tv The Presidency CSPAN August 2, 2015 8:56am-10:01am EDT
ok back 50 years to the voting rights act. president lyndon johnson went to the rotunda on august 6, 1960 5 2 sided building felt would be his greatest legacy. american history -- true sign the bill he felt would be his greatest legacy. we talk with lbj's domestic policy advisor and historian kent who has edited transcripts of the phone calls. and we will hear his speech. that is today on american history tv on c-span3. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> presidents dwight eisenhower, john kennedy, lyndon johnson richard nixon, gerald ford ronald reagan, and george h.w. bush all served in world war ii. up next, university of kansas
history professor theodore wilson talks about their wartime experiences and how that later influenced them as future commanders in chief. the kansas city public library hosted this event. it is about an hour. prof. wilson: if i did not know very much about my parents, i'm not sure how much i knew about world war ii, but i do very much appreciate henry's very generous introduction. it is about an hour. prof. wilson: if i did not know very much about my parents, i'm i am delighted to be taking part in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of world war ii in europe and particularly tonight in europe sponsored by the truman library institute and the kansas city public library. institutions with which i have
enjoyed opportunities to cooperate and for which i have enormous respect as sources of intellectual inquiry in this region. one caveat before i take you back to the america of 1941 to 1945. title of my lecture is a gloss on tom brokaw's bestseller "the greatest generation," which defines the sacrifices of ordinary americans in the cauldron of world war ii as for some of me never to be repeated phenomenon. historians are made uncomfortable with such words as greatest and never to be repeated. because of our excessive focus on context and aversion to projecting backward our own concerns and convictions, we normally duck comparisons of eras or presidents or generations. nonetheless i am convinced that
the contributions of those ordinary americans among whom were the 8 men later presidents who served in world war ii, who picked up weapons in america 's struggle against tyranny. merit such labels as remarkable and even great. the conflict whose end 70 years ago we are acknowledging in the spring, as the british historian observed, still holds a unique fascination today. beaver noted the politicians and the media feel compelled to make comparisons with world war ii as an instant reference point in a crisis or conflict. even though both the world order and warfare itself have changed. why is this so? i, for one, had assumed that
following the extended 50th anniversary commemorations of the war's events in 1994 and 1995, during which i had, as i experienced the historian's prototypical 15 minutes of fame by appearing for six minutes on "the today show" to talk about the run-up to d-day. that interest in world war ii would die away. not so. as witness the films, the universally understood cultural references, the outpouring of books about the war. beaver argues, and again i agree, that a primary reason is because he says, "we now live in a demilitarized society." that, despite more than a decade of constant and at times horrific conflict. the experience of war, its demands on the national and individual psyche, have been marginalized for those
individuals and families not directly affected by military service. although american involvement in various levels of organized conflict has been a notable feature of the past, of the period since world war ii, any experience of war has largely -- and the experience of war has largely been compartmentalized due to changes in the nature of warfare and abandonment of the principle of military service as a basic civic duty. to quote my ku colleague adrian lewis, the most significant development in the conduct of war in the 20th century was the elimination of the american people from the conduct of the wars of the united states. i am confident in fact that
adrian would incorporate the first 15 years of the 21st century internet generalization. -- into that generalization. in sharp contrast, world war ii, even for those who did not have family members in uniform, generated such direct involvement in the war and such deeply felt engagement with the issues and concerns of the day that as beaver concludes, "no other period marked, changed or ended so many people's lives as world war ii." they were americans who lived or forever served as a standard of direct of immediate involvement with moral choices, deceptions -- perceptions of sacrifice, and a struggle against forces seen as a threat to personal freedom and indeed, the survival of nations. of course, their memories of
wartime, perhaps predictably ignored or romanticized negative aspects of a "good war." widespread waste and corruption associated with the drive for mobilization, flaws in the system of deferments and military assignment, widespread floating of office of price administration through alignment -- through reliance on gray and black markets and so forth. what is true as well is the near universal commitment, for waging and winning the war. the creation in 1940 of america's first peacetime draft eventually saw some 15 million men and women don uniforms as
selecties or volunteers between 1940 and 1945. with very few exceptions, and their participation, weather as -- whether as soldiers, airmen marines or sailors, represented acceptance of military service as a necessary obligation of citizenship. locating responsibility for administering the draft with local boards, more than 6000 of them, reinforced a sense of obligation. servicemen and women, obtained the right to gripe about training, the food, drill sergeants, privileges according to officers, the list is endless. the great majority in jordan -- majority endured whatever challenges were thrown at them. we have a couple of examples of how that was pictured at the time. one being young men going into a recruiting office.
