Chapter 9       



althoughlthough the Korean War ended in stalemate, it had shown clearly that the United States was the only nation strong enough to offer determined resistance to Communist expansion. In the past the nation had turned to its military only when threatened. From 1953 onward, however, it would have little choice but to use its armed forces as an open and indispensable element in its conduct of foreign affairs. Confronting opponents who regarded war as a logical and necessary extension of politics, the United States would turn their own tactics against them by backing its diplomats with the threat of force. The American people accepted the new approach with remarkable composure. In so doing, they revealed a willingness to shoulder not only the huge costs but also the heavy moral obligations that leadership of the free world necessarily entailed.

Massive Retaliation and the New Look

      With the end of hostilities, the Eisenhower administration had to provide for the nation’s defense by determining a strategy for the future and by configuring military forces to carry it out. Torn between pressures from worldwide commitments and a desire to cut back on defense spending, the administration devised a policy that laid major emphasis upon air power and America’s nuclear superiority. “The basic decision,” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles observed, “was to depend primarily upon a great capacity to retaliate, instantly, by means and at places of our choosing.” This would allow the Department of Defense to mold the armed forces into a shape that best suited official policy without having to prepare for every threat the Communists might pose.




       With the new emphasis on massive retaliation, the armed forces took on a New Look as the 1950s progressed. The Air Force increased the size of its strategic bombing forces, spending huge sums on new bombers and missiles. The Navy concentrated on developing a new submarine-launched nuclear missile known as the Polaris, and the Army sought to perfect tactical nuclear weapons to support the soldier on the battlefield. Since the military budget divided along service rather than functional lines, the annual allocation of funds almost inevitably provoked bitter infighting.
       Over time, the Air Force’s share of the budget became so large that it diminished the capacity of the United States to wage a conventional war. As it did, opposition to massive retaliation mounted. The Army’s Chief of Staff, General Matthew B. Ridgway, was particularly pointed in his criticism. As Soviet nuclear capabilities grew, he noted in June 1955, nuclear parity between the two sides would ensure that neither had an advantage. When that parity occurred, the Soviets could gain the edge by provoking confrontations so limited in size that they could never justly resort to nuclear weapons. Armed with “leftovers” from the budget process, America’s conventional forces would lack the means to respond. A balanced force was necessary, Ridgway implied, one that could cope with either a general or a limited war.
       Ridgway’s successor, General Maxwell D. Taylor, supported his plea, as did many prominent academics. Change, however, came only at the end of the decade, when the Soviet Union’s parity with the United States was no longer in dispute. At that point, supporters of the nuclear option had little choice but to concede that a general war would result in mutual self-destruction and that massive retaliation should be only a last resort.

The NATO Buildup

       While the word battles raged, a major American buildup had taken place in Europe. Concerned that the Soviet Union might yet launch an offensive on the continent, the United States had increased its forces there from one to five divisions and had strengthened NATO’s ground, air, and naval forces. In response, the alliance had adopted a “forward defense” strategy that contemplated a defense of West Germany as far east of the Rhine as possible.
       The conclusion of the Korean War, the death of Stalin, and the launch of a Soviet peace initiative a short while later led to a release of international tensions and a slowing of the NATO buildup. This allowed the United States and its allies to shift their attention to their need for improved communications and to the construction of roads, airfields, and logistical depots. As those efforts proceeded, the United States began to press for German rearmament. Despite strong opposition from the Communist bloc, the Western allies agreed to the idea in 1954, approving the formation of a twelve-division German army.
       The United States also moved to remedy a growing imbalance between Communist and NATO ground forces by fitting tactical nuclear warheads to artillery shells and missiles. As the weapons came on line, the alliance based its planning on an assumption that they would form the foundation of its response to a Soviet attack. Cracks appeared in


NATO’s common front, however, when the United States declined to share its exclusive control of the devices through consultation with its allies. In the end, the French and British decided to lessen their dependence upon their ally by developing nuclear weapons of their own.

Continental Defense

       The Soviet Union was hardly idle. Responding to NATO’s efforts, it strengthened its defenses by arming its ground forces with tactical nuclear weapons, developing hydrogen bombs and an intercontinental jet bomber to deliver them, and pushing ahead with production of long-range missiles. By 1955, as a result, the race between the two sides had produced such huge nuclear arsenals that both became concerned. Meeting at a conference in Geneva, American and Soviet representatives agreed that a full-scale nuclear war could lead only to mutual suicide. From then on, an understanding between the sides grew that neither would use nuclear weapons unless its own survival was at stake.
      If tensions eased on the strategic level, competition continued unabated on every other. Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev set the mood. Avowing in early 1956 that the East and West could coexist as competitors, he insisted nonetheless that peaceful coexistence hardly meant acquiescence. The Soviet Union would continue its struggle with Capitalist imperialism through “wars of national liberation” and by other
means less destructive than full-scale war.
     Under the circumstances, the United States took no chances. Cooperating with the Canadian government, it began construction in 1957 of a distant early warning (DEW) radar network. Designed to provide advance word of a Soviet air or missile attack from the north, the system consisted of a line of radar stations that ran across Alaska and northern Canada. Radar outposts in the Aleutian Islands supplemented it, along with stations in central and southern Canada, radar towers and picket boats in the Atlantic, and circling early warning aircraft.
       Answering to the Air Force, which served as executive agent for the Secretary of Defense, the Continental Air Defense Command had responsibility for America’s overall air defenses. The Army contributed ground antiaircraft defenses in support of the command’s interceptor aircraft and developed the nation’s first antiaircraft missile, the Ajax.


         By the end of the Korean War, the Army was deeply involved in activities intended to defend the United
    States against direct Soviet attack or Soviet-directed subversion. The Army built gun positions around major
    U.S. cities that were soon replaced by Nike Ajax and then Nike Hercules surface-to-air missiles that would     intercept Soviet bombers. At the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s, the Army had deployed 145 Nike     Hercules batteries. A second Army homeland defense function was to support the U.S. civil defense efforts as
    it had during World War II. The Army laid plans for assuming marshal law to maintain order in the wake of a     nuclear attack. Also, the Army Corps of Engineers participated in the National Fallout Shelter Survey for the     Office of Civil Defense that identified shelter space for the entire population.















Later, it fitted more sophisticated members of the Nike family with nuclear warheads and developed the Hawk missile to defend against low-flying aircraft. By the 1960s, the service had also situated antiaircraft missile sites on the outskirts of many American cities to protect vital defense areas.

The Missile Era

      Throughout the period, the United States had keyed its efforts to the strategic bomber; but to be on the safe side, it had also pushed development of offensive missiles. To that end the Army produced the Jupiter and the Air Force the Thor, both intermediate-range ballistic missiles that could strike targets at a distance of 1,500 miles. The Air Force was also working on Atlas and Titan, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a reach of 5,000 miles. A jurisdictional dispute between the Army and the Air Force prompted by the roles and missions agreement led the Secretary of Defense in 1957 to give the Air Force charge of all land-based ballistic missiles. Although the Army retained control over development and testing of the Jupiter missile, tensions with the Soviet Union soon eased, lessening the sense of urgency that had propelled the program to that point.
       The lull lasted only until October 1957, when the Russians launched Sputnik, the first earth satellite. The feat came as a shock to the United States, which lacked the sort of high-thrust rocket the Russians had used. To sustain public morale, the United States boosted several small American satellites into orbit with existing ballistic missile motors. Considerable time would elapse, however, before the nation would produce a rocket engine equal to that of the Russians.
        Since every new weapon evoked a counterweapon, the Army took responsibility for developing an anti-ICBM system. A running debate quickly broke out, however, over whether any missile could protect the United States from a saturation attack by ICBMs. More talk centered on whether the United States needed to maintain airfields and missile sites overseas within striking range of the Soviet Union and Communist


Photo: Von Braun
Von Braun
          With the defeat of Germany imminent, von Braun and his rocket     research team decided to surrender rather than stay in hiding and     wait for capture. A close relative rode his bike down an unpaved     road and led the U.S. Army’s spy catchers (the Counter Intellige-
    nce Corps) to the German rocket team. Dr. Braun’s work under     Army auspices was instrumental in creating the Redstone, Jupiter,     and Pershing missile systems. America’s first satellite, the Explorer     I, and America’s first man in space, Navy Commander Alan B.     Shepard, Jr., were launched into space on modified Redstone     missiles. Von Braun ended his Army affiliation in 1960, when he     went to work for the newly created National Aeronautics and     Space Administration.


China. The costs of maintaining these facilities and the troops to man them seemed questionable since long-range missiles launched from the continental United States or from submarines promised to fill that role. In the end, the debate led nowhere. Although the new alternatives had potential, they would take years to test and put into operation.

Challenges and Responses

      The nuclear threat overshadowed developments in other areas during the fifties. Although the United States sought to avoid involvement in limited war, for example, challenges arose continually that required it to supply military or economic aid or to dispatch combat forces. American commitments to provide advisory groups and military missions around the world thus multiplied throughout the period, despite drives in Congress and the Executive Branch to cut costs.
       The nation did, nevertheless, have its limits. It had little choice but to maintain two Army divisions south of the demilitarized zone in Korea and to provide substantial military assistance to South Korea’s armed forces. It drew the line, however, when France sought American support for its effort to reclaim its empire in Indochina. Confronted by French threats of noncooperation with NATO, the United States compromised by providing military supplies, equipment, and economic aid. Lacking support from


Photo: Pershing Missile in Winter, Wayne Duncan, 1960
Pershing Missile in Winter, Wayne Duncan, 1960

its other allies, however, it declined to commit American troops or bombers.
       Although the United States was clearly reluctant to become embroiled in Asia so soon after the Korean War, it could hardly fail to recognize that the region was under threat. Following the Geneva Conference of 1954, which set up two Vietnams, the nation attempted to take up the slack by sponsoring the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), a collective defense arrangement. The pact called for mutual help and consultation to resist overt aggression or other threats to internal
security. Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States were its initial signatories.






