The Army staff had to overcome tremendous obstacles in order to carry out even a modest number of the Gillem Board's recommendations. In addition to prejudices the Army shared with much of American society and the institutional inertia that often frustrates change in so large an organization, the staff faced the problem of making efficient soldiers out of a large group of men who were for the most part seriously deficient in education, training, and motivation. To the extent that it overcame these difficulties, the Army's postwar racial policy must be judged successful and, considered in the context of the times, progressive.
Nevertheless, the Gillem Board policy was doomed from the start. Segregation
was at the heart of the race problem. Justified as a means of preventing
racial trouble, segregation only intensified it by concentrating the less
able and poorly motivated. Segregation increased the problems of all commanders
concerned and undermined the prestige of black officers. It exacerbated
the feelings of the nation's largest minority toward the Army and multiplied
demands for change. In the end Circular 124 was abandoned because the Army
found it impossible to fight another war under a policy of racial quotas
and units. But if the quota had not defeated the policy, other problems
attendant on segregation would probably have been sufficient to the task.
By any measure of discipline and morale, black soldiers as a group posed a serious problem to the Army in the postwar period. The standard military indexes—serious incidents statistics, venereal disease rates, and number of courts martial—revealed black soldiers in trouble out of all proportion to their percentage of the Army's population. When these personal infractions and crimes were added to the riots and serious racial incidents that continued to occur in the Army all over the world after the war, the dimensions of the problem became clear.
In 1945, when Negroes accounted for 8.S percent of the Army's average strength, black prisoners entering rehabilitation centers, disciplinary barracks, and federal institutions were 17.3 percent of the Army total. In 1946, when the average black strength had risen to 9.35 percent of the Army's total, 25.9 percent of the soldiers sent to the stockade were Negroes. The following tabulation gives their percentage of all military prisoners by offense:
|Absent without leave ............................…………............||
|Misbehavior before the enemy ..........................………...||
|Violation of arrest or confinement ............................…...||
|Discreditable conduct toward superior ………………….||
|Burglary and housebreaking.................................……..||
The most common explanation offered for such statistics is that fundamental injustices drove these black servicemen to crime. Probably more to the point, most black soldiers, especially during the early postwar period, served in units burdened with many disadvantaged individuals, soldiers more likely to get into trouble given the characteristically weak leadership in these units. But another explanation for at least some of these crime statistics hinged on commanders' power to define serious offenses. In general, unit commanders had a great deal of discretion in framing the charges brought against an alleged offender; indeed, where some minor offenses were concerned officers could even conclude that a given infraction was not a serious matter at all and simply dismiss the soldier with a verbal reprimand and a warning not to repeat his offense. Whereas one commander might decide that a case called for a charge of aggravated assault, another, faced with the same set of facts, might settle for a charge of simple assault. If it is reasonable to assume that, as a part of the pattern of discrimination, Negroes accused of offenses like misconduct toward superiors, AWOL, and assault often received less generous treatment from their officers than white servicemen, then it is reasonable to suspect that statistics on Negroes involved in crime may reflect such discriminatory treatment.
The crime figures were particularly distressing to the individual black soldier, as indeed they were to his civilian counterpart, because as a member of a highly visible minority he became identified with the wrongdoing of some of his fellows, spectacularly reported in the press, while his own more typical attendance to orders and competent performance of duty were more often buried in the Army's administrative reports. In particular, Negroes among the large overseas commands suffered embarrassment. The Gillem Board policy was announced just as the Army began the occupation of Germany and Japan. As millions of veterans returned home, to be replaced in lesser numbers by volunteers, black troops began to figure prominently in the occupation forces. On 1 January 1947 the Army had 59,795 Negroes stationed overseas, 10.77 percent of the total number of overseas troops, divided principally between the two major overseas commands. By 1 March 1948, in keeping with the general reduction of forces, black strength overseas was reduced to 23,387 men, but black percentages in Europe and the Far East remained practically unchanged.1 It was among these Negroes, scattered throughout Germany and Japan, that most of the disciplinary problems occurred.
During the first two years of peace, black soldiers consistently dominated the Army's serious-incident rate, a measure of indictments and accusations involving troops in crimes against persons and property. In June 1946, for example, black soldiers in the European theater were involved in serious incidents (actual and alleged) at the rate of 2.S7 cases per 1,000 men. The rate among white soldiers for the same period was .79 cases per 1,000. The rate for both groups rose considerably in 1947. The figure for Negroes climbed to a yearly average of 3.94 incidents per 1,000; the figure for whites, reflecting an even greater gain, reached 1.88. These crime rates were not out of line with America's national crime rate statistics, which, based on a sample of 173 cities, averaged about 3.2S during the same period.2 Nevertheless, the rate was of particular concern to the government because the majority of the civil offenses were perpetuated against German and Japanese nationals and therefore lowered the prestige and effectiveness of the occupation forces.
Less important but still a serious internal problem for the Army was a parallel rise in the incidence of venereal disease. Various reasons have been advanced for the great postwar rise in the Army's venereal disease rate. It is obvious, for example, that the rapid conversion from war to peacetime duties gave many American soldiers new leisure and freedom to engage in widespread fraternization with the civilian population. Serious economic dislocation in the conquered countries drove many citizens into a life of prostitution and crime. By the same token, the breakdown of public health services had removed a major obstacle to the spread of social disease. But whatever the reasons, a high rate of venereal disease—the overseas rate was three times greater than the rate reported for soldiers in the United States—reflected a serious breakdown in military discipline, posed a threat to the combat effectiveness of the commands, and produced lurid rumors and reports on Army morality.
As in the case of crime statistics, the rate of venereal disease for black soldiers in the overseas commands far exceeded the figure for whites. The Eighth Army, the major unit in the Far East, reported for the month of June 1946 1,263 cases of venereal disease for whites, or 139 cases per 1,000 men per year; 769 cases were reported for Negroes, or 1,186 cases per 1,000 men per year. The rates for the European Command for July 1946 stood at 806 cases per 1,000 Negroes per year as compared with 203 for white soldiers. The disease rate improved considerably during 1947 in both commands, but still the rates for black troops averaged 354 per 1,000 men per year in Eighth Army compared to 89 for whites. In Europe the rate was 663 per 1,000 men per year for Negroes compared to 172 for whites. At the same time the rate for all soldiers in the United States was S8 per 1,000 per year.3 Some critics question the accuracy of these statistics, charging that more white soldiers, with informal access to medical treatment, were able to escape detection by the Medical Department's statisticians, at least in cases of more easily treated strains of venereal disease.
The court-martial rate for black soldiers serving overseas was also higher than for white soldiers. Black soldiers in Europe, for example, were court-martialed at the rate of 3.48 men per 1,000 during the third quarter of 1946 compared with a 1.14 rate for whites. A similar situation existed in the Far East where the black service units had a monthly court-martial rate nearly double the average rate of the Eighth Army as a whole.4
The disproportionate black crime and disease rates were symptomatic of a condition that also revealed itself in the racially oriented riots and disturbances that continued to plague the postwar Army. Sometimes black soldiers were merely reacting to blatant discrimination countenanced by their officers, to racial insults, and at times even to physical assaults, but nevertheless they reacted violently and in numbers. The resulting incidents prompted investigations, recriminations, and publicity.
