Determining the most effective use of manpower in the armed forces is a continual preoccupation of
both military and civilian leaders. The proper employment of Negroes has been of especial interest because they constitute a large
segment of the available manpower resources. The course of events during World War II and the Korean war led to departures from
traditional policies and procedures in the use of Negro personnel.
The official policy of the U.S. Army since the Civil War had been to keep the white and Negro races segregated in separate units. Negro soldiers had been assigned to Negro units of regimental size or larger, some of which had Negro officers. Most Negroes had been employed in service support functions because they had generally been regarded as unsuitable for combat. An act of Congress in 1869, in effect, required the permanent retention of four newly created colored regiments in the Army. Though precedents for racially mixed units could be found in the American Revolution and in World War II, the conflict in Korea brought about the first major departure in the employment of the Army's Negro personnel: Because many Negro units were ineffective in combat and white replacements were scarce in the U.S. Eighth Army, individual Negroes were assigned to white units.
1. Army Policies in Flux
Before this event, however, a number of changes had been made affecting the traditional policy of segregation in the Army. These changes grew out of a series of evaluations of the Negro soldier's role
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in World War II.1 In one of the first of such evaluations the so-called Gillem Board (headed by Lt. Gen. Alvan Gillem, Jr.), in 1945 had recommended the expansion of opportunities for the Negro in the Army and had supported the assignment of colored and white groups in composite units. The board had favored continuance of the basic segregation principle and the racial quota system limiting the number of Negroes in the Army to 10 percent of the total. It left to the future the possibility of acceptance of integration.2 Presidential Executive Order 9981, issued in July 1948, had changed the segregation tradition by declaring a policy of equality of opportunity and treatment in the armed services. The order had also created the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces (better known as the Fahy Committee) to study the manpower policies of the services. The committee had approached its task from the position of determining how broader opportunities for Negroes would increase their efficiency and make available a larger manpower reserve to the army. Therefore, in May 1949 the Fahy Committee proposed opening all army jobs and schools to qualified personnel without regard to race or color, assigning all Army personnel according to ability and need, and abolishing the racial quota.3 In contrast, the Chamberlin Board (created in November 1949 to study the Negro manpower problem and headed by Lt. Gen. S. J. Chamberlin) concluded that increased opportunities for colored soldiers would adversely affect the fighting spirit and morale of the Army in general. This board like the Gillem Board, favored the traditional pattern of segregation and the 10 percent quota system.4 Studies of this problem written immediately after World War II at Army colleges were predicated on the continuance of the segregation policy, but in 1950 and 1951 students concluded that Negroes would be best used in a composite organization of colored and white units and that maximum effectiveness of all personnel would be gained from gradual integration. 5
1. Operations Research Office, The Utilization of Negro Manpower in the Army (Project Clear, Report ORO-R-11, 1955), (hereafter
cited as ORO Study), pp. 1-3, 559-89. Prepared by ORO of The Johns Hopkins University, Chevy Chase, Md., operating under contract
with the Department of the Army.
2. WD Cir 124, 27 Apr 46, sub: Utilization of Negro Manpower in the Postwar Army Policy.
3. Rept of the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, atchd to ltr, J. J. McCloy, HICOG, to Gen. T. T. Handy, CINCEUR, 4 Jan 52. In USAREUR SGS 291.2 (1952).
4. Report of the Chamberlin Board, 1950, in ORO Study, pp. 579-82. The Gillem Board Report is also reproduced in the ORO Study, pp. 574-79.
5. ORO Study, pp. 2, 584-85.
On 1 October 1949 the Army began moving in the direction indicated by the Fahy Committee and by
other proponents of change in Negro manpower policies by opening all service jobs and schools to qualified men, regardless of color,
and eliminating racial quotas for school attendance. The new basic policy of the Army was expressed in special regulations issued on
16 January 1950. Reiterating the doctrine of equality of opportunity and treatment in the armed forces, first proclaimed in
Executive Order 9981, the regulation prescribed that Negroes with appropriate skills and qualifications be utilized and assigned
according to these skills and qualifications without regard to race or color. Thus, while not explicitly committing the Army to a
policy of integration, this special regulation could be and was construed as allowing it. On 27 March 1950 the Army abolished the
recruiting quota system for enlistments.6
2. Negro Troops in Europe
The use of Negro troops in USAREUR7 after World War II was guided by the basic policy directives of the Department of the Army discussed above. Thus, segregation was still the rule in Europe, although certain steps were taken in accordance with changes made in the United States to improve the status of the Negro in the Army and raise the level of efficiency of Negro units. The vast majority of Negroes in the European theater continued to be used in unskilled positions in service organizations. Because of their generally low AGCT score and/or education level very few could be assigned to combat-type units without special training.8 Representatives of the American Negro press and of various Negro civilian organizations visited the command at different times during this period to inspect colored troop installations, to observe the morale and efficiency of colored soldiers, and to suggest improvements to the Army. Upon invitation of the Secretary of the Army, such a
6. (1) DA Cables WCL-45586, 44600, TAG to all Comds, 1 Oct 49, 27 Mar 50. (2) SR 600-629-1, 16 Jan
50, sub: Utilization of Negro Manpower in the Army, par. 10. (3) ORO Study, pp. 3, 4, 568. (4) Rept of President's Committee on
Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, atchd to ltr, J. J. McCloy, HICOG, to Gen T. T. Handy, CINCEUR, 4 Jan
