Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1979


Support Services

As a concomitant to the training and equipping of individual soldiers for combat duty, the Army had to sustain their morale in a time of peace. The absence of an immediate military challenge and the erosion through congressional action of some fringe benefits for military personnel made the task more difficult in view of the competition with the civilian sector for qualified personnel. Nevertheless, the Army did provide services and benefits that were attractive and, within the limits of its budget, sought to improve the quality of life in the service whenever possible. These support services, which ranged from health care to heraldic morale boosters, also included two items that were always of prime importance to soldiers—food and housing. They were a significant part of the Army’s effort to combat discontent and to make service careers more satisfying.

Health and Medical Care

The double-edged struggle to combat rampant inflation in medical costs and to hold onto medical personnel continued to dominate the medical care scene during the year. Although the price of providing adequate care to active and retired military personnel and their families showed no signs of abating, the Army’s effort to attract and retain qualified medical and dental officers did meet with some success. By the end of the report period, the actual number of physicians and dentists on active duty was 4,403 and 1,864, respectively, as compared to the recognized requirement of 5,935 and 2,363. Correspondingly, there was a 4 percent gain in the daily patient load and a 1 percent increase in clinic visits. The Army also made another small achievement by trimming the average length of stay in hospitals for all patients from 7.0 to 6.9 days.

Less encouraging were the shortages of physicians in reserve component units. As the Secretary of the Army pointed out in late November, over two-thirds of the Army’s medical support units were in the reserve forces. The Secretary suggested that it might be necessary to consider the institution of reserve obligations for beneficiaries of all government-funded scholarship programs. At the direction of the Vice Chief of Staff, The Surgeon General began staff actions to obtain resources for an Army


Reserve Medical Department Officer Procurement Network (less Army Nurse Corps) which will focus on the shortage. The network is expected to begin functioning late in fiscal year 1980.

The Secretary also noted that despite the growing number of physicians in the active ranks, the Army still had to refer more of its members, particularly dependents, to the cost-sharing Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS). The services provided by CHAMPUS, he averred, had to be upgraded if they were to meet the requirements of the Army in a satisfactory manner.

In the meantime, the Army had taken measures to improve patient care, particularly outpatient care. Since its inception in 1972, the Army Nurse Corps Practitioner Program had grown, and the practitioners gradually assumed increased responsibility for patient assessment, treatment, and follow-up care for people suffering from common, minor, and chronic health problems. In the process, they, like the physicians’ assistants, had enabled Army physicians to devote more time to complicated or serious illnesses. Serving in posts around the world, the practitioners offered personalized nursing care and health care services to the soldier and his family. The 197 practitioners in the program underwent specialized clinical training in civilian and military institutions to broaden their experience and increase their skills. As an indication of their effectiveness, 165 practitioners saw approximately 550,000 patients in the outpatient clinics during the report year; the remainder served as clinical nurse specialists.

Following the trend in the civilian sector, the costs of medical care rose steadily. Total Army expenditures for medical services under all appropriations came to over $1.5 billion, more than $100 million over the previous year. Salary increases approved by Congress for both military and civilian personnel, constant rises in the price of care in military facilities and from civilian sources, and climbing construction costs contributed to the larger expenditures. The distribution by appropriation was as follows:


(in millions)
of dollars)

Military Personnel, Army


Operations and Maintenance, Army


Research and Development, Army


Military Construction, Army


Other Procurement, Army


Reserve Personnel, Army




In an effort to reduce some of the costs, the Army, along with


the other services, the Veterans Administration, and the Public Health Service, became a member of the Federal Health Resources Sharing Committee, which was chartered in February 1978. The main objectives of the committee were to encourage more joint planning and sharing of public health facilities, as well as to cut down on unwarranted duplication and excess services. The first evidence of success in this endeavor came when The Surgeon General accepted a subcommittee recommendation that a radiation therapy unit not be opened at the Eisenhower Medical Center at Fort Gordon, Georgia, since the local civilian community had an excess capacity to handle such treatment. Under consideration was another recommendation to close cardiac catheterization facilities at the Veterans Administration Hospital at Dayton, Ohio, and at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., and to shift their work loads to Wright-Patterson Medical Center and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, respectively.

