Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Every citizen a soldier: The U.S. Army's campaign for universal military training following World War II
by Taylor, William A., Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2010, 288; 3397623
Abstract (Summary)

Beginning in 1943, U.S. Army leaders such as John M. Palmer, Walter L. Weible, George C. Marshall, and John J. McCloy mounted a sustained and vigorous campaign to establish a system of universal military training in America. Fearful of repeating the rapid demobilization and severe budget cuts that had accompanied peace following World War I, these Army leaders saw UMT as the basis for their postwar plans. As a result, they marketed UMT extensively and aggressively. The core justification for UMT was its strategic rationale based on improving mobilization through the creation of a General Reserve. However, boosters of UMT found that their attempts to overcome the objections voiced by many educators, labor leaders, and clergy often had unintended consequences.

In 1945, the campaign became politicized as President Truman championed UMT for reasons that differed from the purely strategic conception Army leaders had created. President Truman portrayed UMT as improving national health, combating illiteracy, and inculcating citizenship. Army leaders focused their attention on establishing the UMT Experimental Unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to fine-tune implementation and to demonstrate the program's utility to the nation. President Truman established a Presidential Advisory Commission composed of well-known civilians who unanimously advocated UMT. Focus then shifted to the potential impact UMT would have on American society. One specific example was concern over the program's impact on race relations. Since Army leaders proposed the majority of the training camps in the South, critics questioned whether UMT would promote segregation in a new and unprecedented way.

In 1948, the campaign for UMT climaxed as supporters attempted to seize on heightened international tensions as a rationale to pass UMT legislation without delay. Such appeals cut two ways. In the end, advocates had to admit that their primary goal contributed little to immediate national security. A weary but alarmed Congress approved selective service instead of UMT as the short-term answer for the Army's manpower dilemma. This paradox resulted in advocates of UMT begrudgingly accepting selective service because it was the more efficient although less democratic option available.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Spector, Ronald H.
Commitee: Becker, William, Berkowitz, Edward D., Korb, Lawrence J., Ribuffo, Leo
School: The George Washington University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 71/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Military history
Keywords: Army, Army postwar planning, Conscription, Mobilization, Postwar, Preparedness, Selective Service, United States, Universal military training
Publication Number: 3397623
ISBN: 9781109697131