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Chapter 11 Pt. 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The History of
The United States Army

William Addleman Ganoe

published by
D. Appleton-Century Company
New York, 1942

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 11 Pt. 3
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p478  Chapter XI

The Army Hustled into World Wars


Part 2 of 3

A hint of the unprecedented recognition of the soldiers' plight after a war was exemplified in the ease with which Congress gave monetary succor. Because of the risen war prices of ordinary commodities, officers and soldiers with their pay stationary found living difficult. Accordingly, Congress passed a bill increasing the enlisted pay in general 20 per cent. May 18
Colonels and lieutenant colonels were to receive $600 a year extra pay, majors $840, captains $720, first lieutenants $600, and second lieutenants $420. The measure stated that the relief was but temporary and that the pay would be further adjusted when living conditions had become more normal. But the act showed the tendency of understanding and fairness.

But a more potent understanding came from those who had been discharged and had severed their connections with the  p479 military service. There arose a universal cavil from them at the unnecessary hardships that had come to the soldier here and abroad. For the first time in our history there resulted from a conflict a true realization of the cause of thousands of unnecessary evils, hardships and deaths — our sloth and weakness before 1917. The veterans swore this thing should never happen again. They with other intelligent citizens brought their influence to bear upon the legislators. Many themselves were legislators and persons in high office. The sores were still fresh in their hearts, and people were listening to the soldier.

June 4
Accordingly there was enacted a National Defense Act which was the most comprehensive and suitable legislation ever made for the military service of the United States. The Army of the United States was to consist of the regular army, the National Guard when called into the service, the officers' reserve corps and the enlisted reserve corps. The combatant arms of the regular army were designated as the infantry, cavalry, field artillery, and coast artillery corps, the air service, the corps of engineers, and the signal corps. The noncombatant arms were the general staff corps, the adjutant general's department, inspector general's department, judge advocate-general's department, quartermaster corps, finance department, medical department, ordnance department, chemical warfare service, Officers of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, chaplains, cadets and professors of the Military Academy, Indian scouts, and detached and unassigned enlisted men. Except in time of war the total regular forces were not to exceed 280,000 officers and men. They were to be organized into divisions and such other units as were necessary for the immediate mobilization for national defense. To this end brigades, divisions, and army corps were authorized. For training and tactical control the country and its possessions were divided into corps areas with a major general in charge of each. The National Guard organizations within each area were to be part of that district and were to be given consideration in continuing their traditions and in developing their morale. The officers of the combatant arms of the regular army were to number 16,63511  p480 all told. The enlisted man's pay was placed on a more logical basis.12

The strength of the arms of the service was made more elastic. The President could increase, by transfer of officers and enlisted men, any branch by 15 per cent of its strength. All departments and branches were to have chiefs with the rank of major general, except the chemical warfare service with a brigadier general and the chaplains with a colonel. To fill the vacancies of this increase the new officers were to come from those who had served between April 6, 1917, and the passage of the Act. One of the greatest pieces of advancement of the new Act was the "single list." Officers were arranged for promotion entirely according to length of commissioned service and were to be advanced in grade eventually on the basis of that arrangement. By such means the disparity of promotions between the different arms of the service, which was due entirely to legislative increase of a particular branch, was eliminated. To keep the standard of the officer personnel up to a high grade, the elimination of unfit men was inaugurated. A board of officers was to place each year the entire officer personnel of the service in two classes, "A" and "B." If an officer was found to be in Class "B," he was a subject for elimination. All evidence in his case was to be passed upon before a court of inquiry. If he was then found to be a proper subject for elimination, he was discharged outright, provided his low classification was a result of his own misconduct. If otherwise, he was to receive retired pay at the rate of 2½ per cent a year for each year of commissioned service, unless he had served less than ten years, in which case he was discharged with one year's pay. An applicant for the rank and file could enlist for one or three years as he chose. Reserve officers could be commissioned by the President for a term of five years. However, if during those years an emergency arose, it was understood that they were to remain until six months after its termination. The President could establish  p481 reserve officers' training corps in educational institutions in unlimited number. However, an institution undertaking to maintain such a corps was to have a regular officer detailed as a professor of military science and tactics. The school was to carry at least a two years' elective or compulsory military course, which should be a requisite with other studies for a student's graduation. The graduates of the advanced course of these reserve officers' training corps at colleges were to be eligible for a reserve officer's commission provided they passed through the training camps and accomplished such other work as the Secretary of War prescribed. Summer training camps were also provided for in unlimited quantity. For them the Secretary of War was to prescribe courses of about six weeks' duration. The National Guard officers could not be commissioned for federal use unless they had passed through the latter camps or had certain specific military experience and training.

This legislation was by all odds the greatest provision for the prolonging of peace and the efficient control of war ever enacted by the Congress. It took into account lessons of the recent struggle and suited itself to the genius of our people. The regular during the conflict had learned much from the civilian, and the civilian in turn gained something substantial from the soldier. Although there had here and there been petty misunderstandings, due mostly to the conditions of our necessary hurry, never before were National Guard, reserves and regulars in such a healthy state of reciprocation and unity. The Army of the United States was by this Act to coalesce all these elements into a coöperative whole. Other influences contained all these heretofore separate classes and bound them together for broad patriotic usefulness. The professional soldier was no more isolated. He affiliated himself with civic clubs and tried as never before to fit himself into the life of the community. The law emphasized citizen­ship, and brought the National Guardsman, the Reservist, the college graduate and student into a camp of instruction under the guidance of regular officers and soldiers, newly indoctrinated under modern methods with the latest tactical training. The idea that a soldier was not a citizen or a citizen could not become an efficient soldier completely died out with the birth  p482 of this legislation. Better citizen­ship was to be gained by the professional soldier when he became more active in civilian problems and by the civilian when he grew to be a more scientific and disciplined soldier. For each regular there were five comrades in civil life who needed instruction from him.

It looked as though the United States at last had learned its lesson — that we were going to quit ourselves like men and be strong. The army took on new hope of sufficiency and progress. It also took on the labor and responsibility of modernization.

New services, such as air, chemical warfare, and tank, had to be placed on a firm basis. Other arms had to be revolutionized. New weapons had to be more thoroughly understood and properly assigned. The new army had to be welded into large tactical and administrative units which would not only take care of the United States proper and our island possessions but be a source of inspiration and knowledge in the home country.

The service was never before confronted with so vast an amount of knowledge to acquire and transmit. The 3 general service and 31 special service schools throughout the army had been either reconstructed or built afresh since the war. The officer had before him years of work as a student and months and years of duty as an instructor, while he sandwiched in the training of troops of the Army of the United States, if he were fortunate enough to receive such a detail.

By the middle of the next year it was found necessary to establish the army on a modern pay basis. The living conditions in most of the cantonments were rude, to say the least. It was very difficult to keep up a high state of morale, when every phase of life indicated penury. Congress found that the least it could do was to give officers and men a living wage, since the previous temporary relief would soon expire. June 10
It therefore enacted a pay bill which gave in effect more pay to the upper grades and proportionally reduced that of the lower grades for both officers and enlisted men. The five-year fogy gave place to a more uniform increase for length of service, with little regard to rank. For officers, remuneration was composed of the base pay, the ration allowance, and the rental allowance. An officer with dependents received more than those without. In this way salaries more nearly conformed to the needs of the individual. In the enlisted  p483 pay there were no allowances, but the monthly wage for the upper grade was increased. Finding that sometimes hardships would be worked on the junior officers by having them receive less than before, the legislators injected a saving clause which stated that no officer then in the service would receive less than under the 1908 schedule, the last before this one. Altogether the Act gave the officer a chance to meet ordinary expenses, which was all he could ask.

The outlook for the soldier was now hopeful. He had plenty of constructive work before him, was taken care of, and was a member of a well-constituted army. He could press forward in saving the nation from future woes, and, above all, help in making it stalwart enough to ward off wars.