and secondly, going off to basic training. these slides offer a bare bones summary -- sorry, the next one. this slide, if you can read it offers a bare-bones summary of the circumstances of military service of americans during world war ii. note in particular the dramatic expansion that occurred between 1941 and 1945. consider that more than 50 million americans served during world war ii from a total population of 132 million in 1940, and 139 million in 1945. assessing the engagement of civilians in the work effort while problematic on statistical grounds, supports the claim that world war ii represented a "total war."
engaging on a daily basis the concerns, the citizens and passions of american people. to meet the demands of the world economy, average hours worked per week soared. laws for child labor were relaxed. women and minorities moved from custodial positions to factory lines. and retirees and the partly disabled with needed skills returned to the workforce. in 1940, 8 million americans were still unemployed. by 1943, there was no unemployment. memorable for many was the rationing system affected by the office of price administration
beginning in 1941. along with enforcing price controls, the opa rationed a wide range of familiar necessities such as meat, sugar coffee, goods, cheese and valued items such as leather shoes and nylon stockings. over the next four years housewives became accustomed to reading russian -- tradding -- trading ration coupons for pounds of ground beef. to ensure an adequate supply of rubber and war related production, use of automobiles limited driving and forced many cars off the road. the ubiquitous radio announcements and posters, when you ride alone you ride with hitler! urged drivers to arrange carpools. rationing of tires only ended in december 1945.
similarly important for reinforcing the concept of popular participation in the war effort were the recurrent splat -- scrap drives. with announcements urging citizens to collect tinfoil and turn in scrap metal. and old raincoats and garden hoses. indeed, one of my strongest childhood memories is my proposal that the family's rubber enema bag the sacrificed, -- be sacrificed, an idea vetoed by my mother. [laughter] studies have shown that rationing and recycling, especially when championed by the unending barrage of messages via every means of communication, created -- maybe
to a few of you, who is that? -- rita hayworth, that's right. when i taught on world war ii, the male students found this very popular and very attractive. but anyway, this barrage of communications, stressing the necessity for sacrifice proved effective in causing ordinary citizens to see themselves as serving as what one radio message called "a fighting unit on the home front." today we look back on the events of 70 years ago with clear er vision, but perhaps having lost the intuition of what those turbulent years meant. emotionally and in moral terms to the human beings caught up in them. this is the context in which one career u.s. army officer, and army air forces major, and a u.s. navy puts you in kernel --
platoon colonel, four u.s. navy officers serving in the pacific and a naval academy cadet, experienced and survived the war, and subsequently served as president of the united states. it is clear that wartime service and views about whether on and -- what their own and america's ultimately victorious struggle in concert with allies to it to defeat the axis had an effect on their career. but generalization about the nature of that influence is not easily discovered as i wound -- as i have found over the last several weeks. permit me to rehearse the wartime service of the presidents. the eisenhower's military
career, stretching over four decades, is best known to all here tonight. born in texas in 1890, he grew up in kansas. he went to west point, graduating in 1915, spent world war i as a training camp commander. during the interwar years, he attended the general staff college at leavenworth. graduating first in his class. served as aide to the former aef commander general john j christian. and was general douglas macarthur's chief aide in the philippines. he was called to washington after war broke out in europe. he served in various staff positions. promoted to brigadier general in september 1941, he was appointed chief of the war division after
pearl harbor. dispatched to britain to take command of the newly created european theater of operations. assigned next as supreme commander of the north african theater of operations, and ultimately to the post of supreme allied commander of the allied expeditionary force. in which capacity, he oversaw the normandy invasion, the operations that led to v.e. day. you see pictures of the signing of the surrender documents on may 8, 1945. eisenhower's primary roles in world war ii were those of a planner and military diplomat. dealing with prickly personalities within the u.s. army and the anglo-american
alliance, patton and montgomery in particular. though his leadership -- though his leadership and empathy for soldiers under his command deserved acknowledgment. the wartime experiences of eisenhower's successor as president, john fitzgerald kennedy, present a dramatic contrast. the scion of a prominent family, and 1940 harvard graduate, sought first to join the army but was rejected because of a chronic back problems. he volunteered for the navy in 1941. family influence led to an appointment or assignment in the secretary of the navy's office. the attack on pearl harbor however, caused the young ensign to take officer training and then to request assignment to
the motor torpedo trading center. he commanded three pt boats from december 1942 to february 1943. and then, having been promoted was dispatched to the pacific. on august 2, 1943, kennedy's craft, p.t. 109, was conducting a nighttime patrol near georgia. what it -- when it was rammed by a japanese destroyer. despite reinjuring his back, he assisted the surviving crew members to reach a nearby island. the group was subsequently rescued and kennedy was awarded the navy and marine corps medal. when later asked how to explain his heroism, jfk said "it was easy.