        Troubles nonetheless proliferated in both Asia and Southeast Asia as the 1950s lengthened. A prime point of contention stood in the Strait of Taiwan, where Chinese Communist forces were bombarding Nationalist Chinese positions on two tiny offshore islands, Quemoy and Matsu. Since loss of the two might have opened the way for an invasion of Taiwan, Congress issued a joint resolution in 1955 empowering the President to act immediately if the Communists moved to seize either. The shelling tapered off after that; but it picked up again in the summer of 1958, when the Communists again began to shell the islands. In response, the United States provided warships to convoy supply vessels and armed Nationalist Chinese aircraft with missiles. A U.S. composite Air Strike Force also took up station on Taiwan to strengthen Nationalist defenses against a Communist invasion. The Communists ended the crisis by reducing their fire shortly thereafter, but Quemoy and Matsu would remain a bone of contention between the United States and China for years to come.
        Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia, pressure from the Communists eased but hardly ceased. Instead, attention shifted to the small state of Laos to the west of Vietnam, where a Communist movement, the Pathet Lao, had taken control of several provinces bordering North Vietnam and China. The nation’s non-Communist government had signed a peaceful coexistence agreement with the group in 1956, but open warfare broke out again in 1959. Neither side gained the upper hand in the fighting that followed, despite U.S. assistance to the government’s 25,000-man army and substantial military aid to the Pathet Lao from the Communist bloc. With concern growing that the struggle might lead to a direct East-West confrontation, suggestions arose that the Great Powers should convene a conference to neutralize the country. By then, however, the Eisenhower administration was giving way to a new government headed by President-

Photo: President Eisenhower meets with Secretary of State Dulles.
President Eisenhower meets with Secretary of State Dulles.


Elect John F. Kennedy. The likelihood of an agreement seemed remote until Kennedy could settle in.
      If the tensions in the Far East were the products of Cold War competition,
others arising in the Middle East were attributable to nationalism and Arab hostility to the Jewish state of Israel. Although the United States took a standoff approach to the region’s intermittent crises, President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood that America had deep interests in the area. As a result, in January 1957 he requested and obtained a joint resolution from Congress that pledged American military assistance to Middle Eastern nations subject to Communist aggression. Empowering the President to use the armed forces if necessary, the legislation became known as the Eisenhower Doctrine.


        American action came in 1958, when factions favoring Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser became active in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. When rebellion followed in Lebanon and killers assassinated the King of Iraq to establish a republic under pro-Nasser leadership, the President of Lebanon and the King of Jordan requested U.S. assistance. Within twenty-four hours, naval units from the U.S. Sixth Fleet took up station off Lebanon and a battalion of marines landed near the nation’s capital, Beirut. Additional marines arrived two days later, and the Army began to move airborne, tank, and combat engineer troops into the country to stabilize the situation. By early August U.S. forces in Lebanon totaled more than 5,800 marines and 8,500 soldiers. A U.S. composite Air Strike Force had moved into Turkey to back them, and a British airborne
contingent had positioned itself in Jordan. Those efforts had the desired effect. By October tensions had subsided enough for the United States to withdraw its forces. In their place, it gave Lebanon and Jordan special assistance to build up their defenses and to prevent additional outbreaks. Shortly after that, it concluded separate defense treaties with Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. When those three countries and Great Britain formed the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) along NATO lines the following year, the United States declined membership. However, it participated in the association’s economic, military, and antisubversion committees and sent representatives to its meetings.
        Closer to home, the United States chose not to intervene in a revolution on the island of Cuba in 1958, but it kept careful tabs on the movement’s leader, Fidel Castro, and his followers. When they succeeded in overthrowing the government of President Fulgencio Batista, the United States initially recognized their new regime, but Cuban-American relations deteriorated quickly when Castro aligned his nation with the Communist camp. American military and economic assistance to Cuba ceased in 1960, but Castro replaced it with arms and other aid from the Soviet Union and Communist China. The United States responded by cutting off diplomatic relations with Cuba in January 1961.

The Military Budget

         With U.S. forces and assistance either on call or committed around the world, it appeared that the United States was more likely to become involved in local wars than in a general conflagration. American military budgets, however, had emphasized deterrence of nuclear conflict over preparations for lower-level contingencies and limited conventional wars.
          It was hardly surprising that President Eisenhower would seek to cut defense spending following the high cost of the Korean War. His decision to rely more heavily upon strategic air power than on ground units, however, created imbalances both in the military budget and in the distribution of forces. In 1953, for example, the Army had more than 1.5 million men: 20 combat divisions (8 in the Far East, 5 in Europe, and 7 in the United States). The service’s budget came to nearly $13 billion, 38 percent of the total allocated to the military for the 1954 fiscal year. Over the next four years the Joint Chiefs of Staff trimmed more than 600,000 men from the armed services. Although


Cuban-American relations deteriorat-
ed quickly when Castro aligned his nation with the Communist camp.



the Air Force and Navy experienced reductions, most of the cuts came from the ground forces. By 1958, as a result, the Army had shrunk to 15 divisions and fewer than 900,000 men. Two reduced-strength divisions remained in Korea, one in Hawaii. The totals for Europe and the United States remained the same, but several stateside divisions were operating at reduced strength. Funds obligated to the Army for fiscal year 1959 had fallen to about $9 billion, some 22 percent of the total military budget. Despite these economies, the defense budget climbed from $34 billion in 1954 to more than $41 billion in 1959. Much of the expense was attributable to the high-tech air and missile systems necessary to deter and defend against nuclear attack. Not only were these weapons costly to obtain, they sometimes became obsolescent overnight as newer, better models came on line. In addition, the personnel necessary to maintain them not only came at high cost, they also required expensive, on-the-job training to keep abreast of trends.

Defense Reorganization

       Perennial disputes between the services over strategy, force levels, and funds fostered neither the unity nor the flexibility that the United States required of its armed services during the period. Seeking a remedy, President Eisenhower decided to lessen the autonomy of the military departments, to strengthen the authority of the Secretary of Defense, and to provide a more direct chain of command from the Commander in Chief downward. Congress approved the reorganization in August 1958.        Sweeping changes followed. The new arrangement abolished the system that made the military departments executive agents for operations in the field. Instead, most of the nation’s active combat forces came under unified commands that answered to the President and the Secretary of Defense through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As part of his enlarged role, the Secretary of Defense received greater freedom to transfer functions within the services. In doing so, he was to have the assistance of a new Directorate of Research and Development that would oversee all military research and development programs.
         The Joint Chiefs of Staff meanwhile received leave to shift many of their routine duties to subordinates by delegating more authority to their vice chiefs. The Joint Staff that answered to them grew in size as a result. Because of service sensitivities, however, it received specific instructions to avoid organizing or operating as an overall general staff.
         The military services, for their part, had already reorganized internally to improve efficiency and to adjust to the changes required by the threat of nuclear war. By 1955, for example, in an attempt to reduce the number of commands reporting directly to the Chief of Staff, the Army had replaced its Army Field Forces Command with a new Continental Army Command (CONARC). The new organization took responsibility for the six U.S. armies and the Military District of Washington along with certain other units, activities, and installations. It had charge of training the Active Army and Reserves, preparing the future Army and its equipment, and planning and conducting the ground defenses of the United States.


        Those functions continued under the new system. The Army and the other military services kept their roles in training, equipping, and organizing combat forces. The difference was that the units transferred to unified commands when war threatened. Answering to the Secretary of Defense, the services also developed the weapons and equipment the troops would need. If the unified commands had control of the units assigned to them, moreover, the services retained command of everyone else and provided logistical support to all their personnel whether attached to unified commands or not.

A Dual-Capability Army

       The need to adjust to the nuclear threat had a deep impact on the Army. Old ways of organizing for combat seemed inadequate to meet a nuclear attack, yet historical precedents were lacking when it came to devising new ones. The vast destructive power of nuclear weapons argued that armies could no longer mass to launch offensives or to hold along a solid front. An enemy could sweep aside all opposition with atomic bombs.
        One recourse was to establish a checkerboard pattern with mobile, well-armed units occupying alternate squares. Those forces could concentrate quickly to carry out their missions and just as rapidly disperse when a nuclear counterattack threatened. The key to success would lie in well-trained troops armed with high-power weapons and equipped with fast, reliable ground and air transport. Sharpening the edge, commanders would have at their disposal first-class communications, dependable intelligence on enemy dispositions and intentions, and an efficient logistical system.
        Following that pattern, the Army replaced its old triangular infantry and airborne divisions with units composed of five self-contained battle groups capable of independent action. Manned by 13,500 men rather than the usual 17,000, these “pentomic” divisions would have the support of artillery and missile units armed with both conventional and nuclear warheads. Longer-range missiles in the hands of the missile commands would also be available. The seven divisions stationed in the United States would back these forces as a strategic reserve. In


          After Korea the Army faced declining manpower levels and intense competition for limited funds, com-
    bined with the twin threats of brushfire conflicts in remote theaters and general war on a nuclear battlefield. These     challenges led to a new divisional design. The pentomic division replaced the triangular division with five “battle     groups,” intermediate in size between regiments and battalions, which theoretically increased survivability and     responsiveness while reducing overhead. The new division also integrated new technology, particularly tactical     nuclear weapons, for greater combat power and strategic mobility. These features turned out to be problematic:     the battle group organization made the pentomic division difficult to control and supply, and many of the technol-
    ogical innovations turned out to be immature. As a result, the pentomic division itself was soon superseded.