But alas, class upon class reverted to type. The worship of ease grew with enjoyment, and physical sufficiency passed out of the picture. It was the thing to expect a millennium. There could be no more war for the United States. Did we not make the world safe for democracy? Well-meaning idealists of a fatty nation propagated rapidly within certain sects and schools. Lobbies of Congress were filled with men and women who confused arms with war; who mistook preparation against war for preparation for war; who had few experience tables to guide them, having been taught in schools and colleges too much ill‑digested data and shavings of the whole truth of United States history. In some quarters "mere" military history was expunged entirely. The veteran of 1918 and the student of our real archives were shouted down as hysterical jingoists, as were Daniel and Savonarola of old. Many who had received rough treatment during the war blamed it on soldiers and officers themselves. Societies sprang up which had the sure antidote for war. Moving pictures, publications, and peace congresses emphasized the horrors of war but offered no practical solution.

June 30
The Congress, without hindrance by the mass of the people, suddenly, after decided objection by the Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff, reduced the army to 175,000 officers and men, for a population of over 120,000,000 persons. Over 600 line officers had to be cast out of the service and the enlisted force reduced by over 100,000. The medical, dental and veterinary officers had a similar proportion ejected. All promotions were  p484 to be stopped until January 1, 1923. Altogether, over 1,000 officers were to be eliminated before that time. Those discharged were to be given one year's pay, if they had less than ten years' service. If less than twenty years' service, they were to be accorded an annuity at the rate of 2½ per cent a year for each year of commissioned service. If more than twenty years' service, the rate was 3 per cent. In addition to the ejections, about 800 officers had to be demoted and recommissioned in their next lower grade. This legislation proved to be such a sweeping retrogression and so fraught with danger to the country that Congress later in the year made changes in the act. It gave back 50 colonels, 150 majors and 300 captains and limited the decrease of lieutenants to 500. Yet it provided that after the beginning of the next year, there should be no more than 12,000 officers on the promotion list. Jan. 1
Thus our country started in the right direction after a war but turned about in its tracks after a few strides and ran toward the opponents' goal.

The General Staff had to undo much of the work it had accomplished in 1921. After having carefully and energetically built up the service by a judicious selection of officers and a campaign of recruitment, it was compelled to oust many of the very men it had brought into the regular army. In addition to suffering the waste of building a structure in one year and of tearing it down in the next, the War Department could not carry out the National Defense Act of 1920. It could not make a tactical army, a fighting, ready force of minimum size.

July 1
In protest against this pillaging of our safety, Secretary of War John W. Weeks and General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pershing raised their voices, but the majority neither heard nor heeded. Said Weeks in his report: "My conclusions are not entirely welcome at this time, when people have been hoping that nations had learned to avoid conflicts of force. My conclusions are, nevertheless, that we should continue to prepare for such conflicts. If it is unwelcome, it is no less true that Americans, like all other peoples, are subject to the law which punishes those nations who fail to prepare for defense, as well as those who fail to strive for peace." Said General Pershing: "It is my conviction that our Regular force is cut too much for safety." Both these men quoted advice of our sages:

 p485  George Washington: "There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most power­ful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."

Thomas Jefferson: "None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army; to keep our nation armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important."

President Monroe: "No Government will be disposed to violate our rights if it knows that we have the means and are prepared and resolved to defend them."

John Calhoun: "If our liberty should ever be endangered by the military power gaining the ascendency, it will be from the necessity of making those mighty and irregular efforts to retrieve our affairs, after a series of disasters, caused by a want of adequate military knowledge, just as in our physical system a state of the most dangerous excitement and paroxysm follows that of the greatest debility and prostration. To avoid these dangerous consequences and to prepare the country to meet a state of war, particularly at its commencement, with honor and safety, much must depend on the organization of our military peace establishment."

President Arthur: "If we heed to the teachings of history we shall not forget that in the life of every nation emergencies may arise when a resort to arms alone can save it from dishonor."

Theodore Roosevelt: "Fatuous self-complacency or vanity, or shortsightedness in refusing to prepare for danger, is both foolish and wicked in such a Nation as ours; and past experience has shown that such fatuity in refusing to recognize or prepare for crises in advance is usually succeeded by a mad panic."

But these voices were squelched. The country had become prosperous. Rising stocks made falling strength. Presidents became obsessed with making a record of savings. Budgets and  p486 their directors became the masters, in the face of General Pershing's cry: "I repeat that this last force is not enough. It is my conviction that our Regular force is cut too much for safety."

June 30
Secretary Weeks courageously persisted:

"In the 10‑year period from 1915 to 1924, while the total cost of national defense will have been doubled, the ratio of this cost to the total Federal Budget will have been decreased nearly one half. . . . Our Federal Government maintains one soldier for each two and a half million dollars of national wealth, as its share of police protection against external criminal tendencies. . . . This figure of protection is the lower, which we have maintained for 70 years. The nearest approaches to it were 1890 and 1910, when the ratio was roughly one soldier for each $2,000,000. One can not fail to appreciate that at both of these times we had been for years at peace and war was apparently not dreamed of as a future possibility. If we maintained an army on the basis of financial comparison with those periods in which our people recognized the ever-present possibility of conflict, we should now maintain over 300,000 enlisted men, instead of the 135,000 which we have.​13 Instead of maintaining a steady ratio, we have allowed our judgment to fluctuate with events."

He went on to show that Japan maintained one soldier for every $90,000 of national wealth or over 27 soldiers to our one. If we consider how much further a dollar goes in Japan, it is safe to say that country was sacrificing approximately 100 times more than we for an army. Even Germany, forbidden to have an army after the Armistice, had a force one‑fourth larger than that of the United States.

 p487  Secretary Weeks also showed that "In one year we spent 6 times as much for soda and confectionery as we spent for military purposes; for tobacco nearly 4 times, for perfumery, jewelry, and other items of adornment, nearly 5 times; and for theaters, cabarets, and similar amusements, more than 3 times!"

July 1
Between 1921 and 1923, the total number of individuals under military training had decreased by 15,000.

Over and over between 1921 and 1926 this courageous Secretary kept pounding at the padlocked door of the office of the budget, despite frowns from the White House. July 1
In submitting his estimate in 1924, he admitted it did not express the military requirements

"in order to carry out the spirit and object of the National Defense Act. . . . Within the limiting figure allowed, it is not possible to meet the absolute requirements of the existing military organizations which are authorized by law. . . . The resulting figures have been submitted solely on the basis of allowing the material plant of the Army to run down temporarily, in the interests of immediate economy, with a full knowledge that this means a greater expense in future years to recover from accelerated deterioration. Working on such a basis, we have been accomplishing what we could, but difficulties rapidly increase. In the administration of our military affairs, as in all other things, there are limits to economy if efficiency is to be maintained."

The army under the yoke of parsimonious bondage had all of 12,000 officers and 118,750 enlisted men. Officers had to change stations so often in order to keep the units of the army going that the extra transportation ate up much of the savings of the budget.

Weapons and supplies were dwindling with no replacements or improvements in sight. In strong language Mr. Weeks pointed out the danger:

"Such a method of living must come to an end. We can not much longer subsist on the surpluses from the past or upon the essential reserve stored up against the future or with such intensive personnel efforts without impairing the efficiency of the  p488 establishment and its state of readiness for emergencies. Temporary economies should not be dragged out through repeated postponement of consideration for the future."

For those who are interested in why our air force and our mechanization and modernization of the army stood still, why we came up later to an emergency almost empty-handed, these words of Mr. Weeks may be pertinent:

"It was 11 months after April 6, 1917, before an American-made airplane reached France, and the first ones — a squadron of 18 planes — flew over the front on August 2, 1918. Before November 11, only 628 American planes had been sent as far as the front. We can not improvise an Air Service, and yet it is indispensable that we be reasonably strong in aircraft at the very outset of a war. . . . A drastic reduction has been made each year since 1920 in the appropriations for experimental and research work:

1921 $5,000,000
1922 4,300,000
1923 3,500,000
1924 3,000,000
1925 2,850,000

And so the appropriations proportionally dwindled through the next decade. There was insufficient money to make proper progress in improvement or numbers of weapons and machines. Likewise the army was incapable because of size and barriers to improvement to be ready for protection of the country in an emergency. In spite of the repetitions of Mr. Weeks that the strength of the regular army was insufficient to accomplish its mission of training and instruction of the civilian components as well as perfection of its own essential training, July 1
the army dwindled to 12,302 officers and 121,717 enlisted men. Deaf as the country was to warnings, these stout patriots persisted.

