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Washington, D. C., May 14, 1956.
Chairman, Subcommittee No. 1,
Committee on Armed Services,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. BROOKS: This study of Reserve Forces legislation was undertaken at your request in order to record the legislative history of the Reserve Forces Act of 1955.

The review covers the problem of strengthening the Reserve forces as it came before the 1st session of the 84th Congress: the need for a strong Reserve to augment the active forces during a national emergency; the background studies that had been made on this problem by both the executive and legislative branches of the Government; the basic military manpower laws that were in effect at the time new legislative proposals were made; and the manner in which the various bills would contribute toward a solution of the problem of providing trained men for the Reserve components. The report seeks to explain the evolution of the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 as it went through the entire cycle of the legislative process. And, finally, some concluding observations venture to analyze the difficultires and complications of dealing with the many-faceted problem of military manpower.

The report was written by Eilene Galloway, national-defense analyst, Legislative Reference Service. Sincerely yours,



A legislative History of the Reserve Forces Act of 1955


There were several reasons why the problem of military manpower came up for review by the 84th Congress. The authority to induct men under the Universal Military Training and Service Act (65 Stat. 75, 87) was due to expire on July 1, 1955, except for certain persons who had been deferred. At the same time there apppeared to be no diminution of the international threat of aggression and of the need for the United States to be prepared in the event of sudden nuclear warfare. It was necessary to reexamine the military strength needed by the active forces on a steady, long-term basis, and to relate this factor to the numbers of trained Reserves that would be essential to augment the Regular units during a national emergency. Above all, it was important to examine the Reserve structure in the light of the objectives we had hoped to achieve by the passage of the Armed Forces Reserve Act (66 Stat. 481) and the Universal Military Training and Service Act (65 Stat. 75). Several studies by executive and legislative groups revealed that the Reserve forces were suffering from & complication of difficulties.


On January 13, 1955, President Eisenhower sent to the Congress his message on the military security of the United States. To the Congress of the United States:

The military security of the United States requires armed forces, disposed and alerted for instant action, quickly reinforceable by units ready for mobilization, assured an adequate pool of trained manpower for necessary expansion. Three elements are necessary to this military posture: (1) active forces in the strength and effectiveness necessary to meet, to repel, and to punish a first massive assault or to conduct a lesser operation that does not require mobilization; (2) reserves 80 organized and trained as units that they can be speedily mobilized to reinforce the active forces in combat or to man defense operations at home; (3) an unorganized reserve pool, adequate in training and numbers, to permit a quick general mobilization of all our military strength.

Never, in peacetime, have we achieved this proper military posture. The penalties of our unreadiness have been manifold-in treasure, in blood, in the heartbreak of a mighty nation buying time with the lives of men. Now, in an uneasy peace, we can and must move toward this proper posture, at tolerable cost, with due regard for tradition, without disruption of human plans or the material economy.

Korea and Indochina are bitter reminders of the ever-present threat of aggression. The masses of armed men and the vast array of war-making machines, maintained by the Soviets and their satellites along the frontiers of the free world, sharpen the reminders.

Message from the President of the United States relative to the military security of the United States. H. Doc. No. 68, 84th Cong., 1st sess., 5 pages.

(7523) 71066-56-No. 82

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