The concept of sharing facilities to improve service to patients was also advanced by the regionalization of military optical laboratories in the United States on 10 October 1978. Under the new system, all personnel, regardless of service, would have their spectacle orders filled by the nearest laboratory possessing the required fabrication capability. Previously, the Army and Air Force members had to be serviced by Army laboratories, and Navy and Marine facilities had to submit their orders to Navy laboratories. The immediate benefits of the change were a reduction in the time between the eye examination and the delivery of the glasses and an equalization in the optical care received by members of all services.

Internally, there were a number of significant developments during the year. In the field of dentistry, the Army’s move during the previous report period to grant dental commanders more control over dental resources at facilities was followed by the passage of Public Law 95-485 in October 1978. The act made the Chief of the Dental Corps responsible for all matters relating to dentistry and the dental health of the Army and also set forth the command and staff relationships between medical and dental activities at the headquarters and installation levels. The Army expected that the granting of more autonomy to the Dental Corps would result in improved medical-dental relationships and better utilization of available dental resources.

An increasing number of women became part of the Veterinary Corps during the year. Their number rose to 5 percent of the active duty officer strength or just slightly below the 6 percent


ratio in the civilian sector. For the first time, a female military veterinarian was selected for promotion to major and sent to graduate school to study microbiology. With more women enrolled in veterinary colleges, the upward trend is likely to continue.

By the end of the report year, the transfer of in-plant food inspection activities from the Veterinary Corps to the Department of Agriculture was completed. Army and Air Force veterinary personnel assisted in the government-wide food quality assurance efforts until the shift was made.

Army veterinarians, specializing in foreign diseases, were instrumental in suppressing an outbreak of Exotic Newcastle Disease in Southern California during the spring of 1979. The veterinarians examined almost 100,000 birds, ranging from parrots to chickens, and found that over 5,000 had contracted the disease and had to be destroyed. Fortunately, the outbreak was contained without endangering the large numbers of private and commercially owned poultry flocks in the area.

In the research field, Army veterinarians made significant contributions in the comparative pathology of burn injuries and wound infections and in the understanding of the healing processes associated with such injuries. They also developed new methods for enhancing the protective efficiency of available inactivated viral vaccines of military importance and made tests of two antiviral drugs, one of which showed great potential for the treatment of animals afflicted with Rift Valley Fever. In the study of experimental antimalarial drugs, the research veterinarians also developed a candidate drug that held promise of being effective in cases of relapsing malaria.

An analysis of integrated basic training programs by Army physical therapists led to changes in equipment used by women and a reduction in their training injuries. As a result of the studies, the female boot has been taken off the shelf and the first redesign since World War I has been initiated. At the same time, the high female injury rate during basic training has been reduced from 10 percent to less than 3 percent.

Since readiness is a key objective for all components, the Army sought to improve the medical materiel status of both active and reserve units. The majority of authorized major medical and nonmedical materiel was issued to seventeen combat support hospitals and one evacuation hospital of the active Army. Also, nonmedical equipment and medical equipment sets for use in training were issued to nineteen combat support hospitals and nine evacuation hospitals of the reserve components. In addition, the Army made efforts to reduce the time required to issue


medical equipment to units preparing for overseas movement by prepackaging many of the items and shipping the packages to combat equipment group storage sites in Europe. The 47th Medical Depot at Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, sent a group to Europe in mid-1979 to assist in the inventory, preparation, and long-term storage of the fully-assembled sets.

In another development related to medical readiness in Europe, the Army completed an analysis called OMNIBUS 79, using computer simulation to depict losses expected in a major conflict. The analysis indicated that there would be shortages of medical units during the early period of the war with a corresponding deficit of operational surgical beds in the theater and in critical surgery related skills in doctors and nurses.

