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CAREER INCENTIVE ACT OF 1955
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1955
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 2,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., the Honorable L. Mendel Rivers, vice chairman of the subcommittee, presiding:
Mr. RIVERS. The committee will come to order.
We will continue our deliberations on H. R. 2607; the first witness this morning will be the distinguished Assistant Secretary of Defense for manpower and personnel, the Honorable Carter L. Burgess.
Mr. HÉBERT. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, last week I was at West Point, the United States Military Academy, as a member of the board of advisers there. Following our discussions with the Superintendent and the academic board of the Academy and the other members of the board of advisers, a decision was reached that an effort should properly be made to consider the advisability of the proposed pay raise for the cadets of the Military Academy, and also to take cognizance of the deficiency in the retirement policy of professors, permanent professors who have been on duty for some
As you know, the board of advisers report is sent directly to the President. But it will not be sent there until April, which would be after these hearings are concluded.
Therefore, on instructions of the board of advisers, I was asked to confer with the chairman of the committee, Mr. Vinson, the chairman of the full Armed Services Committee, in connection with this proposed legislation. That I did, on yesterday evening with Mr. Blandford, counsel for this subcommittee. On instructions of Mr. Vinson, the data was turned over to Mr. Blandford with instructions to confer later with Mr. Kilday and the members of this committee as to the proper time for the consideration of these suggestions by the board of advisers. I wanted that to be a part of the record to indicate that the desire of the board of advisers has been carried out by bringing the matter to the attention of this committee at this particular time.
Mr. Rivers. Mr. Blandford, can that be properly considered with this bill?
Mr. BLANDFORD. I think that that matter should be discussed later, Mr. Chairman, as to whether—there are certain aspects of the recom
mendations which will be considered. Some of these are assimilated in the Career Incentive Act. Others involve different matters and are not at this time a part of this bill.
Mr. RIVERS. When we start reading the bill line for line it can be the proper place.
Mr. HÉBERT. If it is to be considered. Mr. Blandford, Mr. Vinson and myself, after discussion, understand the situation.
Mr. RIVERS. Certainly the present occupant of the Chair will interpose no objection.
Now, Mr. Burgess?
STATEMENT OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARTER L. BURGESS
Secretary BURGESS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, you have heard the testimony of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretaries and Military Chiefs of the Services, which described in general terms the military personnel problems faced by the Department of Defense. You have also heard comments from these leaders of the Department of Defense and from Mr. Charles R. Hook, relative to the need for improvement of military career incentives and the merits of the proposed "Career Incentive Act of 1955."
In the hope of avoiding repetition, I shall confine my remarks to some of the specific facts which have caused the Department of Defense to seek enactment of this proposed bill. As you are already aware, our biggest problem today is personnel instability. When the present high rate of personnel turnover is analyzed in the light of advancing technological developments and the sheer size of the military force to be required for the foreseeable future, it is clearly evident that something must be done to improve personnel stability.
At this point, it should be stated that the Congress has been alert to the need for improvement of military career inducements. A number of measures have been enacted or modified during recent years which give evidence to this fact.
In 1949, the Congress enacted the Career Compensation Act, based upon the recommendations of the Hook Commission. This act established a sorely needed career compensation pattern which gave proper recognition to levels of skill, responsibility, and leadership
in the light of the then existing economic situation.
In 1952, the Congress authorized an across-the-board basic pay increase of 4 percent and a 14 percent increase in quarters and subsistence allowance.
Other measures enacted by the Congress have dealth with specific problems:
Reenlistment bonuses have been increased.
Government insured loans have been extended to active military personnel
A warrant officer career structure has been established.
Restrictions on officer promotions and retirements have been alleviated.
Restrictions on weight allowances for movement of household effects have been eased.
Quarters allowances for enlisted personnel have been improved.
These and other recent actions by the Congress have improved morale, and they give evidence to the serviceman that his loss is a matter of concern to the country. The reenlistment bonus increase has undoubtedly been a major factor in preventing reenlistment rates from dropping lower than they have.
All of us have hoped that these actions would stem the increasing trend of military personnel turnover. While each, in its way, has dealt with problems related to improvement of the military career, it has become clear that more direct actions are necessary to achieve the required degree of stability and combat readiness of our Armed Forces. The proposed Career Incentive Act provides for those actions we believe are essential.