The next year Mr. Dwight F. Davis, the new Secretary of War, took up the cudgels afresh. He brought out additionally the heightened national weakness, because of the lessening value  p489 of four million veterans of the World War. Age, physical disability, death, and other unfitness had depleted their ranks for active duty, so that the meager active forces became more ineffective relatively as a national insurance.

It was demonstrated to committees of Congress, it was noised in articles and speeches, it was made a nubbin in official reports that the size of our army was ridiculous and dangerous, that military art and technic were far more complex than in the war of 1917‑1918; that tanks, artillery, and other weapons had advanced and were advancing in other countries beyond us; that the air corps and aëroplanes were far below the strength contemplated by the Defense Act of 1920, and that every branch of the service had suffered reduction and strangling accordingly. And what happened? Nothing. There was a prevalent feeling throughout the country that other nations might fight, but never again would the United States, and certainly none of our boys would under any conditions be made to go overseas. Organizations went so far as to canvass young men to sign pledges to fight for their country irrespective of the cause. Many people not only made the historic blunder of forgetting the possibility of internal war, not of predicating their stand on being able to foresee every possible cause.

The War Department became so coerced until this smugness and executive constriction that it even went to great lengths to express its gratification over 1926 the Commerce Act which expanded and aided civil aviation, without one lift in Congress to military flying. It had to make much of tid‑bits.

July 1
The protests of Mr. Davis rise like final gasps of a valiant hero:

"Every branch of service could use to advantage more personnel, both commissioned and enlisted. Military art is far more complex than was the case prior to the World War. The Air Corps has been very considerably reduced below the strength contemplated by the National Defense Act of 1920, which same condition applies to even greater extent in practically every other branch of the service. . . . Prior annual reports have contained discussions of the requisites for actual fulfillment of the provisions of the National Defense Act. As yet the Act remains  p490 an unaccomplished plan by reason of only a partial execution of its provisions. We should not blindly delude ourselves into the belief that a plan on paper is an accomplished thing. Congress has provided the plan. Its fulfillment depends on the decisions of the citizens of the United States."

The country was in these years flooded with pictures of the horrors of war which showed all soldiers to be puppets of Mars and bloody sadists. Societies persisted in confusing the military man with militarism, and training with desire for war. Certain groups of no mean numbers went so far as to strive to do away with the R. O. T. C. in colleges. Such a move, had it been success­ful, would have robbed us of our main advancement in the next war over previous wars and added to the huge unnecessary slaughter to come.

So unpopular did military strength and training become that government action on defense was pushed from the back porch into the dog house. Many persons and organizations, who after the World War had savagely demanded a protection for our country, grew absorbed in other pursuits and were lulled by general prosperity. In degree we resembled our decadence between the Revolution and 1812, with, of course, advanced intelligence.

Even the mouths of War Department spokesmen were stopped with budgets. Military officials came to fear the executive knout for faithful expositions and requests. Open reports of military insufficiency became tame, tepid and extinct. One chief of staff was summarily recalled from the South by the "authorities" when he had the temerity to air to the public the disgracefully squalid housing conditions into which the potential defenders of the nation were squeezed and cooped.

The army turned in on itself under the weight of suppression and opposition. Since our soldier, like Tommy Atkins, was welcome in few pubs, he took refuge in places and activities where he was appreciated. 1927 Reports of military authorities ceased to herald deficiencies and dangers. Instead, they gloated over their fronts on Rivers and Harbors, Inland Waterways, immigration in the Philippines, Panama Canal, Flood Control and organization, and planning for industrial mobilization.

 p491  July 2
One apparently bright spot was an act to expand the army air corps to 1,800 planes, 1,650 officers, and 15,000 enlisted men in five years. May
On the other hand, the fact that maneuvers for the entire Army were restricted to 1 division, a part of a cavalry brigade, and 201 aëroplanes near San Antonio, Texas, demonstrates without comment the piti­ful state into which we had descended in our ideas of preparation. 1928 The next year there were no maneuvers and the budget dragon again reared its ugly head in Report of July 1
allowing money for only a little over ten hours of flying during the year for the qualified pilots. In other words, legislation gave with one hand a pittance of air power and with the other took away the means of training fliers.

The army attempted to brush up its little machine from within, if it could not expand it from without. May 21
Congress at the instigation of the General Staff passed a bill limiting General Staff eligibility. Except for those who were on the initial list, no officer would be added other than those graduated from the General Staff College, and none except such eligible list officers would be allowed on the War Department General Staff.

Pressure on Congress over the housing conditions of the army and lack of hangars, airdromes, and airfields for aviation became great enough to extract May 26
an appropriation of $13,268,284 mainly for flying facilities, but as for increased manpower, planes, or flying time, they remained as before.

1929 Maneuvers of large units the next year dwindled to practice marches for troops and command post exercises for officers. There wasn't enough money. Congress failed to appropriate it. The five-year program for the air corps was lagging for the same reason. Out of the 1,800 planes authorized only 794 were available for tactical units. The manpower had to be taken from the rest of the army, robbing other branches of their effectiveness. Legislation had increased the air force at the expense of the army as a whole. Reading the army appropriation bill for that year reminds one of stuffing newspapers in broken windows.

In matters that required no funds Congress was responsive. The Chief of Staff was made a full four-star general. March 7,
But the act was careful to state that he would receive the pay and allowances of only a major general, two grades lower than  p492 general. It also put him on a par with Chief of Naval Operations by giving him the same personal allowances for his position as the head of the navy had hitherto been receiving. This was but one indication of our military backwardness.

Our nation could have seen the penny-wise foolishness of its general military policy, for on its doorstep were occurring disturbances of international import. American lives and property on the Mexican border were in jeopardy. March
Bad blood along the boundary had caused depredations. Troops were despatched to critical points, and it was only by judicious negotiations on the part of Brigadier General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George Van Horn Moseley that affairs subsided. Brigadier General Frank S. Cohen at Fort Huachuca, in addition to his troops, used air patrols along the border. It is significant that 18 United States planes constituted our air power for that disturbance. And at this very same time we had one soldier for every $2,800,000 worth of national wealth. Somebody went to great pains to show that it took several thousand dollars to kill one of the enemy in the World War, but nobody was particularly interested in how many of our own men we killed by spending less than two cents on the tax dollar.

Consciousness of the army became dimmer in the public mind after the financial crash. Our citizens were naturally absorbed in repairing accounts and binding up their debts. If military stability was necessary, this was no time to think about it. The government, all of us, must retrench.

This spirit unfortunately pervaded our country when it was immensely important to get a head start on our future enemies. 1929 In the American Year Book appeared a statement which was a reflection of the thought of the War Department:14

"We are moving in a machine age, and in the interest of national defense, the Army must act accordingly. In the commercial world the machine has largely replaced manpower; so the Army must, to the fullest practicable degree, use machines in place of manpower in order that our manpower can occupy and hold ground without terrific losses incident to modern fire power. Our country, of all the world, is best able to take advantage of machines. Any great nation which fails to provide  p493 for the utilization of mechanization to the utmost practicable degree must suffer the consequences of neglect in future wars. Furthermore, failure to prepare to meet an attack by a mechanized force may result in defeat by troops organized and equipped as of today. The Army must adopt, manufacture and use the various machines incident to mechanized force as of the best known models of today provided they are sufficiently better than existing equipment to warrant the expenditure of funds. In short, the Army must be a constantly functioning research laboratory. During the past year an exhaustive study of the matter has been made and a comprehensive report rendered which makes recommendations as to equipment required and costs. Any development of mechanization will demand funds."

1930 The next year experiments with mechanization and air went along on reduced appropriations. No progress on a large scale was possible, nor, with the funds available, was there a chance to make any appreciable strides with tanks, in spite of the inventions of civilians and progressive experiment within the army. There was no training for troops in large-scale maneuvers — only command post exercises for officers and certain inexpensive installations in the field. Appropriation-makers contented themselves with housing what had hitherto been left out in the rain. July 3
Over nineteen millions were appropriated for buildings for aviation, long needed to put previous acts into effect, and for other buildings to keep some of the army personnel under decent cover.