Two such disturbances, more spectacular than the typical flare-up, and important because they influenced Army attitudes toward blacks, occurred at Army bases in the United States. The first was a mutiny at MacDill Airfield Florida, which began on 27 October 1946 at a dance for black noncommissioned officers to which privates were denied admittance. Military police were called when a fight broke out among the black enlisted men and rapidly developed into a belligerent demonstration by a crowd that soon reached mob proportions. Police fire was answered by members of the mob and one policeman and one rioter were wounded. Urged on by its ringleaders, the mob then overwhelmed the main gate area and disarmed the sentries. The rioters retained control of the area until early the next day, when the commanding general persuaded them to disband. Eleven Negroes were charged with mutiny.5 A second incident, a riot with strong racial overtones, occurred at Fort Leavenworth in May .1947 following an altercation between white and black prisoners in the Army Disciplinary Barracks. The rioting, caused by allegations of favoritism accorded to prisoners lasted for two days; one man was killed and six were injured.6
Disturbances in overseas commands, although less serious, were of deep concern to the Army because of the international complications. In April 1946, for example, soldiers of the 449th Signal Construction Detachment threw stones at two French officers who were driving through the village of Weyersbusch in the Rhine Palatinate. The officers, one of them injured, returned to the village with French MP's and requested an explanation of the incident. They were quickly surrounded by about thirty armed Negroes of the detachment who, according to the French, acted in an aggressive and menacing manner. As a result, the Supreme French Commander in Germany requested his American counterpart to remove all black troops from the French zone. The U.S. commander in Europe, General Joseph T. McNarney, investigated the incident, court martialed its instigators, and transferred the entire detachment out of the French zone. At the same time his staff explained to the French that to prohibit the stationing of Negroes in the area would be discriminatory and contrary to Army policy. Black specialists continued to operate in the French zone, although none were subsequently stationed there permanently.7
The Far East Command also suffered racial incidents. The Eighth Army reported in 1946 that "racial agitation" was one of the primary causes of assault, the most frequent violent crime among American troops in Japan. This racial agitation was usually limited to the American community, however, and seldom involved the civilian population.8
The task of maintaining a biracial Army overseas in peacetime was marked with embarrassing incidents and time-consuming investigations. The Army was constantly hearing about its racial problems overseas and getting no end of advice. For example, in May 1946 Louis Lautier, chief of the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association news service, informed the Assistant Secretary of War that fifty-five of the seventy American soldiers executed for crimes in the European theater were black. Most were category IV and V men. "In light of this fact," Lautier charged, "the blame for the comparatively high rate of crime among black soldiers belongs to the American educational system."9
But when a delegation of publishers from Lautier's organization toured European installations during the same period, the members took a more comprehensive look at the Seventh Army's race problems. They told Secretary Patterson that they found all American soldiers reacting similarly to poor leadership, substandard living conditions, and menial occupations whenever such conditions existed. Although they professed to see no difference in the conduct of white and black troops, they went on to list factors that contributed to the bad conduct of some of the black troops including the dearth of black officers, hostility of military police, inadequate recreation, and poor camp location. They also pointed out that many soldiers in the occupation had been shipped overseas without basic training, scored low in the classification tests, and served under young and inexperienced noncoms. Many black regulars, on the other hand, once proud members of combat units, now found themselves performing menial tasks in the backwaters of the occupation. Above all, the publishers witnessed widespread racial discrimination, a condition that followed inevitably, they believed, from the Army's segregation policy. Conditions in the Army appeared to them to facilitate an immediate shift to integration, conditions in Europe and elsewhere made such a shift imperative. Yet they found most commanders in Europe still unaware of the Gillem Board Report and its liberalizing provisions, and little being done to encourage within the Army the sensitivity to racial matters that makes life in a biracial society bearable. Until the recommendations of the board were carried out and discrimination stopped they warned the secretary, the Army must expect racial flare-ups to continue.10
Characteristically, the Secretary of War's civilian aide, Marcus Ray, never denied evidence of misconduct among black troops, but concentrated instead on finding the cause. Returning from a month's tour of Pacific installations in September 1946, he bluntly pointed out to Secretary Patterson that high venereal disease and court-martial rates among black troops were "in direct proportion to the high percentage of Class IV and Vs among the Negro personnel." Given Ray's conclusion, the solution was relatively simple: the Army should "vigorously implement" its recently promulgated policy, long supported by Ray, and discharge persons with test scores of less than seventy. 11
The civilian aide was not insensitive to the effects of segregation on black soldiers, but he stressed the practical results of the Army's policy instead of making a sweeping Enactment of segregation. For example, he criticized the report of the noted criminologist, Leonard Keeler, who had recently studied the criminal activities of American troops in Europe for the Army's Criminal Investigation Division. Ray was critical, not because Keeler had been particularly concerned with the relatively high black crime rate and its effect on Europeans, but because the report overlooked the concentration of segregated black units which had increased the density of Negroes in some areas of Europe to a point where records and reports of misconduct presented a false picture. In effect black crime statistics were meaningless, Ray believed, as long as the Army's segregation policy remained intact. Where Keeler implied that the solution was to exclude Negroes from Europe, Ray believed that the answer lay in desegregating and spreading them out.12
It was probably inevitable that all the publicity given racial troubles would attract attention on Capitol Hill. When the Senate's Special Investigations Committee took up the question of military government in occupied Europe in the fall of 1946, it decided to look into the conduct of black soldiers also Witnesses asserted that black troops in Europe were ill-behaved and poorly disciplined and their officers were afraid to punish them properly for fear of displeasing higher authorities. The committee received a report on the occupation prepared by its chief counsel, George Meader. A curious amalgam of sensational hearsay, obvious racism, and unimpeachable fact, the document was leaked to the press and subsequently denounced publicly by the committee's chairman, Senator Harley M. Kilgore of West Virginia. Kilgore charged that parts of the report dealing with Negroes were obviously based on hearsay. "Neither prejudice nor malice," the senator concluded, "has any place in factual reports."13
Although the committee's staff certainly had displayed remarkable insensitivity, Meader's recommendations appeared temperate enough. He wanted the committee to explore with the War Department possible solutions to the problem of black troops overseas, and he called on the War Department to give careful consideration to the recommendations of its field commanders. The European commander was already on record with a recommendation to recall all black troops from Europe, citing the absence of Negroes from the U.S. Occupation Army in the Rhineland after World War I. Lt. Gen. Lucius D. Clay, then U.S. Commander, Berlin, who later succeeded General McNarney as theater commander and military governor, wanted Negroes in the occupation army used primarily as parade troops. Meader contended that the War Department was reluctant to act on these theater recommendations because it feared political repercussions from the black community. He had no such fear: "certainly, the conduct of the negro troops, as provable from War Department records, is no credit to the negro race and proper action to solve the problem should not result in any unfavorable reaction from any intelligent negro leaders. "14
The War Department was not insensitive to the opinions being aired on Capitol Hill. The under secretary, Kenneth C. Royall, had already dispatched a group from the Inspector General's office under Brig. Gen. Elliot D. Cooke to find out among other things if black troops were being properly disciplined and to investigate other charges Lt. Col. Francis P. Miller had made before the Special Investigations Committee. Examining in detail the records of one subordinate European command, which had 12,000 Negroes in its force of 44,000, the Cooke group decided that commanders were not afraid to punish black soldiers. Although Negroes were responsible for vehicle accidents and disciplinary infractions in numbers disproportionate to their strength, they also had a proportionately higher court-martial rate. 15
While the Cooke group was still studying the specific charges of the
Senate's Investigations Committee, Secretary Patterson decided on a general
review of the situation. He ordered Ray to tour European installations
and report on how
the Gillem Board policy was being put into effect overseas. Ray visited numerous bases and housing and recreation areas in Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Austria. He examined duties, living conditions, morale, and discipline. He also looked into race relations and community attitudes. His month's tour, ending on 17 December 1946, reinforced his conviction that substandard troops—black and white—were at the heart of the Army's crime and venereal disease problem. Ray supported the efforts of local commanders to discharge these men, although he wanted the secretary to reform and standardize the method of discharge. In his analysis of the overseas situation, the civilian aide avoided any specific allusion to the nexus between segregation and racial unrest. In a rare burst of idealism, however, he did condemn those who would exclude Negroes from combat units and certain occupations because of presumed prejudices on the part of the German population. To bow to such prejudices, he insisted, was to negate America's aspirations for the postwar world. In essence, Ray's formula for good race relations was quite simple: institute immediately the reforms outlined in the Gillem Board Report.
In addition to broader use of black troops, Ray was concerned with basic racial attitudes. The Army, he charged, generally failed to see the connection between prejudice and national security; many of its leaders even denied that prejudice existed in the Army. Yet to ignore the problem of racial prejudice, he claimed, condemned the Army to perpetual racial upsets. He wanted the secretary to restate the Army's racial objectives and launch an information and education program to inform commanders and troops on racial matters. 16
In all other respects a lucid progress report on the Gillem Board policy, Ray's analysis was weakened by his failure to point out the effect of segregation on the performance and attitude of black soldiers. Ray believed that the Gillem Board policy, with its quota system and its provisions for the integration of black specialists, would eventually lead to an integrated Army. Preoccupied with practical and imminently possible racial reforms, Ray, along with Secretary Patterson and other reformers within the Army establishment, tended to overlook the tenacious hold that racial segregation had on Army thought.
This hold was clearly illustrated by the reaction of the Army staff to Ray's recommendations. Speaking with the concurrence of the other staff elements and the approval of the Deputy Chief of Staff, General Paul warned that very little could be accomplished toward the long-range objective of the Gillem Board—integration—until the Army completed the long and complex task of raising the quality and lowering the quantity of black soldiers. He also considered it impractical to use Negroes in overhead positions, combat units, and highly technical and professional positions in exact proportion to their percentage of the population. Such use, Paul claimed, would expend travel funds already drastically curtailed and further complicate a serious housing situation. He admitted that the deep-seated prejudice of some Army members in all grades would have a direct bearing on the progress of the Army's new racial policy.