1957 four of these reserve units (two airborne and two infantry) became the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC), which stood in high readiness for quick deployment in case of an emergency. The other three served both as reinforcements and as a training base for an Army expansion should a prolonged crisis or a full-scale war develop. The Army’s regular divisions completed the changeover by 1958. National Guard and Reserve units took until 1960.
        Scientists, engineers, and designers combined to produce a steady stream of new weapons and equipment for the nuclear Army. From improved rifles and mortars at the company level to powerful rockets and artillery in the support commands, the firepower of America’s combat forces grew. New families of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles also emerged, as did larger and heavier weapons designed to be air transportable.
         A program to improve air and ground transportation led to the development of the M113 armored personnel carrier. Equipped with light but sturdy aluminum armor, the vehicle could both protect the troops and move them rapidly to the scene of action. Dual-capability amphibious vehicles that could travel on rough terrain and swim across rivers and swamps also came into being. They freed fighting units from total dependence on roads. The diesel-powered M60 battle tank became operational in 1960. Mounting a 105-mm. main gun, it weighed more than fifty-two tons and had a cruising range of 300 miles.
           Perhaps the most dramatic efforts to increase the Army’s mobility occurred in the field of aviation. To secure both firepower and maneuverability, the service pushed development of helicopters and low-speed fixed-wing aircraft. The helicopter had already proved itself in Korea by moving troops and supplies and evacuating casualties. Some of the new fixed-wing planes were designed for short takeoffs and landings that would increase the Army’s ability to deliver heavy payloads to forward areas. Experiments also began on vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that would combine the helicopter’s small footprint with the speed of fixed-wing planes.
           As the Army’s mobility and firepower increased, so did the need for good communications. With rapidly moving pentomic units operating independently over large areas, light but reliable radio equipment was essential. Dramatic technological breakthroughs in the miniaturization of component parts spurred by the space program provided the solutions the service needed. With tiny transistors replacing bulky tubes, radio equipment became lighter, smaller, and more reliable. Easily transportable
by individual soldiers, in small vehicles, or in light aircraft, it eased command and control problems that had always accompanied quick-developing military maneuvers.
          The improvement of tactical communications was only one benefit of the technological revolution. Ponderous early computers began to give way to smaller versions that could process, store, and recall more information more swiftly than ever before. From the coordination of weapons fire to the storage and retrieval of personnel and logistical information, these computers assumed many functions at all levels of the Army.They became particularly valuable where the storage and retrieval of intelligence were concerned. Indeed, the need to secure the data nec-


essary to feed the machines required the development of new families of surveillance equipment. More sophisticated radar and sonar sets emerged. So did infrared, acoustic, and seismic devices to aid ground and air surveillance; highly accurate cameras; and side-looking radar that could detect enemy concentrations by day and night under all weather conditions.
        Once operations had gotten under way, the Army would have to supply the troops on the battlefield. Since nuclear wars would probably be short, its planners expected to rely upon stockpiled munitions rather than wait for American industry to gear up. This meant that they would have to establish depots both at home and abroad. The effort to move supplies from those facilities to the troops would pose problems, but modern technology seemed to hold the answers. Processing requisitions in computers, logisticians would use fast naval vessels, air transport, and cross-country vehicles to deliver at least the minimum essential requirements to the points where they were needed most.
         As with the logisticians, the Army’s personnel specialists soon decided that forces in being would have to fight future conflicts. In earlier wars, the service had used the draft to mobilize and train civilians for up to two years before committing them to war. This would no longer be possible. The war would be over before anyone would arrive to fight it. Well-trained forces on hand or in ready reserve would have to do the fighting.
         Given the Army’s growing inventory of complex weapons and equipment, recruiters had to try to retain the most capable of its officers and enlisted men. Administrators with scientific or engineering backgrounds and well-schooled technicians had to be on hand to operate and maintain the sophisticated systems the service was developing. And if it were going to allocate funds for long and expensive training courses, it needed to ensure that the graduates would remain in uniform long enough to pay off the investment. Since those individuals would be qualified to fill well-paid positions in private industry, it would have to compete with attractive civilian offers to maintain its technological edge.
         Fortunately for the Army, the advantages of a military career were many. The twenty-year retirement option was a strong inducement for soldiers who had already served ten years or more learning their specialty.
Free family medical care, post exchange and commissary privileges, and the Army’s extensive recreational and educational facilities also figured in. It also mattered that military service had gained prestige because of the many civilians who had served in World War II and Korea. The Army was no longer as isolated from American society it had been.
         In one respect, however, a military career had become less inviting. Military pay had failed to keep pace with civilian salaries. In response, Congress in 1958 voted to increase service members’ salaries, to improve retirement benefits, and to authorize proficiency pay for highly skilled personnel.

The Reserve Forces

       Although the Army made significant gains in retaining key personnel, it could not depend upon voluntary enlistments to fill its need


Military service had gained prestige
because of the many civilians who had served in World War II and Korea.






Under the new law, the President could call up to a million ready reservists to active duty in an emergency he alone proclaimed.







for manpower. In an emergency it could fall back upon its Ready and Standby Reserves, but neither force was available on a day-to-day basis. The Ready Reserve became available only when the President declared an emergency and only in numbers authorized by Congress. The Standby Reserve became liable for service only in a war or emergency declared by Congress itself. For all other needs, the Army had to rely on the draft, which Congress had enacted during the Korean War. It obligated all physically and mentally qualified males between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six to eight years of combined active and reserve military service.         There were several ways an eligible male could fulfill his obligation. By spending five of his eight years on active duty or in a combination of active duty and membership in the Ready Reserve, he could transfer to the Standby Reserve for his final three years. As an alternative, he might join the National Guard at the age of eighteen. By rendering satisfactory service for ten years, he would avoid active duty unless the President or Congress called his unit into federal service. A college student could meanwhile enroll in a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) course. This would allow him to spend two or three years on active duty and the remainder of his eight years as a reserve officer.
        The system had many weaknesses. No one had to serve in the Army except those who were drafted, and Selective Service quotas dwindled rapidly after the end of the Korean War. Similarly, the armed services found it impossible to accommodate all ROTC graduates for their required active duty. The obligation of those individuals to remain in the Reserve, moreover, carried no requirement for them to enlist in a reserve unit or to participate in continued training. Complicating matters, since the National Guard required no prior preparation for enlistees, Guard units had to spend most of their time drilling recruits. Although the Reserve seemed strong enough on paper, most of its units were unprepared for rapid mobilization in an emergency.
          Seeking remedies, Congress passed new legislation in 1955 that reduced the term of obligatory service for reserve enlistees to six years and imposed a requirement for active participation in reserve training on those with an unexpired obligation. It also authorized voluntary enlistment in the Reserve of up to 250,000 young men. These youths would serve six months on active duty followed by seven years in the Reserve. Under the new law, the President could call up to a million ready reservists to active duty in an emergency he alone proclaimed. He could also recall selected members of the Standby Reserve in case of a Congress-declared national emergency.
          Whatever the efforts of Congress, in a period of restricted funding and irregular enlistments, many reserve units fell below authorized strength. Responding, the Army concentrated on filling out units it planned to mobilize in the early stages of a conflict. The cure, however, may have been as bad as the ailment. To find enough troops, the service often had no choice but to assign men to units without regard to military specialty. This created imbalances that bore heavily on the ability of some units to deploy. That members of the Ready Reserve Mobilization Reinforcement Pool, which contained individuals never assigned to organized units, failed to keep their parent organizations informed of changes in address or reserve status only made matters worse.


       Although budget cuts forced the Active Army to lower its manpower ceiling, the Army continued its efforts to strengthen the Reserve. To that end, the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 provided for a total Ready Reserve of 2.9 million by 1970. The Army’s share came to about 1.5 million men in 1957—more than 1 million in the Army Reserve and more than 440,000 in the National Guard. Paid drill strengths came to 305,000 and 422,000 men, respectively. The number of Army Reserve divisions fell from 25 to 10 in the reorganization, but manning levels for those forces increased substantially to give the units a higher readiness capability. The number of National Guard divisions rose from 26 to 27. Those changes aside, since the Reserve could never support 37 divisions on a paid drill strength of only 727,000, the ability of those forces to attain combat readiness remained open to serious question.
       Convinced that the United States was spending about $80 million a year to sustain reserve units that were of little or no military value, President Eisenhower tried to cut paid drill strength during the late 1950s. With reserve units scattered in congressional districts across the country, however, Congress was loath to do anything of the sort. Instead, it voted a mandatory 700,000 figure in 1959 to force the administration to seek congressional approval before introducing further reductions.

The Changing Face of the Cold War

       When President Kennedy assumed office in the opening days of 1961, the prospects for peace were hardly encouraging. The leader of the Soviet Union, Chairman Nikita Khrushchev, had been cool to the United States since the spring of 1960, when a Soviet missile had shot down an American U–2 intelligence-gathering aircraft in Russian airspace. Although the possibility of a general nuclear war had receded by the time Kennedy took office, Soviet support for wars of national liberation had increased.
       Kennedy was willing to renew the quest for peace, but he was well aware that the effort might be long and success elusive. In that light, he was determined to give the American armed forces the sort of flexibility that would back the nation’s diplomacy with a credible military threat. “Any potential aggressor contemplating an attack on any part of the free world with any kind of weapons, conventional or nuclear,” he informed Congress, “must know that our response will be suitable, selective, swift, and effective.”
        Kennedy’s deemphasis of massive retaliation and his stress on the need for ready, nonnuclear forces as a deterrent to limited war came none too soon. By 1961 the tight bipolar system that had developed between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II was breaking down. Russia’s ally in the east, Communist China, had become impatient with Soviet conservatism and strongly opposed to peaceful coexistence. To the west, Fidel Castro was pursuing his own program of intrigue and subversion in Latin America. Complicating matters further, groups favoring the Soviet, the Chinese, or the Cuban brand of communism were emerging in many countries.
         Disunion was also mounting within the Western alliance. With the success of the Marshall Plan and the return of economic prosperity to


Photo: After World War II, Marshall Plan aid to a devastated West Germany enabled that country to surpass its prewar industrial production.
After World War II, Marshall Plan aid to a devastated West Germany enabled that country to surpass its prewar industrial production.