Throughout the first decade of this post‑war period, in many quarters arose clamor against the huge expenditures for the army. During the year 1926, for example, army appropriations reached $350,463,848.06. But few realized that almost eighty millions of that sum went to purely civil activities such as Rivers and Harbors, Flood Control, Inland Waterways, Panama Canal and colonial possessions, and that a large part of the remainder provided assistance to 3,868 National Guard units in 1,400 cities and towns, the conduct of 50 separate C. M. T. camps, the supervision of 233 R. O. T. C. units, and competent instruction for 70,000 reserve officers. What was left went toward the training of personnel and progress of weapons of the slim regular army — less than a penny a day from the citizen, including the army. Not  p494 only was the complaint absurd, but the outlay was pathetically ludicrous in the light of after events.

With this shrinkage of means to carry out its main purpose under the National Defense Act, came a naturally resource­ful attempt to make the army a constructive force in peacetime for peacetime pursuits. Such a course was popular and possible. As a war preventive and defense bastion, the army had sunk into the rôle of a fine planner rather than a definite builder. The materials and tools for practice could not be had. The army knew before it asked just what money it could and could not obtain from Congress, and in these times it definitely could not obtain enough to develop a reasonable protective force.

to 1938
It was the smallest regular army in the world in relation to population, wealth or area. Its stocks of materials from the First World War had grown scant and poor without replacement. If they had been usable, they would have generally been obsolete. It would have been impossible to put in the field one modern, completely armed, regular division. In 1926 there were only 49,973 combatant troops of all branches in the United States proper. In that year also, for economy's sake, 1,500 non‑commissioned officers, 1,496 privates first-class, and 1,380 specialists were discharged summarily. Those remaining in the service grew uncertain and apprehensive, with consequent loss of morale. It was almost impossible to keep spirits above par with increasing duties for a decreasing army.

Yet with all these blights the army performed many services for the public. The signal corps operated 37 radio and telegraph stations between Seattle and Alaska, turning over more than a quarter of a million dollars to the United States Treasury. Its work of high-frequency radio transmission and especially on the radio beacon were definite contributions both to communication and to transportation in general. It also operated the largest radio net in the world, giving its services free to 30 other departments of the government. The life saving the air corps performed in its work on the parachute can not be estimated. The improvements it fostered on the aërial camera and the bomb sight are unique in any army. Throughout this whole period, the work of our aviation units in bombing ice jams, photographing thousands of square miles for Geological and Geodetic  p495 surveys, and scouting for incipient forest fires can be estimated in hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. As the chemical warfare service sought in its experiments to produce a knockout gas for war, so it found means of riding depots and warehouses of vermin, rodents, moths, bats, and flour weevils. 1926 At a cost of $106 in a western plant, over $75,000 worth of cloth goods was saved from moths by a single fumigation.

In floods, tornadoes, cyclones, typhoons, bursting dams, ice jams, coal mine disasters, explosions, forest fires, blizzards, conflagrations and earthquakes, the army had during these post‑war years no peer in any organization for heroism, succor, promptness, and amount and kinds of supplies rendered. In the first place, it was the only agency of the government that could be first on the spot with sufficient blankets, cots, stoves, tents, food, and medical supplies, and could furnish protection of life and property. The blizzard in Omaha, Nebraska, the tornadoes of Mississippi, Georgia and other states, the flood in Texarkana, Arkansas, the hurricanes of Florida, Porto Rico and the New England states, and the floods of the Ohio, Mississippi, Connecticut, and Susquehanna, are but a few of the disasters where the army was first on the spot with essential needs. For example, when the news of the Porto Rican hurricane arrived, it was a matter of hours before nearly a million dollars' worth of every conceivable aid, including two general hospitals, were planned for or sent on their way by the army in army transports under army personnel. Similar to these vast relief undertakings were delegations from the army, who reconstructed the cemeteries of our soldier dead abroad to the number of 30,792 graves. Also the Adjutant General produced gigantic results in caring for the adjusted compensation for several million ex‑soldiers.

All these public services provided an outlet for the soldier, when he was stifled and prevented from performing his main tasks enjoined by the Defense Act for our future safety. The reason for this shunting is set forth in a statement to the Chief Executive:

July 1
"The means for making military policy effective are provided for in the Budget. These are apportioned in accordance with the action of the Bureau of the Budget upon War Department estimates, and after congressional approval or modification are made available to the War Department in annual  p496 appropriation acts. The sufficiency of appropriations for military purposes has, of course, to be considered in connection with the general fiscal situation of the country and its needs for other governmental purposes. From what has already been stated elsewhere in this report, further discussion is unnecessary to support the general statement that the funds provided have been insufficient for even an approximate realization of the military system contemplated in the National Defense Act."

That was the parting shot of General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Charles P. Summerall, as his tour of Chief of Staff of the army expired. He also showed that in 1913, 11 per cent of the national revenue was expended for military purposes, whereas in 1929, only 7.8 per cent was spent, and that the citizen out of every dollar of his taxes was delivering less than 3 cents for preparedness. 1930 The general went over the history of the army, outlining many of the defects of our military approach as it has been recorded in this volume. He showed how we had not learned, were unwilling to do so, and were growing weaker every day. He made a most significant statement in the light of after events: "A new element foreseen as a development in the armies of the future is the mechanized force." But on the powers this and his other observations were, as the soldier would say, "ricochets."

These post-depression years were as discouraging to outward-looking military men as any in our history. The public was as much interested in the army as in polar bears. The soldier was in the zoo or remote. He was doing well enough. We'll think about him sometime when we get in a jam.

Meanwhile, the military establishment was ill‑housed, ill‑paid, undermanned, obsoletely implemented, and fast declining into narrow routine. Scope, space, numbers, and training refused to keep pace with the growing population and power. The government appointed commissions to equalize the burden and remove the profits of war; made gestures to abandon war as an instrument of national policy, when it had never been such a thing in our history, and uttered wholesale diatribes against war, as if it could be expelled by oratory, flirtation, or some secret exorcism. These were all very well, if they had been effective. But our future enemies grinned and built hungry guns — bigger and better guns and mechanisms. Unfortunately,  p497 the army was realistically inclined and not thinking in terms of a single depressive mood, of Utopia, of presidential reputation, or of political party maneuvering. It was charged with the safety of the people, while they insisted on flaunting their sugared wealth before foreign empty bellies.

When this military slough of despond had reached its lowest and gloomiest level, General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Douglas MacArthur was called to head the army as its Chief of Staff. It was almost as if the hand of Providence had plucked him by the shoulder, as it had done previously with Washington and Scott. Never did the service so need a champion of his caliber: young, vigorous, courageous, at once benignly gentle and properly severe, dynamic, attractive, and resource­ful. Starting with an unparalleled record at West Point of being first in his class in scholar­ship, popularity, and military rank — all three of which qualities normally run counter to each other — he was catapulted into service as a paragon, and should by all precedent have trickled into the oblivion of the number one man in Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert E. Lee's class.​a For the first ten years of his service it looked as though he was fast approaching that obscurity. But his was a personality for stout deeds. Piping routine did not interest him. His sensitive nostrils always scented danger. Spring
When Brigadier General Frederick Funston went to Vera Cruz MacArthur was among those present. Volunteering for a mission where he pierced the heart of Mexico and returned with valuable information after having risked his life continuously, he was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but the War Department could not see it that way. Just before our entry into World War I, Summer
Secretary Baker made him head of the War Department Press Section. His innovations for truthful publicity and his aid to newspaper representatives combined to be the chief factors in educating the public and making it receptive to the coming Selective Service Law. When war was declared, he immediately asked for a commission as a colonel of infantry in the national army and got it. His battle record as chief of staff of the Forty-second Division and brigade, and finally division commander, is an epic of heroism and the kind of leader­ship that makes men want to follow. His personal escapes from death remind one of the miraculous survivals of Washington and Scott. Picture him  p498 personally leading a patrol into no‑man's land — all the 18 others killed, he the only one to return; cars demolished under him, he the only survivor; at the jump off of an attack personally mounting the parapet of a reluctant battalion and going forward himself before he heard the hesitant troops follow with a cheer; telling his aide who insisted on pulling him from under shell fire, "Just get this straight, son. The best thing that could happen to the morale of the A. E. F. would be to have a general officer bumped off."