52. In USAREUR SGS 291.2 (1952).
7. In the period following World War II United States forces in Europe were reorganized and redesignated on several occasions. The European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA), was redesignated U.S. Forces, European Theater (USFET), on 1 July 1945; USFET became the European Command (EUCOM) on 15 March 1947; and EUDOM was redesignated U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR), on 1 August 1952.
8. USAREUR Hist Div, Negro Personnel in the European Command, 1 Jan 46-30 Jun 50, pp. 47-48.
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group of Negro publishers and editors visited the command in the spring of 1948. In its report the
group noted that the colored race was inadequately represented as officers, numbering 152 or 1.5 percent of the 10,000 officers in
the command in March 1948; that Negroes were barred from assignment to U.S. Constabulary units and Army postal servers; that too few
Negroes served in military government agencies, the post exchange system, or in various headquarters staff divisions and units; and
that proportionately few Negro Wacs and only two Regular Army officers were in the American Zones of Germany and Austria. Finally,
the group disapproved of the segregated education program at the Kitzingen Training Center, whereas it praised the unsegregated
Munich Education Center and Murnau Engineering School. According to the report submitted by this group to the Secretary of the Army,
the source of these deficiencies was the segregation policy itself. The Gillem Board proposals for advancing the status of the Negro
in the Army within the segregation framework were labeled obsolete. As long as this pattern of separation existed, there would be
discrimination and abridgement of opportunity based solely on color. The inevitable results were waste of manpower, duplication of
functions, and needless expenditure of the taxpayer's money.9
The Department of the Army responded to this report by initiating the organic assignment of Negro units to the U.S. Constabulary and the transfer of Negro Wacs to Europe. During the summer of 1948 the Army also allocated 57 more Negro officers to Germany.10 More changes were introduced when the command implemented the new departmental policies based upon the recommendations of the Fahy Committee. When the Department of the Army directed its European headquarters to apply the new policy of opening all service jobs and schools to qualified personnel, certain specialized Negro soldiers were assigned to white units in exceptional cases. 11 This measure generated confusion, if not opposition, because shortly after release of the directive the command was notified that it was not authorized to assign men without regard to race. This contradiction in policy was discovered, and the Army rescinded its second order on 3 November 1949.12 Moreover, the command's policy of assigning specialized personnel regardless of race was reaffirmed in a statement issued in March 1951:
9. Ibid., pp. 72-75.
10. Ibid., p. 75.
11. DA Cable WCL-45586, DA TAG to all Comds, 1 Oct 49.
12. USAREUR Hist Div, Negro Personnel in the European Command, 1 Jan 46-30 Jun 50, pp. 7-11.
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... if individual Negro officers or enlisted personnel possess primary qualifications which cannot be utilized in Negro units because the individuals are or would be excess to the needs of such units, or because there are no Negro units in the command employing personnel who have such primary qualifications, it is the policy of this command to assign these individuals to units which can most effectively utilize their qualifications regardless of race or color.l3
By the beginning of 1952 some 2,000 Negro specialists, representing 7 percent of total Negro enlisted
strength in the European Command, were serving in units not designated as Negro as a result of this early integration policy.
Moreover, all Negro female personnel, enlisted and officer, and more than 17 percent of the Negro male officers in the command were
assigned to other than Negro units.l4
Among the various schools operating in the command on the new nonsegregated basis was the Noncommissioned Officers' Academy of the U.S. Constabulary at Munich. By 1950 the students were processed, housed, and trained together in an atmosphere of complete integration. Noncommissioned officers of both races exercised command without regard to race or unit of origin, indicating a complete acceptance of rotation of command duties. No troubles arose out of the integrated situation. Graduates of the academy returned to their units to receive high praise for their improved duty performances, indicating that this forward looking attitude toward Negro students was matched by the high quality of the training. In addition to eliminating the racial factor in job and school assignments, the Army directed the European Command on 1 October 1949 to discontinue the quotas for Negro enlisted personnel eligible for promotion examinations. Consequently, promotions were granted on an equal merit basis by grading examinations against a single standard.l5
Other developments in Europe reflecting the Army's new racial policies included the closing of the Kitzingen Training Center in February 1951. Until that time the center had provided specialist training and a basic on-duty education program for Negro troops only.