24TH INFANTRY BAND, GIFU, JAPAN, 1947 [Photograph not included.]
The staff generally agreed with Ray's other recommendations with one
exception: it opposed his suggestion that black units be used in the European
theater's constabulary, the specially organized and trained force that
patrolled the East-West border and helped police the German occupation.
The theater commander had so few capable Negroes, Paul reasoned, that to
siphon off enough to form a constabulary unit would threaten the efficiency
of other black units. Besides, even if enough qualified Negroes were available,
he believed their use in supervisory positions over German nationals would
be unacceptable to many Germans.l7 The staff
offered no evidence for this latter argument, and indeed there was none
available. In marked contrast to their reaction to the French government's
quartering of Senegalese soldiers in the Rhineland after World War I, the
German attitude toward American Negroes immediately after World War II
was notably tolerant, a factor in the popularity among Negroes of assignments
to Europe. It was only later that the Germans, especially tavern
owners and the like, began to adopt the discriminatory practices of their conquerors. 18
Ray's proposals and the reaction to them formed a kind of watershed in the War Department's postwar racial policy. Just ten months after the Gillem Board Report was published, the Army staff made a judgment on the policy's effectiveness: the presence of Negroes in numbers approximating 10 percent of the Army's strength and at the current qualitative level made it necessary to retain segregation indefinitely. Segregation kept possible troublemakers out of important combat divisions, promoted efficiency, and placated regional prejudices both in the Army and Congress. Integration must be postponed until the number of Negroes in the Army was carefully regulated and the quality of black troops improved. Both, the staff thought, were goals of a future so distant that segregated units were not threatened.
But the staff's views ran contrary to the Gillem Board policy and the public utterances of the Secretary of War. Robert Patterson had consistently supported the policy in public and before his advisers. Besides, it was unthinkable that he would so quickly abandon a policy developed at the cost of so much effort and negotiation and announced with such fanfare. He had insisted that the quota be maintained, most recently in the case of the European Command.19 In sum, he believed that the policy provided guidelines, practical and expedient, albeit temporary, that would lead to the integration of the Army.
In face of this impasse between the secretary and the Army staff there
slowly evolved what proved to be a new racial policy. Never clearly formulated—Circular
124 continued in effect with only minor changes until 1950—the new policy
was based on the substantially different proposition that segregation would
continue indefinitely while the staff concentrated on weeding out poorly
qualified Negroes, upgrading the rest, and removing vestiges of discrimination,
which it saw as quite distinct from segregation. At the same time the Army
would continue to operate under a strict 10 percent quota of Negroes, though
not necessarily within every occupation or specialty. The staff overlooked
the increasingly evident connection between segregation and racial unrest,
thereby assuring the continuation of both. From 1947 on, integration, the
stated goal of the Gillem Board policy, was ignored, while segregation,
which the board saw as an expedient to be tolerated, became for the Army
staff a way of life to be treasured. It was from this period in 1947 that
Circular 124 and the Gillem Board Report began to gain their reputations
as regressive documents.
In 1947 the Army accelerated its long-range program to discharge soldiers who scored less than seventy on the Army General Classification Test. Often a subject of public controversy, the program formed a major part of the Army's effort to close the educational and training gap between black and white troops.20 Of course, there were other ways to close the gap, and on occasion the Army had taken the more positive and difficult approach of upgrading its substandard black troops by giving them extra training. Although rarely so recognized, the Army's long record of providing remedial academic and technical training easily qualified it as one of the nation's major social engineers.
GENERAL HUEBNER inspects the 529th Military Police Company, Giessen, Germany, 1948. [Photograph not included.]
In World War II thousands of draftees were taught to read and write in the Army's literacy program. In 1946 at Fort Benning an on-duty educational program was organized in the 25th Regimental Combat Team for soldiers, in this case all Negroes, with less than an eighth grade education. Although the project had to be curtailed because of a lack of specialized instructors, an even more ambitious program was launched the next year throughout the Army after a survey revealed an alarming illiteracy rate in replacement troops. In a move of primary importance to black recruits, the Far East Command, for example, ordered all soldiers lacking the equivalent of a fifth grade education to attend courses. The order was later changed to include all soldiers who failed to achieve Army test scores of seventy.21
In 1947 the European theater launched the most ambitious project by far for improving the status of black troops, and before it was over thousands of black soldiers had been examined, counseled, and trained. The project was conceived and executed by the deputy and later theater commander, Lt. Gen. Clarence R. Huebner, and his adviser on Negro affairs, Marcus Ray, now a lieutenant colonel.22 These men were convinced that a program could be devised to raise the status of the black soldier. Huebner wanted to lay the foundation for a command-wide educational program for all black units. "If you're going to make soldiers out of people," he later explained, "they have the right to be trained." Huebner had specialized in training in his Army career, had written several of the Army's training manuals, and possessed an abiding faith in the ability of the Army to change men. "If your soldiers don't know how, teach them." 23
General Huebner got his chance in March 1947 when the command decided to use some 3,000 unassigned black troops in guard duties formerly performed by the 1st Infantry Division. The men where organized into two infantry battalions,24 but because of their low test scores Huebner decided to establish a twelve- to thirteen-week training program at the Grafenwohr Training Center and directed the commanding general of the 1st Division to train black soldiers in both basic military and academic subjects. Huebner concluded his directive by saying:
This is our first opportunity to put into effect in a large way the War Department policy on Negro soldiers as announced in War Department Circular No. 124, 1946. Owing to the necessity for rapid training, and to the press of occupational duties, little time has been available in the past for developing the leadership of the Negro soldier. We can now do that .... I wish you to study the program, its progress, its deficiencies and its advantages, in order that a full report may be compiled and lessons in operation and training drawn.25
As the improved military bearing and efficiency of black trainees and the subsequent impressive performance of the two new infantry battalions would suggest, the reports on the Grafenwohr training were optimistic and the lessons drawn ambitious. They prompted Huebner on 1 December 1947 to establish a permanent training center at Kitzingen Air Base.26 Essentially, he was trying to combine both drill and constant supervision with a broad-based educational program. Trainees received basic military training for six hours daily and academic instruction up to the twelfth grade level for two hours more. The command ordered all black replacements and casuals arriving from the United States to the training center for classifying and training as required. Eventually all black units in Europe were to be rotated through Kitzingen for unit refresher and individual instruction. As each company completed the course at Kitzingen, the command assigned academic instructors to continue an on-duty educational program in the field. A soldier was required to participate in the educational program until he passed the general education development test for high school level or until he clearly demonstrated that he could not profit from further instruction.
Washington was quick to perceive the merit of the European program, and Paul reported widespread approval "from all concerned."27 The program quickly produced some impressive statistics. Thousands of soldiers—at the peak in 1950 more than 62 percent of all Negroes in the command—were enrolled in the military training course at Kitzingen or in on-duty educational programs organized in over two-thirds of the black companies throughout the command. By June 1950 the program had over 2,900 students and 200 instructors. A year later, the European commander estimated that since the program began some 1,169 Negroes had completed fifth grade in his schools, 2,150 had finished grade school, and 418 had passed the high school equivalency test.28 The experiment had a practical and long-lasting effect on the Army. For example, in 1950 a sampling of three black units showed that after undergoing training at Kitzingen and in their own units the men scored an average of twenty points higher in Army classification tests. According to a 1950 European Command estimate, the command's education program was producing some of the finest trained black troops in the Army.
REPORTING TO KITZINGEN. Men of Company B, 371st Infantry Battalion, arrive for refresher course in basic military training. [Photograph not included.]
The training program even provoked jealous reaction among some white troops who claimed that the educational opportunities offered Negroes discriminated against them. They were right, for in comparison to the on-duty high school courses offered Negroes, the command restricted courses for white soldiers to so-called literacy training or completion of the fifth grade. Command spokesmen quite openly justified the disparity on the grounds that Negroes on the whole had received fewer educational opportunities in the United States and that the program would promote efficiency in the command.29
Whether a connection can be made between the Kitzingen training program and improvement in the morale and discipline of black troops, the fact was that by January 1950 a dramatic change had occurred in the conduct of black soldiers in the European Command. The rate of venereal disease among black soldiers had dropped to an average approximating the rate for white troops (and not much greater than the always lower average for troops in the United States). This phenomenon was repeated in the serious incident rate. In the first half of 1950 courts-martial that resulted in bad conduct discharges totaled fifty-nine for Negroes, a figure that compared well with the 324 similar verdicts for the larger contingent of white soldiers.30 For once the Army could document what it had always preached, that education and training were the keys to the better performance of black troops. The tragedy was that the education program was never applied throughout the Army, not even in the Far East and in the United States where far more black soldiers were stationed than in Europe.31 The Army lost yet another chance to fulfill the promise of its postwar policy.