Coming back from France and being selected as Superintendent of the Military Academy, he there showed his moral courage was not one whit lower than his physical. At once he spied those shiny wheels in any institution of a hundred and eighteen years' polish and tradition which appear as drivers but are simply brakes. He attacked outmoded régimes, razed the obsolete and effete summer camp, gave the sequestered cadets opportunity to touch the world, coördinated and broadened the scope of the curriculum, effected mass athletics, and neutralized the inbreeding. It was the first big going-over the Military Academy had had since Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sylvanus Thayer put the best of educational Europe on the banks of the Hudson. The heroic fashion in which MacArthur always acted made the shock to the alumni world too much to bear. "He is destroying the Academy and the Corps," said the old graduate. MacArthur was relieved before his four-year tour was completed and he could more nearly complete his tidy reforms. Although some of his progressive moves were nullified after his departure, every one of them later came toddling back into the more abundant service of the Academy.

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Brown Brothers Photo

Douglas MacArthur

This was the man, fortunately for the United States, with mental, moral, and physical courage, who now took the helm of the army. And how the ship was floundering! The war machine had become a pretty loom, doing all sorts of fancy work for the nation. Those of its higher officers who would speak were morally muzzled. Rivers and Harbors, Flood Control, the Panama Canal, saving money, doing stunts for the public, outshone the obsolete guns, supplies, and strength for mobilization which characterized the land forces. At the end of the five-year air program there was a shortage of 183 planes and over 500  p499 officers. Money for experiment with tanks and combat cars was shrunken to impracticability. Stagnated promotions had lowered esprit to the point where efficiency had to pull itself up by its boot straps. Reserve corps and National Guard units held a high percentage of officers who could not have field training each year because of lack of funds. Although the R. O. T. C. in schools and C. M. T. camps were growing in popularity, money was not appropriated to cover 50 per cent of the applying personnel.

To the War Policies Commission, MacArthur showed the possibilities of war, the mobilization plan as worked out by the General Staff, the equalization of burdens in a Selective Service system, the industrial planning and organization of industry necessary, the results of a failure to prepare, the army procurement plans, and the necessity of adequate measures for an army ready for emergency. He recommended to the commission a public announcement of the policies to be undertaken:

"Those policies which will assure practical and efficient peacetime preparation for the emergency of war, promulgated and published in such a way as to have a serious, sobering effect upon every man, woman, and child when he or she contemplates the possibility of war.

"Those policies which will facilitate the success­ful conduct of war and effect a just and equitable distribution of war's human and economic burdens when once it has been deliberately undertaken.

"Those policies which will enable the nation to demobilize after a war in a rational and orderly fashion."

1931‑1932 While he was attempting to educate the public, he was also striving to raise the spirits of the soldier. The same year the various medals of our army were classified and appropriate ribbons and medals added, where before little reward had been given for certain heroic actions. The Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross were made separate and distinct medals.

By the end of this same fiscal year the army had purchased 7 combat and 12 armored cars for experimental purposes at a cost of $452,000. Since only two millions had been spent in the previous twelve years for any such purpose, this was a signal  p500 advance. The combat vehicles were "Christie"​15 types for experiment at the cavalry center at Fort Knox in order that the cavalry undergo mechanization. The others, also of modern design, were experimented with at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, whither the Tank School and Tank Board were moved from Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, on account of better facilities for experimentation.

Seeing that Congress would not appropriate sufficient funds for such research and experiment, the General Staff bent its efforts on producing a pilot model that could be experimented with toward improvement. Every effort was made to restore to the attack its former power. Similarly, the cavalry was moved to switch its interest to armored cross-country cars. Working toward production in time of emergency as the next best solution to having tanks on hand, the offices of the Assistant Secretary of War and supply branches strove to gear industry toward tank, weapon, and aircraft production in quantity within twelve months after declaration of war. Modernization and advancement of anti-aircraft instruments were encouraged within the limited means available. July 1
Said General MacArthur to the public in his report: "Under the reduced appropriations of recent years the degree of preparedness that we have been able to attain does not approach in any particular that prescribed as necessary by Congress in 1920." Despite the unpopularity of his view in high quarters, he expostulated that the army was relatively lower than at any point in our history — 119,988 enlisted men — "below the point of safety." He was assailed by pacifistic reformers to do away with army transports and to amalgamate the War and Navy Departments so as to save money — a saving which could seriously abridge the usefulness and economy of these functions. These attacks he eminently resisted just as he decentralized the workings of the War Department toward greater efficiency.

One of the most unpleasant tasks handed the army was the eviction of the Bonus Marchers from the city of Washington. In the wake of the depression came the foam of jobless unrest. Those who had risked their lives for the safety of the country in World War I felt that the country owed them a chance to  p501 work. About 250 of these veterans started from Oregon and California to march on Washington and peaceably to petition Congress for the payment of a bonus legislated to be paid in 1945. Altogether, about 10,000 took up the line of march and were at one time or other identified with the Marchers. The farther they marched, the longer they stood in Washington, and the more space, food, and shelter they asked for — 700 hungry women and 300 children among them along the banks of the Anacostia — the more they were feared and unwelcome. The cry among the Marchers arose, "Cheered in 1917 and jeered in 1932." Relations between the Commissioners of Police of the District of Columbia, Congress, the War Department, and the representatives of the Marchers grew more and more strained. The President decided to evict these veterans without any provision being made for their future existence. In a fracas with police two Marchers were killed. Troops from Fort Myer bringing all the accoutrements of modern warfare did their job with such discipline and force that no casualties resulted. General MacArthur, who had been through the fires of the A. E. F. and could have stayed in his office, personally led the way. It has been inferred that he wanted to make certain no harm would come to any American who had served his country bravely in World War I.

1933 The next year saw many changes which affected the army. A new president on this side of the waters, Franklin D. Roosevelt, better disposed toward national defense, and a new head of Germany, more disposed toward war, came into power. The accessibility of the one and the possibility of the other were not lost on MacArthur. Although he had fearlessly pounded the desk of former presidential prelates, he had hitherto tempered his words with the knowledge of the hopelessness of his truths. A pea‑shooter was as good for them as a 16‑inch gun. Now he could blaze away with everything and have some chance of being heard.

Opportunity to show the army's efficiency and mettle came suddenly with the swift reforms of the new President. March
The Congress passed a bill to put a quarter of a million jobless men in reforestation work. The army disliked the task of taking over a mass of men twice its size, of butting in on the Forest  p502 Service, and of robbing the soldier of his peacetime training. The army's representative so stated to the White House. The reply was: "You have given all the reasons in the world why the army should do this job. As a matter of fact, all the reasons you state show that nobody else can do it." The army got the job. The General Staff was wisely ready for that possibility. A month later, at the rate of 1,530 a day, 52,000 were enrolled, and 42 camps were established. Fifty‑one days after that, 310,000 had been enrolled. The rate of reception and caring for this vast number was greater than that for both the army and navy during the World War. And this was peacetime, when the spirit, money, and coöperation of the people were not so great. And what did the soldiers have to do for these men? More than a preparatory boarding-school must do for its students. It had to examine them physically, classify them, clothe them, feed them, transport them, do all the work of paying them, put up their camps in the wilderness, and supervise their moral, mental, and spiritual welfare and conduct. Army training stopped. The soldier had to put every ounce of his energy into the task and spend many sleepless, working nights, if it were to be a go. The little available army, not one‑eighth the size of those finally enrolled, had to press these raw men from every walk of life through their new work in a fair and orderly way.

