Breadcrumb

Freedom to Serve

Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services

A Report by The President's Committee

United States Government Printing Office Washington: 1950

Contents

Letter of Transmittal
Executive Order 9981
 
 
I. Toward the Goal - A Summary of Progress
II. Two Basic Questions
III. The Navy
IV. The Air Force
V. The Army
VI. Conclusion
Appendices:
 
      A. The Policy of the Navy
      B. The Policy of the Air Force
      C. The Policy of the Army

Letter of Transmittal

May 22,1950

MR PRESIDENT:
The President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services herewith reports to the President.

Executive Order 9981 of July 26, 1948, states: "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale." This order further authorized the Committee "to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the armed services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order."

The Committee appointed by the President has conducted such an inquiry and has made recommendations to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretaries of the three services. It was the judgment of the Committee that these recommendations, when put into actual practice, would bring an end to inequality of treatment and opportunity. All of the Committee's recommendations have been approved and accepted by the President, the Secretary of Defense and the service Secretaries. They are now in effect.

This submission, therefore, is a report of the work of the Committee and of the measures adopted by the services to carry out

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the President's policy. Chapter I contains the Committee's interpretation of its mission; an account of its method of work; and a summary of the progress which has been made.

Chapters II, III, IV, and V present a more detailed description of the racial policies and practices in the services at the beginning of the Committee's inquiry; the Committee's estimate of those policies and practices as measured against the President's policy; the recommendations of the Committee and the reasons for them.

It is the Committee's conviction that the present programs of the three services are designed to accomplish the objectives of the President. As the programs are carried out, there will be, within the reasonably near future, equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces with a consequent improvement in military efficiency.

In submitting its report, the Committee desires to express its appreciation to the White House staff, the Department of Defense and the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and to all organizations and individuals that have facilitated the work of the Committee.

Respectfully submitted,

Lester B. Granger
Dwight R. G. Palmer
John H. Sengstacke
William E. Stevenson
Charles Fahy, Chairman

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Executive Order 9981

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Executive Order 9981

Establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services

Whereas it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense:

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.

2. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known as the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President.

3. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the armed services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President

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and to said Secretaries as in the judgment of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof.

4. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties.

5. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for the use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require.

6. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive Order.

HARRY S. TRUMAN

The WHITE HOUSE, July 26,1948.

The President appointed the following to be members of the Committee:

Charles Fahy, Chairman
Alphonsus J. Donahue
Lester B. Granger
Charles Luckman
Dwight R. G. Palmer
John H. Sengstacke
William E. Stevenson

Mr. Alphonsus J. Donahue died in July 1949. Mr. Charles Luckman has not actively participated in the work of the Committee.

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Chapter I
Toward the Goal: A Summary of Progress

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Chapter I
Toward the Goal: A Summary of Progress

Executive Order 9981, issued on July 26, 1948, declared it to be "the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national, origin."

"This policy," the President directed, "shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency, or morale."

By the same order the President announced there would be created in the National Military Establishment a committee of seven members with authority "to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the armed services" in order to determine what changes were necessary to carry out the President's policy.

In discharging its duties, the Committee was directed by the President to confer and advise with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the three services, and finally to make recommendations to the President and the aforementioned Secretaries.

The Committee Interprets Its Mission

At the outset of its deliberations the Committee was agreed that the problem with which it was charged was not merely one of simple justice. In addition to the factor of equality of treatment and opportunity was the factor of military efficiency, the making of a better armed service.

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In the Committee's view the task could not be accomplished solely on the basis of information gathered in formal testimony, though such testimony must be a necessary step in the Committee's inquiry. The President had directed the Committee to examine into the procedures and practices of the three services. Such an examination, the Committee decided, required three lines of inquiry, each one of which would provide a check upon the other two.

First, it was necessary for the Committee to have a comprehensive understanding of the whole field of personnel policy and administration in the three services, including recruitment, basic training, technical training, assignment, promotion, and the so-called career guidance programs. Without such information the Committee did not feel competent to judge (a) whether the services were denying opportunity to any of their personnel solely on account of race and (b) whether their racial policies and practices promoted or reduced military efficiency.

Second, the Committee needed to make a study of the historical experience of the three services with racial groups, for it was on the basis of this experience that the services largely explained and rationalized their present policies and practices.

Third, the Committee wished to supplement its technical and historical studies with field trips so that it would have first hand information.