Western Europe during the fifties, France, West Germany, and other nations had become creditor countries less and less dependent on the United States. The efforts of French President Charles de Gaulle to rekindle his nation’s former glory by playing an increasingly independent role in international affairs had meanwhile produced growing discord within NATO.
      Outside of Soviet and American circles, the presence of a third force in the world had also become apparent. Most of Europe’s former colonial possessions in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa had received their independence during the fifteen years following World War II. Since these new nations contained about one-third of the world’s population and a large portion of its raw materials, particularly oil, both sides courted them. Many suffered, however, from basic political and economic failings that made them apt candidates for Communist subversion and wars of national liberation. The great battleground of the sixties would be in “the lands of the rising peoples,” Kennedy avowed, and it would involve a conflict “for minds and souls as well as lives and territory.” As revolts to end injustice, tyranny, and exploitation broke out, he said, the Communists would  inevitably supply  ar-


ms, agitators, and technicians to capture the rebel movements. The United States could hardly stand by passively and allow them free rein.With half the world still in the balance; insurgent movements blooming in areas as diverse as Laos, Vietnam, the Congo, and Algeria; and the threat of revolutionary outbreaks hanging over other countries in South America, Africa, and Asia, it was perhaps ironic that President Kennedy’s first brush with the Communists would result from American support for an insurgent group.

Cuba and Berlin

      The United States had severed diplomatic relations with Cuba during the closing days of the Eisenhower administration, but the presence of a Communist satellite so close to the American mainland remained a constant source of irritation. In April 1961 a band of U.S.-sponsored Cuban exiles moved to remedy that problem by launching an invasion of the island at the Bay of Pigs. When the Cuban people failed to rally in support of the attack, the operation collapsed, damaging American prestige and emboldening the Russians. Khrushchev seized the moment to drop dark hints that he was ready to employ Russian missiles in support of his Communist ally if that became necessary.



     The timing of the fiasco was particularly unfortunate. President Kennedy was scheduled to meet with Premier Khrushchev in Vienna during June to discuss Berlin, where the growing prosperity of the Western zone contrasted sharply with the poverty and drabness of the Soviet sector. In that sense West Berlin had become as great an irritation to the Communists as Cuba was to the United States. In 1958 Khrushchev had threatened to conclude a separate treaty with East Germany unless
Western forces withdrew from the city within six months. This would have given the Germans sovereignty over the transportation corridors into the area and would have allowed the Soviets to abandon the obligation they had assumed in 1945 to guarantee Western access to the city. Though Khrushchev later back-


Photo: Khrushchev and Kennedy meet in June 1961.
Khrushchev and Kennedy meet in June 1961.

ed off from this threat and even showed signs of a conciliatory attitude, he returned to the issue at the Vienna meeting. Unless the West accepted the Soviet position, he informed Kennedy, he would move on his own to resolve the Berlin impasse. If Khrushchev hoped to intimidate the new President in the wake of the Cuban setback, his threat had the opposite effect. Rather than concede another victory to the Communists, Kennedy requested and received additional defense funds from Congress and authority to call as many as 250,000 members of the Ready Reserve to active duty. The President refrained at that time from declaring a national emergency, but he was determined to strengthen America’s conventional forces in case Soviet pressure on Berlin required some sort of armed response. Tensions mounted during August, when thousands of refugees crossed from East to West Berlin and the Communists responded by constructing a high wall around their sector to block further departures. With pressure rising, Kennedy decided in September to increase the  size



Photo: Checkpoint Charlie Warning Sign
Checkpoint Charlie Warning Sign  


of the American force by adding ground, air, and naval units. He also called a number of reservists and reserve units to active duty to strengthen continental U.S. forces. By October, as a result, the Army’s regular troop strength had grown by more than 80,000 and almost 120,000 troops, including two National Guard divisions, had returned to active duty.
      When the Soviets realized that the United States might call their bluff, they



Image not available in online version
East Berlin policemen make repairs after an East German citizen rammed wall with an armored car to escape to West Germany.

pulled back. The wall remained, but threats and other pressures diminished. In the same way, Kennedy’s Reserve callup had ended by mid-1962 but the increase in the regular force remained.
      The Soviets’ next move was less direct but more dangerous than the Berlin threat. After the Bay of Pigs invasion, Khrushchev had dispatched military advisers and equipment to Cuba to bolster the Castro government and to repel future attacks. In the summer of 1962 rumors began to rise in the United States that the Soviets were installing offensive weapons: not only medium-range bombers but also medium-range ballistic missiles.
      It took until mid-October to obtain photographic evidence of the missiles’ presence in Cuba, but then Kennedy took quick steps to have the weapons removed. Warning Khrushchev that the


United States would mount a nuclear response if Cuban missiles struck American soil, he put the Strategic Air Command’s heavy bombers on fifteen-minute alert. Fighter squadrons and antiaircraft missile batteries meanwhile deployed to Florida and other states near Cuba. Submarines armed with Polaris missiles also took up station at sea within range of the Soviet Union.
      On October 22 Kennedy announced that he would seek the endorsement of the Organization of American States (OAS) for quarantine on all offensive military equipment in transit to Cuba. He added that he would tighten surveillance of the island and reinforce the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo on the island’s western tip. With OAS approval, the quarantine went into effect two days later. Meanwhile, the armed forces removed all dependents from Guantanamo and marines


          In the response to the discovery of Russian medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) in Cuba on October
     15, 1962, the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions were alerted for immediate movement to southern Florida.
     The 1st Armored Division from Fort Hood, Texas, augmented by the 2/69th Armor from Fort Benning,
     Georgia, deployed to Camp Stewart, Georgia, in preparation for movement by ship. Third Army also
     established staging areas at five Air Force bases. Three Hawk/Nike Hercules Air Defense (AD) Missile
     Battalions and one Automatic Weapons AD Battalion were sent to protect the staging bases; while twelve
     support units, ranging in size from detachment to battalion, also deployed to Florida to provide logistical
     support.  After the end of the crisis in late October, all U.S. Army forces deployed to Florida and Georgia
     were ordered to return to their home stations.

arrived by air and sea to defend the base. As those steps continued, the Army began to move some 30,000 troops, including the 1st Armored Division, and more than 100,000 tons of supplies and equipment into the southeastern states to meet the emergency. The Navy’s Second Fleet started to enforce the quarantine on October 25. Hundreds of Air Force and Navy planes also spread out over the Atlantic and Caribbean to locate and track ships that might be carrying offensive weapons to Cuba. With activity continuing at the Russians’ missile construction sites in Cuba, the world seemed on the brink of nuclear war.
       As the crisis mounted, negotiations proceeded between Kennedy and Khrushchev. On October 28, after quietly negotiating an “understanding” that the United States would soon remove some obsolete Jupiter missiles from Turkey, the Soviet Union agreed to remove its offensive weapons from Cuba. Over the next three weeks it gradually did so, dismantling the missile sites and loading both missile systems and technicians on ships. Negotiations for the removal of the Russian bombers ended in November. They shipped out for home in early December. In turn, the United States ended the quarantine on November 20. The troops the Army deployed had all returned to base by Christmas, but many U.S. air units remained behind to ensure that the missile sites remained inactive.

Detente in Europe

      The aftermath of the crises in Berlin and Cuba produced several unexpected developments. Apparently convinced that further confrontations might be unwise, the Soviet Union adopted a more conciliatory attitude in its propaganda and suggested that at long last it might be willing to conclude a nuclear test ban treaty. Under the provisions of the accord that followed in the fall of 1963, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States agreed to refrain from conducting nuclear test explosions underwater, in the atmosphere, or in space. Only underground explosions would be permissible, but no radioactive material from such tests was ever to reach the surface. Although France weakened the treaty by declining to either ratify or adhere to it, the pact still marked a major breakthrough in what had been a long history of fruitless negotiation over nuclear weapons.
       One possible explanation for the Soviet willingness to cooperate with the West in the sixties may have been the growing independence of Communist China. The Chinese had never embraced the idea of peaceful
coexistence with Capitalist countries and had criticized Moscow as too soft on the West. As the Sino-Soviet rift had widened, the Soviet Union seemed to adopt a less threatening stance in Europe, although no direct correlation could be proven.
        The shift had far-reaching effects on the system of alliances the United States had designed to guard Western Europe against Soviet aggression. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization had centered its defenses on the American strategic deterrent. With the growth of the Soviet Union’s ability to devastate the United States with nuclear weapons, the credibility of America’s determination to defend Western Europe came into serious question. The reinforcement of U.S. conventional






With the growth of the Soviet Union’s ability to devastate the United States with nuclear weapons, the credibility of America’s determination to defend Western Europe came into serious question.













Although the idea of massive retaliation no longer held sway except as a last resort, it was not until 1967 that the United States officially adopted a strategy of flexible response.


forces in Europe at the time of the Berlin crisis served to demonstrate American good faith.
       In 1963 the United States assigned three Polaris submarines to the U.S. European Command and suggested that NATO consider the launch of a multilateral naval force. The idea stood until 1965, when it became clear that President de Gaulle intended to disengage France militarily from NATO. The French cut their ties gradually, participating less and less in the alliance’s military exercises while increasing the size of their own nuclear strike force. De Gaulle served notice in 1966 that although France had no intention of abandoning the alliance, French forces would withdraw from NATO command during the year and all NATO troops would have to depart French territory. Conditions had changed in Europe since 1949, he explained. The threat to the West from the Soviet Union had diminished.
       De Gaulle’s decision marked a major setback for NATO in that the alliance’s main headquarters was in Paris and many elaborate lines of communication supporting its forces ran through France. When representations to the French proved fruitless, the exodus of NATO troops got under way. By early 1967 the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), had moved to Belgium; the U.S. European Command had shifted its headquarters to Germany; and the Allied Command Central Europe had transferred to the Netherlands. Supplies and equipment went to bases in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
       Changes within the alliance had been slow. Although the idea of massive retaliation no longer held sway except as a last resort, it was not until 1967 that the United States officially adopted a strategy of flexible response. In late 1969 the United States and the Soviet Union opened Strategic Arms Limitation Talks to explore ways to stop the nuclear arms race and to begin the task of disarmament. Progress was slow because of many technical points that had to be settled, but it was a start.
       Meanwhile, despite considerable congressional and public opposition, the United States proceeded with plans to deploy a ballistic missile defense system. Known as Safeguard, the program envisioned a phased installation of missiles, radars, and computers at key sites across the country by the mid-1970s. Although the proposed system provided at best a thin line of defense, the United States declined to halt construction until the Strategic Arms Limitation talks had produced an agreement.