The entering C. C. C. boys were of equal rank. There were no seniors, no foremen, no variations — just a crowd. They were not being received into any established organization. The whole structure had to be built from the ground up. The situation was as strange to the soldier as to the C. C. C. boy. The only recourse the army officer had for keeping contentment, orderliness, and efficiency were precept, example, and expulsion from camp. He was not allowed to use even minor forms of correction. He could not require the boy to stand up, look one in the eye, or say "Yes, sir" or "No, sir." This lack of means was a fearful handicap to the commander, when he was responsible for the safety, good order, and reputation of the lads in a strange community. But the records show surprisingly little discord for the vast numbers taken in. The records also show how proper sanitation, a balanced diet, daily medical attention, and patient supervision turned out. An inventory of 110 camps reveals that  p503 the boys gained from 5 to 27 pounds. Only 5 per cent left camp — a surprisingly small proportion when it is realized that their main qualification was lack of a job. Under skilful guidance they developed rapidly. The white anemic faces and flabby arms of early spring were changed into bronzed skins and bulging muscles in late summer. And many a potential law‑breaker was transformed into a citizen with a healthy mind and body. In the prevention of forest fires alone the C. C. C. paid for itself.

In the face of this superhuman social task for the country, and the fact that the $21‑a‑month trained soldier was making possible the encouragements of the $30‑a‑month indigents, the ogre budgeteers came forth to do their deadly work on the army and army training. Mar. 4
The sum appropriated for the army, a hangover from the previous administration, cut the army sixty-five millions over the previous year, and then the Bureau of the Budget made an additional cut of eighty millions. And this just six years before the outbreak of the greatest war in history. General MacArthur rushed into the breach and showed that such a slash would make of the army a federal constabulary. He specifically recounted what would happen to the military service while it was preoccupied with the C. C. C. movement: "The retirement of some 3,000 to 4,000 Regular officers; the discharge of about 12,000 to 15,000 enlisted men of the Regular Army; the elimination of field and armory drill training for the National Guard, of all active duty training for the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, of the Citizens' Military Training Camps, and of field training for the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and of field training for the Regular Army; the almost complete dismantling of the technical services of the Army, including the discharge of civilian technicians engaged in research, design, development and experiment; and the cessation of procurement of necessary equipment and nearly all supplies except clothing and food."

The result of this exposure was to have the appropriation for the military establishment cut by 33 per cent instead of 44 per cent. The effect was to cut down training for the three components of the army — the National Guard, reserves and regular army — to nothing effective. One hundred and sixty-nine millions were immediately necessary for mechanization, motorization, modernization, and aircraft and were so  p504 shown to be necessary even to a moron, but nothing came out of the machine. Said MacArthur:

"Suspension of military training or further slashing into the Army's existing organization would produce a tragic situation. . . . Efficiency would fall off rapidly. Future correction would involve years of intensive work to make good months of current neglect. In the event of an emergency human and material costs and risk of defeat would be multiplied. . . . Four times during the nineteenth century the United States went to war under conditions that forced us to incur needless sacrifices by committing units to action under the leader­ship of hastily and imperfectly trained commanders. In spite of these repeated lessons, the same error was committed in 1917. In seeking evidence on this point we are not confined to testimony from the leaders of our own Army. The writings of our Allies and of our opponents in the late war are particularly revealing in their comments upon American battle operations. Foch, Hindenburg, Ludendorff, and many others have praised without stint the courage and dash of American units on the Western Front. But even while those veterans of many battles were lost in admiration for the bravery of troops that could sustain appalling numbers of casualties and still keep on attacking, they were aghast at the useless and costly sacrifices we made because of unskilled leader­ship in the smaller units. Training — professional training — and the skill and knowledge and morale resulting therefrom are the first indispensables to efficiency in combat."

And then he closed with this warning:

"In the obvious state of unrest now prevailing throughout the world, evidences of which are plainly visible even in our own country, an efficient and dependable military establishment, constantly responsive to the will of its Government, constitutes a rock of stability and one of a nation's priceless possessions. . . . It is my conviction that at this moment the Army's strength in personnel and matériel and its readiness for employment are below the danger line. I consider it of the most urgent importance to the United States that this condition be rectified without delay."

 p505  But it was not rectified without delay, even though the new President was disposed toward sufficient strength. So the army did what it could to reorganize what it had. The forces within the United States were arranged into four armies, at least on paper; the air corps grew — despite its shrunken material and personnel — more efficient; the mobile arms sought greater effectiveness, and the army remained the seventeenth in strength of the great powers of the world, while it was mainly occupied in changing the linen of C. C. C. lads.

Other current economies did not help the spirits of the soldier. An economy bill had been passed just after the depression which made the service accept a payless furlough for 8⅓ per cent of its active duty. March
This year the deduction was changed to a straight 15 per cent pay cut. Every grade in the army was affected, but the private thus received the magnificent sum of $17.85 per month, while the C. C. C. lad for whom he was caring still received $30. The patient was receiving a salary while the doctor was given a pittance.

In fields outside the military ones appropriations flowed ripplingly. Two hundred and twenty million was allowed for Rivers and Harbors. The army engineers as usual did an excellent, economical job, putting 44,000 unemployed to work. Although the army did get ten millions for motorization (not mechanization) and seven and one‑half millions for additional aircraft, it received no money for target practice or any adequate practical military training.

Besides, the air corps was saddled with carrying the air mail for the Post Office Department. Feb. 19
to June 1
For nearly four months army aviation carried 777,389 pounds of letters and packages for a distance of over one and one‑half million miles without the loss of a single piece. Since the novel undertaking came upon the air corps in midwinter, there were casualties among planes and men during the period when mail administration, engineering, training, and routes had to be learned. But as a whole the work was performed heroically and efficiently by the only agency for the President at hand.

July 1
In spite of MacArthur's warnings, which since have sadly been realized as true prophecies, the regular army contained 118,750 enlisted men, over 3,000 less than the year preceding.  p506 MacArthur showed that 165,000 was a minimum for efficiency and future possibilities; that the National Guard had only 175,000, whereas 210,000 were needed; that the reserve corps had only 89,000 officers, whereas 120,000 were needed; and that the enlisted reserve was zero, whereas 120,000 were needed. If all these increases had been made, the strength would not have been half that called for in the National Defense Act of 1920. And in addition, the army was called upon to look after the C. C. C., which would have entailed a still further increase over the provisions of 1920, if safety were to be considered. But safety and wanton loss of life and treasure in an emergency were not considered.

July 1
The wee army, still the lowest of all the powers and lower than many not powers, was launched on civilian enterprises with all the more intensity and efficiency, from Rivers and Harbors to C. C. C. camps. Training for the army as an army or as a going defensive concern was still out. Even the progress of weapons and materials was stymied. The General Staff showed that our combat "vehicles were hopelessly out of date." The army had altogether 80 Garand rifles. Of modern field pieces we had only models of better, speedier, and rangier ones. Of modern anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns and instruments there were the barest handfuls. The aircraft were about what they had been the year before.

Although appropriations for decent housing for army personnel had been enacted before the depression, afterward there was a standstill in release of funds. However, the President's public expenditures on his various social reforms benefited the army in two ways. Both the completion of the housing project and the filling of the tremendous deficiency of motor vehicles for the army came from the Public Works Administration.

Although there were some internal gains, the size of the army and military appropriations for munitions prevented the soldier from progressing or being a bulwark or even a nucleus in war. General MacArthur again rose to his full height and scorched the powers with intelligence on the full consequences that would ensue — consequences that were so tragically carried out later against him and his Philippine forces. Speaking for the pittance he had asked for the protection of the country — all  p507 he had any hope of obtaining, he said: ". . . Measured by any possible standard, full accomplishment of this program would still leave us far behind all other major powers in strength of organized land forces. Our relative standing would be no higher than 16th. Preparation on the scale proposed would, however, offer to our country a justified assurance in freedom from attack or, at the worst, from extreme consequences in the event of attack. . . . The proposals of the General Staff have been formulated with full regard for current governmental economy as well as in full realization of the fact that retrenchment that cripples national defense is extravagance past the point of folly. . . ."

July 1
In this report he took farewell of the army as its Chief of Staff, his four years expiring before the beginning of the next fiscal year. But he was destined not to go. Agreeing with his contentions and recognizing his merits in obtaining maximum strength under the current psychology of the country, the President held him on. By this time MacArthur should have been used to breaking precedents. But there was more to come.

