advisers and the provision of military equipment and supplies.
The struggle to keep Laos and South Vietnam out of the Communist camp, American diplomats and advisers soon discovered, was complex. After decades under French rule, many Indochinese leaders were willing to accept American assistance but unenthusiastic about instituting political and economic reforms that might lessen their newly won power.
The situation in Laos mirrored the American frustration. Until 1961 the United States supported the pro-West military leaders with aid and advice, but the efforts of these leaders to unify the country by force had failed and three different factions controlled segments of the country. As conditions steadily worsened, President Kennedy decided to recognize a coalition government in a neutral Laos. Fourteen nations signed a declaration in July 1962 confirming the independence and neutrality of Laos, which pledged itself to enter into no military alliance as well as to clear all foreign troops from the country. While the future of Laos remained clouded, a coalition government was preferable to a Communist takeover. By the end of 1962 over 600 American advisers and technicians stationed in Laos had left the country.
The concern over Communist activity in Laos and Vietnam also involved Thailand in mid-1962. To deter Communist expansion and to protect the territorial integrity of Thailand under its obligations to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization the United States set up a joint task force at the
request of the Thai government. As Communist troops maneuvered not far from the Thai border, a reinforced battalion of marines was quickly transported to Thailand and was followed by a battle group of the 25th Infantry Division. Army signal, engineer, transportation, and other service troops moved in to support the U.S. combat forces and to provide training and advice for Thai units. The quick response so strengthened the Thai government's position that the Communist threat abated during the remainder of the year, enabling first the Marine and then the Army troops to withdraw. Many of the American service support forces, however, remained to assist in Thai training and logistical support programs. As the war in Vietnam intensified in the mid-sixties, the roads, airfields, depots, and communications constructed and maintained by U.S. forces in Thailand became extremely valuable in supporting the American effort in Vietnam.
Trouble in the Caribbean
Although Europe and Asia remained the critical areas in the policy of Communist containment, American interest in Caribbean developments increased sharply after Cuba's defection from the West. When a military revolt in April 1965 to oust the civilian junta in the Dominican Republic was followed by a military counterrevolution, the United States monitored the situation closely.
As both factions sought to gain control of the government machinery, the capital city of Santo Domingo became a bloody battleground and all semblance of law and order vanished. Concern over the immediate threat to American lives rose as diplomatic efforts to restore peace failed. First to provide protection for U.S. nationals and subsequently to insure that the Communists did not get another foothold in the Caribbean, President Johnson sent Marine Corps and then Army airborne troops to Santo Domingo to stabilize the situation.
Less than seventy-two hours after alert, two battalions of the 82d Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, air-landed at a field east of Santo Domingo and fanned out toward the city. They were soon reinforced by four additional airborne battalions with support units. In the meantime, Marine troops consolidated their hold on the western portion of Santo Domingo. Since the forces of the rebels, the so-called Constitutionalists, were concentrated in the southern part of town, Lt. Gen. Bruce Palmer, Jr., the American ground force commander, carried out a night operation to link up the Army and Marine units and to separate the warring factions. Using three airborne battalions for the action, Palmer had the first move
into the easternmost sector, then passed the other two through the first to secure a corridor. With surprising ease and speed, the 82d Airborne's troops crossed the city and joined with the marines, thus creating a buffer zone between the two fighting forces.
By the end of the first week in May all nine battalions of the 82d Airborne Division and four battalions of marines were in the Dominican Republic. With supporting forces the total number of American troops soon reached a peak of about 23,000. They patrolled the streets of Santo Domingo, maintained law and order, and distributed food, water, and medical supplies to both sides. The quick landings in force and the establishment of the buffer zone made further fighting on a large scale impossible. With stalemate the alternative, the adversaries began a series of negotiations that lasted until September.
The U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic became the subject of spirited discussion in the United States and abroad. Despite unfavorable public reaction to the intervention in some Latin American countries, the Organization of American States did ask its members to send troops to the Dominican Republic to help restore order. Six members—Brazil, Costa Rico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Paraguay eventually dispatched forces and joined the United States in forming the first inter-American force ever established in the Western Hemisphere. Although American troops constituted the largest contingent of the force, Lt. Gen. Hugo Panasco Alvim of Brazil was named commander in May and General Palmer became his deputy to emphasize the international composition of the force. Some U.S. troop withdrawals began almost immediately after the Latin American units arrived.
The acceptance of a provisional government by both sides in early September relieved much of the tension in the Dominican Republic, and by the end of 1965 all but three battalions of the 82d had returned to the United States. After elections in mid-1966, the last U.S. and Latin American elements pulled out in September, ending the 16-month intervention. Although the legality and the unilateral nature of the U.S. action have been challenged, there is little doubt but that the intervention saved lives and restored law and order in the Dominican Republic.
Civil Rights and Civil Disturbances
Within the United States itself, meanwhile, racial tensions growing out of the civil rights movement had dictated the use of troops in civil disturbances on a scale reminiscent of the labor troubles of the late nineteenth cen-
tury. The first and most dramatic use of federal troops came in September 1957 when President Eisenhower dispatched a battle group of the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock and federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard to enforce a court order permitting nine Negro students to attend Central High School. The paratroopers successfully dispersed the mob that had gathered at the school and stabilized the situation. Some weeks later they turned over the task of protecting the Negro students to the Arkansas National Guard, which kept about 400 members on federal duty at Little Rock until the end of the school year. The incident marked the first time a President had exercised his power to call the militia into federal service to control a domestic disturbance since 1867, and it was one of the few times in American history that a Chief Executive used either Regular troops or the National Guard in the face of opposition from a state's governor.