A Growing Commitment to Underdeveloped Areas

      The American policy of containment met its most serious challenge in Southeast Asia, where Communist efforts to take control of Laos and South Vietnam had gained momentum. Using to advantage the political instability of those countries, the Communists had gradually brought large segments of both under control. Efforts by local governments to regain control through military operations had proven unsuccessful despite the presence of both American advisers and arms. Indeed, the United States soon discovered that the effort to keep Laos and South Vietnam from falling into the Communist camp was even more complicated than it seemed. By the early 1960s, following decades of


French rule, many Indochinese leaders were willing to accept American assistance but were plainly unenthusiastic about launching political and economic reforms that might diminish their own power.
      Laos was a case in point. Until 1961 the United States had supported the nation’s pro-West military leaders with aid and advice; but all efforts to unify the country by force had failed, and three different factions controlled segments of the country. With conditions growing worse, President Kennedy sought to avoid a Communist takeover by pushing for a neutralized Laos. In July 1962 fourteen nations signed a declaration confirming the independence and neutrality of the country, which was to be ruled by a coalition government. Laos in turn pledged to refrain from military alliances and to clear all foreign troops from its territory. By the end of 1962, as a result, more than 600 American advisers and technicians officially had left the country, although covert advisers remained.
         By that time, with Communist troops maneuvering in Laos near the Thai border, the United States was also becoming concerned about Thailand, which was part of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. To deter Communist expansion into the country, it set up a joint task force at the request of the Thai government, dispatched a reinforced battalion of marines to Thailand, and followed up with a battle group from the 25th Infantry Division. Army signal, engineer, transportation, and service troops provided support for those forces and training and advice to the Thais. The quick response so strengthened the Thai government’s position that the Communist threat abated, enabling first the Marine and then the Army troops to withdraw. The service support forces stayed on, however, in order to maintain training and support programs. As the war in Vietnam intensified, the roads, airfields, depots, and communications they built became extremely important to the evolving American effort in that country.

Trouble in the Caribbean

       Although Europe and Asia remained critical to America’s pursuit of its containment policy, U.S. interest in the Caribbean increased sharply after Cuba embraced communism. As a result, in April 1965, when a military counterrevolution followed a military revolt to oust a civilian junta in the Dominican Republic, the United States kept close tabs on the situation.
        When the country’s capital city, Santo Domingo, became a bloody battleground and diplomacy failed to restore peace, Kennedy’s successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, decided to send in first the marines and then portions of the Army’s 82d Airborne Division. He justified the operation as an effort to restore order while protecting the lives of American nationals, but he also wanted to ensure that Communists would have no chance to gain another foothold in the region. By the end of the first week in May all nine battalions of the airborne division and four battalions of marines were in country, with Army Special Forces units spread throughout the countryside. Including supporting forces, the total number of Americans soon reached 23,000.
        The 82d landed to the east of Santo Domingo while the marines consolidated a hold on the western portion of the city. Since the rebel




forces held the southern part of town, the American commander, Lt. Gen. Bruce Palmer, Jr., decided to drive a wedge between the warring factions by linking up the two parts of his command. In the operation that followed, using the night as cover, the 82d’s troops established a secure corridor across the city with remarkable ease and speed. Joining up with the marines, they rendered further heavy fighting impossible by creating a buffer between the two sides. With combat out of the question, the belligerents began a series of negotiations that lasted until September.
       The intervention became the subject of spirited discussion around the world. Despite unfavorable public reactions in some Latin American countries, the Organization of American States asked its members to send troops to the Dominican Republic to help restore order. Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Paraguay did so, joining the United States in forming the first inter-American peacekeeping force ever established in the western hemisphere. To emphasize the international nature of the effort, Palmer ceded all command of the operation to Lt. Gen. Hugo Panasco Alvim of Brazil, stepping aside to become Alvim’s deputy even though American troops constituted the largest contingent of the force. U.S. troop withdrawals began almost immediately after the Latin American units arrived.
        The adoption of a provisional government by both sides in early September relieved much of the problem in the Dominican Republic. By the end of 1965, as a result, all but three battalions of the 82d had returned to the United States. Tensions eased further in mid-1966, when free elections occurred. The last elements of the peacekeeping force departed shortly thereafter in September. In all, the intervention had lasted sixteen months.

Civil Rights and Civil Disturbances

       Within the United States itself, meanwhile, tensions growing out of the efforts of African Americans to achieve equal rights had forced the federal government to intervene in civil disturbances on a scale not seen since the nineteenth century. The first and most dramatic instance came in September 1957. Responding to rioting in Little Rock, Arkansas, that had followed a court order admitting nine African American students to the city’s Central High School, President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and called in a battle group from the 101st Airborne. The troops dispersed a mob that gathered at the school, stabilizing the situation. It was one of the few times in American history that a Chief Executive had used either Regular Army or National Guard forces despite the opposition of a state’s governor.
       Other instances of the sort followed during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. In September 1962, for example, the governor of Mississippi attempted to block the court-ordered registration of an African American, James H. Meredith, at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. President Kennedy sought at first to enforce the law by calling in federal marshals, but when they proved incapable of restoring order, he deployed troops: eventually some 20,000 regulars and 10,000 federalized
Mississippi National Guardsmen. Most stood in reserve, but 12,000 took up station near the university. With the military in firm


Photo: Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division escort students to class at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957.
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division escort students to class at Central High School in
Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957.


        Beginning in the 1950s with civil rights disturbances due to desegregation in the schools and with
    antiwar riots in the 1960s, the Army gradually increased its efforts in monitoring and controlling domestic
    disturbances. Troops were involved in desegregation struggles and the preservation of domestic disorder
    in Little Rock, Arkansas; Oxford, Mississippi; Chicago, Illinois; and other locations throughout the fifties and
    sixties. When the National Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local law enforcement proved
    unable to provide the necessary security, the Army established a command post in the Pentagon and an
    elaborate communications system and employed numerous intelligence officers to provide information to
    President Johnson and his national security team. Accused of spying on civilians, the Army ended its domes-
    tic intelligence collection efforts in the mid-1970s.


control, the tension eased. Most of the troops went home within a short while, but federal forces nevertheless maintained a presence in the area throughout the remainder of the school year.
       The year that followed provided little respite. Bombings and other racially motivated incidents in Birmingham, Alabama, forced President Kennedy to send regular troops into the city during May. Later in 1963 integration crises in the public schools of several Alabama cities and at the University of Alabama led him to federalize the Alabama National Guard.
       Racial disturbances continued to occur throughout the country over the next several years. Particularly serious outbreaks occurred in Rochester, New York, during 1964 and in the Watts area of Los Angeles during 1965. Also that year President Johnson employed both regulars and guardsmen to protect civil rights advocates attempting to march


from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Other disturbances followed in 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio; San Francisco, California; and Chicago and Cicero, Illinois. As if that were not enough, the violence increased sharply in 1967, with more than fifty cities reporting disorders during the first nine months of the year. These ranged from minor disturbances to extremely serious outbreaks in Newark, New Jersey, and Detroit, Michigan. The outbreak in Detroit was so destructive that the governor of Michigan not only used the National Guard, he also requested and obtained federal troops. In the end, the task force commander at Detroit had more than 10,000 guardsmen and 5,000 regulars at his call. He deployed nearly 10,000 of them before the crisis ended.
        Since disorders were occurring with greater frequency, President Johnson appointed a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders on July 28, 1967, to determine the problem’s causes and to seek possible cures. Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois chaired it. The Kerner Commission, as it became known, concluded early in 1968 that “our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white—separate and unequal.” Concluding in that light that more riots were inevitable and that the National Guard was itself racially imbalanced, the Army strengthened its troop-training programs and began advance planning to control possible future disturbances.
        The planning proved all to the good in April 1968, when the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee, produced waves of rioting, looting, and arson in cities across the country. The states were able to use their National Guard units to subdue the rioters in most places. The federal government, however, deployed some 40,000 federalized guardsmen and regular troops in Washington, Baltimore, and Chicago.
         In the wake of the riots, on April 22 the Army established the Directorate for Civil Disturbance Planning and Operations in the Office of the Chief of Staff. This unit provided command facilities for the service when it operated as agent for the Department of Defense in civil disturbances. It became the Directorate of Military Support in September
        Although the years immediately following 1968 produced no great racial outpourings, they did see a number of antiwar demonstrations that required the callup of both federal and National Guard troops. Massive antiwar protests had begun even before 1968. In October 1967, for example, a large demonstration took place at the Pentagon. In preparation, the government assembled a force that included 236 federal
marshals and some 10,000 troops. Massive antiwar protests likewise occurred in Washington, D.C., in November 1969 and May 1970, but these were generally peaceful. Although federal troops stood by in the national capital region, none deployed. Student protests against a U.S. incursion into Cambodia in 1970, however, led to tragedy at Kent State University in Ohio. Panicked National Guardsmen fired on antiwar demonstrators, killing four bystanders and wounding a dozen others.
      An extended series of antiwar rallies in the nation’s capital during April and May 1971 proved to be of particular significance. On May 1, following a peaceful demonstration by Vietnam veterans, youthful protesters attempted to keep federal workers from reaching their jobs by snarling Washington’s traffic. Anticipating the move, the government

deployed some 3,000 marines and 8,600 troops of the Regular Army along with 2,000 National Guardsmen who had been sworn in as special
policemen. The force kept traffic moving.