In later years Kitzingen assumed the task of training black officers, a natural progression considering the attitude of General Huebner and Marcus Ray. The general and the command adviser were convinced that the status of black soldiers depended at least in part on the caliber of black officers commanding them. Huebner deftly made this point in October 1947 soon after Kitzingen opened when he explained to General Paul that he wanted more "stable, efficient, and interested Negro officers and senior non-commissioned officers" who, he believed, would set an example for the trainees.32 Others shared Huebner's views. The black publishers touring Europe some months later observed that wherever black officers were assigned there was "a noticeable improvement in the morale, discipline and general efficiency of the units involved. "33
The European Command had requisitioned only five black officers during the last eight months, General Paul noted; this might have caused its shortage of black officers. Still, Paul knew the problem went deeper, and he admitted that many black officers now on duty were relatively undesirable and many desirable ones were being declared surplus. He was searching for a solution.34 The Personnel and Administration Division could do very little about the major cause of the shortage, for the lack of black officers was fundamentally connected with the postwar demobilization affecting all the services. Most black officers were unable to compete in terms of length of service, combat experience, and other factors that counted heavily toward retention. Consequently their numbers dropped sharply from an August 1945 high of 7,748 to a December 1947 low of 1,184. The drop more than offset the slight rise in the black percentage of the whole officer corps, .8 percent in 1945 to 1.0 percent in 1947.
At first General Paul was rather passive in his attitude toward the shortage of black officers. Commenting on Assistant Secretary of War Petersen's suggestion in May 1946 that the Army institute a special recruitment program to supplement the small number of black officers who survived the competition for Regular Army appointments, Paul noted that all appointments were based on merit and competition and that special consideration for Negroes was itself a form of discrimination.35 Whether through fear of being accused of discrimination against whites or because of the general curtailment of officer billets, it was not until April 1948 that the Personnel and Administration Division launched a major effort to get more black officers.
In April 1948 General Paul had his Manpower Control Group review the officer strength of seventy-eight black units stationed in the United States. The group uncovered a shortage of seventy-two officers in the seventy-eight units, but it went considerably beyond identifying simple shortages. In estimating the number of black officers needed, the group demonstrated not only how far the Gillem Board policy had committed the Army, but in view of contemporary manpower shortages just how impossible this commitment was of being fulfilled. The manpower group discovered that according to Circular 124, which prescribed more officers for units containing a preponderance of men with low test scores, the seventy-eight units should have 187 additional officers beyond their regular allotment. Also taking into account Circular 124's provision that black officers should command black troops, the group discovered that these units would need another 477 black officer replacements. The group temporized. It recommended that the additional officers be assigned to units in which 70 percent or more of the men were in grades IV and V and without mentioning specific numbers noted that high priority be given to the replacement of white officers with Negroes. Assuming the shortages discovered in the seventy-eight units would be mirrored in the 315 black units overseas as well as other temporary units at home, the group also wanted General Paul to order a comprehensive survey of all black units.36
Paul complied with the group's request by ordering the major commanders in May to list the number of officers by branch, grade, and specialty needed to fill the vacant spaces in their black units.37 But there was really little need for further surveys because the key to all the group's recommendations—the availability of suitable black officers—was beyond the immediate reach of the Army. General Paul was able to fill the existing vacancies in the seventy-eight continental units by recalling black officers from inactive duty, but the number eligible for recall or available from other sources was limited. As of 31 May 1948, personnel officials could count on only 2,794 black reserve and National Guard officers who could be assigned to extended active duty. This number was far short of current needs; Negroes would have to approximate 4.1 percent (3,000 officers) of the Army's officer corps if all the whites in black units were replaced. As for the other provisions of the Gillem Board, the Organization and Training Division urged restraint, arguing that Circular 124 was not an authorization for officers in excess of organization table ceilings, but rather that the presence of many low-scoring men constituted a basis for requesting more officers.38
General Paul did not argue the point. Admitting that the 4.1 percent figure was "an objective to be achieved over a period of time, " he could do little but instruct the commanders concerned to indicate in future requisitions that they wanted black officers as fillers or replacements in black units. Clearly, as long as the number of black officers remained so low, the provisions of Circular 124 calling for black officers to replace whites or supplement the officer strength of units containing men with low test scores would have to be ignored.
There were other long-range possibilities for procuring more black officers, the most obvious the expansion of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. As of January 1948 the Army had ROTC units at nine predominantly black colleges and universities with a total enrollment of 3,035 cadets. The Organization and Training Division contemplated adding one more unit during 1948, but after negotiations with officials from Secretary Royall's office, themselves under considerable congressional and public pressure, the division added three more advanced ROTC units, one service and two combat, at predominantly black institutions.39 At the same time some hope existed for increasing the number of black cadets at West Point. The academy had nine black cadets in 1948, including five plebes. General Paul hoped that the graduation of these cadets would stimulate further interest and a corresponding increase in applications from Negroes.40
It was probably naive to assume that an increase of black cadets from four to nine would stir much interest when other statistics suggested that black officers had a limited future in the service. As Secretary Royall pointed out, even if the total number of black officers could not be quickly increased, the percentage of
black officers in the Regular Army could.41 Yet by April 1948 the Army had almost completed the conversion of reservists into regulars, and few black officers had been selected. In June 1945, for example, there were 8 black officers in the Regular Army; by April 1948 they numbered only 41, including 4 West Point graduates and 32 converted reservists.42 The Army had also recently nominated 13 young Negroes, designated Distinguished Military Graduates of the advanced ROTC program, for Regular Army commissions.
During the Regular Army integration program, 927 Negroes and 122,520 whites applied for the Regular Army; the Army and the Air Force awarded commissions to 27,798 white officers (22.7 percent of those applying) and 96 black officers (10.3 percent of the applicants). Preliminary rejections based on efficiency and education ran close to 40 percent of the applicants of both races. The disparity in rejections by race appeared when applicants went before the Selection Board itself; only 18.55 percent of the remaining black applicants were accepted while 39.35 percent of the white applicants were selected for Regular Army commissions.43
Given statistics like these, it was difficult to stimulate black interest in a career as an Army officer, as General Paul was well aware. He had the distribution of black officers appointed to the Regular Army studied in 1947 to see if it was in consonance with the new racial policy. While most of the arms and services passed muster with the Personnel and Administration Division, Paul felt compelled to remind the Chief of Engineers, whose corps had so far awarded no Regular Army commission to the admittedly limited number of black applicants, that officers were to be accepted in the Regular Army without regard to race. He repeated this warning to the Quartermaster General and the Chief of Transportation; both had accepted black officers for the Regular Army but had selected only the smallest fraction of those applying. Although the black applicants did score slightly below the whites, Paul doubted that integration would lower the standards of quality in these branches, and he wanted every effort made to increase the number of black officers.44
The Chief of Engineers, quick to defend his record, explained that the race of candidates was difficult to ascertain and had not been considered in the selection process. Nevertheless, he had reexamined all rejected applications and found two from Negroes whose composite scores were acceptable. Both men, however, fell so short of meeting the minimum professional requirements that to appoint either would be to accord preferential treatment denied to hundreds of other underqualified applicants.45 It would appear that bias and prejudice were not the only governing factors in the shortage of black officers, but rather that in some ways at least Circular 124 was making impossible demands on the Army's personnel system.
Training black soldiers and trying to provide them with black officers was a practical move demanded by the Army's new race policy. At the same time, often with reluctance and only after considerable pressure had been brought to bear, the Army also began to attack certain practices that discriminated against the black soldier. One was the arbitrary location of training camps after the war. In November 1946, for example, the Army Ground Forces reorganized its training centers for the Army, placing them at six installations: Fort Dix, New Jersey; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Lewis, Washington, and Fort Ord, California. White enlisted and reenlisted men were sent to the training centers within the geographical limits of the Army area of their enlistment. Because it was impossible for the Army Ground Forces to maintain separate black training cadres of battalion size at each of the six centers, all Negroes, except those slated for service in the Army Air Forces, were sent to Fort Jackson.46
The Gillem Board had called for the assignment of Negroes to localities where community attitudes were favorable, and Marcus Ray protested the Ground Forces action. "It is in effect a restatement of policy and . . . has implications which will affect adversely the relationship of the Army and our Negro manpower potential.... I am certain that this ruling will have the immediate effect of crystallizing Negro objections to the enlistment of qualified men and also Universal Military Training."47
Ray reminded Assistant Secretary of War Petersen that the Fort Jackson area had been the scene of many racial disturbances since 1941 and that an increase in the black troop population would only intensify the hostile community attitude. He wanted to substitute Fort Dix and Fort Ord for Fort Jackson. He also had another suggestion: Why not assign black training companies to white battalions, especially in those training centers that drew their populations from northern, eastern, and western communities?