Other instances of the same sort followed in the administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. When, in September 1962, the governor of Mississippi attempted to block the court-ordered registration of James H. Meredith, a Negro, at the University of Mississippi at Oxford, President Kennedy first sought to enforce the law by using federal marshals. When riots broke out on the campus during the night before the registration of Meredith and the marshals were unable to control the mob, President Kennedy federalized the Mississippi National Guard and ordered active Army troops, some already standing by at Memphis, Tennessee, to Oxford. Eventually some 20,000 active Army troops and 10,000 federalized Guardsmen were deployed during the crisis, with 12,000 men in the immediate area and the remainder standing by at other stations. With the military forces in firm control the tension rapidly subsided and the number of troops was scaled down, although as at Little Rock some federal protection had to be provided throughout the school year.
Bombings and other racially motivated incidents in Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1963 forced President Kennedy to send Regular troops to Alabama bases. Later that year an integration crisis, first at the University of Alabama and then in the public schools of several Alabama cities, led him to federalize the entire Alabama Guard, although he used only part of it. In 1965 President Johnson employed both Regulars and Guardsmen to protect civil rights marchers along the route from Selma to Montgomery.
A riot in Rochester, New York, in 1964, and a far more serious one in the Watts district of Los Angeles in 1965, with killing, looting, and burning on a large scale, drew attention to the fact that the problem was not confined to the South. Restoration of order in the city required the efforts of 13,400 California Guardsmen as well as city and state law enforcement officers.
Racial disturbances continued to occur during the next two years, with particularly serious outbreaks in 1966 in Chicago, Cleveland, Cicero, Illinois, and San Francisco. They increased sharply in 1967 when more than fifty cities reported disorders during the first nine months of the year. These ranged from minor disturbances to the extremely serious disorders of Newark and Detroit, both of which occurred in July. Aside from state and local law enforcement officers, only the National Guard in its state capacity was used in the Newark riot, whereas in the destructive Detroit outbreak the governor of Michigan not only used the National Guard but also requested and, after some delay, obtained federal troops. This was the first time since the Detroit riot of 1943, when the Michigan National Guard was overseas, that a governor had requested federal assistance to put down a civil disturbance. During the Detroit riot of 1967 the task force commander had over 10,000 Guardsmen and 5,000 Regulars under his command and deployed nearly 10,000 men before the crisis passed.
Since disorders were occurring with greater frequency, President Johnson on July 28, 1967 appointed a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders for the purpose of investigating the causes and possible cures, with Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois as its chairman. The Kerner Commission, as it came to be known, concluded in its report early in 1968 that "our Nation
is moving toward two societies, one black and one white—separate and unequal." The events recently experienced called attention to the racial imbalance in the National Guard and led to more training for both the Regular Army and the Guard as well as to more sophisticated planning by the Army in preparation for possible future disturbances.
The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 produced a wave of rioting, looting, and burning in cities across the country, and the National Guard was used by the states in many places to subdue the rioters. Federal intervention was required in the troubled cities of Washington, Chicago, and Baltimore where the government used both federalized Guardsmen and Regular troops, deploying over 40,000 men in three cities alone. Only a portion of the forces was committed to control rioting.
On April 22, 1968 in the wake of the riots, the Army established a new agency in the Office of the Chief of Staff, the Directorate for Civil Disturbance Planning and Operations. Designed to provide command facilities for the Army's role as the agent of the Department of Defense in civil disturbance matters, the agency became the Directorate of Military Support on September 1, 1970.
Although the years immediately following 1968 produced no great racial disturbance, they did see the continuation of a series of large and small antiwar demonstrations in which federal and National Guard troops were employed. In October 1967 a large demonstration against the war took place at the Pentagon. The government had assembled protective forces that included 236 marshals, some of whom had been at Oxford, Mississippi, in 1962, and a military force which, including troops actually operational at the Pentagon and those in reserve, totaled around 10,000 men. Massive antiwar rallies were staged in Washington in November 1969 and May 1970, but these were generally peaceful; federal troops were positioned in the capital area but not used. Student protests against the Cambodian operations of 1970, however, led to tragedy at Kent State University in Ohio. National Guardsmen, under provocation from some students, fired upon the demonstrators, killing four, including two women, and wounding a dozen others.
The Kent State incident and another at Jackson State College in Mississippi involving students and police led to the appointment of the President's Commission on Campus Unrest, headed by former governor of Pennsylvania, William W. Scranton. The Scranton Commission found that campus unrest reflected the crisis over the war and related matters that gripped the nation.
An extended antiwar protest in the nation's capital took place in April and May 1971. A peaceful and impressive demonstration by Vietnam veterans was followed by an attempt on the part of youthful demonstrators on May Day to tie up Washington traffic and prevent government workers from reaching their jobs. The government deployed about 2,000 National Guardsmen, who were sworn in as special policemen, 3,000 marines, and 8,600 troops of the Regular Army. The police and troops guarded highways and bridges and kept the traffic moving despite minor efforts by the demonstrators to carry out their plans.