they cut my pt boat in half." after brief service as commander of another boat, he returned to the united states in january 1944, and filing extended treatment for his back injury, he was retired from active duty in late 1944. lyndon baines johnson, his naval career encompassed six months on active duty. he spent less than two months in active theater operations. morton 1908, johnson -- born in 1908 johnson won elections to the u.s. house of representatives in 1937. in june 1940, he was appointed lieutenant commander in the u.s. naval reserve. immediately after pearl harbor lbj was assigned to the office of the chief of naval operations. with responsibility for investigating roadblocks
slowing the production of ships and aircraft of the navy. that led, in may 1942, to an inspection trip to australia and new zealand, during which , according to the johnson presidential library website, he took part as an observer in a number of bomber missions. one mission, about which some controversy has arisen, resulted in the award of the silver star, given as a result of his decision to participate as an observer in "a hazardous area -- a real combat mission -- arierial combat mission over hostile positions in new guinea." in july 1942, president
roosevelt, having banned federal legislatures from serving in the armed forces, required lbj be removed of active duty. he remained in the naval reserve however, until two months after his accession to the presidency. one more. richard m. nixon served in the pacific as well. born in california 1913, he graduated from a quaker founded with your -- whittier college and with the aid of a scholarship was admitted to duke law school. following a short time of practicing law in his hometown he accepted a job in the office of price administration in late 1941, but disgusted by what he encountered in washington -- as he later confessed, desiring to obtain a war record to support his political ambitions, nixon was inducted into the u.s. navy in august 1942.
he was commissioned as an ensign in october 1942. after a brief period at a naval air station in iowa, he requested sea duty. he served as the officer in charge of a combat air transport command. in locales subject to japanese bombing, nixon never saw combat, earning two service stars for "efficient performance." returning to the united states in august 1945, he served as administrative officer of the alameda, california naval air station, later function as a negotiator terminating work contracts, and then resigned on
january 1, 1946, munching his -- launching his first campaign for house of representatives. a few months later. of the u.s. navy officers, leader president -- lee turner president -- later president gerald ford compiled the longest record of service in the combat theater. growing up in grand rapids michigan, ford was an outstanding athlete, but chose law school at yale over a professional career. shortly after pearl harbor, he enlisted in the u.s. navy reserve and soon was commissioned an ensign. he spent 10 months as a physical training instructor in north carolina, then seeking sea duty in june 1943, he joined a newly
commissioned light aircraft carrier, the uss monterey. serving as athletic director and gunnery division officer and then as assistant navigator. during his 18 months aboard the boat, he took part in numerous major naval actions, earning the asiatic pacific campaign medal with nine engagement stars. nearly swept overboard during a massive typhoon in december 1944 that heavily damaged the uss monterey, he accompanied a vessel back to the united states and spent the rest of the war in duty with training command. he was relieved from active duty in early 1946. there's a picture of him aboard the monterey. and our other, one of our other naval officers, jimmy carter was
17 when the united states entered world war ii. following studies of georgia southwestern college and georgia institute of technology, where he joined the rotc, carter realized a lifelong ambition by being admitted to the u.s. naval academy in 1943. an honored graduate of the annapolis class of 1946, he spent one tour at sea, then transferred to the submarine service and applied his engineering prowess to the media's -- navy's nuclear submarine program. his father's death in 1953 caused carter to resign his commission, returning to georgia to take over of family's punitive business. -- take over the family's team
at business. -- peanut business. although ronald reagan is best known for his wartime participation in making training films, patriotism infused movies, and talking war bonds, his involvement with military service was more expensive than any of the president's we are considering with the exception of eisenhower. born in illinois in 1911, reagan enrolled in a home study u.s. army extension cords in 1935 --u.s. army extension course in 1935, while working as a radio broadcaster. he then enlisted in the army enlisted reserves as a private assigned to troop b, and the officers reserve corps may 1937. just prior to moving to california to pursue a movie career, he transferred to the 323rd cavalry. so he stated in the naval reserves --. -- sta-- stayed in the naval reserves.