Petersen ignored for the time being Ray's suggestion for composite training groups, but he readily agreed on training black soldiers at more congenial posts, particularly after Ray's views were aired in the black press. Petersen also urged the Deputy Chief of Staff to coordinate staff actions with Ray whenever instructions dealing with race relations in the Army were being prepared.48 At the same time, Secretary of War Patterson assured Walter White of the NAACP, who had also protested sending Negroes to Fort Jackson, that the matter was under study.49 Within a matter of months Negroes entering the Army from civilian life were receiving their training at Fort Dix and Fort Ord.
Turning its back on the overt racism of some southern communities, the Army unwittingly exposed an example of racism in the west. The plan to train Negroes at Fort Ord aroused the combined opposition of the citizens around Monterey Bay, who complained to Senator William F. Knowland that theirs was a tourist area unable to absorb thousands of black trainees "without serious threat of racial conflict." The Army reacted with forthright resistance. Negroes would be trained at Fort Ord, and the Secretary of the Army would be glad to explain the situation and cooperate with the local citizenry.50
On the recommendation of the civilian aide, the Assistant Secretary of War introduced another racial reform in January 1947 that removed racial designations from overseas travel orders and authorizations issued to dependents and War Department civilian employees.51 The order was strongly opposed by some members of the Army staff and had to be repeated by the Secretary of the Army in 1951.52 Branding racial designations on travel orders a "continuous source of embarrassment" to the Army, Secretary Frank Pace, Jr., sought to include all travel orders in the prohibition, but the Army staff persuaded him it was unwise. While the staff agreed that orders involving travel between reception centers and training organizations need not designate race, it convinced the secretary that to abolish such designations on other orders, including overseas assignment documents, would adversely affect strength and accounting procedures as well as overseas replacement systems.53 The modest reform continued in effect until the question of racial designation became a major issue in the 1960's.
Not all the reforms that followed the Gillem Board's deliberations were so quickly adopted. For in truth the Army was not the monolithic institution so often depicted by its critics, and its racial directives usually came out of compromises between the progressive and traditional factions of the staff. The integration of the national cemeteries, an emotion-laden issue in 1947, amply demonstrated that sharp differences of opinion existed within the department. Although long-standing regulations provided for segregation by rank only, local custom, and m one case—the Long Island National Cemetery—a 1935 order by Secretary of War George H. Dern, dictated racial segregation in most of the cemeteries. The Quartermaster General reviewed the practice in 1946 and recommended a new policy specifically opening new sections of all national cemeteries to eligible citizens of all races. He would leave undisturbed segregated grave sites in the older sections of the cemeteries because integration would "constitute a breach of faith with the next of kin of those now interred."54 As might be expected, General Paul supported the quartermaster suggestion, as did the commander of the Army Ground Forces. The Army Air Forces commander, on the other hand, opposed integrating the cemeteries, as did the Chief of Staff, who on 22 February 1947 rejected the proposal. The existing policy was reconfirmed by the Under Secretary of War three days later, and there the matter rested.55
Not for long, for civil rights spokesmen and the black press soon protested. The NAACP confessed itself "astonished" at the Army's decision and demanded that Secretary Patterson change a practice that was both "un-American and un-democratic."56 Marcus Ray predicted that continuing agitation would require further Army action, and he reminded Under Secretary Royall that cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the Navy, Veterans Administration, and Department of the Interior had been integrated with considerable publicity. He urged adoption of the Quartermaster General's recommendation.57 That was enough for Secretary Patterson. On 15 April he directed that the new sections of national cemeteries be integrated.58
It was a hollow victory for the reformers because the traditionalists were able to cling to the secretary's proviso that old sections of the cemeteries be left alone, and the Army continued to gather its dead in segregation and in bitter criticism. Five months after the secretary's directive, the American Legion protested to the Secretary of War over segregation at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minnesota, and in August 1950 the Governor's Interracial Commission of the State of Minnesota carried the matter to the President, calling the policy "a flagrant disregard of human dignity."59 The Army continued to justify segregation as a temporary and limited measure involving the old sections, but a decade after the directive the commander of the Atlanta Depot was still referring to segregation in some cemeteries.60 The controversial practice would drag on into the next decade before the Department of Defense finally ruled that there would be no lines drawn by rank or race in national cemeteries.
An attempt to educate the rank and file in the Army's racial policy met some opposition in the Army staff. At General Paul's request, the Information and Education Division prepared a pamphlet intended to improve race relations through troop indoctrination. 61 Army Talk 170, published on 1 April 1947, was, like its World War II predecessors, Command of Negro Troops and The Negro Soldier, progressive for the times. While it stressed the reforms projected in the Army's policy, including eventual integration, it also clearly defended the Army's continued insistence on segregation on the grounds that segregation promoted interracial harmony. The official position of the service was baldly stated. "The Army is not an instrument of social reform. Its interest in matters of race is confined to considerations of its own effectiveness."
Even before publication the pamphlet provoked considerable discussion and soul-searching in the Army staff. The Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Thomas T. Handy, questioned some of the Information and Education Division's claims for black combatants. In the end the matter had to be taken to General Eisenhower for resolution. He ordered publication, reminding local commanders that if necessary they should add further instructions of their own, "in keeping with the local situation" to insure acceptance of the Army's policy. The pamphlet was not to be considered an end in itself, he added, but only one element in a "progressive process toward maximum utilization of manpower in the Army."62
Efforts to carry out the policy set forth in Circular 124 reached a high-water mark in mid-1948. By then black troops, for so long limited to a few job categories, could be found in a majority of military occupational fields. The officer corps was open to all without the restrictions of a racial quota, and while a quota for enlisted men still existed all racial distinctions in standards of enlistment were gone. The Army was replacing white officers in black units with Negroes as fast as qualified black replacements became available. And more were qualifying every day. By 30 June 1948 the Army had almost 1,000 black commissioned officers, 5 warrant officers, and 67 nurses serving with over 65,000 enlisted men and women.63
But here, in the eyes of the Army's critics, was the rub: after three years of racial reform segregation not only remained but had been perfected. No longer would the Army be plagued with the vast all-black divisions that had segregated thousands of Negroes in an admittedly inefficient and often embarrassing manner. Instead, Negroes would be segregated in more easily managed hundreds. By limiting integration to the battalion level (the lowest self-sustaining unit in the Army system), the Army could guarantee the separation of the races in eating, sleeping, and general social matters and still hope to escape some of the obvious discrimination of separate units by making the black battalions organic elements of larger white units. The Army's scheme did not work. Schooling and specialty occupations aside, segregation quite obviously remained the essential fact of military life and social intercourse for the majority of black soldiers, and all the evidence of reasonable and genuine reform that came about under the Gillem Board policy went aglimmering. The Army was in for some rough years with its critics.
But why were the Army's senior officers, experienced leaders at the pinnacle of their careers and dedicated to the well-being of the institution they served, so reluctant to part with segregation? Why did they cling to an institution abandoned by the Navy and the Air Force,64 the target of the civil rights movement and its allies in Congress, and by any reasonable judgment so costly in terms of efficient organization? The answers lie in the reasoned defense of their position developed by these men during the long controversy over the use of black troops and so often presented in public statements and documents.65 Arguments for continued segregation fell into four general categories.
First, segregation was necessary to preserve the internal stability
of the Army. Prejudice was a condition of American society, General of
the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower told a Senate committee in 1948, and the
Army "is merely one of the mirrors that holds up to our faces the United
States of America." Since society separated the races, it followed that
if the Army allowed black and white soldiers to live and socialize together
it ran the very real risk of riots and racial disturbances which could
disrupt its vital functions. Remembering the contribution of black platoons
to the war in Europe, General Eisenhower, for his part, was willing to
accept the risk and integrate the races by platoons, believing that the
social problems "can be handled," particularly on the large posts. Nevertheless
he made no move toward integrating by platoons while he was Chief of Staff.