Secretary McNamara the New Management System
The operational activities of the armed forces during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations reflected but one portion of the wide range of problems confronting the nation's civilian and military leaders. At the same time, changes of far-reaching importance were being carried out in less publicized areas.
The primacy of the heavy manned bomber as the nation's main instrument of nuclear deterrence had come into question after the Korean War and finally ended in the sixties. President Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, followed the trend of the Eisenhower period and missiles gradually replaced some of the strategic bombers. For fixed wing aircraft, the sixties saw the end of a cycle that began in Korea and the restoration of their support role.
For the ground forces, Vietnam brought about a reaffirmation that in conventional and limited wars the ground units bear the brunt of battle. The steady decline of the Army during the Eisenhower years was dramatically reversed in 1961 as the Army grew in numbers and its portion of the defense budget increased.
Within the Department of Defense, exercise of the more extensive authority granted the Secretary of Defense by the reorganization act of 1958 had begun. When Mr. McNamara became secretary in 1961, he accelerated the process.
President Kennedy gave McNamara two instructions: develop the force structure necessary to meet American military requirements, without regard to arbitrary or predetermined budget ceilings, and procure and operate the necessary force at the lowest possible cost. In accordance with McNamara's concept of centralized planning the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assisted by the services, continued to establish the military plans and force requirements deemed necessary to support U.S. national security policies. The forces, how-
ever, were now separated according to function, such as strategic retaliation, general purpose, and reserve, and placed in what was called a program package. When McNamara received these packages, he considered whether each one contained balanced forces and resources to accomplish its function, correlated the costs and the effectiveness of the weapon systems involved, and then forwarded the approved packages in the annual budget for Presidential and Congressional action. To provide assistance in long-range planning, a five-year projection of all forces, weapon systems, and defense activities, together with the cost, was also drawn up yearly for McNamara's endorsement.
Initially the Kennedy administration had three basic defense goals: to strengthen the strategic retaliatory forces; to build up the conventional forces so that a flexible response could be made to lesser challenges; and to improve the over-all effectiveness and efficiency of the defense effort. To attain the first objective, intercontinental ballistic missiles in hardened sites and Polaris nuclear-equipped submarines were added to provide the United States with the capability of retaliating in force in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack.
The second goal gained quick impetus from the Berlin crisis as Army strength alone rose from 860,000 to over 1,060,000 in 1961 and the Navy and the Air Force conventional forces also made modest gains. Although the National Guard units called up for the crisis were released in mid-1962, the Army was authorized in the meantime to activate two Regular divisions, for a total of sixteen, and to retain a permanent strength of 970,000 men. The influx of men allowed many units to remedy understrengths, and the additional funds allocated during the build-up permitted the procurement of new equipment and weapons to modernize the Army. As the Army budget rose from Slo.1 billion to $12.4 billion in fiscal years 1961 and 1962, almost half the increase was allocated to the purchase of new vehicles, aircraft, missiles, and other equipment.
Seeking greater efficiency and reduced costs for the defense effort, Secretary McNamara instituted changes in organization and procedures utilizing the latest management techniques and computer systems. He established firm control over the services through close budget supervision, and gradually centralized under the Office of the Secretary of Defense many activities formerly administered separately by one of the services. Since a great number of supply items and related services were in common use throughout the Defense Department, he established the Defense Supply Agency in 1961. The agency assumed control of the five old and three new commodity single managerships, and of the Defense Traffic Management Service, as well as functions relating to cataloging and standardization. To the Defense Supply Agency fell the management, purchase, and distribution of items such as
food, petroleum products, and medical, automotive, and construction supplies at the wholesale level. Centralization permitted mass buying at competitive prices, the establishment of tighter inventory controls through the use of computers, the standardization of items to eliminate duplication, and the consolidation of supply installations.
Tied in closely with the objectives in setting up the Defense Supply Agency was the launching of a five-year defense cost reduction program in 1962. Designed to cut procurement and logistics costs throughout the Defense Department, the program had three main goals: to buy only what was needed, with no frills; to purchase at the lowest sound price after competitive bidding whenever possible; and to decrease operating costs.
Centralization rather than cost reduction was the prime aim in setting up the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1961. Mr. McNamara had directed that all defense intelligence operations should be co-ordinated at a higher level and that one office should prepare his intelligence estimates.
The effects of the 1958 reorganization were most noticeable in the decision-making process. By maintaining close watch over such matters as budget and finance, manpower, logistics, and research and engineering, the Secretary of Defense tightened civilian control over the services and carried unification much further than any of his predecessors. One of the moves designed to improve unified action was Secretary McNamara's creation of the U.S. Strike Command in 1961. By combining the Army's Strategic Army Corps with the Air Force's Tactical Air Command, the new command had combat-ready ground and air support forces that could be deployed quickly to meet contingencies or to reinforce overseas units. The Army and Air Force components of Strike Command remained under the control of their own services until an emergency arose, then passed to the operational control of Strike Command.
