Selective Service 1948

The Honorable Kenneth C. Royall, Secretary of the Army

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At World War II’s end, the US Army quickly drew down from a high of some 14 million men to less than 1 million by 1948. Then Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall wrote this lead article for the October 1948 edition of Military Review, outlining the structure and standards for the Selective Service System that would be the Army’s manpower source through the Vietnam era. Royall’s comments on discipline being based on the “willing obedience of the informed soldier” and on the need to provide “character guidance” to make the soldier “a better citizen” are worth recalling as one reads the other articles in this section.


While the enactment of the new Selective Service Act directly affects the Army, Navy and Air Force, for the first few months of the operation of the law practically all of the selectees will be assigned to the Army. The somewhat limited immediate requirements of the Navy and Air Force will probably be met by voluntary recruitment under existing procedures. Since the Army will be the national defense agency which will receive the great majority of the men inducted under the law, it seemed appropriate that I should give a general outline of the plan for the training and utilization of the men to be allocated to the Army.

Personnel Requirements

The present strength of the Army is 542,000. Under the authority of the new Selective Service Act it may be increased to 837,000, by means of voluntary enlistments and inductions under the new law. However, 1949 appropriations limit the total number to 790,000 between now and 1 July 1949. In addition to this number, the Army is authorized to accept 110,000 18-year-old volunteer trainees for one year’s active training and service.

Men inducted by Selective Service will serve 21 months. Regular volunteers will be accepted for varying terms, but it is hoped to secure as many long-term enlistments as possible.

Army Organization

When the Army is brought fully up to its new authorized strength we will be able to organize for the first time since the close of hostilities a really effective mobile striking force, small, but still effective. This force will consist of twelve Regular Army, National Guard and fully organized units of the Organized Reserves. The divisions will be completely organized, maintained at full strength and will have such priority in training and supply as to make them immediately available for use. The National Guard and Organized Reserve units will not be on active duty in Federal service, but the state of their training and equipment, as far as possible, will be such as to permit their immediate utilization on call of the president.

In addition to the divisions, the force will include antiaircraft artillery and other supporting combat and service troops to enable it to function as a balanced D-day force.

These troops would be prepared in an emergency to protect some of our most vital military installations in the United States, and in conjunction with our Navy and Air Force, to seize and occupy overseas areas from which air attacks could be launched against our cities and essential industries. The capabilities of such a force are strictly limited by its strength. However, if war should come, this force would be of the greatest importance as an effective mobile striking force during the vital days of initial hostilities while our Armed Forces are being mobilized.

The Regular Army Divisions in the United States included in this force are:

2d Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington.

3d Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia.

8th Infantry Division, less one Regimental Combat Team, Camp Campbell, Kentucky. This combat team will be at Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

  • 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • 2d Armored Division, Camp Hood, Texas.
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Leadership in our Army is based upon better understanding of basic human relations, a development of mutual respect and trust between the leader and the soldier who performs the many and varied tasks of the army. … Discipline is based upon the willing obedience of the informed soldier who, acting with his comrades, accomplishes his tasks because of his intelligent understanding of their necessity rather than through external compulsion or fear.

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There will be a sixth division in the United States—an Airborne division—whose identity and station has not yet been determined.

The six National Guard Divisions will be:

  • 26th Infantry Division, Massachusetts.
  • 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania.
  • 31st Infantry Division, Alabama and Mississippi.
  • 43d Infantry Division, Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island.
  • 45th Infantry Division, Oklahoma.
  • 49th Armored Division, Texas.

Supporting combat and service units of varying size will be from the Regular Army, National Guard and Organized Reserves.

For the elements of this mobile striking force on active duty in this country and the necessary troops to man various installations and to provide the administrative and supply overhead in continental United States, 550,000 men will be required. The remainder of the Army will continue as occupation troops in Europe and the Far East and to provide garrisons for Panama, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and other overseas stations.

Procurement of Personnel

Under the terms of the Selective Service Act, inductions can be started on 22 September, 90 days after approval by the president. It is expected that the first inductions will probably be about that time. Both before and after this date the Army will continue its intensive recruiting campaign with a view to securing the maximum number of volunteers.

Subsequent to the passage of the law by the Congress and prior to its approval by the president, large numbers enlisted in the National Guard for three years. This has brought the Guard up to approximately the full strength contemplated for the coming fiscal year, and it will not be required as at present to devote a great deal of its attention to recruiting and will thus be free to concentrate all of its energies on training. Practically all of its units, expanded by the recent influx of recruits, will receive intensive field training during the next two months.