The Army’s ten-year health facility modernization program, begun in 1974, moved steadily forward during the fiscal year. With an estimated completed cost of $1.3 billion, the program thus far has funded about ninety projects involving $0.5 billion in appropriations. The main thrust has been to replace older facilities of World War II vintage and to improve, mechanically and electrically, newer buildings in accordance with stringent requirements for hospital accreditation and for compliance with structural safety codes.

Among the appropriations approved for this fiscal year were funds for a replacement hospital at Fort Stewart, Georgia; an addition and alterations to facilities at Fort Hood, Texas, and Landstuhl Regional Army Medical Center, Germany; alterations for the Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Washington; and improvements for nine clinics in Germany. Other facilities receiving funds include dental clinics at Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Meade, Maryland; Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Ord, California; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Since many of the dental clinics were housed in old, deteriorating buildings, the new replacements will not only permit modernization of the facilities, but will also centralize the scattered smaller clinics, make more efficient use of the available dental resources, and improve the level of dental care.

In the field of foreign medical assistance, the Army sent a mobile training team to Peru in March to survey the government’s military hospital administration and medical logistics system. The team submitted a number of recommendations for improving the training of personnel and the organization and administration of the Peruvian military medical system. At the request of


the Saudi Arabian government, the Army also dispatched a team to Saudi Arabia in September to evaluate and design a medical logistical system—a project expected to take one to two years.


While Army chaplains performed their traditional duties in providing religious services, rites and sacraments, and religious education, they also placed increased emphasis upon special pastoral care activities such as child abuse and battered wives. Seminars held in 1978 and 1979 on child abuse and battered wives were followed by the publication of a guidance document on the role of chaplains in responding to family violence. The objective of the guidance was to enable chaplains to provide remedial assistance to affected families and to furnish information on the type of training required to carry out that task effectively.

Another indication of the expanding role of chaplains came in the addition of a special chaplain appendix to the revised Officer Evaluation Report. In an attempt to define more clearly the wide variety of specialties in the ministry, specific job titles appropriate for chaplains have been set forth. In addition, the desirability of having a supervisory chaplain involved in the rating of chaplains has also been enunciated.

The recruitment and retention of minority chaplains were the prime subjects of a Minority Chaplain Training Conference in May. After considerable deliberation, the approximately sixty conferees submitted a four-point proposal to the Chief of Chaplains that would improve ministry to minority troops, enhance minority chaplain recruitment, address priority concerns peculiar to minority chaplains, and attempt to resolve issues arising from the supervision of or by minority chaplains.

On the administrative side, the relocation of the Chaplain Board and School from Fort Wadsworth, New York, to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, got underway, since Fort Wadsworth was destined for closure. The Chaplain Board completed its relocation during the year and the Chaplain School began a phased shift that is expected to be finished at the end of June 1980.

Housing and Homeowners Assistance

For some time the Army has sought to improve both the quality and quantity of troop housing for enlisted men. By the end of the year an estimated 85 percent of all eligible soldiers were in adequate quarters. The main emphasis went to the construction or modernization of housing for soldiers up to grade E-6. Soldiers in the upper three grades were encouraged to find


housing in the civilian community. To foster heavier reliance upon private housing, the Office of the Secretary of Defense has proposed an option permitting unmarried soldiers from E-7 to captain to receive a basic allowance for quarters, even if government quarters are available. Currently, only officers in the grade of major and above are accorded this choice. Legislative approval of the option had not been received by the close of the fiscal year.

The Army also made some progress in its family housing program. Construction contracts totaling $43.7 million were awarded for four projects. The units will be built at Fort Ord (560 units); Fort Belvoir (300 units); Fort Stewart (132 units); and one mobile trailer will be placed in Alaska—a total of 993 units. In all of those areas, suitable facilities were either unavailable, substandard, too expensive, or located at excessive distances from the post. To supplement current resources, the Army Leasing Program allocated 12,978 units (2,737 domestic and 10,241 foreign) in selected areas to help alleviate some of the shortages.

