« PreviousContinue »
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN S. JACKSON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRE
TARY OF DEFENSE FOR MANPOWER, PERSONNEL AND RESERVE; ACCOMPANIED BY REAR ADM. B. A. CLAREY, USN, DIRECTOR OF MILITARY PERSONNEL POLICY DIVISION, OFFICE OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (M.P. & R.); HAROLD WOOL, STAFF DIRECTOR OF PLANS AND ANALYSIS DIVISION, OFFICE OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (M.P. & R.); COL. ARTHUR C. RUSH, USAF, CHIEF OF PERSONNEL RETENTION DIVISION, OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR PERSONNEL, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE; LT. COL. LEWIS H. STREHLOW, USA, OFFICE OF ADJUTANT GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY; AND COMDR. SYBIL A. GRANT, USN, OFFICE OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (M.P. & R.), WHO SERVED AS DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE COORDINATOR FOR HEARINGS AND LIAISON WITH VETERANS' AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Mr. Jackson. I would like to bring with me Admiral Clarey, Director of the Military Personnel Policy Division; Mr. Wool, Director of the Plans and Analysis Division, both of my office, and Colonel Rush, of the Air Force.
My name is Stephen S. Jackson.
Mr. Haley. Mr. Secretary, we are glad to have you and your colleagues before the committee. You have a prepared statement, I believe, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. JACKSON. Yes, I do, sir.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the Department of Defense welcomes the opportunity of presenting to this committee its views on S. 1138 which would provide readjustment assistance to veterans who serve in the Armed Forces between January 31, 1955, and July 1, 1963. The type of readjustment assistance would include educational and vocational training, vocational rehabilitation training for service-connected disabilities, and loans for homes, farms, livestock, and farm machinery, and closely parallels the World War II and the Korean GI bills.
May I say at the outset that the Department of Defense wholeheartedly subscribes to the idea that Government assistance, and particularly educational benefits, should be extended to veterans called into service in time of war to assist them in the transition to civilian life.
Military service in time of war spans a broad range of age-from young men in their teens to middle-aged men. It interrupts civilian careers, and in many cases necessitates changing the civilian career. The influx of large numbers of wartime veterans on the civilian economy in rapid demobilization following war offers additional reason for supporting Government assistance to wartime veterans. And a final justification is the hazards of war-more than a million killed or wounded in action in World War II and the Korean conflict.
On the other hand, with the exception of those retired for substantial disability the Department of Defense does not believe that such Government assistance is warranted in the transition of the peacetime veteran from military to civilian life. In the decade of the fifties, the military service obligation became an accepted fact of life for young American men approaching adulthood. A post-World War II draft law, initially enacted in 1948, remained continuously on the statute books throughout the fifties and in 1959 was extended again by the Congress until 1963. During this decade, a total of 712 million youth, or up to 70 percent of the young men in the age bracket to which the draft law was applicable, had entered the military service.
In sharp contrast with wartime veterans, peacetime veterans can choose 1 of 30 programs by which military service obligations may be met with least interruption of education or civilian careers. The draft is applicable only to young men. And each year since 1954, the median age of men entering the service has consistently been 181/2 years. Approximately 85 percent have been in the 17-19 year age bracket. The economic adjustment of the peacetime veteran is much less of a problem than that of the wartime veteran by virtue of the smaller, and relatively stable number of peacetime veterans-about 600,000 each year since Korea—as compared to the 10,218,000 demobilized from World War II service in fiscal year 1946. And finally, the contrast of hazards to life during war and peace requires no amplification.
Peacetime veterans' benefits of the type contemplated by S. 1138 were a major topic of consideration by the President's Commission on Veterans' Pensions established in 1955, with Gen. Omar N. Bradley as Chairman. This Commission, in its final report to the President dated April 23, 1956, concluded that in view of the changed character of our national military responsibilities for the foreseeable future, peacetime veterans should not be accorded benefits such as were provided to veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict. This position was essentially the one adopted by the Department of Defense in respect to previous bills (S. 6675, S. 714, S. 1095, and S. 1282) introduced in the 85th Congress to extend or amend the Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952.