Secretary McNamara and the New Management System

       The role of the armed forces in civil disturbances received much attention during the Kennedy and early Johnson administrations. Important
changes, however, were also occurring in much less publicized areas of military affairs. The period put an end, for example, to the primacy of the manned bomber as the nation’s main nuclear deterrent. Following trends already begun during the Eisenhower administration, President Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, replaced some of the big aircraft with nuclear missiles. As for the Army, the growth of the Vietnam War brought a reaffirmation that in conventional and limited conflicts ground forces remained supreme. By 1961, as a result, the decline of the Army that had begun during the Eisenhower years ceased. The force began to grow in size, as did its share of the defense budget.
        Within the Department of Defense itself, Secretary McNamara began to make heavy use of the extensive authority the holders of his office had received under the reorganization act of 1958. The guidelines he received from President Kennedy were simple: Operating the nation’s armed forces at the lowest possible cost, he was to develop the force structure necessary to meet American military requirements without regard to arbitrary or predetermined budget ceilings.
         In accord with McNamara’s idea of centralized planning, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assisted by the services, continued to draw up the military
plans and force requirements they deemed necessary to support U.S. national security interests. The forces were now separated according to function—strategic retaliation, general purpose, reserves, etc.—with each going into what planners called a program package. When McNamara received these packages, he weighed each against the goal it sought to achieve, correlated the costs and effectiveness of the weapon systems involved, and inserted the approved packages in the annual budget that he sent to the President and Congress. To improve long-range planning, he also drew up and annually reviewed a five-year projection of all forces, weapon systems, and activities that fell within the scope of his authority.
         Initially, the Kennedy administration had three basic defense goals: to strengthen strategic forces, to build up conventional forces so they could respond flexibly to lesser challenges, and to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the nation’s defenses. To attain the first objective, McNamara supported a nuclear triad that included strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles in steel-reinforced concrete silos, and Polaris nuclear submarines. If one of the three went down in a Soviet attack, the other two could retaliate.
         The second goal gained quick impetus from the Berlin Crisis of 1961, when the Army’s strength alone rose from 860,000 troops to more than 1.06 million. Navy and Air Force conventional units also made modest gains. The government released the National Guard units it had called up for the crisis in mid-1962, but it authorized the Army


Photo: Secretary McNamara
Secretary McNamara
















By maintaining close watch over budgets and finances, manpower, logistics, research, and engineering,
McNamara tightened civilian control over the services and carried
unification much farther than had any of his predecessors.


to reactivate two regular divisions, bringing the total to sixteen. The service also received leave to maintain a permanent strength of 970,000 men. The presence of the new troops allowed many units to fill out their ranks. The Army’s budget also rose from $10.1 billion to $12.4 billion in fiscal years 1961 and 1962. Almost half of that increase went for the purchase of such new weapons and equipment as vehicles, aircraft, and missiles.
       Seeking greater efficiency at reduced cost, McNamara instituted changes in organization and procedure that made use of the latest management techniques and computer systems. In that way, he directed that the Defense Department’s intelligence operations should be centralized and coordinated through one office, which would prepare his intelligence estimates. Following that plan, the Defense Intelligence Agency came into being in 1961.
        McNamara also gradually centralized many activities each service formerly administered separately. Since a great number of supply items were in common use, for example, he established the Defense Supply Agency in 1961 to centralize their procurement and distribution. The organization took charge of the Defense Traffic Management Service, some five commodity management systems, and a number of functions involving cataloging and inventory control. The broad range of activities that fell under its supervision included the wholesale purchase and distribution of food, medical supplies, petroleum products, automotive parts, and construction materials.
        Tied in closely with the new agency came the launch of a five-year cost reduction program. Designed to cut overhead and procurement expenses, it had three main goals: to buy only what was needed with no frills, to purchase at the lowest sound price after competitive bidding when at all possible, and to decrease operating costs. Centralized purchasing at competitive prices soon became the norm. With it came the consolidation of formerly redundant supply installations, tighter inventory controls through the use of computers, and the elimination of duplication through the standardization of items.
         The effects of the 1958 reorganization were most noticeable in the decision-making process. By maintaining close watch over budgets and finances, manpower, logistics, research, and engineering, McNamara tightened civilian control over the services and carried unification much farther than had any of his predecessors. His creation of the U.S. Strike Command in 1961 was a case in point. By combining the Army’s Strategic Army Corps with the Air Force’s Tactical Air Command, the new organization had combat-ready air and ground forces available that could deploy quickly to meet contingencies. The Army and Air Force components of the new command remained under their own services until an emergency arose. Then they passed to the operational control of the command itself.

Army Reorganization

       In view of the changes occurring in the Defense Department, it was hardly surprising in 1961 that Secretary McNamara would also direct a thorough review of the Army’s makeup and procedures. A broad reorganization plan resulted. Approved by the President in early 1962, it


called for major shifts in the tasks performed by the Army Staff and the agency’s technical services. The Army Staff became primarily responsible for planning and policy, while the execution of decisions fell squarely upon field commands. In an effort to centralize personnel, training, and research and development while integrating supply operations, the new system abolished most of the technical services. The offices of the Chief Chemical Officer, the Chief of Ordnance, and the Quartermaster General disappeared completely. The Chief Signal Officer and the Chief of Transportation continued to perform their duties, but as special staff officers rather than as chiefs of services. Chief Signal Officer later regained a place on the General Staff when he became Assistant Chief of Staff for Communications-Electronics in 1967. The Chief of Transportation’s activities, however, were absorbed in 1964 by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics. For a time, the Chief of Engineers retained his special status only with respect to civil functions. His military functions came under the general supervision of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics. That changed in 1969, when the office again achieved independent status. Among the technical services, only the Office of the Surgeon General emerged unscathed from the reorganization.
         As for the administrative services, the Adjutant General and the Chief of Finance also lost their independent status and became special staff officers. Later, in 1967, the functions of the Office of the Chief of Finance transferred to the Office of the Comptroller of the Army. Meanwhile, a new Office of Personnel Operations came into being on the special staff level to provide central control for assignments and the career development of all Army personnel. Although many of the most important Quartermaster functions went to the Defense Supply Agency, a new Chief of Support Services assumed control of graves registration and burials, commissaries, clothing and laundry facilities, and other operations of the sort.
        Most of the operating functions released by the Army Staff and the technical services went to the U.S. Continental Army Command and to two new commands: the U.S. Army Materiel Command and the U.S. Army Combat Developments Command. The Continental Army Command became responsible for almost all the Army’s schools and for the training of all individuals and units in the United States. It relinquished control over the development, testing, production, procurement, storage, maintenance, and distribution of supplies and equipment to the Army Materiel Command, which set up subordinate commands to handle those functions. The Combat Developments Command meanwhile assumed responsibility for answering questions on the Army’s organization and equipment and how it was to fight in the field. It developed organizational and operational doctrine, produced materiel objectives and qualitative requirements, conducted war games and field experiments, and did cost effectiveness studies.
        The new commands became operational in the summer of 1962. Over the next year other major changes affecting staff responsibilities followed. In January 1963 an Office of Reserve Components came into being to exercise general supervision over all plans, policies, and programs concerning National Guard and Reserve forces. The responsibility of the Chief, National Guard Bureau, to advise the Chief of Staff on National Guard affairs and to serve as the link between the Army














Experience had demonstrated that the pentomic division lacked staying power and that it needed more troops to conduct sustained combat operations.


and the state adjutants general did not change. The Chief of the Army Reserve, however, lost control over the ROTC program. It transferred to the Office of Reserve Components in February and to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in 1966.
        Since the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations (DCSOPS) was heavily involved in planning for joint operations, the Army created in 1963 an Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development to ensure that its own concerns received adequate attention. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations continued its role in the joint arena and retained responsibility for strategic planning and the employment of combat-ready Army troops. Under its guidance, however, and within the limits set by manpower and budget considerations, the new office assumed responsibility for preparing the Army’s force plans and structures.
         Neither the new Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development nor the Army Comptroller had sufficient authority either to manage the Army’s resources or to integrate the service’s proliferating automatic data processing systems. Gradually, responsibility for coordinating these functions fell to the General Staff’s secretariat, which became almost a “super staff.” To remedy the problem, the Army established the Office of the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff in February 1967. Headed by a lieutenant general, the new agency provided centralized control for resource management programs, management information systems, force planning, and weapon system analysis.

Tactical Readjustment for Flexible Response

       A major overhaul of the Army’s tactical organization accompanied the reorganization of the service’s staff. Experience had demonstrated that the pentomic division lacked staying power and that it needed more troops to conduct sustained combat operations. The Army addressed those issues in 1961 by revising its divisional structure to ensure greater flexibility and a better balance between mobility and firepower.
       Under the Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD) concept it developed, the Army formed four types of divisions: infantry, armor, airborne, and mechanized. Each contained a base and three brigade headquarters. The base contained a headquarters company, a military police company, a reconnaissance squadron, division artillery, and a battalion each of supply and transportation, engineer, signal, medical, and maintenance troops. The size and composition of the remainder of the force could vary with the mission it received. Although a standard ROAD division would normally contain eight infantry and two mechanized battalions, if the need arose and the terrain permitted, it could shuffle the composition of its brigades to reduce its infantry component and to add armored and mechanized units. When operating in swamps, jungles, or other hostile environments, however, it could just as easily replace its mechanized units with infantry battalions.
        The Army tested the idea in 1962 by reactivating its 1st Armored and 5th Infantry (Mechanized) Divisions. When the idea worked, beginning in 1963, it set to work to convert its remaining fourteen divisions and to reorganize the National Guard and Army Reserve. It completed the process in mid-1964.