Later he explained that
the possibility of applying this lesson [World War II integration of Negro platoons] to the peacetime Army came up again and again. Objection involved primarily the social side of the soldier's life. It was argued that through integration we would get into all kinds of difficulty in staging soldiers' dances and other social events. At that time we were primarily occupied in responding to America's determination "to get the soldiers home"—so, as I recall, little progress toward integration was made during that period.66
INSPECTION BY THE CHIEF OF STAFF. General Dwight D. Eisenhower talks with a soldier of the 25th Combat Team Motor Pool during a tour of Fort Benning, Georgia, 1947. [Photograph not included.]
"Liquor and women," Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee pronounced, were the major ingredients of racial turmoil in the Army. Although General Lee had been a prime mover in the wartime integration of combat platoons, he wanted the Army to avoid social integration because of the disturbances he believed would attend it. As General Omar N. Bradley saw it, the Army could integrate its training programs but not the soldier's social life. Hope of progress would be destroyed if integration was pushed too fast. Bradley summed up his postwar attitude very simply: "I said let's go easy—as fast as we can."
Second, segregation was an efficient way to isolate the poorly educated and undertrained black soldier, especially one with a combat occupational specialty. To integrate Negroes into white combat units, already dangerously understrength, would threaten the Army's fighting ability. When he was Chief of Staff, Eisenhower thought many of the problems associated with black soldiers, problems of morale, health, and discipline, were problems of education, and that the Negro was capable of change. "I believe," he said, "that a Negro can improve his standing and his social standing and his respect for certain of the standards that we observe, just as well as we can." Lt. Gen. Wade H. Haislip, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration, concluded that the Army's racial mission was education. All that Circular 124 meant, he explained "was that we had to begin educating the Negro soldiers so they could be mixed sometime in the future." Bradley observed in agreement that "as you begin to get better educated Negroes in the service," there is "more reason to integrate." The Army was pledged to accept Negroes and to give them a wide choice of assignment, but until their education and training improved they had to be isolated.
Third, segregation was the only way to provide equal treatment and opportunity for black troops. Defending this paternalistic argument, Eisenhower told the Senate:
In general, the Negro is less well educated . . . and if you make a complete amalgamation, what you are going to have is in every company the Negro is going to be relegated to the minor jobs, and he is never going to get his promotion to such grades as technical sergeant, master sergeant, and so on, because the competition is too tough. If, on the other hand, he is in smaller units of his own, he can go up to that rate, and I believe he is entitled to the chance to show his own wares.
Fourth, segregation was necessary because segments of American society with powerful representatives in Congress were violently opposed to mixing the races. Bradley explained that integration was part of social evolution, and he was afraid that the Army might move too fast for certain sections of the country. "I thought in 1948 that they were ready in the North," he added, "but not in the South." The south "learned over the years that mixing the races was a vast problem." Bradley continued, "so any change in the Army would be a big step in the South." General Haislip reasoned, you "just can't do it all of a sudden." As for the influence of those opposed to maintaining the Army's social status quo, Haislip, who was the Vice Chief of Staff during part of the Gillem Board period, recalled that "everybody was floundering around, trying to find the right thing to do. I didn't lose any sleep over it [charges of discrimination]." General Eisenhower, as he did so often during his career, accurately distilled the thinking of his associates:
I believe that the human race may finally grow up to the point where it [race relations] will not be a problem. It [the race problem] will disappear through education, through mutual respect, and so on. But I do believe that if we attempt merely by passing a lot of laws to force someone to like someone else, we are just going to get into trouble. On the other hand, I do not by any means hold out for this extreme segregation as I said when I first joined the Army 38 years ago.
These arguments might be specious, as a White House committee would later demonstrate, but they were not necessarily guileful, for they were the heartfelt opinions of many of the Army's leaders, opinions shared by officials of the other services. These men were probably blind to the racism implicit in their policies, a racism nurtured by military tradition. Education and environment had fostered in these career officers a reverence for tradition. Why should the Army, these traditionalists might ask, abandon its black units, some with histories stretching back almost a century? Why should the ordered social life of the Army post, for so long a mirror of the segregated society of most civilian communities, be so uncomfortably changed? The fact that integration had never really been tried before made it fraught with peril, and all the forces of military tradition conspired to support the old ways.
What had gone unnoticed by Army planners was the subtle change in the
attitude of the white enlisted man toward integration. Opinion surveys
were rare in an institution dedicated to the concept of military discipline,
but nevertheless in the five years following the war several surveys were
made of the racial views of white troops (the views of black soldiers were
ignored, probably on the assumption that all Negroes favored integration).
In 1946, just as the Gillem Board policy was being enunciated, the Army
staff found enlisted men in substantial agreement on segregation. Although
most of those surveyed supported the expanded use of Negroes in the Army,
an overwhelming majority voted for the principle of having racially separate
working and living arrangements. Yet the pollsters found much less opposition
to integration when they put their questions on a personal basis—"How do
you feel about. . . ?" Only southerners as a group registered a clear majority
for segregated working conditions. The survey also revealed another encouraging
portent: most of the opposition to integration existed among older and
less educated men. 67
GENERAL DAVIS [Photograph not included.]
Three years later the Secretary of Defense sponsored another survey of enlisted opinion on segregation. This time less than a third of those questioned were opposed to integrated working conditions and some 40 percent were not "definitely opposed" to complete integration of both working and living arrangements. Again men from all areas tended to endorse integration as their educational level rose; opposition, on the other hand, centered in 1949 among the chronic complainers and those who had never worked with Negroes.68
In discussing prejudice and discrimination it is necessary to compare the Army with the rest of American society. Examining the question of race relations in the Army runs the risk of distorting the importance given the subject by the nation as a whole in the postwar period. While resistance to segregation was undoubtedly growing in the black community and among an increasing number of progressives in the white community, there was as yet no widespread awareness of the problem and certainly no concerted public effort to end it. This lack of perception might be particularly justified in the case of Army officers, for few of them had any experience with black soldiers and most undoubtedly were not given to wide reading and reflecting on the subject of race relations. Moreover, the realities of military life tended to insulate Army officers from the main currents of American society. Frequently transferred and therefore without roots in the civilian community, isolated for years at a time in overseas assignments, their social life often centered in the military garrison, officers might well have been less aware of racial discrimination.
Perhaps because of the insulation imposed on officers by their duties, the Army's leaders were achieving reforms far beyond those accepted elsewhere in American society. Few national organizations and industries could match the Army in 1948 for the number of Negroes employed, the breadth of responsibility given them, and the variety of their training and occupations. Looked at in this light, the Army of 1948 and the men who led it could with considerable justification be classed as a progressive force in the fight for racial justice.
The gap between the Army's stated goal of integration and its continuing practices had grown so noticeable in 1948, a presidential election year, that most civil rights spokesmen and their allies in the press had become disillusioned with Army reforms. Benjamin O. Davis, still the Army's senior black officer and still after eight years a brigadier general, called the Army staff's attention to the shift in attitude. Most had greeted publication of Circular 124 as "the dawn of a new day for the colored soldier"—General Davis's words—and looked forward to the gradual eradication of segregation. But Army practices in subsequent months had brought disappointment, he warned the under secretary, and the black press had become "restless and impatient." He wanted the Army staff to give "definite expression of the desire of the Department of National Defense for the elimination of all forms of discrimination-segregation from the Armed Services."69 The suggestion was disapproved. General Paul explained that the Army could not make such a policy statement since Circular 124 permitted segregated units and a quota that by its nature discriminated at least in terms of numbers of Negroes assigned.70
In February 1948 the Chief of Information tried to counter criticism by asking personnel and administrative officials to collect favorable opinions from prominent civilians, "particularly Negroes and sociologists." But this antidote to public criticism failed because, as the deputy personnel director had to admit "the Division does not have knowledge of any expressed favorable opinion either of Individuals or organizations, reference our Negro policy. " 71
A constant concern because it marred the Army's public image, segregation also had a profound effect on the performance and well-being of the black soldier. This effect was difficult to measure but nevertheless real and has been the subject of considerable study by social scientists.72 Their opinions are obviously open to debate, and in fact most of them were not fully formulated during the period under discussion. Yet their conclusions, based on modern sociological techniques, clearly reveal the pain and turmoil suffered by black soldiers because of racial separation. Rarely did the Army staff bother to delve into these matters in the years before Korea, although the facts on which the scientists based their conclusions were collected by the War Department itself. This indifference is the more curious because the Army had always been aware of what the War Department Policies and Programs Review Board called in 1947 "that intangible aspect of military life called prestige and spirit."73
Burdened with the task of shoring up its racial policy, the Army staff failed to concern itself with the effect of segregation. Yet by ignoring segregation the staff overlooked the primary cause of its racial problems and condemned the Army to their continuation. It need not have been, because as originally conceived, the Gillem Board policy provided, in the words of the Assistant Secretary of War, for "progressive experimentation" leading to "effective manpower utilization without regard to race or color."74 This reasonable approach to a complex social issue was recognized as such by the War Department and by many black spokesmen. But the Gillem Board's original goal was soon abandoned, and in the "interest of National Defense," according to Secretary Royall, integration was postponed for the indefinite future.75 Extension of individual integration below the company level was forbidden, and the lessons learned at the Kitzingen Training Center were never applied elsewhere; in short, progressive experimentation was abandoned.