Let me emphasize that the Department of Defense position should in no way be construed as opposition to education. To the contrary, this Department supports the national policy of raising the educational level and strengthening the skill level of the work force of our population.
At this time I would like to cover the contribution of the Armed Forces toward raising national educational and skill levels. After this, I will discuss the deleterious effects of S. 1138 on inducing critically needed personnel to leave military service.
EDUCATIONAL AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE MILITARY
All services have programs of full-time schooling of selected individuals, both officers and enlisted personnel, in civilian colleges and universities, to meet military requirements for personnel so trained in specialized fields, primarily mathematics and science, at the graduate or undergraduate levels.
In addition, off-duty educational opportunities are broad. Correspondence courses and group study classes are offered by the U.S. Armed Forces Institute (USAFI) at nominal cost, in spoken languages, vocational subjects, and general high school and college level subjects. Through contract agreements with 44 participating colleges and universities, approximately 6,000 correspondence courses are made available through USAFI. Nearly 250,000 military personnel were enrolled in courses administered by USAFI in fiscal year 1959. The cost of this program to the Government was $3,500,000. The Government also pays up to 75 percent of tuition costs for resident courses. Some 210,000 military personnel in off-duty time were attending courses in high schools, colleges, and universities in the same period. The expense of this program to the Government was $3,300,000. These figures—a half million Armed Forces personnel annually pursuing off-duty courses of study-offer conclusive proof, we believe, that the Department of Defense positively supports education. Considerable effort is expended to keep constantly before our personnel the desirability of self-improvement through education. Additional information on the educational program in each of the Armed Forces is submitted for the record.
We turn now to a consideration of military service schools and the Defense contribution to improving the skill level of the work force. With regard to vocational or occupational training, table I shows the distribution of enlisted personnel in the Armed Forces by occupational grouping. It is readily apparent that, with the exception of the ground combat group, all of the military occupational groups have their counterparts in the civilian economy. Even though the civilian economy has no occupation parallel to the ground combat specialists—the infantry riflemen, artíllery crewmen, tank crews and combat engineers—these hard-core combat personnel have become highly specialized craftsmen in their own right. The unit combat leader in a modern pentomic division must possess special qualifications and training in a wide range of skills, including operation and firstline maintenance of complex weapons, map reading, communications, and supply procedures, among others. And, in addition to this knowledge, he must possess qualities of leadership, resourcefulness, and initiative which have assumed even greater importance under conditions of decentralized combat operation in an atomic era. Many of these latter skills are always in demand in the civilian economy.
Table II shows the percentage of enlisted personnel in the broad occupational groups who receive training in service schools and the average length of such courses in weeks. The range is from 40 percent of personnel in the services group receiving 9 weeks of formal schooling, to 86 percent in the electronics group who receive an average of 21 weeks of formal schooling. The proportion of enlisted personnel initially trained in service schools, and the average length of the training courses, tend to vary directly with the complexity of the skill. In highly technical specialties, such as electronics maintenance, virtually all personnel are sent initially to school for courses averaging about one-half year in length. In contrast, less than half of the personnel assigned to clerical, crafts, or services occupations received initial school training for courses averaging between 2 and 4 months. In the past decade, 672 million of these services trained men have added their skills to the civilian manpower pool upon discharge from the Armed Forces.
While the degree to which this military skill training has been effectively used in later civilian employment is not susceptible to exact measurement, we do know for example that pilots trained in the Armed Forces during or after World War I served as the prime source of airline pilots in the then new civilian aviation industry. Similarly, a Bureau of Labor Statistics study conducted in 1952 revealed that 3t percent of all electronics technicians employed in the civilian economy had been trained-in whole or in part-in Armed Forces technical schools, mainly during World War II.
Another contribution of the armed services to the civilian economy is illustrated by the fact that in 1957 over 1,000 training publications used by the Department of Defense in service schools were made available to the Department of Labor for inclusion in training material centers established by that Department as part of its program to strengthen the skills of the Nation's work force.
While Armed Forces service schools are operated to meet the requirements of the military, such training and skills acquired during military service have their impact on the civilian educational and skill levels.