13. Ltr, Gen T. T. Handy, CINCEUR, to Mr. Claude A. Barnett, Dir of the Associated Negro Press, 7
Feb 52. In USAREUR SGS 291.2 (1952), Item 2.
14. (1) Ibid. (2) EUCOM P&A Div Jnl, 8 Jan 52, Item 1. (3) EUCOM Mthly Stat Rept, 31 Mar 52, p. 7.
15. (1) USAREUR Hist Div, Negro Personnel in the European Command, 1 Jan 46-30 Jun 50, pp. 69-70. (2) DA Cable WCL-45586, TAG to all Comds, 1 Oct 49.
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Upon arrival in the command all colored replacements had to be processed at Kitzingen to determine
their educational level and hence their ultimate assignment to a specialist or basic education course or to a Negro unit.
Consequently, the center had operated as a segregated replacement facility. Closing the Kitzingen installation, however, led to the
absorption of Negroes into other training and replacement facilities in the command on a nonsegregated basis. Although Negroes were
still being screened at the Replacement Depot, even this practice was discontinued in December 1951.16
Despite these efforts to improve and expand the field of opportunity for colored personnel, the majority of Negroes were still found in-the service branches. Of the 66 Negro units in the command on 30 June 1950, 57 were service organizations and only 9 were combat-type units. As a result of the troop augmentation program in 1951 the number of colored units in the command increased so that by 31 March 195217 there were 139 such units, including those in the Communications Zone (COMZ) in France. Service-type organizations numbered 113, of which 53 were transportation units; only 26 units were of the combat type.l8
3. The Korean Experience
The effect of eliminating racial quotas for enlistments beginning in April 1950 was to raise the percentage of Negro enlistments in the Army. In the months following the removal of the quota restrictions, Negroes accounted for about one-fourth of the total number of enlistments. Since the colored training units could not absorb the excess Negroes, and singe the Army did not want to designate additional Negro units, a solution was found in assigning Negro recruits with white soldiers in the same units.l9
a. Integration. The Korean conflict erupted in June 1950, only a few months after the removal of racial quotas for enlistments; this wee about the time that Negroes were first integrated into white training units. The stateside situation of excess Negroes and a shortage of white personnel was reflected in the replacement abeam to the Far East. This factor, coupled with the unsatisfactory performance level of some Negro units
16. (1) Ann Narr Rept, Hq USAREUR, 1 Jan-31 Dec 50, pp. 109-10. (2) EUCOM Comd Rept, 1951, p. 115.
(3) C/N 6, Dir EUCOM OPOT Div to EUCOM COFS, 14 Jan 52, sub: Transmittal of Draft Revision of Training Circular No. 1. In USAREUR
SGS 291.2, Item 1.
17. The day before the integration program was authorized in Europe.
18. (1) USAREUR Hist Div, Negro Personnel in the European Command, 1 Jan 46-30 Jun 50, pp. 108-09. (2) Station List of Organizations in EUCOM, 31 Mar 52.
19. ORO Study, pp. 3, 569-70.
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during the initial phases of the Korean War, led to the adoption of the first large-scale integration
effort in a major Army command. In the summer of 1950, Maj. Gen. William B. Kean, commander of the 25th Division, declared that the
24th Infantry Regiment-the largest of the fourteen all-Negro units in the Far East Command (FECOM) at the outbreak of the Korean
War-constituted a threat to the security of his division and requested its replacement with another regiment. Subsequent
investigations confirmed the general's allegations and disclosed that colored units generally required up to 25 percent more
commissioned and noncommissioned officers than similar white units because of low average AGCT scores. The recommendation was made
to integrate Negroes into all units up to 15 percent of strength with implementation to take place through normal attrition and
replacement processes. On the basis of the limited integration that had already taken place in Korea, the FECOM Assistant Chief of
Staff, G1, concluded that colored soldiers could and did fight well when integrated. The Department of the Army eventually approved
integration in FECOM in the summer of 1951. The personnel of the 24th Infantry Regiment were transferred to white units and the
regiment was inactivated on 1 October 1951.20
b. The ORO Report. Korea inadvertently served as the testing ground for the Army's new policies of abolishing racial quotas and initiating integrated units. For the first time the Army could observe and compare the performances of integrated and segregated units like that of the 24th Infantry Regiment under almost identical battle conditions, which, in effect, meant appraising the relative merits of the policies of integration and segregation. For this purpose, in March 1951 the Department of the Army requested the Operations Research Office (ORO) of The Johns Hopkins University to undertake comprehensive studies in the field. An over-all policy of integration of Negro with white troops was a possible solution to the Army's problem of more effective manpower utilization. The Navy and the Air Force had already moved in this direction, but the problem for the Army was different and more complicated because of the numbers involved and because of the nature of personnel assignments. The focus of ORO's studies was on integration because segregation was regarded as the basic obstacle to the better utilization of Negro manpower in the Army. The specific objectives were to determine how well integration had worked in Korea, how far it had gone, how both races had reacted to it, and most important, what effect, if any, the new procedure had had on the performance of Negro soldiers and of integrated units. The scope of the study was later extended to include the use of Negro Manpower in the United States. In July 1951 the Department of the Army received a preliminary report of ORO's findings, which helped to crystallize the Army's resolve to begin, on 26 July 1951, integration in the Far East
20. History of the Korean War, Vol. III, Pt. 2, Personnel Problems, pp. 151-52, 157-58. Prepared by FECOM Mil Hist Sec, copy in USAREUR Hist Div Ref Lib.