In view of the changes in organization and procedures at the Defense Department level, it was not surprising that the Secretary of Defense should also direct a thorough review of the Army's organization in 1961. A broad reorganization plan, approved by the President in early 1962 under the authority of the Reorganization Act of 1958, called for major shifts in the tasks performed by the Department of the Army Staff and the technical services. The Army Staff became primarily responsible for planning and policy, leaving the execution of decisions to the field commands. In an effort to organize the Army along more functional lines, centralize such matters as
personnel, training, and research and development activities, and integrate supply operations, most of the technical services were abolished. The statutory offices of the Chief Chemical Officer, the Chief of Ordnance, and The Quartermaster General were completely eliminated. The Chief Signal Officer and the Chief of Transportation continued to perform their duties as special staff officers rather than as chiefs of services. Chief Signal Officer later regained a place on the General Staff when he became Assistant Chief of Staff for Communications-Electronics in 1967, but the Chief of Transportation's activities were absorbed by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics in 1964. The Chief of Engineers retained his special status only with respect to civil functions; his military functions were placed under the general supervision of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics until 1969, when he was again accorded independent status. Among the technical services, only The Surgeon General emerged with his position intact after the reorganization.
In the administrative services, The Adjutant General and the Chief of Finance also lost their statutory status and became special staff officers; later, in 1967, the Office of the Chief of Finance was discontinued as a special staff agency and its functions were transferred to the Office of the Comptroller of the Army. A new Office of Personnel Operations was established on the special staff level to provide central control for the career development and assignment of all military personnel. Officers of the technical and administrative services retained their branch designations but the management of their careers, with certain exceptions, was taken over by the Office of Personnel Operations. Although many of the most important Quartermaster functions were given to the Defense Supply Agency, a new Chief of Support Services assumed responsibility for such matters as graves registration and burials, commissaries, and clothing and laundry facilities.
Most of the operating functions lost by the Army Staff and the technical services were allocated to the U.S. Continental Army Command and to two new commands—the U.S. Army Materiel Command (USAMC) and the U.S. Army Combat Developments Command (USACDC). Continental Army Command became responsible for almost all of the Army schools and for the training of all individuals and units in the United States, but lost its test and evaluation mission to Army Materiel Command and turned over combat development activities to Combat Developments Command.
The Army Materiel Command took over many of the tasks formerly assigned to the technical services and set up subcommands to handle them. It assumed operating responsibility for research, development, testing, production, procurement, storage, maintenance, and distribution of materiel on a wholesale basis.
To the Combat Developments Command went the mission of developing organizational and operational doctrine, materiel objectives and qualitative requirements, war games and field experimentation, and cost effectiveness studies. This command was to provide answers to questions on how the Army was to be organized and equipped and how it was to fight in the field.
The transfer of functions began in the spring of 1962 and the new commands became operational in the summer. During the following year other major changes affecting staff responsibilities took place. In January 1963 the Office Reserve Components was established to exercise general supervision over all plans, policies, and programs concerning the National Guard and Reserve forces. The statutory responsibility of the Chief, National Guard Bureau, to advise the Chief of Staff on National Guard affairs and to serve as the channel of communications between the Army and the states adjutants general was not altered by the creation of the new agency. The Chief, Army Reserve, however, did lose his control of the Reserve officers training program, which was transferred to the Office of Reserve Components in February and later to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in 1966.
Since the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations (DCSOPS) had become heavily involved in planning for joint operations, the Army in the spring of 1963 created an Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development to assure adequate attention to affairs that primarily concerned the Army. To prepare the Army force plans and structures in consonance with requirements developed by DCSOPS and with manpower and budget limitations as well became the main task of the new office; DCSOPS remained the principal adviser to the Chief of Staff on all joint matters and also retained responsibility for strategic planning and the employment of combat-ready Army troops.
As it turned out, neither the new Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development nor the Army Comptroller had sufficient authority to manage the Army's resources or to integrate the proliferating automatic data processing systems. Gradually the responsibility for co-ordinating these shifted to the secretariat of the General Staff, which became almost a "superstaff." To provide for centralized direction and control of resource management programs, including management information systems, force planning, and weapons system analysis, the Army in February 1967 established the Office of the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, to be headed by a lieutenant general. The new office under the Vice Chief of Staff would have authority to manage the various programs and the secretariat could return to its normal duties.
Tactical Readjustment for Flexible Response
The reorganization of the Army staff was accompanied by a major
overhaul of the tactical organization. In practice the pentomic division had proved to be weak in staying power and needed more men to be capable of sustained combat. In 1961 the Army revised the divisional structure to provide a better balance between mobility and firepower and to insure greater flexibility.
Under the Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD) concept the Army began in early 1962 to form four types of divisions—infantry, armor, airborne, and mechanized each with a common base and three brigade headquarters. The base contained a headquarters company, a military police company, a reconnaissance squadron, division artillery, and a battalion each of engineer, signal, medical, supply and transportation, and maintenance troops. In the combat mix of the ROAD division the Army attained flexibility, since the numbers and types of battalions could be varied at will to carry out different missions. An infantry division might ordinarily have eight infantry and two armor battalions with a total strength of 16,000 men, but could control up to fifteen battalions if the need arose. When terrain permitted, more armor or mechanized elements could be added; in the swamps or jungles, the accent could be placed upon the infantry battalions.