As executive agent for all the military services, the Army paid $2.2 million under the Homeowners Assistance Program to 109 applicants as a result of base closure and realignment actions. Mortgage assumptions on eight of the twenty-nine properties acquired totaled $134,866 for the fiscal year.

Food Services

The Army pushed ahead to improve the quality of food services, while attempting, at the same time, to hold down costs in the face of soaring prices. Of major interest was the announcement, in December 1978, that the Army would phase out the staple of three wars—the C-ration—and replace it with the individual MRE (meal, ready to eat). The new meals would depend more heavily upon thermally processed items packed in metal foil pouches that could be heated or eaten cold. Beef stew, meat balls, ground beef with special sauce, dried fruit, and pineapple nut cake are some of the items to be included in the new rations. Three freeze-dried items (pork, beef, and potato patties) are also included in the individual ration. The transition from the C-ration to MRE will be gradual, however, since the Army still has an inventory of C-rations that will last until 1983.

In an effort to combat the steep inflation in beef prices, the Department of Defense announced approval in March of the experimental use of soy-extended ground beef in military dining facilities for the remainder of 1979. Neither taste nor nutritional quality is affected to any unacceptable degree by the change, and the cost savings will amount to over $6 million annually.


The improvement of overall ambience and modernization of existing dining facilities continued during the year. Of the 464 dining facilities identified for modernization in the Military Construction, Army, program, 210 were scheduled to undergo the process by the end of fiscal year 1980. One of the major contracts let during the year covered the modernization of four dining facilities at Fort Hood, Texas, at an estimated cost of $2.7 million.

In other developments, the first shipments of the Mobile Field Kitchen Trailers were sent to Europe during the last half of the fiscal year, along with the required food preparation equipment. To assist in orientation and training of personnel needed to operate the 453 new field kitchens, the Quartermaster School dispatched a training team to the continent. For the second procurement, scheduled for fiscal year 1980, only the basic trailers and food preparation items not included in the unit modified table of organization and equipment will be acquired.

Although the Division Restructuring Study was completed during the year, the Army did not make a final decision on the recommendations concerning the consolidation of food services at the battalion level. Indications are, however, that a decentralized system supports a division in the field more effectively.

The initial version of a study conducted by the Natick Research and Development Command (NARADCOM) on feeding troops in the field during the 1990’s was submitted to the Army in February 1979. The concept is based upon the development and utilization of tray-packed meals and a heating system to prepare the meals located as far forward as possible. Other options include feeding systems in combat vehicles, specialized heating systems in new vehicles, the consolidation of food heating and utensil washing systems for supporting troops not in the immediate battle area, and the utilization of disposable tableware and the elimination of messkit laundries. Since many questions remain to be answered, the study’s proposals will undergo extensive examination and testing before a decision is made.

NARADCOM also continued its efforts to develop a replacement for the 1945 Mobile Field Bakery. The objective is to have a highly automated unit that can produce bread similar to the U.S. commercial products with a capacity three times that of the 1945 version. As an alternative, improvement of the old model was also considered. As yet, no decision on the final course of action has been made.

At the end of the year, the number and types of food service facilities in operation are as follows:






Dining Facilities




Garrison Bread Bakeries




Central Pastry Kitchen




The dining facilities served 228,530,837 meals with a total value of $260.5 million. The garrison bread bakery produced 404,000 pounds of bread and the central pastry kitchen produced 912,000 pastry servings.

The U.S. Army Troop Support Agency sustained its program of assistance to the operators of newly constructed modernized dining facilities through the employment of five Food Management Assistance Teams. During the year, they visited 82 active Army installations and 704 dining facilities and assisted 10,299 Army food service personnel. In addition, teams visited 259 reserve component dining facilities and assisted 1,746 reserve component personnel.