he was ordered to active duty in april 1942. despite repeated requests for assignment to a combat unit, poor eyesight ruled out overseas service. given his background and popularity, the af arranged for reagan transferred to the cavalry -- from the cavalry to their forces for the purpose of assignment to the first motion picture unit in culver city's, california. serving as executive officer and abject, -- and adjunct reagan was promoted to captain in july 1943. by war's end, his unit had produced some 400 training films for the army air forces. i can get help she will pull up youtube to give you a sense of what one of them was.
future president captain ronald reagan stars in this epic, how to identify a zero. in this, president reagan plays a greenhorn pilot who cannot seem to spot enemy aircraft. [plane noises] >> look at that plane. that is no zero. that is a p 40. good thing that you messed. -- missed. would you like to take another shot? you have got it coming. >> i apologize. >> reagan takes to the air again, shoots down a zero. >> i have him right in my sites. [gunfire]
>> for those of us who grew up in this era, that was probably rock number 13, in the desert east of los angeles. all of those cereals -- the serials that we watched we tended to recognize. an aviation writer said, he was part -- he wasn't a pilot, did not go overseas and did not shoot down enemy planes. still he was part of the air force's story. reagan was discharged in december 1945, and his reserve commission automatically terminated on april 1 1953. at the time of his graduation
from flight school in july 1943, george h.w. bush, then 19, was the youngest pilot in the united states navy. the day bush graduated from andover academy in 1942, he enlisted in the navy. first assigned at torpedo squadron vt 51 as a photographic officer, ensign bush joined the u.s. san jacinto, piloting a torpedo bomber and eventually flying 58 combat missions. the san jacinto took part in such operations as the battle of the philippine sea, and other important engagements in 1944 and early 45. on a mission against the japanese radio side in the islands, his squadron encountered heavy antiaircraft fire.
his engine caught fire. tragically, of the avengers, three men crew, he alone survived. after a brief period in an inflatable raft, he was rescued by an american submarine on station off the islands and was awarded the fine cross for heroism under fire. following his recent is san jacinto, he logged more flying time until his squadron was sent back to the united states. he then was assigned to a training wing, and following japan's surrender he was released from active duty in september 1945. so what do we make of the disparate circumstances of what these individuals experienced in world war ii? what can be said about the war's influence on their outlook as president? perhaps most important, what
does the collective engagement of americans in this global conflict, tell us about the attitude of the american people about these issues today, if it says anything? their comments about the experience tell us something about how it affected them. president bush was interviewed by tom brokaw, spoke of the obligation to read the letters of enlisted personnel in his command, censoring the letters. "i learned about the diversity of our great country, i gained an insight into the lives of my shipmates, and i felt richer." son of a prominent senator and accustomed to wealth, he was convinced that the experience of combat "broadened my horizons." he said, "i think i would be a better president because i was
in combat," he also admitted "if i'm ever in a position to call the shots, i'm not in a rush to send somebody else's kids into the war." his predecessor eisenhower voiced similar sentiments, observing "humility must always be the portion of any man who receives a claim earned in blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends." ike also said, "i hate war only as one who has served as a soldier who has lived it can come only as one who has seen it brutality, its futility, it's stupidity." president johnson observed, "the guns and bombs and rockets and warships are all symbols of human failure." richard nixon said, "the greatest honor history can bestow is that of peacemaker." though beset by critics during the watergate scandal, he took a tougher stance, noting "i