The first ROAD divisions were the newly reactivated 1st Armored and 5th Infantry (Mechanized) Divisions, which were tested during l962. When the concept worked out well, the Army in 1963 began to convert the remaining fourteen active divisions and to reorganize the National Guard and Army Reserve divisions under ROAD. The active and Reserve reorganizations were completed in mid-1964.
The search for mobility sparked another tactical innovation in 1962 when an Army board compared ground and air vehicles in terms of cost and efficiency.. The board recommended that new air combat and transport units be formed. The concept of an air assault division employing air-transportable weapons and aircraft-mounted rockets to replace artillery involved the delicate question of Air Force and Army missions, but Mr. McNamara decided to give it a thorough test.
Organized in February 1963, the 11th Air Assault Division was successfully tested for two years. By the spring of 1965 the situation in Vietnam offered an opportunity to demonstrate its capabilities for mobility in rough terrain. In July the division was inactivated and the personnel and equipment used to reorganize the 1st Cavalry Division under the air mobile concept at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 2d Infantry Division took over the personnel and equipment left by the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea; and exchange of divisional colors and the repainting of divisional insignia accomplished the switch. The new airmobile division had an authorized strength of 15,787
men, 428 helicopters, and 1,600 road vehicles (half the number of an infantry division). Although the number of rifles and automatic weapons in the division was the same as in an infantry division, the supporting weapons were lighter. The direct support artillery was moved by helicopter and had no vehicular prime movers. Instead of a general support artillery battalion, the airmobile division used an aerial rocket artillery battalion. Since all equipment was designed to move by air, the division total weight was only 10,000 tons, less than a third of an infantry division's.
The development of the air assault division provided fresh impetus to the dramatic growth of Army aviation. Although Army-Air Force agreements and decisions at Defense Department level during the fifties had generally been designed to restrict the size and weight of Army aircraft and their area of operations, the Army had pushed ahead vigorously in its research and development program. Concentrating heavily in the rotary-wing field, the Army by 1960 had built up its inventory to over 5,500 aircraft, almost half of them helicopters.
The versatility of rotary-wing aircraft made them ideal for observation and reconnaissance, medical evacuation, and command and control missions. Under the service roles and missions agreement all of these activities were permissible for the Army when conducted in the battlefield area. But the Army expansion into the development of larger craft that could be used for transporting large loads of troops and supplies and the subsequent arming of helicopters raised questions concerning the proper role to be played by the two services.
A reassessment of missions and roles in 1966 placed the larger transports that the Army had developed with the Air Force. Insofar as helicopters were concerned, however, the Army maintained primacy, partly because of the demonstrated ability of rotary-wing aircraft to support land combat operations and partly because the Army had been farsighted in its research and development effort. Although the Army inventory of fixed-wing aircraft slipped slightly in the ensuing years, the number of helicopters, spurred by the demands of the war in Vietnam, soared from about 2,700 in 1966 to over 9,500 by mid-1971.
The Vietnam War also accelerated the development and introduction of many improved and new Army aircraft models. Among the new additions were the HueyCobra, a gunship armed with combinations of rockets, 7.62mm. miniguns, and machine guns, and the Cayuse observation helicopter. Later versions of the Mohawk fixed-wing observation plane, the Chinook medium transport helicopter, and the Iroquois (Huey UH-1) light transport helicopter, among others, incorporated technological advances and tactical
adaptations that greatly improved their value in field operations. One of the new aircraft, the Cheyenne, the first helicopter designed as a weapons system to provide fire support to ground troops, experienced technical difficulties in 1969 and had to undergo further modification and testing.
New weapon systems, vehicles, and equipment and new organizations to provide better support and greater flexibility for the fighting forces continued to emerge in bewildering rapidity during the sixties. The technological developments in air and ground vehicles promoted mobility, while the advances in communications facilitated the exercise of command and control and the gathering of intelligence. To handle the great number of men and to keep track of the countless items of supply, complex and efficient computer systems were put into operation. Along with sophistication of equipment came the training of qualified men to operate and maintain the machines and weapons and the development of an elaborate and responsive logistics system to provide the parts, fuel, and ammunition to keep them in action.
The Army school system furnished the bulk of the basic technical training, although civilian manufacturers frequently supplied specialists to demonstrate to and instruct military units in the operation and maintenance of new products. Army schools had to keep abreast of the latest technological developments, therefore, and to turn out soldiers who would be able to use new items to the best advantage. The man behind the gun or machine became all the more important as the weapons and engines grew deadlier and more efficient.
In the environment of the sixties professional skills had to be resharpened continually, but the expanding role of the soldier required other talents as well. In the underdeveloped areas of the world, battlefield proficiency was only part of the task. Military victories might gain real estate, but if they failed to win the subsequent support of the local population they were of little consequence. In counterinsurgency operations the important objective was to convince the people in the countryside of the central government's interest and concern for their safety and welfare and to earn their loyalty and confidence the only victory with any permanent meaning.