EFFECT OF S. 1138 ON RETENTION OF SKILLED PERSONNEL IN THE ARMED
And now, I would like to discuss the effect, as we see it, of proposals such as S. 1138 on the ability of the Armed Forces to retain qualified personnel. My remarks are directed to section 2 of the bill which provides educational and vocational assistance to personnel with at least 180 days service in the Armed Forces between January 31, 1955, and July 1, 1963. Sections 3 and 4 dealing with rehabilitation for physically disabled veterans and the loan assistance program will be discussed by the Veterans Administration.
Postservice programs of educational and vocational assistance tend to encourage personnel to leave military service immediately after accruing the maximum entitlement to educational benefits under such programs. This results in a serious handicap to the Armed Forces in their efforts to retain qualified personnel on a career basis. The Department of Deferse must reemphasize that maintenance of a forcein-being, of sufficient strength to assure the peace and security of the Nation without unreasonable expenditures of funds, requires retention of a large percentage of personnel who volunteer for service in the Armed Forces on a long-term basis. The situation was critical in fiscal years 1954 and 1955 when the reenlistment rate for regulars completing initial tours of duty averaged less than 15 percent.
To correct this unacceptably low retention rate and to improve career attractiveness, the Congress has enacted since 1955 10 important laws affecting personnel-pay increases, improved promotion opportunities, dependents' medical care, and survivors' benefits, to name a few. These laws and the administrative actions taken by the Armed Forces have contributed substantially to increasing career attractiveness. However, problem areas still remain within many critical skills which require additional and continuing emphasis. Our reenlistment rates are lowest in the occupational areas requiring the greatest degree of ability and training. This situation is aggravated by the fact that as our weapons systems become more complex, the proportion of personnel required in the more technical skills increases. As shown in table III, a comparison of the present pattern of skills, by major occupational groups, with that in 1945 and in the early 1950's, reveals an unmistakable trend: the sharp relative expansion of the technicalmechanical skill groups.
The most dramatic increase has been in the electronics group which has more than doubled in relative size since the end of World War II. To illustrate—the multiplication of types of electronics equipment and the vast increase in its complexity is suggested by the fact that the number of electron tubes in the equipment of a Navy destroyer rose from less than 200 in 1940 to 5,000 at the present time. Similar comparisons can be made between World War II submarines and the present nuclear submarine, as well as between World War II aircraft and their recent counterparts. The modern jet bomber includes items of equipment such as speed brakes, cabin pressurization, heat reduction systems, seat ejection, air refueling, antifogging flight control systems and many others not even in existence in World War II.
Such complicated weapons and equipment require men with a high degree of ability. Faced with an increasing gap between more technical job requirements and quality of personneị, the Department of Defense, beginning in 1955, authorized higher standards of acceptability for regular enlistees and encouraged large-scale programs for screening out personnel with limited training potential. In addition, under an amendment to the draft law enacted in 1958, mental standards for inductees were raised.
Sustained by a massive research and development effort of the 1950's, the rate of technological advance in military equipment has been unparalleled in our peacetime history and can be expected to accentuate further the need for highly qualified personnel.
The Department of Defense believes strongly that the enactment of this bill reinstituting GI educational benefits will compromise the desirable results of recently enacted legislation and the effectiveness of the efforts now being directed toward retention of high quality personnel required in the Armed Forces today and in the future. We base this conclusion on extensive studies which have been made of the reasons why personnel choose to leave the Armed Forces. In the Department of the Air Force, for example, attitude surveys have revealed that one of the primary reasons for the separation of first-term airmen has been the desire and intention to take advantage of educational opportunities offered to our wartime veterans. In the past, these surveys indicated that approximately 45 to 50 percent of all separating firstterm airmen left the service to pursue courses of formal education. Similarly, in the other services, the desire to avail themselves of earned GI educational benefits has been a significant reason for failure to reenlist. And the problem is further complicated by the fact that the separations to take advantage of educational benefits were significantly greater among highly technically qualified airmen. These are the individuals most needed by the services from the standpoint of skill, training, educational, and mental levels and they are more difficult