The Gillem Board era began with Secretary Patterson accepting the theory of racially separate but equal service as an anodyne for temporary segregation; it ended with Secretary Royall embracing a permanent separate but equal system as a shield to protect the racial status quo. While Patterson and his assistants accepted restriction on the number of Negroes and their assignment to segregated jobs and facilities as a temporary expedient, military subordinates used the Gillem Board's reforms as a way to make more efficient a segregation policy that neither they nor, they believed, society in general was willing to change. Thus, despite some real progress on the periphery of its racial problem, the Army would have to face the enemy in Korea with an inefficient organization of its men.
The Army's postwar policy was based on a false premise. The Gillem Board
decided that since Negroes had fought poorly in segregated divisions in
two world wars, they might fight better in smaller segregated organizations
within larger white units. Few officers really believed this, for it was
commonly accepted throughout the Army that Negroes generally made poor
combat soldiers. It followed then that the size of a unit was immaterial,
and indeed, given the manpower that the Army received from reenlistments
and Selective Service, any black unit, no matter its size, would almost
assuredly be an inefficient, spiritless group of predominately Class IV
and V men. For in addition to its educational limitations, the typical
black unit suffered a further handicap in the vital matter of motivation.
The Gillem Board disregarded this fact, but it was rarely
overlooked by the black soldier: he was called upon to serve as a second-class soldier to defend what he often regarded as his second-class citizenship. In place of unsatisfactory black divisions, Circular 124 made the Army substitute three unsatisfactorily mixed divisions whose black elements were of questionable efficiency and a focus of complaint among civil rights advocates. Commanders at all levels faced a dilemma implicit in the existence of white and black armies side by side. Overwhelmed by regulations and policies that tried to preserve the fiction of separate but equal opportunity, these officers wasted their time and energy and, most often in the case of black officers, lost their self-confidence.
In calling for the integration of small black units rather than individuals, the Gillem Board obviously had in mind the remarkably effective black platoons in Europe in the last months of World War II. But even this type of organization was impossible in the postwar Army because it demanded a degree of integration that key commanders, especially the major Army component commanders, were unwilling to accept.
These real problems were intensified by the normal human failings of prejudice, vested interest, well-meaning ignorance, conditioned upbringing, shortsightedness, preoccupation with other matters, and simple reluctance to change. The old ways were comfortable, and the new untried, frightening in their implications and demanding special effort. Nowhere was there enthusiasm for the positive measures needed to implement the Gillem Board's recommendations leading to integration. This unwillingness to act positively was particularly noticeable in the Organization and Training Division, in the Army Ground Forces, and even to some extent in the Personnel and Administration Division itself.
The situation might have improved had the Gillem Board been able or willing to spell out intermediate goals. For the ultimate objective of using black soldiers like white soldiers as individuals was inconceivable and meaningless or radical and frightening to many in the Army. Interim goals might have provided impetus for gradual change and precluded the virtual inertia that gripped the Army staff. But at best Circular 124 served as a stopgap measure, allowing the Army to postpone for a few more years any substantial change in race policy. This postponement cost the service untold time and effort devising and defending a system increasingly under attack from the black community and, significantly, from that community's growing allies in the administration.
1STM-30, Strength of the Army, 1 Jan 47 and 1 Mar 48.
2Geis Monograph, pp. 138-39 and Chart 4.
3Ibid., pp. 138-39; Eighth Army (AFPAC) Hist Div. Occupational Monograph of the Eighth Army in Japan (hereafter AFPAC Monograph), 3:171.
4Geis Monograph; AFPAC Monograph, 3:87-88 and charts, 4:91-97 and JAG Illus. No. 3. It should be noted that on occasion individual white units registered disciplinary rates spectacularly higher than these averages. In a nine-month period in 1946-47, for example, a 120-man white unit stationed in Vienna, Austria, had 10 general courts-martial, between 30 and 40 special and summary courts-martial, and 40 of its members separated under the provisions of AR 368-369.
5"Historyof MacDillArmyAirfield, 326th AAB Unit, October 1946," pp. 10-11, AFCHO files.
6Florence Murray, ea., The Negro Handbook, 1949 (New York: Macmillan, 1949), pp. 109-l10.
7Geis Monograph, pp. 145-47.
8AFPAC Monograph, 2:176.
9Ltr, Louis R. Lautier to Howard C. Petersen, 28 May 46, ASW 291.2 (NT).
10Frank L. Stanley. Report of the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association to the Honorable Secretary of War on Troops and Conditions in Europe, 18 Jul 46, copy in CMH.
11Ray, Rpt of Tour of Pacific Installations to SW Patterson, 7 Aug-6 Sep 46, ASW 291.2.
12Memo, Ray for ASW Petersen, 1 Nov 46, ASW 291.2.
13U.S. Congress, Senate. Special Committee Investigating National Defense Programs, Part 42, "Military Government in Germany," 80th Cong., 22 November 1946, pp. 26150-89; see also New York Times, November 27 and December 4, 1946. The quotation is from the Times of November 27th.
14Senate Special Committee, "Military Government in Germany," 80th Cong., 22 Nov 1946, pp. 26163-64; see also Geis Monograph, pp. 142-43.
15Geis Monograph, pp. 144-45; EUCOM Hist Div. Morale and Discipline in the European Command, 1945 - 1949, Occupation Forces in Europe Series, pp. 45-46, in CMH.
16Ray, "Rpt to SecWar, Mr. Robert P. Patterson, of Tour of European Installations," 17 Dec 46, Incl to Memo, SW for DCofS, 7 Jan 47, SW 291.2.
17WDGPA Summary Sheet, 25 Jan 47, sub: Utilization of Negroes in the European Theater, with Incls, WDGPA 291.2 (7 Jan 47).
18Interv, author with Lt. Gen. Clarence R. Huebner (former CG, U.S. Army, Europe), 31 Mar 71, CMH files.
19Geis Monograph, pp. 143-44.
20For the use of AR 315-369 to discharge low-scoring soldiers, see Chapter 7.
21AFPAC Monograph, 4:193.
22At the suggestion of Secretary Patterson, General Huebner established the position of Negro adviser. After several candidates were considered, the post went to Marcus Ray, who left the secretary's office and went on active duty.
23Interv, author with Huebner.
24The 370th and 371st Infantry Battalions (Separate) were organized on 20 June 1947. The men came from EUCOM's inactivated engineer service battalions and construction companies, ambulance companies, and ordnance ammunition, quartermaster railhead, signal heavy construction, and transportation corps car companies; see Geis Monograph, p. 80.
25Ltr, CG, Ground and Service Forces, Europe, to CG, 1st Inf Div, 1 May 47, sub: Training of Negro Infantry Battalions, quoted in Geis Monograph, pp. 113-14.
26 The training center had already moved from Grafenwohr to larger quarters at Mannheim Koafestal, Germany.
27Ltr, D/P&A to Huebner, 15 Oct 47, CSGPA 291.2. This approval did not extend to all civil rights advocates, some of whom objected to the segregated training. Walter White, however, supported the program. See Interv, author with Huebner.
28EUCOM Hist Div, EUCOM Command Report, 1951, pp. 128, 251, copy in CMH.
29Ltr, Chief, EUCOM Tl&E Div. to EUCOM DCSOPS, 18 Jun 48, cited in Geis Monograph, p. 130.
30Geis Monograph, Charts 3 and 4 and p. 139.
31Not comparable was the brief literacy program reinstituted in the 25th Regimental Combat Team at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1947.
32Ltr, Huebner to D /,P&A, I Oct 47, CSGPA 291.2.
33Memo, DCofS for D/P&A, 14 May 48, sub: Report of Visit by Negro Publishers and Editors to the European Theater, CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (14 May 48).
34Ltr, D / P&A to Huebner, 15 Oct 47, CSGPA 29 1.2.