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Command. The draft summary of the completed field and research studies in Korea and in the United
States was presented to the Department of the Army in November 1951.21
The substance of this study was as follows:22
Negroes, representing about one-eighth of the army's strength and about one-tenth of the total U.S. population, were disproportionately represented in the two least qualified groups according to Army classification tests. With complete segregation, Negro units would have about 62 percent low-scoring personnel compared to 33 percent for white units and an army average of 37 percent. In 1951, 58 percent of colored enlisted personnel were in the service branches and 42 percent in the combat arms, compared to 88 percent and 12 percent, respectively, in World War II.
In performance, the all-Negro combat unit of regimental size or larger was less reliable than similar all-white units. The effectiveness of small Negro units varied. Negroes performed better in integrated than in all-Negro combat units, according to the opinions of officers who served with integrated units in Korea. As individuals, Negroes in integrated units performed on a par with white soldiers in the same units. One to three Negroes in a squad did not appear to adversely affect the performance of the squad in combat; the effect of larger numbers was not determined because of insufficient data.
The concentration of low scoring personnel in all-colored units limited the availability of leadership talent for such units. White officers commanding all-Negro units tended to attribute their problems to race; white commanders of integrated units generally regarded their problems as military. Previous Army studies were supported in the conclusion that Negro soldiers did not prefer white officers but accepted them on the basis of merit. Interview material showed that whites accepted efficient Negro noncommissioned and company-grade officers.
The report continued with the finding that adding limited numbers of Negro soldiers to a previously all-white unit did not lower the morale of the whites in that unit, while the morale of the Negroes was raised. The special regulation issued on 16 January 1950 had not specifically committed the Army to an integration policy, though it might have been interpreted as allowing it. The special regulation had not provided for assignment of whites to colored units (reverse integration). Almost all Negroes, regardless of stateside origin or their type of unit, favored integration. Those most opposed to integration generally were white soldiers in predominantly Negro units or in white
21. ORO Study, Foreword, pp. 3, 569.
22. ORO Study, pp. 4-6, passim.
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units that were adjacent to all-Negro units. However opposed to integration they might be, soldiers
in all-white combat units indicated that they would not be actively hostile toward Negro replacements. In most cases, as a result of
integration, white soldiers became more favorably disposed toward serving in the same units with colored soldiers. Integration was
accepted by white soldiers in all-white National Guard units called to active duty from both Southern and Northern states. Most
officers and enlisted men with experience in integrated units thought that two Negroes per combat squad was the maximum level of
To the authors of the report the Army-wide extension of integration seemed practicable. Since integration had been initiated and was in effect in a number of different types of units and under a sufficient variety of situations, the favorable results obtained justified its extension. Then integration was carried out under the usual circumstance in which Negroes were the minority, the performance of a unit in combat or garrison was not adversely affected. An effective interim working level seemed to be a maximum of 15-20 percent colored personnel, but, so far, any racial problems involving military personnel arising out of personal attitudes and local racial customs had responded to military control.
The study recommended that the Army ought to continue and extend its current policy of granting equal opportunity and treatment and using Negro manpower on the basis of individual qualifications. Moreover, the Army ought to commit itself to a policy of full and complete integration to be carried out as quickly as operational efficiency permitted. This policy would have to be promoted and published with a declaration of intention-namely to increase the Army's efficiency. Integration ought to be carried out chiefly by assigning Negro troops as replacements to all-white units. Local commanders would have to be allowed a wide latitude, consistent with military needs, in effecting integration, particularly in the off-duty or nonmilitary aspects of the program. Existing Negro units ought to be converted on a unit-by-unit basis, with those of battalion size and larger in the combat arms, and notably in the infantry, converted immediately. National Guard units would have to be subjected to integration after being called to active duty. The racial identity ought to be retained in the Army's basic records, for at least a few years, to facilitate control of the program and to help in future evaluations of the policy. Finally no quota ought to be established at this time (i.e. 1951).