Meanwhile some responsive tremors to his constant philippics were felt among military men to be a possible indication that Congress and the country were yielding to reason. The hump in the promotion lists, which had stopped the flow for those officers who had almost simultaneously come into the service at the time of World War I, was appreciably flattened. July 31
Congress passed a law which made the field grades 40 per cent of the officers of the army, so that younger officers could progress. It put, however, a length-of‑service qualification for each grade.​16 But the act did serve to add a modicum of hope and spirit to the service.

Not only was the stagnation largely overcome, but the number of officers was slightly expanded. Aug. 30
The law known as the Thomason Act allowed 1,000 young reserve officers, for a period of ten years, to be trained annually with the regular army. Each year 50 of them were to be selected and placed in the permanent establishment. Although the act was a forward move  p508 and this fine type of officer was much needed, the influx of so many fairly green subalterns each year added to the burdens of the already depleted officer personnel. The first 52 were placed in the air corps and the remainder in the other arms in proportion to strength.

Under the final urgings of MacArthur, backed by Secretary George H. Dern, Congress finally in the annual appropriation act Fiscal Year Ending June 30
increased the enlisted strength of the army on paper to 165,000 — still 115,000 below the 1920 Defense Act, but all that could be squeezed from the country. Although 2,000 more officers were needed and asked for, they were not provided; June 7
however, the maximum number of cadets in the Military Academy was raised from 1,374 to 1,960, each Congressman and Senator receiving 3 appointments instead of 2, and the whole expansion to take place gradually until the first increased output would be noticeable in the Class of 1939 — the year Hitler invaded Poland to set off World War II.

As these increases took place, more and more were army officers used for civil duties and taken away from training. Not only was it found necessary to use the soldier with the C. C. C., but with other agencies like the W. P. A., N. R. A., and P. W. A. The soldier, however faithfully he executed these urgent duties, felt deprived in not being able to undertake the task he had chosen. Naturally, there was a consequent let‑down in his spirit.

In actual remuneration for services, the army was worse off than 30 years before. Expenses had gone up, but there had been only a slight advance in pay since 1908. This hardship was felt most keenly in the lower grades of officers and among enlisted men. MacArthur exposed this condition and begged for remedy. He also advocated a five-year aircraft procurement that would allow us in 1940 a complement of the very best and latest ships. Without petitioning Congress he could and did organize the army so as to include a general headquarters of the air force, which commanded all the combat elements of the air corps in the continental limits of the United States. The commanding general of the general headquarters was thereafter directly under the chief of staff in time of peace and under the commanding general of the field forces in time of war.

Among other progressive petitions of the Chief of Staff,  p509 which if followed would have made 1942 less perilous to us, was a five-year progressive procurement program of munitions. Another was the five-year plan and pay for accumulating an enlisted reserve by allowing $12 a year for discharged men and $100 upon reënlistment.

These and other progressive plans were conceived and set in motion by General MacArthur. Heeded, they would have saved us much in life and treasure in 1941. But most of them were not needed.

With what he got, MacArthur turned to the army and counseled it to husband and use to best advantage the driblets of military appropriations:

"It is thus evident that in many essential phases of military preparation Congress has recently authorized advances along lines urged by the War Department. In certain instances these authorizations follow in detail the recommendations submitted. The Army's task is to make the best possible use of the additional assets that have thus become available. This responsibility is a heavy one and it involves more than mere reenforcements of old formations or expansion of old conceptions. For 5 years the central theme of War Department to Congress has been the necessity for modernization of the Military Establishment. This purpose must influence the solution of every problem now facing us. Instant advantage must be taken of the present opportunity to mold our Army more distinctly into a unified, mobile, efficient and strictly modern machine. Clear vision must be supplemented by tireless energy, and no effort must be spared to derive the utmost in combat power from every dollar available for the Army."

July 1
In leaving his office MacArthur was the recipient of another broken precedent. The Secretary of War, Dern, issued a eulogy in his report to the President on a living Chief of Staff: "The great improvement that has recently been made in our Army is due in very large measure to the initiative, genius, energy, resourcefulness, and brilliant leader­ship of General MacArthur, who is completing a tour of duty as Chief of Staff. Long before he came to the War Department as the principal military adviser  p510 to the Secretary, General MacArthur had won exceptional honor and distinction by his courage on the battlefield, his devotion to duty and his attainments as a military leader. To the many and difficult problems encountered in the War Department, General MacArthur applied the same vision, intelligence, sound judgment and fairness that had won him renown throughout his service, and he has exhibited administrative ability of the highest order. On my recommendation you extended his tour of duty as Chief of Staff nearly a year in order that he might be available to advise with the Congress on legislation of vital interest to the national defense. The President, the Secretary of War and the Congress have been extremely fortunate to have had his counsel and assistance at a time when our Army was being reorganized and modernized."

Although General MacArthur left and Secretary Dern died, the military establishment benefited by their wisdom and persistence, despite public apathy and antagonism. In addition to the expansion of officers by additional cadets at the Military Academy and the Thomason Act, June 16
air corps reserve officers could be called to active duty for five years and receive $500 bonus at the end of three years, June 26
and the corps of engineers was increased by a general and 185 other officers. Although the expansions were not large in themselves, they displayed a tendency on the part of our lawmakers to be more foresighted.

Accordingly the general atmosphere of the soldier brightened. Better housing conditions, prospects of more fluid promotion, and the improved ratings of enlisted men for pay and advancement added to the hope of having an army some day.

On the other hand, the appropriations for sufficient equipment and modern weapons for even good training lagged. The legislative gentlemen seemed to be more interested in the High Commissioner of the Philippines and the $750,000 appropriated for his residence than in its safety. But the Philippine Government, aroused to its danger, did otherwise. Immediately, it made overtures for the services of our former Chief of Staff as soon as his tour had expired. Fall
Our President, upon the request of President-elect Quezon, detailed MacArthur as military adviser to the new commonwealth and chief of the Philippine commission of army officers.

 p511  The 165,000 enlisted men MacArthur had asked for our army actually amounted, when the smoke blew away, to only 146,826, because of fiscal limitations. On the other hand, motorization, mechanization and modernization of infantry, cavalry, field artillery, and anti-aircraft began to sprout. July 1
In the mechanized cavalry, brigade scout cars for 13 mechanized platoons were in proceed of procurement. A thousand different types of tactical and administrative vehicles had come on the scene and one battalion of field artillery was motorized to work with the mechanized cavalry brigade. June
More maintenance money was allowed for the aëroplanes we already had. On the other side, National Guard units had a bare skeleton of matériel for peacetime practice. Target practice and extensive maneuvers were not 10 per cent of necessary exercises, had a discerning glance been directed across the waters in either direction.

July 1
The succeeding Chief of Staff, General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Malin Craig, did not pause in augmenting and abetting MacArthur's programs. He stated that the army was more efficient than at any time in its previous peacetime history, but was relatively weaker than the armies of other countries which were expanding. The army was below the 165,000 promised enlisted men by 6,374, and the officers still remained at 12,168. The enlisted strength at the rate it was increasing would not reach the already legislated number until 1939.

The army was much like the clergyman who had to earn his salary and beg it, too. Every now and then it would eke out a begrudged bit. And evolution now and then a wave of attention in another direction would completely eclipse it. 1936 Floods throughout the country and beach erosion on our waterfronts occupied the pity and energies of the public. The army was called in to make repairs. Although the work was necessary and done with a will, it further displaced the training of the army as an army.