Now, if I may, I would like to present a series of charts which show in some detail the personnel instability problem being faced by the military services and the reasons why we believe enactment of the proposed Career Incentive Act is essential. A copy of each chart will be submitted for the record.
The first few charts deal with the symptoms which identify and establish the scope of the turnover problem. If for any reason I go too fast and you want to study a chart further, please let me know.
This chart shows how reenlistments among regular personnel have declined to an unacceptable level:
(The chart follows.) SINCE 1949 REENLISTMENT RATES HAVE FALLEN TO AN UNACCEPTABLE LEVEL
EFFECT OF INDUCTEES ON ARMY TURNOVER RATES This chart shows how reenlistments in the Army of today compare with 1949. Experience in 1949 was not materially affected by inductees since the Army was then composed predominantly of Regulars. However, Regulars reenlisted in 1954 at about one-half the rate of 1949. Inductees enlisted at the low rate of 7.2 percent, which brought the overall Army reenlistment rate down to 11.6 percent.
While a sizable part of the Army will continue to be manned with inductees, it is evident that the declining interest in a service career creates a major instability problem in the Army. a problem which is shared by the other services.
The rates shown for both 1949 and 1954 are averages for those fiscal years. In all services the rate for fiscal year 1954 dropped to about one-half that experienced in 1949.
It is clear that this problem of lowered reenlistment rates is one which is faced by all services, and in substantially the same degree. During the last half of fiscal 1954 the rates dropped sharply below the annual average. For the Army, the rate dropped to 18.6; the Navy, 13.1; the Air Force, 27.3; and the Marine Corps, 12.7 percent.
Mr. HARDY. May I interrupt, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Hardy. For what period of time do these figures represent the reenlistment bonus that was approved ?
Secretary BURGESS. I don't believe that the effect of the reenlistment bonuses are in these figures at all.
Mr. HARDY. The reenlistment bonus is not felt in any of these at all! Secretary BURGESS. Not in this chart. Mr. HARDY. The reason I raise the question, as I recall, General Shepherd wasn't too disturbed with the present trend in the Marine Corps.
Secretary BURGESS. This is the fiscal 1954 and the effects of the reenlistment bonus are not shown on this chart.
Mr. HARDY. This is fiscal 1954?
Mr. RIVERS. You have not had an opportunity to evaluate the effect of the bonus?
Secretary BURGESS. Not fully. We do have some figures to give you, though, for that part of fiscal year 1955 that we have been able to develop estimates on.
Mr. RIVERS. You will submit that?
Reenlistment rates for Regulars, by service, selected periods: Fiscal year 1950
to December 1954
Mr. RIVERS. Go ahead, Mr. Burgess.
Secretary BURGESS. This chart does not show the reenlistment experience beyond fiscal year 1954. Beyond preliminary studies, however, there has been a significant change only in the Army, where regulars constitute only a portion of the total strength, and this will probably be of particular interest to Mr. Hardy on these figures.
The preliminary rates for the 6-month period July through December 1954, are:
8.1 Air Force
22.4 Marine Corps---
20.1 This next chart shows how reenlistments in the Army of today compare with 1949.
(Î'he chart follows:)
PERSONNEL TURNOVER IN THE ARMY IS ACCENTUATED BY THE HIGH PROPORTION
COMPARISON OF REENLISTMENT RATES BY GRADE, 1949–50 VERSUS 1955 This chart shows a comparison of reenlistment rates by grade in the Navy and Air Force for the periods November 1949–June 1950, and July-September 1954. It reflects the continuing downward trend in reenlistments among our most experienced and skilled personnel.
On the left are shown the reenlistment rates for 1945–50. The darker color on the right shows the comparable rate for the 1954 period.
The decline in the reenlistment rates in the lower grades foreshadows the very serious problem of maintaining an adequate number of technicians in the higher grades. The fact that this trend has seriously affected grades E-5 and E-6, normally considered career grades, gives unusual significance to this trend.
The problem is particularly critical in the Navy and Air Force. The lengthy and expensive training required to qualify the technicians needed in these services makes it essential that they retain more men on a career basis.
It is evident that a continuation of these trends will reduce the level of skill and experience to a dangerous low.
Experience in 1949 was not materially affected by inductees since the Army was then composed predominantly of regulars. However, regulars reenlisted in 1954 at about one-half the rate of 1949. Inductees enlisted at the low rate of 7.2 percent, which brought the overall Army reenlistment rate down to 11.6 percent.