believe in the battle, and that it is the battle of the campaign or this office." optimistically, gerald ford proclaimed at valley forge in july 4, 1976, "independence has to be defended as well is declared. freedom is always worth fighting for and liberty ultimately belongs to those willing to suffer for it." ronald reagan voiced the same views. though the tone is different. "i believe with all my heart that our first priority must be world peace, and that use of force is always and only a last resort, when everything else has failed." speaking before the u.n. generally assembly in 1987 he
asked, "cannot swords be turned to plowshares? can we in all nations not live in peace? in our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much united all the members of humanity." he then said, echoing what would be in the movie "independence day" a decade later, "i occasionally think had differences would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. and yet i ask you, is not an alien force already among us? what can be more alien to the universal aspirations of our people than war and the threat of war?" echoing the 1930's and appeasement, reagan observed "the martyrs of history were not fools, and the owner did --
honored dead who gave their lives to the nazis did not die in vain. where is the road to peace? it is a simple answer, after all, you and i have the courage to say to our enemies, there is a price we will not pay. there is a point beyond which they must not advance." as we know, all but jimmy carter, who has stated he is most proud of the fact that he kept our country at peace, he said, "we never went to war. we never dropped bombs. we never fired a bullet. but all of the others did find it necessary to send americans into harms way." interestingly, carter used rhetorical advice -- device employed by the psychologist and
pacifist william james in 1909 the "moral equivalent of war." they found in warfare, conceptions of order and discipline the tradition of service and devotion, physical fitness and exertion, a universal responsibility that is now being taught by european nations practicing universal military duty. in an address about the need for a collective response to the energy crisis, president carter argued, the decision about energy will test the character of the american people and the ability of the president and the congress. this difficult effort will be the moral equivalent of war except we will be united our efforts to build and not to destroy.
in a letter from the 26-year-old john f. kennedy, to his sometime girlfriend, arguably represents the most frank response to the circumstances in which the future presidents found themselves. he wrote "the war is a dirty business. it is very easy to talk about the war and beating the japs. if it takes years and a million man. but anyone who talks like that should consider his words." we get so used to -- i should have done this earlier. that is bush and his cockpit -- in his pocket. we get so used to talking about -- in his cockpit.
we get so used to talking about millions of dollars that casualties are a drop in the bucket. but the people deciding the wise and wherefores had better make sure that all this effort is heading for some definite goal that when we reach that goal, we may say it was worth it. for if it isn't, the whole thing will turn to ashes." generalizations from such testimony are not easily obtained. one can say that all of these men emerged from the war possessing awareness of the enormous power, that america's all out mobilization had conferred on their nation. all had to become and -- had become and would remain convinced international lists. their views about how best the united states should address these world went world affairs very significant. looking to the future, all regretted the threat to
america's security and humankind's survival ushered in by the funeral pyres of hiroshima and nagasaki. perhaps most important for these eight men and the generation of americans that lived through world war ii, was their participation in an enterprise greater than their personal concerns. and generating collective energies that proved both exhilarating and daunting. testimony to a sense of solidarity of shared burdens, of willingness to sacrifice, and of generally accepted goals for families and communities and the nation, infused the collective memory of world war ii's meaning. president kennedy explicitly referred to that spirit in his inaugural address. many of us here tonight will
remember the phrase, "and so my fellow americans," i cannot do the boston accent "ask not what your country will do for you ask what you will do for your country." but earlier in that speech kennedy proclaimed, "let the word go forth from this time and place, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed."