Civic action and counterinsurgency operations were not new to the Army for they had played a dominant role in the opening of the American West and the pacification of the Philippines. During the occupation of Germany and Japan after World War II civic action programs had done much to improve the relations between the American military and the peoples of those countries; broad economic assistance and political and educational reorientation combined with a willingness to co-operate on the part of the
German and Japanese people and their leaders, had simplified the problem of reconstituting civil authority. In underdeveloped countries the task was usually much more difficult, since communications were poor and the bonds between the central authority and the rural areas were seldom strong. Special forces, capable of operating independently and of reaching to the grass roots, were required to counter insurgency in such places.
Although the Army had trained small units in psychological warfare, and counterinsurgency operations during the fifties, President Kennedy's personal interest in the field gave the program a significant boost in 1961. The Special Forces expanded sharply from 1,500 to 9,000 men in a year and continued to grow until 1969. Even more important, new emphasis in Army schools and camps provided all soldiers with basic instruction in counterinsurgency techniques.
The Special Forces helped train local forces to fight guerrillas and taught them skills essential to strengthening the nation internally. Special Forces Groups were oriented toward specific geographic areas and given language training to facilitate their operations in the field. Each group was augmented with aviation, engineer, medical, civil affairs, intelligence, communications, psychological warfare, military police, or other elements that could be tailored for an assignment. Individual members of each team sent out could be trained also in other skills to increase their versatility. Working on a person-to-person basis, the Special Forces strove to improve the image of the government armed forces and to foster co-operative attitudes among the rural people.
Special warfare training was also given to the Reserve forces to keep them current with counterinsurgency developments and the measures necessary to counteract internal aggression and subversion. One phase of this training—crowd and riot control tactics—became of particular importance because of the growing threat of civil disturbance.
The Reserve Forces and the Draft
Concerned over the expenditure of defense funds for Reserves that were long on numbers but short on readiness, Mr. McNamara ordered a thorough analysis of the status and functions of the Reserve forces during the early sixties. Maintaining a force of 400,000 National Guardsmen and 300,000 Army Reserves on a paid drill status, for instance, made little sense unless these backup forces could step in quickly in a crisis and replace the regular strategic reserve. The performance of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve units called up for the Berlin crisis in 1961 had demonstrated that
the Army Reserve forces could not, with the level of support and training at that time, become ready for combat in less than four to nine months. In light of current military requirements, the time lag was considered excessive.
In the spring of 1962 Mr. McNamara announced a plan that the Army had developed to reduce and realign the Army National Guard and to lower the paid drill strength of the Army Reserve. Considerable opposition from Congress and many state officials led him to defer action on the reduction, but he carried out the realignment the following year, eliminating in the process four National Guard and four Reserve divisions as well as hundreds of smaller units.
At the close of 1964 the Secretary of Defense proposed a far more drastic reorganization of the Reserves to bring them into balance with contingency war plans. His contention was that the dual National Guard-Army Reserve management system was duplicative and that by consolidating units the paid drill strength could be trimmed from 700,000 to 550,000, and 15 National Guard and 6 Reserve divisions for which there were considered to be no military requirements would be eliminated under the secretary's proposal. The reorganization plan would place all units under the National Guard; only individuals would be carried in the U.S. Army Reserve.
The storm of protest from Congress, the states, and the Reserve associations was quick and long-lived. While the debate went on, McNamara sought to achieve partial implementation of his reorganization goal by ordering the inactivation of Army Reserve units that were not required for contingency war plans. Despite strong Congressional opposition, the excess units, which included all 6 Army Reserve combat divisions and a total of 751 company and detachment size units, were eliminated by the end of 1965. In the fall of 1967, after concessions had been made by both Congress and the Department of Defense, a mutually acceptable reorganization plan that met Secretary McNamara's basic reorganization objectives was approved. Under the new structure, which was fully implemented by the end of May 1968 the Army Reserve retained organized units, but its paid drill strength was reduced from 300,000 to 260,000. Only three U.S. Army Reserve combat brigades were included; the remainder were training and support units. Army National Guard strength remained at slightly over 400,000 men, but the division total was lowered from 23 to 8, while the number of separate brigades was raised from 7 to 18. All units in the new force structure were to be manned at 93 percent or better of wartime strength and were to be fully supported with technicians, equipment, repair parts, and other essentials.
To help obtain the men to fill the Reserve units, legislation had been passed in September 1963 revising the Reserve Forces Act of 1955. The new law provided for direct enlistment—an optional feature of the 1955 act—and the term of obligated service was reduced from eight to six years. The length of the initial tour became more flexible, generally ranging from four to seven months, depending upon the particular military skill involved. Under this Reserve enlistment program, recruits could be given longer periods of initial active duty to train them to fill the requirements for more highly skilled specialists.
The ROTC program was revised in 1964 to improve the flow of qualified Reserve officers into both the active Army and the Reserve components. The four-year senior program at colleges and universities was strengthened by the addition of scholarship provisions, and a two-year program was added for students who had been unable to complete the first two years of ROTC and who had undergone at least six weeks of field training to qualify them for entrance into the advanced course (last two years). Congress also authorized the other military departments to establish a junior ROTC program at qualified public and private secondary schools, beginning in 1966. While most newly commissioned National Guard officers were products of state-operated officer candidate schools, ROTC from 1965 to 1970 continued to be the primary source of new officers for both the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. Cutbacks in active Army officer requirements for fiscal year 1971 indicated that a growing number of ROTC graduates would not be required to perform a two-year active duty stint, but would be released to the Army National Guard or the Army Reserve after three to six months of active duty for training. Recent reductions in the number enrolled in the ROTC program reflect the changeover of the ROTC basic course from required to elective status in many participating institutions, reduced draft pressure, prospects for an all-volunteer army, and antimilitary activities on the college campuses.