Under the provisions of the Selective Service Act, men who serve less than three years on active duty in the Army (33 months in the case of extended terms of inductees) will be transferred to Reserve components on termination of their active service. This will make it possible to increase substantially the effective strength of our Reserve components and will be a material contribution to national security.

The initial call for inductions will be relatively small. The size of subsequent calls will be controlled by the rate of voluntary enlistments in the Regular Army. Men called by Selective Service will be only in such numbers as are needed to make up the difference between voluntary recruitment and scheduled requirements. The number of Selective Service inductions required each month is estimated to be 30,000—the figure being determined in light of voluntary recruiting experience. These monthly increments as far as possible will be uniform and so planned as to bring the Army up to its full authorized strength by 1 July 1949. To provide for the expanded Army some 20,000 additional officers will be required. Most of these will be captains and lieutenants. These will include Reserve and National Guard officers who volunteer for extended active duty.


Whether soldiers enter the Army by voluntary enlistment or through Selective Service, they will be first sent to recruiting or induction stations near their homes. There they will be given a physical examination and a preliminary interview.

Subsequently they will normally go to one of eight training centers. On arriving at a training center the first few days will be occupied with processing, that is receiving clothing and equipment, taking inoculations, and being assigned to an appropriate training unit. Some, particularly those with prior military service, will then be assigned directly to units for training, while the remainder will remain at the centers to complete basic training.

At each training center there will be stationed a training division, charged with providing basic training for all assigned recruits. The schedules will include first aid and personal hygiene, physical conditioning, tactical training, signal communications, intelligence training, map and aerial photo reading, maintenance and field firing of weapons, and vehicle maintenance and operation.

Training Divisions now in operation consist of:

  • 4th Infantry Division, Fort Ord, California.
  • 5th Infantry Division, Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
  • 9th Infantry Division, Fort Dix, New Jersey.
  • 3d Armored Division, Fort Knox, Kentucky.

New Training divisions will be:

  • 10th Infantry (Mountain) Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.
  • 5th Armored Division, Camp Chaffee, Arkansas.
  • 101st Airborne Division, Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky.
  • 17th Airborne Division, Camp Pickett, Virginia.

In addition there will be combat units of less than division size as well as service and supporting troops training at Fort Bliss, Texas; Camp Carson, Colorado; Fort Meade, Maryland; Camp Cooke, California; Fort Devens, Massachusetts; and Fort Worden, Washington.

After completing eight weeks of basic individual training, which is the same for all recruits, the soldiers will either be continued on duty in the United States or sent overseas. However, no 18-year-olds, volunteering for one year, will be sent outside the United States. On completion of their basic training some soldiers will be given advanced technical training in such specialties as clerical work, cooking and mess management, mechanical work, operation of radios and various supply and administrative duties. Selected soldiers with special aptitudes will be sent to technical schools for advanced training in military specialties. Those who are sent to units will be given advanced individual and unit training in the branch to which assigned.

Principles learned in World War II and developed at the Universal Military Training Experimental Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky, have been incorporated into basic and advanced training. These principles lie in the field of leadership and discipline. Leadership in our Army is based upon better understanding of basic human relations, a development of mutual respect and trust between the leader and the soldier who performs the many and varied tasks of the army. Our concept of discipline is based upon the willing obedience of the informed soldier who, acting with his comrades, accomplishes his tasks because of his intelligent understanding of their necessity rather than through external compulsion or fear. The objective of the training will be to produce a well-coordinated, physically conditioned, mentally alert, thoroughly trained soldier, capable of efficiently performing any task to which he may be assigned.

In order to develop the individual as a soldier and as a citizen it is essential that he be given the maximum amount of personal liberty consistent with the proper performance of his duty. His training will seek to promote his individual initiative and resourcefulness, and it is our intention that these qualities not be handicapped or restricted by harsh or unnecessary discipline.

There will be opportunities for the qualified soldier, whether he enters the Army as a volunteer or through the Selective Service system, to earn promotion to any noncommissioned grade, and to be considered for an Officers’ Candidate School. Successful completion of an Officers’ Candidate Course will lead to a commission in the active Reserve. Officers so commissioned will serve for the same periods of active duty and in the Reserve as other inductees. Up to 10 percent of those completing OCS training may be designated as distinguished graduates and will be eligible for direct appointment as second lieutenants in the Regular Army.