in one way or another, all of our presidents who have served in world war ii, expressed similar convictions. have their beliefs been rejected or allowed to erode? if one looks at the trajectory of military service in the united states as a basic civic duty over the past 70 years, possible case can be made for that contention. proposals for creation of a system of universal military training, thought to be a slamdunk during the war, were eventually rejected and replaced by a limited selective service system that provided military service to an estimated 7 million americans prior to the drafts's termination in 1973. for most of its 25 years of existence, the draft was generally accepted, in part because educational and other exemptions made avoidance of induction relatively easy. but the demands of the vietnam
war led to widespread opposition to compelling military service. along with president nixon's desire to tamp down antiwar protests, a presidential commitment concluded that demographics -- that is the enormous number of young men from the baby boom, costs and moral and ethical concerns demanded another approach. that led to the all volunteer force. the mechanism by which the nation for the past 40 years has staffed its armed forces. in many ways, given the evolving nature of modern warfare, the avf has proved to be an effective instrument for enhancing qualification of those
serving in the nation's armed forces and retaining personnel. but in concert with other changes in american society, can it can be argued that avf has contributed to lack of understanding of the demands placed upon those who serve in the armed forces. in her persuasive study of the avf's origins, beth bailey, who i am happy to say will be joining the ku faculty this summer, has written their proponents of the avf, instead of framing the debate around notions of citizenship and obligation, are around concerns about the shared burden of service and social equality emphasizes the power of market economics. selling military service as a job, with benefits and opportunities for enhancing qualifications in both military
and civilian spheres was the approach adopted. as bailey observes, "if we want to understand the meaning of citizenship, we have to think about the ways that the rights and obligations of citizenship has been negotiated around questions of military service. consider a few recruitment slogans. 'today's army wants you,' 'be all that you can be.' it's not just the job, it's an adventure. that is the navy slogan. get an edge on life. the result, one historian has asserted, is that with a citizen soldier, the army went away. americans were disconnected from the wars that the united states was fighting." a sharp decline in military
service shown in this slide is notable. another measure of engagement with the concerns of the greatest generation is the number of veterans in congress. in 1971, veterans comprised 72% of members in the house and 78% in the senate. 10 years later, that number dipped to 64%. in 1991, when president george h.w. bush sought congressional authorization for the use of force against iraq, saddam hussein's iraq, the senate claimed 70 veterans out of 98 male members. of whom 28 senators possessed active duty status overseas in a combat zone.
notably, the combat that including members of service in world war ii, split the early for and against the resolution bush wanted. former student of mine, captain daniel ferguson, now teaching at west point, has written, "the two sides divided largely along party lines, but united through a common experience of military and combat service, the outcome was a war by a slender majority. but the process of debate did a great service to the american public, and fulfilled the senate's role as the world's greatest deliberative body." in 2003, that did not happen. with world war ii vets and many others gone. last november's election resulted in the 114th congress being made up of 81 house
members who have served or are serving in the u.s. military and 16 in the senate. overall, less than 18% of the total in both houses. still, the ratio of veterans in congress is significantly higher than the percentage in the united states population serving in the military. data from the 2010 census, only 7% of americans claim military service and the numbers are hugely skewed with those over 65, seven times more likely to have served than those under 35. beaver's conclusion, "this new generation belongs to a post-cold war society which he knows little of military discipline, wars, and conscript
armies," might appear self-evident or self-righteous. at this point, you may be asking, so what? the response of our eight presidents to that question in my view would be to recall the interwar years when america's armed forces were similarly marginalized, a time when starved of funds for modernization, the u.s. army ranked below romania in size and capability when war began in 1939. they would also say that today's military challenges demand a ready force of sufficient size and flexibility, fully supported by the american people and congress to meet known and unanticipated challenges around the globe. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you, ted. i wish i could tell you about this topic, but he does have time to answer questions. so if anyone wants to ask, please come to either one of these microphone and dr. wilson will respond sincerely. >> my question is, what is your personal opinion, giving all you told us of tonight, what would be the value to our society and nation if we required two years of mandatory service to do something -- military, something that would include and further education beyond what we are getting in high school, with regard to citizenship. the kinds of things that boy scouts teach.
a dedication, a passion for the country, what would be the impact on the demographics of our society? dr. wilson: i would add girl scouts as well. since my wife is a dedicated girl scout. i am in favor of some kind of national service. i think it would offer an opportunity for young men and women to engage in communal activities that would be very significant and part of their own development, and also for the nation. i have to say, it is not going to happen. i do not see in this environment that the united states congress or probably any president is going to push that button. is going to try to push that button. but i do think that we have lost something in the sense of having a common experience that many others would argue the same
thing -- a common set of experiences, whether it is something like the civilian conservation corps, or any number of other activities. or military service. what was typical or characteristic of the period before. >> let me say real quick my neighbor and scoutmaster, who you are probably familiar with, was found of saying, there is a basic disconnect between those that are serving and those who are served. which i think speaks to what you just said. >> i was noticing the technical difficulties here, and that kind of brings me to my question. not to devalue anybody's
service, but because of technology, is there more expected of the lowest ranking person in the military, as far as actual competence and ability to work alone, or without direct supervision then maybe in the past because of technological anybody's service, but because of technology, is there more expected of the lowest ranking demands is so much greater for a buck private. theodore wilson: the all voluntary force over time has led to significant improvement in both the educational qualifications, and the training available to enlisted personnel. as well as officers. you go back to the 1930's, the typical person volunteering -- because a lot of people volunteered for the united states army because they did not have any other jobs. >> from the depression. the woodrow wilson right. -- theodore wilson: right.