Although the Army build-up for the war in Vietnam increased the pressures for a Reserve call-up to replace the Regular troops and draftees sent overseas, the Johnson administration decided in July 196S not to call up the Reserve forces to meet the Army's immediate needs for additional manpower. The President may have been influenced by dissatisfaction caused by the Berlin call-up, the restrictions usually set by the Congress on the length of the Reserve tour of active duty, and the desire to retain the Ready Reserves as an emergency force. To cover the void in the Army's ability to meet other contingencies created by utilization of active Army assets to supply initial Vietnam requirements and the cadres for newly formed units, a Selected
Reserve Force for quick response was established in August 1965, using elements of 8 Army National Guard divisions and some backup units from the Army Reserve. The Selected Reserve Force contained over 150,000 men—about 119,000 National Guardsmen and 31,000 Army Reservists—and consisted of 3 divisions and 6 separate brigades with combat and service support units. All units were authorized to maintain 100 percent strength, received extra training, and were given priority in equipment allocation. To relieve Selected Reserve Force personnel of the burden of additionally prescribed training assemblies—100 annually as compared to the normal 48— the force was reorganized during 1968 and the additional training requirements were reduced. The force was abolished in September of 1969.
By early 1968 the strain placed on active forces in meeting the continuing Vietnam build-up, keeping up other worldwide deployments, and maintaining a strategic reserve had become so great that these tasks could no longer be met through reliance upon increased draft calls. The urgency of the situation was underscored by Communist provocations in Korea and the enemy's Tet offensive in Vietnam. To alleviate the situation President Johnson directed the Secretary of Defense on April 11,1968 to mobilize units and individuals of the Ready Reserve for a period not to exceed twenty-four months. This smallest of the three partial mobilizations since the end of World War II brought into federal service 34 Army National Guard units and 42 Army Reserve units with a combined strength of 17,415. An additional 2,459 members of the Individual Ready Reserve the new designation for the Ready Reserve Mobilization Replacement Pool—were ordered to active duty as fillers for the activated units and to meet critical active Army shortages. Of the 76 units mobilized, 43 went to Vietnam and the remaining 33 were assigned to the Strategic Army Forces. As in earlier mobilizations, failure to attain peacetime training objectives and the shortages of equipment proved major problems that generally prevented the mobilized units from meeting postmobilization readiness objectives. But despite these shortcomings, the partial mobilization of 1968 proved to be the most successful to date, and forces were provided for both the refurbishment of the strategic reserve and Vietnam deployments much earlier than would have been possible if new units had been started from scratch. The last of the mobilized Reserve component units was returned to reserve status in December 1969.
Three months later selected Army National Guard and Reserve units were once again ordered into federal service. On March 18, 1970 New York City mail carriers began an unauthorized work stoppage that threatened to halt essential mail services. President Nixon declared a national emergency on the 23d, thus paving the way for a partial mobilization of the Ready Re-
serves that began the next day. A total of more than 18,000 National Guard and Army Reserve members participated with other Regular and Reserve forces in assisting U.S. postal authorities in getting the mails through. The postal workers soon returned to work, and by April 3 the last of the mobilized reservists were returned to civilian status.
The phase-down of U.S. military operations-in Vietnam and the accompanying cutbacks in active force levels caused renewed reliance to be placed on reserve forces. As early as November 1968 Congress, concerned that the Reserve components were not being adequately provided for, passed the Reserve forces "Bill of Rights." Signed into law by President Johnson in December, the act placed upon the service secretaries the responsibility for providing the support needed to develop Reserve forces capable of attaining peacetime training goals and the responsibility for meeting approved mobilization readiness objectives. The act also established the position of Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs within each of the military departments and gave statutory status to the position of Chief of the Army Reserve. In August 1970 Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird emphatically affirmed that the Reserve components would be prepared to provide the units and individuals required to augment the active forces during the initial phases of any future expansion.
By mid-1971 the Army's Reserve components had substantially recovered from the turbulence associated with the reorganization and partial mobilization of 1968. Defense Department plans for yet another reorganization, designed to bring the Reserve components troop program into consonance with new organizational concepts emanating from the Vietnam experience, were under way but they did not involve the loss of any major units.
Since the President had elected not to call up the Reserve forces in the early stages of the build-up, the main burden of meeting the Army's need for additional manpower in Vietnam had fallen upon the Selective Service system. Increased draft calls and voluntary enlistments rather than a resort to the Reserves swelled the Army strength from 970,000 in mid-1965 to over 1,500,000 in 1968. The Army's divisions increased from sixteen to nineteen during this period and Army appropriations rose from 312 billion in fiscal year 1965 to almost $25 billion in fiscal year 1969.