35Memo, ASW for D/P&A, 23 May 46, sub:Negro Officers in the Regular Establishment; Memo, D/P&A for ASW, 29 May 46, same sub: Memo, ``D. R", (Exec Asst to ASW, Lt Col D. J. Rogers) for Petersen, 12 Jun 46. Copies of all in ASW 291.2 (23 May 46).
36Memo, Chief, Manpower Survey Gp, for Paul, 29 Apr 48, sub: Assignment of Officers of Negro T/O&E units in Compliance with WD cir 124, 1946, CSGPA 210.31 (29 Apr 48); "Report on Negro Officer Strength in Army," incl w/Memo, D/P&A for DCofS, 21 Jun 48, sub: Report of Negro Publishers and Editors on Tour of European Installations, CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (14 May 48).
37Memo, D/P&A for TAG, 24 May 48, sub: Negro Officers in TO&E Units, CSGPA 291.2 (24 May 48).
38Ibid.; "Report on Negro Officer Strength in Army," incl w/ Memo, D/P&A for DCofS, 21 Jun 48, sub Report of Negro Publishers and Editors . . ., CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (14 May 48).
39Memo, Asst Secy, GS, for DCofS 2 Jun 48, sub: Negro ROTC units CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (2 Jun 48); see also Department of National Defense "National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs '' 26 Apr 48, morning session, pp. 31 -34, copy in CMH.
40"Report on Negro Officer Strength in Army," incl w/ Memo D/P&A for DCofS, 21 Jun 48, sub: Report of Negro Publishers and Editors . . ., CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (14 May 48).
41Department of National Defense, "National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs," 26 Apr 48, morning session, pp. 20-21. Prior to World War II, an officer held a commission in the Regular Army, in the Army Reserve, or in the National Guard Another type of commission, one in the Army of the United States (AUS), was added during World War II, and all temporary promotions granted during the war were to AUS rank. For example, a Regular Army captain could become an AUS major but would retain his Regular Army captaincy. Many reservists and some National Guard officers remaining on active duty sought conversion to, or integration into, the Regular Army for career security.
42These black officers were converted to Regular Army officers in the following arms and services Infantry 13; Chaplain corps, 9; Medical service Corps, l; Army Nurse Corps,1; Field Artillery, 1; Quartermaster, 7 (4 of whom were transferred later to the Transportation Corps). These figures include the first black doctor and nurse converted to Regular Army officers.
43"Analysis of Negro Officers in the Army," incl w/Memo, D/P&A for DCAs, 21 Jun 48, sub: Report of Negro Publishers and Editors . . , CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (14 May 48).
44DF, D/P&A to Chief of Engrs, 25 Jul 47, sub: Appointment of Negro Officers to the Regular Army w/attached Memo for Red, WDGPA 291.2 (23 Jul 47).
45DF, Chief of Engrs to D/P&A, 1 Aug 47, sub: Appointment of Negro Officers to the Regular Army, copy in WPGPA 291. 2, (23 Jul 47).
46WD Memo 615-500-4, 21 Nov 46, sub: Flow of Enlisted Personnel From Induction Centers and Central Examining Stations.
47Memo, Marcus Ray for ASW, 23 Jan 47, ASW 291.2.
48Memo, ASW for DCofS, 7 Feb 47, ASW 291.2
49Ltr, SW Robert P. Patterson to Walter White, 7 Feb 47, SW 29 .
50Telg, Hugh F. Dormody Mayor of Monterey, Calif., et al., to sent William F. Knowland, 31 Jul 48; Ltr, SA to sent Knowland 16 May 48; troth in CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (10 Aug 48).
51AG Memo for Office of SW et al., 10 Jan 47, sub Designation Of Race on Overseas Travel Orders AGAO-C 291.2 (6 Jan 47), WDGSP; Memo for Rcd attached to Memo, D/SSP for TAG, 6 Jan 47, same sub AG 291.2 (6 Jan 47).
52Memo SA for CofSA, 2 Apr 52, sub Racial Designations on Travel Orders, cs 291.2 (2 Apt 51).
53G-1 summary Sheet 26 Apr 52, sub Racial Designations on Travel Orders; Memo CofS for SA, 5 May 51, same sub; both in CS 291.2 (2 Apr 51).
54Memo, QMG for DCofS, 15 Apr 47, CSUSA, Copy in CMH.
55WDSP Summary Sheet, 22 Jan 47, sub: Staff Study—Segregation of Grave Sites, WDGSP/C3 1894
56Telg, Secy Veterans Affairs, NAACP, to SW, attached to Memo, SW for DCofS, 11 Apr 47, Copy in CMH.
57Memo, Civilian Aide for USW, 15 Mar 47, sub: Segregation in GravSite Assignment, Copy in CMH.
58Memo, SW for DCofS, 15 Apr 47, Copy in CMH. The secretary's directive was incorporated in the National Cemetery Regulations, August 1947, and Army Regulation 290-5, 2 October 1951.
59Ltr, Royall to Rep. Edward J. Devitt of Minnesota, 4 Sep 47; Ltr, Clifford Rucker to the President, 9 Aug 50; both in SW 291.2.
60Ltr, CG, Atlanta Depot, to DQMG, 19 Mar 56, MGME-P. see also Memo, ASA (M&RF) for CofS, 27 Sep 52, sub segregation of National cemeteries; DF, QMF to G-4, 6 Oct 52, same sub; both in CS 687 (27 Sep 52)
61Memo, D/P&A for CofS, 26 Feb 47, sub: Army Talks on "Utilization of Negro Manpower," WDGPA 291.2 (7 Jan 47).
62WD Cir 76, 22 Mar 47; see also Ltrs, Col David Lane (author of Army Talk 170) to Martin Blumenson, 29 Dec 66, and to author, 15 Mar 71, CMH files.
63STM-30, Strength of the Army, 1 Jul 48. For an optimistic report on the execution of Circular 124, see Annual Report of the Secretary of the Army, 1948 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1949), pp. 7-8, 83, 94.
64The Air Force became a separate service on 18 September 1947.
65Unless otherwise noted, the following paragraphs are based on Nichols' interviews in 1953 with Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Lee and with Lt. Col. Steve Davis (a black officer assigned to the P&A Division during the Gillem Board period); author's interview with General Wade H. Haislip, 18 Mar 71, and with General J. Lawton Collins, 27 Apt 71; all in CMH files; and U.S. Congress, Senate, Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Universal Military Training, 80th Cong., 2d sess., 1948, pp. 995-96. See also Morris Janowitz, The Professional Soldier: A Social and Political Portrait (New York: Free Press, 1960), pp. 87ff.
66Ltr, DDE to Gen Bruce Clarke (commander of the 2d Constabulary Brigade when it was integrated in 1950), 29 May 67, copy in CMH.
67The 1946 survey is contained in CINFO, "Supplementary Rpt on Attitudes of Whites Toward Serving With Negro EM," Incl to Memo, Col Charles S. Johnson, Exec Off, CofS, for DCofS, 24 May 49, sub: Segregation in the Army, CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (24 May 48).
68Armed Forces I&E Div, OSD, Rpt No. 101, "Morale Attitudes of Enlisted Men, May-June 1949," pt. II, Attitude Toward Integration of Negro Soldiers in the Army, copy in CMH.
69Memo, Brig Gen B. O. Davis, Sp Asst to SA, for Under SA, 7 Jan 48, sub: Negro Utilization in the Postwar Army, WDGPA 291.2; ibid., 24 Nov 47; both in SA files. The quotations are from the latter document.
70Memo, D/P&A for Under SA, 29 Apr 48, sub: Negro Utilization in the Postwar Army, WDGPA 291.2.
71DF's, CINFO to D/P&A, 9 Feb 48, and Dep D/P&A to CINFO, 12 Feb 48, both in WDGPA 291.2 (9 Feb 48).
72For a detailed discussion of this point, see Mandelbaum, Soldier Groups and Negro Soldiers, Stouffer et al., The American Soldier: Adjustment During Army Life, ch. Xll; Eli Ginzberg, The Negro Potential (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956); Ginzberg et al., The Ineffective Soldier, vol. 111, Patterns of Performance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959); To Secure These Rights: The Report of the President's Committee on Civil Rights (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1947); Dollard and Young, "In the Armed Forces."
73 Final Rpt, WD Policies and Programs Review Board' 11 Aug 47, CSUSA files.
74Ltr, Howard C. Petersen, ASW, to William M. Taylor, 12 May 47, ASW 291.2.
75Department of National Defense, "National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs,'' 26 Apr 48, morning session, p. 24.