One other problem concerned the Committee. This was how best to secure the endorsement by the armed services of those measures which, in the Committee's judgment, might be needed to effect the President's policy. The Committee believed that progress could be made most readily by a presentation of the facts, by suggestions for corrective measures, and by convincing the services of the reasonableness and effectiveness of its recommendations.

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The services, though subject to civilian control, are old institutions with long established customs and habits. The Committee believed that reforms would be more readily accepted and make headway faster if they represented decisions mutually agreed upon. Imposed decisions can be enforced by discipline but joint decisions engage the loyalty of those who have concerted them.

Therefore the Committee decided that it would confer with the services at each step of the way, confident that its recommendations would win support as the services became convinced they were sound in principle and would improve the efficiency of the military establishment. If this could be accomplished, the Committee contemplated that its recommendations would be implemented concurrently with their acceptance, and that a report to the President would then represent not a future objective but a program in being. This plan of work had the President's approval.

The Course of the Inquiry

At the beginning of its inquiry the Committee heard testimony from 67 witnesses, including the Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as the Army Chief of Staff; the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Personnel, the Air Force Director of Personnel Planning, the Army Director of Personnel and Administration; a former Assistant Secretary of War who headed the Special Troop Policies Committee in World War II; the chairman of the board of general officers that in 1945 formulated a new Army racial policy; civilian personnel experts from the three services; and individuals and representatives of civilian organizations concerned with minority group interests.

The testimony of these witnesses, totaling 1,025 pages, has been bound and indexed. Copies are being deposited with the Secretary

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of Defense, the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the General Staffs of the Army and Air Force, the Bureau of Personnel of the Navy, the Library of Congress, and the Archives.

Through the cooperation of the Navy Bureau of Personnel, the office of the Director of Personnel Planning in the Air Force, the Army general staff divisions of Personnel and Administration and Organization and Training, the Personnel Research and Procedures Branch of the Army Adjutant General's Office and the Historical Records Section of the Army, the Committee has been able to secure a comprehensive understanding of the personnel policies and operations of the three services and a thorough knowledge of the policies governing minority groups.

These agencies made freely available to the Committee and its staff all the historical and technical information necessary to the Committee's study, and representatives of the services were always available to the Committee for guidance and consultation. The day to day conferences and collaboration of the Committee's staff and the technical experts of the services greatly facilitated the work of the Committee.

Finally, the Committee and its staff made field investigations covering eight Navy ships and stations, seven Air Force bases, and ten Army posts. In addition the Committee itself has held more than 40 meetings.

The scope of the executive order required that there be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. Members of various minority groups have asserted the existence of discrimination on these grounds, but no evidence was presented to the Committee and no specific facts were found indicating formally defined service policies denying equality of treatment and opportunity except with respect to Negroes. In their

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case practices resulting in inequality of treatment and opportunity had the sanction of official policy and were embodied in regulations.

The Committee felt, therefore, that its examination should leave room for gathering facts and developing conclusions affecting all minorities, but that it should proceed with the material on hand concerning the specific status of Negroes in the services. Once this racial factor should be satisfactorily disposed of, the Committee believed, a formula would be evolved applicable to all minorities. For this reason specific mention is limited throughout the report to recommendations and changes affecting Negroes.

There follows a summary account of the extent to which the President's executive order presently is being implemented, with an indication of the policy changes that have been put into effect by the services since the order was issued in July 1948.

The Navy

All jobs and ratings in the naval general service now are open to all enlisted men without regard to race or color. Negroes are currently serving in every job classification in general service.

All courses in Navy technical schools are open to qualified personnel without regard to race or color and without racial quotas. Negroes are attending the most advanced technical schools and are serving in their ratings both in the fleet and at shore installations.

Negroes in general service are completely integrated with whites in basic training, technical schools, on the job, in messes and sleeping quarters, ashore and afloat.

Chief, first-, second-, and third-class stewards now have the rate of chief, first-, second-, and third-class petty officers. (Policy change adopted June 7, 1949.)

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Stewards who qualify for general ratings now can transfer to general service.

The Marine Corps, which as a part of the Navy is subject to Navy policy, has abolished its segregated Negro training units. (Policy change adopted June 7, 1949.) Marine Corps training is now integrated, although some Negro marines are still assigned to separate units after basic training. In this respect the effectuation of Navy policy in the Marine Corps is yet to be completed.

The Air Force

The Air Force announced its new racial policy on May 11, 1949. As a result of this policy, the all Negro 332d Fighter Wing at Lockbourne Field, Ohio, has been broken up, and its personnel either sent to school for further training, transferred to white units in other commands, or separated under current regulat