Reliance upon Selective Service to meet the growing requirements of the Army when large Reserve forces were available drew critical comments from both Congress and the public. This would have been true whether the choice had been made by draft board or lottery, or whether it had been based on physical, marital, or educational status. The nub of the matter was
that some were selected while others stayed home. On the other hand, there was no practicable way to change this state of affairs, since the armed forces could not use, nor did they need, all those young men eligible for military service. The four-year extension of the draft law in 1967 attempted to eliminate some of the imbalance, and the introduction of a lottery system in late 1969 helped to alleviate the lot of the potential draftee by limiting the period during which he could be selected to one year, but the basic problem remained. The unpopularity of the war in Vietnam among certain members of the draft age group rose as the conflict dragged on, and evidenced itself in a rising number of antiwar demonstrations, draft card burnings, and efforts to avoid military service. Such a climate was not calculated to bring forth enough volunteers to make the draft unnecessary.
Problems and Prospects
Since the Army was a segment of American society, it had to deal with the same social problems that confronted the nation. The polarization of opinion over the war in Vietnam, the increasing use of drugs by American youth, and the mounting racial tensions in the United States all had their effects on the Army—particularly since most of its men were young and members of the age group most affected by new currents within the larger society.
Thus, the widespread opposition to the war in Vietnam that swept over college campuses in the late sixties was reflected in the Army. Some soldiers participated in protests and demonstrations or formed antiwar groups and circulated antiwar literature. While soldier dissent was not an entirely new phenomenon in American military history, the dissent generated by the Vietnam War was more overt than any that had occurred before. Although soldier antiwar activities attracted considerable attention, there is no indication that they caused any loss of combat effectiveness, nor did they create a movement that won general soldier support. The gradual reduction of American troop strength in Vietnam and the falling casualty rates during the 1969-71 period served to lessen the dissent, but it is not likely to subside completely until American involvement in Vietnam ends.
The increasing use of drugs in the United States by young people fostered a similar rise in drug usage in the Army, since many recruits had already been exposed to drugs before they entered the service. The situation was compounded by the low cost and easy availability of drugs in many foreign countries, especially in the Far East. Soldiers stationed in Southeast Asia could obtain inexpensive drugs without difficulty under the loose enforcement
procedures employed by the local authorities, and the number of soldier users steadily increased. In an effort to identify and treat these men before they returned home, the Army initiated a program in 1971 requiring urine tests for soldiers leaving Vietnam. Addicts became subject to immediate detoxification and then were given follow-up treatment after their arrival in the United States. The Army also conducted a massive drug information campaign warn potential users of the dangers involved. To a large degree the ultimate success of the Army's programs depends upon the effectiveness of the measures being taken by the United States and by other nations to curb the drug traffic..
Another pressing problem that plagued the nation and the Army was racial discrimination. The Army had desegregated its units during the Korean War and gradually improved the status of the black soldier within the service and in the civilian community by insisting that equal treatment be given all soldiers regardless of race or color. Despite the bitter civil rights struggle of the sixties, some progress was made in securing adequate off-post housing and in opening up recreational facilities to all soldiers. Future gains, however, will be closely tied to domestic developments and a possible shift in American racial attitudes.
Since soldiers are conditioned by their pre-service environment and training, many held strong beliefs about racial equality when they entered the Army. In combat, race relations tended to be subordinate to the common danger and to the necessity to work together for survival. Under static conditions, however, race relations were sometimes uneasy, much as they were in many American cities, and polarization of black and white soldiers took place in some units at home and abroad, reflecting the split in the civilian society and the rise in militant racial groups. The Army tried to break down this trend by developing better communication between the two groups, by building confidence in the promotion and judicial systems, and by stressing the role of leadership in reconciling the differences that aggravated the tensions. There is no quick solution to this problem, since it is dependent upon the national effort to achieve racial equality.
Perhaps the most important change that lies ahead of the Army concerns its future composition. In April 1970 President Nixon proposed that the nation should start to move in the direction of an all-volunteer armed force and the end of Selective Service ". . . as soon as we can do so without endangering our national security." To carry out the President's proposal, the Army, as the service relying most heavily upon the drab, instituted a Modern Volunteer Army Program in October 1970 and appointed in the
Office of the Chief of Staff a special assistant with three star rank to supervise it.
The principal task is to increase the existing levels of enlistment, reenlistment, and officer retention in both the active and the Reserve forces. Too often the young officer or enlisted man left the Army as soon as his obligation expired. The problem was particularly acute in the combat arms, for although there was an estimated need to triple the general rate of enlistment, the combat arms rate would have to be raised twelvefold if the Army was to become a completely volunteer force in 1973.
Besides an enlarged recruiting effort, which included substantial advertising and publicity campaigns, the program consisted of a variety of steps designed to promote professionalism within the Army and to raise the quality of life for its individual members. Improvements in these interrelated areas were designed to raise the Army's ability to attract and retain men of the quality and in the numbers needed.
There has been a considerable amount of experimentation in the program in the effort to assemble the right combination of incentives. Visualized by the planners is a gradual reduction in the Army's reliance upon the draft until the final goal—the all-volunteer Army—is achieved.
The draft meanwhile has continued, and as in World War II and Korea the Army fighting in Vietnam has been a blend of professionals and citizen soldiers.
page updated 27 April 2001
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