The eleventh Philip A. Connelly awards for excellence in Army Food Service were presented to Company A, 9th Signal Battalion, 9th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington, in the small dining facility (under 200 people) category; to Company E, 407th Supply and Service Battalion, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in the large dining facility (more than 200 people) category; and to the 3d Battalion, 39th Infantry, 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington, in the field kitchen (providing food service to units of an active division in the field) category.

Commissary and Subsistence Supplies

As a result of the interest manifested by Congress and Defense officials in commissary store operations, the main thrust for the fiscal year was directed toward improving the Army’s management of the facilities. The actions included efforts to bolster accounting, control, inventory, and security systems and to improve cashier operations and pricing procedures. The Troop Support Agency continued the Intensive Management of Property Accountability, Control, and Tolerances (IMPACT) project to improve control of commissary property accountability and to reduce unexplained and unidentifiable losses. Under this program, the agency conducted training services for field office personnel and commissary officers, sent out teams on unannounced inspections to spot problem areas and to provide assistance, strengthened security measures by having closed circuit television installed at some stores, and established a task force to investigate inventory losses which were particularly critical in


the Military District of Washington facilities. Since the Army commissary system operated 141 stores and 28 annexes at home and abroad, with sales of $1.2 billion, the efficient management of the massive enterprise was a matter of concern to all active and retired military personnel using the facilities. The Army took over the operation of two commissaries operated by the Panama Canal Company. Many of the personnel were retained in their jobs but the Army plans to improve the physical condition, security, and sanitary aspects of the stores.

Better management practices in the area of troop issue subsistence were key objectives during the year. Army management specialists visited major commands and reported that while most of them were providing adequate support to all authorized customers, a number of common weaknesses persisted. Among these were errors in computing the basic daily food allowance, failure to date items properly “for shelf life or to change prices on reduced items in a timely fashion, lack of standard accounting and reporting procedures, and personnel turbulence that contributed to ineffective supervision of facilities. The specialists helped wherever possible in remedying the discrepancies.

In another important development, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) relieved U.S. Army, Europe, of its responsibility for peacetime wholesale subsistence support for both troop issue and the commissary system on 1 April 1979. The transfer involved DLA-owned cold stores in Bremerhaven and Kaiserslautern and nonperishable stocks at Germersheim, as well as the transfer of 508 personnel spaces and $9.8 million in funds. Only the funding for transportation of subsistence from the three storage facilities remained an Army responsibility. Arrangements for the wartime operation of the storage centers are to be worked out at a later date.

Clothing and Personnel Equipment

Since styles and materials are in a constant state of flux, the Army reviews its inventory of clothing and personnel equipment continually to stay abreast of style changes and advances in textile technology. Garment costs and fabric availability are other considerations in determining the direction uniform styles and composition will take in the future.

In line with the 1978 decision to phase out the familiar tan shirt and tan summer uniform in favor of a gray/green version for males, the Chief of Staff approved a similar shirt in June for female soldiers. The gray/green, as it is called, shirt replaces the white shirt, and the mint green summer uniform produced with


long and short sleeves, will be worn with a tie in conjunction with the three-piece ensemble of jacket, skirt, and slacks. The new combination takes the place of the olive green coat, skirt, and pantsuit uniforms. Guidelines issued during the year for clothing sales stores and issue points decree that the hem length of the skirts is to be no more than one inch above or two inches below the center of the knee and that the slacks reach only to the top of the instep with no break in the pant leg.

Other uniform changes include the adoption of a combat camouflage uniform and cap to replace the durable press utility uniform and cap and the procurement of fire retardant clothing for combat vehicle crewmen. In addition, the Army approved the design of black leather dress gloves for men and women and a new black windbreaker for both sexes. Under consideration are such items as the development of maternity uniforms, wash and wear trousers, slacks and skirts to wear with the new shirts, and medium weight gray/green shirts.