the average educational level was seventh grade. and we now have mandated, at least graduation from high school. a lot of them also have other training. >> president eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. this gentleman talked about the level of education and technical knowledge needed. but could you comment on the fact that in previous generations, there was a time when even that seventh grade r, that seventh grade education person would have been doing things like cooking, or noncombat, or construction, and that has been outsourced off the k books tobr -- also the books to kbr and halliburton, and
other entities that are the industrial part of it? theodore wilson: that is a good point -- >> and how does that affect -- the fact that they are in so -- that they earned so much more than active-duty service members? theodore wilson: yes, that is one of the realities of over the last 25 or so years that has developed. we go back to colonial times when there were settlers, when people supplying the military forces were private. i would, just to sort of offer a comment first. i always use the term military industrial educational complex. because -- and i am not saying that in a pejorative way, but the reality is that since world war ii, the involvement in this enterprise and the benefit from this, was researched through
federal grants for the construction of buildings. if any of you have been on the ku campus you know the history department is located in the , what we call the bunker, wescoe hall, which was largely constructed with federal funds. but i think your point is well taken, the avf works in part because of the outsourcing and certain types of activity, even war zones, through private firms such as halliburton and others. that is certainly true. >> do you think this was a conscious decision, that congress and other governmental agencies made, or do you think it was in response to the fact that there were not a lot of guys going in voluntarily to man the service.
theodore wilson: rates of recruitment have fluctuated significantly over time. it was difficult at first years to get traction. i am not sure i can answer the question, that is not my area of expertise. my sense is this is a way of following this notion of market economics. making it logical that all duties that are supposedly a "nonmilitary," not directly combat related are outsourced. what happened in world war ii -- well, go back. in world war i, as you may know, the relationship between combat
troops, that is, guys carrying rifles, and support personnel was roughly one to one. by the end of world war ii, it had swung the other way. there were three people behind the lines supporting the one person on the frontline. for a variety of reasons. a range of reasons. partly because of demanding technology of the war and war zones that stretched around the world. that has continued. that shift of combat from combat personnel to combat support personnel has continued. >> this -- as i was listening, both the lady and you talking about it, it seems like right now we are actively participating in what eisenhower was talking about. military-industrial complex. we are more enmeshed now in military-industrial than we ever have been. am i wrong? theodore wilson: no, i think you're right. well, i do not know if we are more. >> or overtly. the woodrow wilson: -- theodore
wilson: overtly perhaps. it has been around for a very long time. >> to what extent is our military today, in its ability to adapt to the new requirements of the new kind of warfare, been influenced by the changes that you have talked about in society? being reflected also in the military, in terms of the commitment to protecting job security, etc. theodore wilson: job security in the military? >> in the military, but what i'm getting at is the difficulty within the military as well as in civilian life in terms of the
military-industrial complex, to adapt to the new demands in terms of the army. theodore wilson: this is the best prepared military force in human history, there's no question about that. it is a force that has made use of all of the armed services made use of increases in technology in a very effective way. partly, that is because of the shift from manpower to the technology to support manpower -- man and woman power i should say. partly, for understandable reasons, it is the reflection of the longtime american aversion. to accepting casualties. and so there is this effort, every effort for all the good reasons, to try to ensure that the guy riding in a humvee, if
that humvee goes over an iud, is going to survive. but i think one of the problems has been over the recent years, and some of my colleagues in the back can correct me if i am wrong, one of the problems in recent years is there has been a difficulty in getting training personnel, especially junior officers, to sign up for additional tours. for understandable reasons. there are efforts to try to deal with that by providing bonuses and other kinds of mechanisms that typically one would find in the business world. if you want to retain a special particular individual or a well-trained person. anything else? >> ted, thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you truman library
institute. we will see you next time. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> with live coverage of the house on house on c-span and the senate on c-span two, he or on c-span3, we complement that coverage by showing you the most relevant american history programs. including six unique series -- the civil war's 150th anniversary, american artifacts, touring use the yams and historic sites. history bookshelf, with the best-known american history writers. the presidency looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief.
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