          In 1962 the U.S. Army Tactical Mobility Requirements Board, better known by the name of its president,
     Lt. Gen. Hamilton Howze, proposed forming an air assault division. Capitalizing on the unique mobility
     conferred by the new generation of turbine-powered helicopters, the new division would contain enough      helicopters to lift one of its three brigades at one time. The 11th Air Assault Division successfully tested the      concept at Fort Benning in 1963 and 1964. Redesignated as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), it proved
     itself in combat in Vietnam during the Ia Drang Valley campaign of November 1965.


       By then, it was hard at work on another tactical innovation. Seeking to improve mobility, an Army board in 1962 had compared the cost and efficiency of air and ground vehicles. Concluding that air transportation had much to commend it, the group recommended that the service consider forming new air combat and transport units. The idea that an air assault division employing air-transportable weapons and aircraft-mounted rockets might replace artillery raised delicate questions about the Air Force and Army missions, but Secretary McNamara decided to give it a thorough test.
       Organized in February 1963, the 11th Air Assault Division went through two years of testing. By the spring of 1965, the Army deemed it ready for a test in combat and decided to send it to Vietnam, where the war was heating up. To that end, the service inactivated the 11th and transferred its personnel and equipment to the 1st Cavalry Division, which relinquished its mission in Korea to the 2d Infantry Division and moved to Fort Benning, Georgia. Renamed the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), the reorganized unit had an authorized strength of 15,787 men, 428 helicopters, and 1,600 road vehicles (half the number of an infantry division). Though the total of rifles and automatic weapons in the unit remained the same as in an infantry division, the force’s direct- support artillery moved by helicopter rather than truck or armored vehicle. In the same way, it employed an aerial rocket artillery battalion rather than the normal tube artillery. In all, the division’s total weight came to just 10,000 tons, less than a third of what a normal infantry division deployed.
        The development of the air assault division was part of a long-term effort by the Army to improve its aviation capabilities. Although Army–Air Force agreements and decisions at the Defense Department level during the 1950s had restricted the size and weight of Army aircraft and had limited the areas in which they could operate, the service possessed more than 5,500 aircraft in its inventory by 1960. Close to half of them were helicopters. The versatility of the rotary-wing aircraft made them ideal for observation and reconnaissance, medical evacuation, and command and control missions. Under the Army’s agreements with the Air Force, all these activities were permissible on the battlefield. When the service moved to provide itself with armed helicopters as it had with the 1st Cavalry Division, however, it inevitably raised questions with the Air Force, which considered the provision of airborne fire support its own function.






Drawing everything together was a rapidly expanding complex of computer networks that improved
coordination of everything the Army did, from personnel management to the operation of elaborate logistical systems in the field.

The two services reassessed and reapportioned their role and mission assignments in 1966. The Army ceded its larger transport aircraft to the Air Force but kept control of its helicopters because of their demonstrated value to ground combat operations. Although its inventory of fixed-wing aircraft declined slightly over the years that followed, because of the war the number of its helicopters soared from about 2,700 in 1966 to over 9,500 in mid-1971.
       The war also accelerated the development of many new and improved Army aircraft models. Among them were the Huey Cobra, a gunship that could carry various combinations of rockets, machine guns, and 7.62-mm. miniguns; the Cayuse, an observation helicopter; and the Cheyenne, the first helicopter specifically designed to provide fire support to ground troops. Advances also occurred in support systems, equipment design, communications, command and control, and intelligence gathering. Drawing everything together was a rapidly expanding complex of computer networks that improved coordination of everything the Army did, from personnel management to the operation of elaborate logistical systems in the field.
      Though the soldier’s professional skills required continual resharpening, battlefield proficiency was only part of the Army’s task. Military victories might gain real estate; but as the war in Vietnam showed, they were of little consequence in counterinsurgency environments unless the victors won the support of local populations. The main goal in conflicts
such as the one in Vietnam was less to destroy the enemy than to convince the target area’s common people that their government had their best interests in mind. With that goal in hand, victory would be permanent. Without it, nothing was sure because the enemy retained his base within the population.
       Civic action and counterinsurgency operations were nothing new to the U.S. Army. They had figured large in the opening of the American West and in the pacification of the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. During the occupations of Germany and Japan after World War II, indeed, economic assistance and political and educational
reorientation programs had simplified the problem of reconstituting civil authority. In underdeveloped countries, however, the task was usually much more difficult because communications were poor and the bonds between central authorities and rural groups were seldom strong. The Army needed specially trained military units capable of operating independently and working with indigenous people at the lowest level of their society.
        Though the Army had trained small units in psychological warfare and counterinsurgency operations during the fifties, President Kennedy’s interest in the program gave the effort a significant boost. The U.S. Army Special Forces expanded sharply after he became President: from 1,500 to 9,000 men in 1961 alone. Even more important, new emphasis in Army schools and camps provided all soldiers with basic instruction in counterinsurgency techniques.
       The Special Forces helped train local forces to fight guerrillas, teaching them skills that would help strengthen their nations internally. Each Special Forces Group was oriented toward a specific geographic area and received language training to facilitate its operations in the field. The groups were augmented with whatever aviation, engineer,

medical, civil affairs, intelligence, communications, psychological warfare, military police, or other elements they needed to complete particular assignments. If necessary, individual members of the teams also received training in other skills to increase their versatility. Overall, by working on a person-to-person basis, the Special Forces strove to improve the good image of a government’s armed forces to foster cooperative attitudes among that nation’s rural people.
         Reserve forces also received special warfare training so they could remain current with counterinsurgency doctrine and the most up-to-date means for neutralizing internal aggression and subversion. One phase of this training—crowd and riot control tactics—became of particular importance during the period because of a growing threat of civil disturbance within the United States itself.

The Reserve Forces and the Draft

       Concerned over the expenditure of defense funds for Reserves that were long on numbers but short on readiness, in 1962 Secretary McNamara announced a plan to reorganize the Army National Guard and to lower the paid drill strength of the Army Reserve. Opposition from Congress and many state officials led him to delay the move until the following year. When he finally acted, however, he not only realigned reserve forces, he also eliminated four National Guard divisions, four Army Reserve divisions, and hundreds of smaller units.
      At the end of 1964 McNamara proposed a far more drastic reorganization to bring the Reserves into balance with the nation’s contingency war planning. Contending that the National Guard–Army Reserve management system was redundant, he suggested that the Army could trim paid drill strength from 700,000 to 550,000 by consolidating units. He proposed to eliminate fifteen National Guard and six Army Reserve divisions for which there was no military requirement. All remaining units would come under the National Guard. The Army Reserve would carry only individuals.
        A storm of protest rose from Congress, the states, and reserve associations. With the debate continuing, McNamara sought to carry out at least part of his reorganization by inactivating Army Reserve units that had no role in contingency war plans. Despite strong congressional opposition, he managed by the end of 1965 to eliminate all six Army Reserve combat divisions and a total of 751 company- and detachment-size units. In the end, during the fall of 1967, Congress and the Department of Defense agreed on a compromise plan that achieved McNamara’s basic objectives. Under the new structure, the Army Reserve retained all its training and support units but only three combat brigades. Its paid drill strength fell from 300,000 to 260,000. Army National Guard strength continued at 400,000 men. While the number of its separate brigades rose from 7 to 18, however, the total of its divisions fell from 23 to 8. All the units in the Guard and Reserve were to run at 93 percent or better of their wartime strength, and each was to have a full supply of whatever equipment, spare parts, and technical support it needed.
        To obtain the troops necessary to fill out the Reserve, Congress revised the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 in September 1963. The new law provided for direct enlistment—an optional feature of the 1955


act—and reduced the term of obligated service from eight to six years. The length of the initial tour ranged from four to seven months, depending
upon the particular military specialty a recruit was entering and how much training it required.
        As McNamara’s reorganization continued, the Army revised the ROTC program to improve the flow of qualified officers into both the Active Army and the Army Reserve. Beginning in 1964, it strengthened the four-year program at colleges and universities by providing for scholarships. It also added a two-year program for students who had been unable to complete the first two years of ROTC but who had undergone the six weeks of field training necessary for entrance into the advanced course, which covered the final two years of college. Beginning in 1966, Congress also authorized the military departments to establish junior ROTC programs at qualified public and private secondary schools.        Although most newly commissioned National Guard officers were products of state-run officer candidate schools, the ROTC was the primary source of new officers for both the Regular Army and the Army Reserve between 1965 and 1970. Cutbacks in Active Army officer requirements from 1971 on led to the release of most ROTC graduates from their agreement to perform a two-year stint on active duty. Instead, following three to six months’ training, they were released to the Army National Guard or the Army Reserve.
        The Army buildup for the war in Vietnam created pressure for a reserve callup to fill in for the regular troops and draftees going overseas. President Johnson declined to make the move, however, preferring to avoid the discussion of the war and its goals that would have accompanied the callup. Instead, the Army established a Selected Reserve Force in August 1965 to provide for the quick response to emergencies that the Regular Army had always supplied. It contained over 150,000 men—about 119,000 National Guardsmen and 31,000 Army Reservists— and consisted of three divisions and six separate brigades with combat and service support elements. All were to maintain 100 percent strength, received extra training, and had priority in equipment allocation. The Army abolished the force in September 1969, when the United States began to draw down in Vietnam.
        By mid-April 1968 a budding democratic revolution in Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia, Communist provocations in Korea, and the Tet offensive in Vietnam had increased world tensions to such a level that President Johnson finally decided to mobilize a portion of the Army’s Ready Reserve. He specified, however, that the deployment was to last for no more than twenty-four months, and he kept as small as possible the number of men involved: some 19,874. Of the 76 Army National Guard and Army Reserve units mobilized, 43 went to Vietnam and 33 to the Strategic Army Forces. As with earlier mobilizations, peacetime failures to attain training objectives and shortages of equipment prevented many of the units from meeting readiness objectives upon activation. Even so, the effort succeeded where it mattered most, in providing temporary augmentation for the strategic reserve and deploying troops to Vietnam much sooner than would have been possible with new recruits. The callup ended in December 1969, when the last of the units involved returned to reserve status.


