Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1971



Despite American disengagement from Southeast Asia, the Vietnam War remained the dominant factor in Army affairs in fiscal year 1971. The effects extended into all functional areas, and the Army had to deal not only with the details of the ongoing conflict, but with a variety of future actions induced by the war.

Casualties were sharply reduced as a result of the shift from a fighting to a holding posture, and replacement needs declined as more troops and units were redeployed. Draft calls dropped, the training base was contracted, and the over-all size of the Army was reduced. The central problem was to accomplish the cutback while maintaining an effective fighting force to carry forward continuing battlefield responsibilities and meet commitments at home and around the world. The size, form, and capability of the postwar Army also had to be kept constantly in view and carefully geared to ongoing actions.

The withdrawal from Southeast Asia created a logistical challenge of the first magnitude. By the year's close, good progress had been made in redistributing some of the huge stocks of supplies and equipment and in transferring some of the installations and facilities no longer required by American forces. The Vietnamese forces, the U.S. Military Assistance Program, and the Reserve Components were the beneficiaries of the reducing American commitment and the increasing availability of materiel.

Social problems raised or heightened by the war became increasingly visible during the year, and new approaches were undertaken to solve them. Numerous co-ordinated actions were in progress to attract volunteers to Army service and eliminate dependence upon the draft, and by year's end there were promising signs as volunteers were being enlisted despite reduced draft pressures.

Clearly, fiscal year 1972 would be a critical period. The modern volunteer army would have to progress at a time when national priorities were being reordered and resources reallocated. The Army would continue to operate under conditions of declining strength, a shrinking support base, a lingering war, and reduced appropriations.


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Last updated 9 August 2004