During the reporting period, the Army’s uniform and appearance regulations were rewritten and consolidated into one regulation that covers both active Army and reserve component personnel. The new regulations provide a single source for information on uniform wear policies for the benefit of the individual soldier and his commander, and discipline and morale criteria.

As the year closed, the subject of whether members of the reserve components should receive clothing and equipment under the “issue-in-kind” system or receive their clothing and equipment through the “personal clothing allowance” method was under study.

In a related area, the Army was still studying the transfer of stores that sell military clothing to the Army/Air Force Exchange Service. Legal and technical details remain to be worked out before a final decision can be made.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning

Continuing the trend established in preceding years, private contractors took over the operation of three more Army laundry and dry cleaning facilities during the fiscal year. Although the government still owns the fifteen plants under contract, the contractors provide the personnel and management. Of the thirty-two remaining facilities operated by the Army, most, save those specifically exempted, will go under contract during the next four years. The Chief of Staff ordered that cost effective studies


be carried out on a regular basis to determine if and when contractors can provide adequate services at comparable prices.

To promote greater efficiency at the operating facilities, Army laundry and dry cleaning specialists made a total of forty-seven periodic visits to both U.S. and overseas plants. The Army also sent key personnel to Chicago for an annual dry cleaning and laundry seminar in July to help them keep up with developments in the state-of-the-art.

Casualty and Memorial Affairs

As the interval between the report year and the Vietnam War lengthened, the recovery and identification of remains tapered off. Of the remains identified at the Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii only four, all Air Force personnel, were recovered from Southeast Asia. On the other hand, the total of soldiers or airmen killed during World War II recovered and identified increased from five in the previous year to ten in the report period. Eight were found in New Guinea, one in France, and one in Germany. The Army handled 1,142 remains of active duty personnel and their dependents within the continental United States during fiscal year 1979. There were 902 remains processed in five Army operated mortuaries overseas for the period.

The number of casualties was up slightly over the preceding year’s tally. The Adjutant General Center processed 1,251 active duty deaths, 5,069 retired deaths, and 1,417 very seriously ill and seriously ill cases. A total of 692,500 records of emergency data was also processed. In a move toward establishing a fully automated casualty system, the center acquired an integrated word processing system during the year.

Activities involving the individual case by case review of Army personnel reported as prisoners of war, missing, or missing in action during the war in Southeast Asia continued under the provisions of the Missing Persons Act. The number of cases carried over from fiscal year 1978 was reduced by seventy-eight, leaving only four cases—one prisoner of war, two missing in action, and one missing (nonhostile action)—at the end of the report period. Some fifteen volumes of material that could not be correlated to any one individual by name, totaling approximately 10,000 pages, were mailed to the next of kin of prisoners of war, missing, or missing in action personnel under the Freedom of Information Act.

Most of the construction projects in the Army’s master plan


for Arlington National Cemetery have been completed. Still in progress is the 5,000-niche modular columbarium for cremated remains that began in 1978; the project should be finished and ready for inurnments in early 1980.

Heraldic Activities

The Institute of Heraldry furnishes symbolic items for the Army and heraldic services for the other armed services and agencies of the government. There was, in general, a slight decrease in the number of services rendered during the report period in comparison to the previous year. Again, emphasis was placed on research for less costly, alternative materials in the development of heraldic symbols. Statistically, the Institute designed 380 heraldic items; made 2,114 paintings or drawings; 902 revisions, redesignations, or rescissions; and 92 models, molds, or casts. Of the 170 items developed, 75 are new. Support actions relating to research, development, and engineering, totaled 3,886 and quality inspections were performed on 126,372 items.

Also during this period, the Chief of Staff approved a new insignia for the Sergeant Major of the Army. The new insignia consists of the standard Sergeant Major grade insignia, modified to contain two equally sized stars placed horizontally within the insignia field.



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