Only a three-month lull intervened, however, before President Johnson’s successor, President Richard M. Nixon, decided he had no choice but to call upon the Reserves and National Guard again. On March 18, 1970, New York City mail carriers began an unauthorized work stoppage that threatened to halt essential postal services. Nixon declared a national emergency on the twenty-third, paving the way for a partial mobilization the next day. This time, more than 18,000 National Guard and Army Reserve members saw service, working with other regular and reserve forces to get the mail through. The postal workers soon returned to work, and by April 3 the last of the reservists had returned to civilian status.
       The phase-down of U.S. military operations in Vietnam and accompanying cutbacks in active-force levels caused the nation to place renewed reliance on its reserve forces. As early as November 1968 Congress had passed the reserve forces “Bill of Rights.” The act gave the service secretaries responsibility for developing reserve forces capable of attaining peacetime training goals and of meeting mobilization readiness objectives. The act also established positions for Assistant Secretaries for Manpower and Reserve Affairs within each of the military departments and gave statutory status to the position of Chief of the Army Reserve.
       By mid-1971 the Defense Department was planning for yet another reorganization of the Reserves to bring them into line with organizational concepts developed during the Vietnam War. Since the President had declined to call up the reserve forces in the early stages of the conflict, the main burden of meeting the Army’s need for manpower in Vietnam had fallen upon the Selective Service. The increased draft calls and voluntary enlistments that followed had swelled the Army from 970,000 troops in mid-1965 to over 1.5 million in 1968.
       The approach might not have mattered in a popular war. As the conflict in Vietnam lengthened, however, and opposition to it grew, reliance upon the Selective Service to meet the Army’s requirements for manpower drew criticism from both Congress and the public. That the Army could never have absorbed all the men available for service at the time figured little in the debate. The nub of the matter was that the system seemed unfair because it selected some for service while exempting others. Playing to the trend, Nixon promised to end the draft during his campaign for President in 1968. True to his word, in late 1969 he introduced a lottery system that eliminated most deferments but limited the period of eligibility to one year. It was a poor but necessary compromise. Elimination of the draft in favor of an all-volunteer Army in the midst of an ongoing war seemed impossible.

Problems and Prospects

       Since the Army was drawn from the American people and reflected their society, it had to deal with the same social problems that confronted
the nation as the war lengthened. The polarization of opinion over the war in Vietnam, increasing drug abuse by America’s young, and mounting racial tensions within the United States all took their toll.The widespread opposition to the war in Vietnam that swept college campuses in the late sixties made its way into the Army, where


Since the President had declined to call up the reserve forces in the early stages of the conflict, the main burden of meeting the Army’s need for manpower in Vietnam had fallen upon the Selective Service.














It took some time for Army commanders to recognize that they had a problem; but once they did, they worked hard to build the confidence of African Americans in the fairness of the service’s promotion and judicial systems and to foster better communication.





some soldiers participated in demonstrations, formed protest groups, or circulated antiwar literature. While soldier dissent was hardly new to the American military, the dissidence generated by the Vietnam War was more explicit than ever before. Even so—if instances of indiscipline proliferated in Vietnam and a scattering of highly publicized combat refusals occurred—the vast majority of the troops did their duty commendably and without demur.
       Increasing drug abuse by young people in the United States also caused problems for the Army, particularly since many recruits had already been exposed to drugs before entering the service. The low cost and easy availability of narcotics in Vietnam complicated matters, as did the loose enforcement procedures of local Vietnamese authorities, who often were themselves involved in the drug trade. The situation became so bad by the end of American involvement in the war that medics were evacuating more soldiers for drug problems than for wounds. The Army conducted massive drug information campaigns to warn potential abusers of the dangers. In an attempt to identify and treat heavy abusers before they returned home, it also initiated a program of urine testing in 1971 for all soldiers leaving South Vietnam. Those who failed became subject to immediate detoxification then received follow up treatment on arrival in the United States. Those efforts notwithstanding, the problem continued for years, receding only gradually as those prone to drug abuse left the Army and a new force of carefully screened volunteers took their place.
        Racial discrimination was another pressing problem that plagued the nation and the Army as the conflict in Vietnam lengthened. The service had desegregated during the Korean War, insisting that all soldiers receive equal treatment regardless of their race. Over the years that followed, despite the bitter civil rights struggle of the sixties, it opened up recreational facilities to all soldiers and made considerable progress in securing adequate off-post housing for its African Americans. Commanders took pride in that record. By the time of the Vietnam War, most felt confident that they had at least their portion of the problem under control.
        The war proved them mistaken. Many of the soldiers who joined the Army during the period came from racially prejudiced backgrounds and maintained their beliefs. Racial divisions tended to disappear in combat because of the common danger and the need to work together for survival. In the rear, however, race relations were sometimes just as uneasy and disjointed as they were in many American cities. One African-American chaplain commented that the troops would “go out on missions and the racism would drop.… and they’d come back to the compound and kill each other. I didn’t understand it.” It took some time for Army commanders to recognize that they had a problem; but once they did, they worked hard to build the confidence of African Americans in the fairness of the service’s promotion and judicial systems and to foster better communication between the groups. In the end, however, as with drugs, the Army had a race problem because America had a race problem. Long-term solutions depended upon the success of national efforts to achieve racial equality.
       The Army faced many challenges in the fifties and sixties, not the least of which was the search for a mission that would garner sufficient

resources to maintain a core of well-trained ground forces ready for a variety of missions. The Army found it difficult to compete with the new glamour of the Air Force and the Navy with their strategic deterrence missions. At the close of the Korean War, the American urge to avoid all future ground combat and rely, again, upon “cost-effective” strategic forces with their alluring prospects of “push button” war, had been too seductive a picture for a succession of budget-conscious administrations. “More bang for the buck” and the overarching strategic deterrence mission drove the budget and the outlook of much of the political and military establishments and had led them down numerous blind alleys of poorly conceived reorganizations and abortive technologies. Yet the greatest threat to maintaining the credibility of U.S. deterrence in the 1960s was to come not from the arms race or from competing strategic forces, but in the jungles of Southeast Asia, in the small country of South Vietnam.


       1. What was the New Look? How new do you think it really was?
       2. How much defense spending do you think was justified during the Cold War? Which programs were cost-effective?
       3. Why did the Army adopt the pentomic organization? Why did it later drop the approach? What had changed?
       4. What were the similarities and differences between the Cold War in the late 1940s and the one that prevailed during the late 1950s? Compare and contrast how the United States responded to the challenges
that arose during the two periods.
       5. What was flexible response? What practical consequences did the strategy have for the Army? How did this differ from massive retaliation?
How did the flexible response help or hinder deterrence?
       6. What roles did the Kennedy and Johnson administrations envision
for the reserve components? How did Johnson’s approach to the Vietnam War affect them?


Cole, Alice C., et al., eds. Documents on Establishment and        Organization, 1944–1978. Washington, D.C.: Office of the        Secretary of Defense, Historical Office, 1978.
Gavin, James M. War and Peace in the Space Age. New York: Harper,        1958.
Hewes, James E., Jr. From Root to McNamara: Army Organization        and Administration, 1900–1963. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army        Center of Military History, 1983, chs. 8–10.
Kinnard, Douglas. The Certain Trumpet, Maxwell Taylor & the        American Experience in Vietnam. New York: Brassey’s, 1991,        Preface, chs. 1–4.
Kissinger, Henry A. Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. Boulder,         Colo.: Westview Press, 1984, chs. 2, 12.




McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of        Vietnam. New York: Times Books, 1995, chs. 1–4.
Osgood, Robert E. Limited War: The Challenge to American        Strategy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957, chs. 1, 9, 10.
Palmer, Bruce, Jr. Intervention in the Caribbean: The Dominican         Crisis of 1965. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1989.
Ridgway, Matthew B. Soldier: The Memoirs of Matthew B. Ridgway.         Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1974, chs. 30–38.
Spector, Ronald H. Advice and Support, The Early Years, 1941–1960.          U.S. Army in Vietnam. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of          Military History, 1985.
Taylor, Maxwell D. The Uncertain Trumpet. Westport, Conn.:          Greenwood Press, 1974, chs. 3, 4, 8.
Wilson, John. Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions          and Separate Brigades. Army Lineage Series. Washington, D.C.:          U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1998, chs. 9–11.
Yates, Lawrence A. Power Pack: U.S. Intervention in the Dominican          Republic, 1965–1966. Fort Leavenworth, Kans.: U.S. Army          Command and General Staff College, Combat Studies Institute,           1988.

Other Readings

Acheson, Dean. Power and Diplomacy. Cambridge: Harvard University        Press, 1958.
Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life, John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963.        New York: Little Brown and Co., 2003.
Doubler, Michael D. Civilian in Peace, Soldier in War: The Army        National Guard, 1636–2000. Lawrence: University Press of        Kansas, 2003.
Gaddis, John L. Strategies of Containment: a Critical Appraisal of        Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford        University Press, 1982.
———. We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History. New York:         Oxford University Press, 1997.
Howze, Hamilton. A Cavalryman’s Story: Memoirs of a         Twentieth- Century Army General. Washington, D.C.:         Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.
Kahn, Herman. On Thermonuclear War. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood         Press, 1978.
Kaplan, Lawrence. The Long Entanglement: NATO’s First Fifty          Years. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1999.
Kinnard, Douglas. President Eisenhower and Strategy Management,          A Study in Defense Politics. New York: Pergamom-Brassey’s,          1989.Millis, Walter. Arms and Men: A Study in American Military           History. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1981, ch.           7.
Shapley, Deborah. Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert           McNamara. New York: Little, Brown, 1993.





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