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Subsequent to the passage of the [new Selective Service Act] by the Congress and prior to its approval by the president, large numbers enlisted in the National Guard for three years. This has brought the Guard up to approximately the full strength contemplated for the coming fiscal year, and it will not be required as at present to devote a great deal of its attention to recruiting and will thus be free to concentrate all of its energies on training.

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The military equipment for training will be largely that used or developed in the recent war. Many of the latest types of weapons will not be immediately available in sufficient quantities for the Army. However, limited funds will be utilized for rehabilitation of weapons and other equipment, which will be ample in quantity and quality for training a modern army in methods and techniques, utilizing the lessons learned in the recent war and the most up-to-date concepts of the nature of warfare in the immediate future. The training doctrine is flexible and its application will be geared to the foreseeable progress of scientific developments of new weapons and other equipment.

The 18-year-old volunteers for one year’s training and service, like other recruits and selectees, will be sent to training centers for processing. The first groups of these trainees will then go to major combat units for eight weeks’ basic training. Insofar as possible they will remain with these combat units during their one-year term of active service. At the earliest practicable date, when facilities for this purpose become available, subsequent groups will receive their basic training at the regular training centers, after which they will go to selected combat, supporting and service units for the remainder of their year of active service. They will be given the same training and opportunities as other members of the Army, except that they will not be sent out of the United States. On the expiration of a year of active service these volunteers will be transferred to the Organized Reserve for a period of six years.

Off-Duty Facilities

Off-duty facilities will afford soldiers ample opportunities for recreational, educational and religious development. Every effort will be made through character guidance to encourage the strengthening of the moral fiber of the soldier and to make him a better citizen.

Facilities for competitive sports at appropriate seasons will be provided both indoors and outdoors. Educational advantages in organized classes and through correspondence courses will be continued. These will be designed to fit directly into future educational plans of the soldiers. Most of these courses are accredited by civilian high schools and colleges.

All soldiers will be encouraged to attend the church of their choice and to participate in religious services and activities. Chaplains of the various faiths will be assigned to all training centers and other stations and will devote their services to the spiritual well-being of the soldiers.

Health and Welfare

Housing is available or will be provided to furnish reasonably comfortable quarters for the expanded Army. There will be no extensive rehabilitation of existing facilities to provide unnecessary conveniences and there will be no luxuries. We will not coddle but we will provide adequacy. Simple quarters with adequate heat, light and ventilation will be available. There will be ample, well-cooked, nourishing meals of a simple, wholesome character. Adequate medical care and hospital accommodations will be provided.


In addition to strengthening the active forces, the Selective Service Act initiates a long-range program for the development of the Reserve components of the Army. The objective of the one-year volunteer program is to furnish trained members to the Organized Reserves in which they are obligated to serve six years. The selectees on active duty for twenty-one months will also serve in the Organized Reserves for varying periods of time.

The Organized Reserve, in addition to its important mission in supporting the mobile striking force, in time of national emergency will form the foundation upon which the manpower of the nation may be mobilized.

Full implementation of the new Selective Service Law will be difficult. There are many problems which can be readily foreseen and others will undoubtedly arise during the operation of the law. The experience gained by the Army during two World Wars will aid in solving these problems. The necessity for rigid conservation of funds and resources will limit our operations to those most essential to the training of the soldiers.

Basic plans for the expansion have been largely completed and preliminary steps have been taken for the opening and rehabilitation of camps and other installations. This work will be pushed as rapidly as is consistent with efficiency and economy. Several new organizations will be formed immediately and other units will be organized later in the year as they are required. Every effort has been made to anticipate difficulties and to make appropriate plans to obviate them.

Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall (1894-1971) was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on 24 July 1894. He served as a field artillery lieutenant from 1918 to 1919 with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. After the war, he returned to Goldsboro to practice law. In 1942, he was commissioned a colonel and named chief of the Army Service Forces (Services of Supply). In 1943, he was promoted to brigadier general and named deputy fiscal director of the US War Department. From 1944 to 1945, he served as the special assistant to the secretary of war. He later served as undersecretary of war and then as secretary of war until his appointment as secretary of the Army in September 1947 under a restructuring program instituted by the National Security Act that unified all branches of the armed forces under the National Military Establishment (later the Department of Defense). In April 1949, he retired from government service and practiced law until 1967. He died on 2 May 1971 in Durham, North Carolina.


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