Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1975
On 14 June 1975 over one million soldiers and civilians at virtually every Army installation throughout the world turned out to celebrate the Army's 200th anniversary of service to the nation. President Gerald R. Ford attended festivities at Fort Benning, Georgia, with Secretary of the Army Howard H. Callaway. Among other birthday activities were presentations by the 1st Battalion, 3d Infantry (The Old Guard), of a pageant entitled Spirit of America to over 40,000 enthusiastic citizens in the Washington, D.C., area; a reunion of former members of once all-black combat units at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery, during which Sfc. Ralph Lee Bowerman's composition "Mighty Is Our Army," the winning selection from over 1,200 entries in the Army Chaplains' Bicentennial Army Hymn Composers Competition, was presented.
The spring of 1975 also marked the fall of allied governments in Cambodia and South Vietnam, bringing to an end a security assistance effort that lasted over twenty years. Billions of dollars were spent on aid, but in the end much of the equipment supplied to the Cambodians and South Vietnamese was lost. Partially as a result of the experience, the United States has begun to reduce its security assistance to allied governments.
The Army at home continued to adjust to a peacetime environment, but without the wise and understanding leadership of General Creighton W. Abrams, who served as Army Chief of Staff from 12 October 1972 until his death on 4 September 1974. Vice Chief of Staff General Fred C. Weyand was appointed to the Army's top job on 3 October 1974.
On 9 October 1974 Secretary of the Army Callaway announced that all draftees would be released during the period 13-22 November. At the time of the announcement there were 3,126 draftees on active duty, and 17.8 percent of them elected to remain in the service as volunteer soldiers. On 22 November 1974 the Army became an all-volunteer force for the first time since 1948. By emphasizing recruiting and reenlistments, it was able to stabilize its actual strength at 784,000. Meanwhile, the composition of the Army continued to shift away from head
quarters and support forces toward combat units in a concentrated effort to achieve sixteen active divisions.
In December 1974, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff set three primary goals for fiscal year 1975: improving the quality of the enlisted force while maintaining recruiting momentum, making the best use of resources, and shaping the Army for the rapidly changing future. In support of these goals, Secretary Callaway established five priority objectives for the Army: (1) reduce the officer corps to minimum essential strength; (2) improve the quality of personnel and insure that the Army remains representative of the population; (3) increase combat strength in Europe, attain a sixteen-division active Army, and maintain the readiness of active and reserve component forces; (4) improve management for materiel acquisition; and (5) establish communications with all members of Congress.
Basic to accomplishing these objectives was the support of Congress and the American public, and an important ingredient of that support was candor on the part of the Army in its public contacts. Recognizing this, the Secretary of the Army started the "glad you asked" policy to encourage members of the Army to bring a new spirit of openness to their jobs, to present bad news as forthrightly as good news, and to acknowledge mistakes. The emphasis given to the traditional value of frankness and the prompt acknowledgement of errors and problems helped to reduce criticism of the Army. More importantly, the "glad you asked" policy helped improve the public's confidence in the Army and overcome much of the suspicion and hostility between the Army and the press that had been created by a decade of conflict in Vietnam.
At the close of the fiscal year, the Army was within reach of meeting its five priority objectives. What follows explains how the Army went about that task.
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Last updated 21 September 2004