On the other hand, some salutary measures were undertaken with and without the aid of the lawmakers. A Deficiency Act the year before had given an addition to the capacity of the Military Academy in the form of new barracks, academic buildings, armory, 50 sets of officers' quarters, and enlargement of the gymnasium to take care of the previous increase. June 25
A thousand new aëroplanes, by act of Congress, were on order and another  p512 thousand new ones on hand, the goal being 2,320 by June 30, 1940. There was no money in the country for more, it was felt. A new division, streamlined, of 3 regiments of infantry and 1 of reënforced artillery containing 13,500 men was contemplated as an improvement for certain tactical purposes over the square division of 4 regiments of infantry and 1 of artillery containing about 22,000 men. The new division in the vicinity of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, was tested and found to have promise in more flexibility, maneuverability, and ease of supply than the old division. Other maneuvers were held over the country, and the revival was a slight lift to training. Although the National Guard had come up to 192,000 and the reserves had 96,545 officers, they were both short of the minimum requirements. There were provided no anti-tank guns or equipment except a few models, and there was no money provided to buy more. Tanks in small quantities were still undergoing tests. An aëroplane cannon had not been obtained although desired by the army, and there were not enough modern 75's in good condition to go half way around the small army. The 105 howitzer had just been adopted. Motorization was not half complete, and small arm rifles were still woefully deficient. Yet as ever Congress was willing to legislate if not appropriate. Mar. 16
It recognized the army by conceding an allowable celebration in its honor on the anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, April 6th of every year. The army was advised to assist civic bodies with appropriate celebrations.

Jan. 28
The next year opened propitiously. The President with his usual foresight sent a message to Congress requesting nearly nine million dollars for anti-aircraft, $450,000 for pay of an enlisted reserve, six millions for manufacture of gages, dies and aids to manufacture of arms and munitions, and other increases for the army. April 13
Congress responded by giving what he asked and by raising the officer personnel of the regular army to 14,659, and by providing for enlisting discharged soldiers under 35 years old in the enlisted reserve at a salary of $24 a year. April 25
They could be recalled to active duty only in an emergency, when they would receive $3 per month for each month in the reserve up to $150. April 22
In order to cause rotation on the General Staff and to keep officers from stagnating on such duty, Congress made it  p513 obligatory for an officer to serve two years with troops out of every six. June 11
The air corps was increased by 5,500 enlisted men, and in accordance with funds allotted ordered over fourteen million dollars worth of fighting planes. Although legislation provided enough anti-aircraft to give a beginning of equipment to 15 regiments of the regular army and National Guard, the armament fire-control equipment and searchlights were insufficient to make the armament effective. Anti-tank weapons were wanting. One had been developed by the Ordnance Department, but there were no funds for further development or supply. Finally, money was appropriated for the last 2,000 or more aëroplanes contemplated by the board on which Newton D. Baker was chairman, three years before. A flight of six of our bombers to the inaugural ceremonies in Buenos Aires proved the superior efficiency of our planes and pilots. However, motorization still lagged, and the number of 75‑mm guns and 105 howitzers for the field artillery still fell far short of requirements. On the other hand, Congress went four better by appropriating ten million dollars for educational orders for munitions of war, in order to let commercial concerns familiarize themselves with the work and manufacture of weapons and munitions. For this purpose, two millions were set aside annually for the next five years. Notwithstanding the fact that in two of these years the orders were going to be more emotional than educational, the office of the Assistant Secretary of War under the able leader­ship of Louis M. Johnson was able to induct business into aids that would prove invaluable in 1941. Dec. 3
However, there were many like Senator Borah who uttered tirades against armament races and wanted entry into war left up to a vote of the people.

These were the military happenings in our country while Hitler was digesting Austria and masticating Sudetenland. The general American apathy and lack of appreciation is typified in the housing of the War Department in Washington. In the State Building military activities were given less and less space. Pushed hither and yon, the War Department was scattered among 20 different buildings. The waste motion, embarrassment, and inefficiency need not be elaborated beyond these facts. Over and over the War Department asked for a single separate building, but nothing came of the matter.

 p514  Yet training for the soldier in the field looked promising. A valuable start was made in appropriations for large units in summer maneuvers. Summer
The Third Army conducted extensive maneuvers in the South for two weeks, and the Second Army contented itself with command post exercises at Fort Knox, Kentucky. There were also field tests in experimental infantry and cavalry divisions, GHQ air force and anti-aircraft maneuvers on the southern Atlantic coast, and joint army and navy exercises along the north Atlantic and in the Caribbean.

Two and one half years before the Japanese swooped down on Oahu, Wake Island, Guam, Midway, and Luzon, July 1
the enlisted strength of the army proper totaled 167,712. Although it had at last come up to the figure asked for by MacArthur, it was still over 112,000 below what was thought to be a safe minimum twenty years before. It lacked similarly 2,000 officers.

Yet the country was becoming militarily air conscious. May 15
An act provided three hundred million dollars for a limit of 6,000 serviceable aëroplanes, an increase of 23,500 enlisted men for the air corps and a peacetime commissioned strength for the regular army of 16,719. But there was a catch to the last. The officer increase was to take place over a period of ten years and be completed by "June 30, 1949." In less than three years we were to be at war. In less than five months Hitler was to invade Poland and cause Europe to flame.

In other branches of the service we were still sadly lacking in weapons and munitions of modern design. Said General Craig: "New devices of war are of critical importance. To be without them invites failure." Although funds were provided for partially equipping 400,000 men by the Congress, most of the weapons and transportation were on order and could not failed in any sizable quantities in the following two years, so that the maneuvers of the 4 armies, 1 each year since 1935, gave the soldiers and officers little or no practice with modern equipment or weapons. Neither was there sufficient ammunition to let the troops have experience in the manipulating and actual firing of their weapons on ranges.

On the other hand, the idea of field training was taking hold on the lawmakers, even if it was not going to catch up with the times. Armory drills for the National Guard and field training  p515 for 6 divisions of the regular army were intensified as much as appropriations would permit. Summer
The First Army in the East split into two maneuvers, one near Plattsburg, New York, and the other near Manassas, Virginia. Troops of the northern force consisted of the First Division and Eighteenth Brigade of the regular army and the Twenty-sixth, Twenty-seventh, Forty-third and Forty-fourth National Guard divisions. Troops of the southern force consisted of the Sixteenth Brigade of the regular army and the Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth National Guard divisions. The Fourth Army held a command post exercise at the Presidio of San Francisco for the training of approximately 700 officers. Aug. 5
It was during these maneuvers that the president signed a bill allowing each of the four army commanders to be made a lieutenant general with the pay of a major general and the allowances of a vice admiral of the navy.17

The Author's Notes:

11 These consisted of 21 major generals, 46 brigadier generals, 599 colonels, 674 lieutenant colonels, 2,245 majors, 4,490 captains, 4,266 first lieutenants, and 2,294 second lieutenants.

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12 The enlisted men were to be placed in seven grades with pay ranging from $74 for the first grade down to $30 for the seventh. They would receive 10 per cent increase for each five years of service until 40 per cent was reached. Those of the sixth and seventh grades in addition could be rated as specialists in six different classes. Their additional pay for the first class was $25, and for the sixth $3.

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13 He illustrated with the following table:

"National Wealth Ratio

1850, one soldier per $  750,000; just after the Mexican War.
1860, one soldier per $1,250,000; war not probable.
1870, one soldier per $  800,000; just after Civil War.
1880, one soldier per $1,500,000.
1890, one soldier per $2,200,000; no war in sight.
1900, one soldier per $1,000,000; just after Spanish American War.
1910, one soldier per $2,200,000; no war in sight.
1920, one soldier per $1,200,000; just after the World War.
1923, one soldier per $2,500,000; no war in sight.

Average ratio for periods — one soldier per $937,500; when no war was thought likely, $2,037,500."

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14 The article was written by the author among others at the instigation of the Secretary of War and after investigation of General Staff objectives.

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15 Mr. Walter Christie, the progressive inventor of many types of tanks.

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16 Six per cent were to be colonels, 9 per cent lieutenant colonels, and 25 per cent majors. But one could not become a colonel unless he had completed 26 years' service; a lieutenant colonel, 20 years' service, and a major, 15 years' service.

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17 The next year, July 31, 1940, the law included commanders of Panama Canal and Hawaiian Departments. In our service Congress has been particularly reluctant in having pay go with the higher ranks. An officer can get beyond a major general in rank, responsibility and duties, but not in pay.

Thayer's Note:

a Judge Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Charles Mason actually had a fairly distinguished career in Iowa state politics and business.

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Page updated: 13 Feb 17