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COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
JOHN M. MORIN, Pennsylvania, Chairman W. FRANK JAMES, Michigan.
PERCY E. QUIN, Mississippi. HARRY C. RANSLEY, Pennsylvania.
HUBERT F. FISHER, Tennessee. HARRY M. WURZBACH, Texas.
WILLIAM C. WRIGHT, Georgia. B. CARROLL REECE, Tennessee.
DANIEL E. GARRETT, Texas, JOHN C. SPEAKS, Ohio.
JOHN J. McSWAIN, South Carolina J. MAYHEW WAINWRIGHT, New York. JOHN J. BOYLAN, New York. JAMES P. GLYNN, Connecticut.
LISTER HILL, Alabama.
VIRGIL CHAPMAN, Kentucky.
VICTOR S. K. HOUSTON, Hawaii.
HOWARD F. SEDGWICK, Clerk
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Thursday, February 21, 1929. The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. John M. Morin (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Colonel Benedict, I think we will begin at the first paragraph of the bill and ask you to give us a digest of it in your own way, and without interruption. I will request the members of the committee not to interrupt Colonel Benedict until he has concluded, after which the members will be given an opportunity to ask any questions they may desire. We will let the colonel complete his statement, explaining to the committee just what each paragraph will do, so we will have the explanation all at one place in the record.
(See appendix for S. 3269 as passed by Senate, amended and passed by House, and again amended and passed by Senate, and H. R. 17250, together with reports.)
STATEMENT OF LIEUT. COL. JAY L. BENEDICT, GENERAL STAFF
Colonel BENEDICT. Mr. Chairman, the first section of the bill is designed, in the first place, as is done in the first sentence, to specifically prescribe that nothing in this bill will increase the aggregate number of officers, authorized by law for the Army, and to give a designation to those officers, exclusive of the Medical Department, the chaplains, and professors. They are designated for the purpose of convenience for reference throughout the bill as "promotion-list" officers.
The second sentence is designed to prescribe that the number of promotion-list officers in each of the grades shall be such as result from the system of promotion prescribed in this act. It states there that it will not be otherwise limited.
That was put in at the suggestion of the Judge Advocate General's department in order to assure that it would not be construed that, in spite of this act, the present national defense act would limit the number in the various grades.
The last part of the section is a proviso which is intended to put certain limitations upon promotions by length of service. Realizing that it had to be limited some place, the limit is just below the grade of lieutenant colonel so that the aggregate number of officers in the grades of colonel and lieutenant colonel would not exceed 15 per cent of the maximum aggregate number now authorized by law.
There is a further limitation that there shall not be less than 26 per cent in the field grades.
With respect to those percentages there is some question about the base upon which they would be computed. This bill says the maximum number of promotion-list officers authorized by law.
As you know, we are in a state of change now. Exclusive of the authorization contained in the Air Corps act, we would have 10,527 promotion-list officers, as they are defined in this bill. That act authorized an increase of 403; whether the full 403 or whether only a part of them could now be included under this is a question that is open to interpretation. For that reason it can not be specifically stated to what number you would apply the 15 per cent and therefore what your result would be. It would be between 1,579 and 1,649 oflicers; it would fall between those two limits and ultimately go to the latter limit when the full 403 for the Air Corps has been actually incorporated in the Army and can be considered part of the maximum authorized strength.
The minimum of 26 per cent in field grades is designed solely to prevent this bill taking away from anybody a promotion that is now in prospect. The present promotion from captain to major includes officers of 12 or a little over 12 years' service. As will appear later, the bill prescribes that officers go into the grade of major upon the completion of 15 years of service.
By placing a minimum of 26 per cent, which is substantially the number of field oflicers we now have, it would maintain for the present the flow of promotion that is now in prospect from the grade of captain to the grade of major and would not cause promotions to the grade of major to be stopped for a period of abut three years.
In the second section of the bill the first sentence, of course, is self-explanatory. It says:
That all promotions under this act shall be subject to such examinations as shall have been required by authority of law.
At the present time the only examination required is physical. The second sentence prescribes a normal schedule of promotion, which is to first lieutenant, 3 years; captain, 10 years; major, 15 years; lieutenant colonel, 20 years; and colonel, 26 years of service.
In the next sentence it is provided that the promotion of majors, credited with 20 years of service shall be deferred as long as necessary to prevent the 15 per cent limitation being exceeded. That, of course, is necessary.
Then there is a limitation that no officer shall be promoted to the grade of colonel until he shall have served at least two years in the grade of lieutenant colonel. That, in connection with the 15 per cent limitation on those combined grades is designed to do this: If you had a separate limitation upon colonels and one upon lieutenant colonels, an officer would be subject to two checks in his advancement. He would be checked by the number of authorized lieutenant colonels and his promotion held up as much as 10 or more years after he completes 20 years of service.
He would be checked again by the limitation upon the number of colonels, and again his promotion might be held up 10 or more years.
Under this provision when he once gets into the group of colonels and lieutenant colonels, the only obstacle to his advancement to colonel, when he gets 26 years of service is that he must have served two years as a lieutenant colonel.
So, if we will take an extreme case of a man held up 10 years on going into the grade of lieutenant colonel, he would go in there on 30 years of service. Under this bill he is not required to spend the full six years in that grade, but is only required to spend two, which enables him to make up four years of time that he has been held back. That is, to my mind, the outstanding change involved in a combined limitation on two grades, instead of a separate limitation on each of the grades, although you could probably get much the same result if you had a separate limitation and made the limitation on colonels as high as that on lieutenant colonels, or possibly higher.
The proviso on page 7 is designed to give officers certain accelerated promotion. That is, when they have completed over 20 years of service and have been held back for advancement to the grade of lieutenant colonel, and are, or become 52 years of age, they would be picked up and promoted arbitrarily, out of turn, to the grade of lieutenant colonel, and would be in addition to the 15 per cent.
Mr. HILL. Do you construe that to be mandatory !
Colonel BENEDICT. I do. I can say it was intended to be mandatory that they shall be promoted when, under the provisions of the act they have 20 years of service and are 52 years of age.
Similarly, they would advance to the grade of colonel when they have had their 26 years of service, or as soon thereafter as they have served two years as lieutenant colonel.
The next proviso is merely to safeguard the order of the Military Academy classes in case they should be advanced under the 52-year rule. Without that, of course, the oldest man in the class might be at the bottom and be advanced a little ahead of the youngest man in the class. There would not be any great difference, but it is deemed undesirable to disturb the order of the class. The class is to be treated, according to this, as of the average age of the members of the class. That would have the effect of holding the oldest man in the class back a couple of years after he becomes 52 years of age and may have the effect of pulling the youngest man up and actually putting him into the grade of lieutenant colonel at 50.
The last sentence, of course, is clear. It simply makes it plain that it is intended to maintain the minimum 26 per cent of field officers by promoting captains of less than 15 years' service, if necessary.
The third section is intended to provide special promotion for the Air Corps. In the first sentence there are no limitations whatever. They are promoted to first lieutenants after three years of service under the preceding section of the bill, and under this sentence in this section they go to the grade of captain after 7 years of service and to the grade of major after 12 years of service. There are no limitations whatever on that, and those two promotions are three years in advance of the promotion of their contemporaries in other branches.
When the promotions under section 2 of the act, which, of course, applies to the whole Army, including the Air Corps, as the act is drawn, and the promotion to major after 12 years of service, fail to provide the Air Corps with 3 per cent of its officers in the grade of colonel, 4 per cent in the grade of lieutenant colonel, and 18 per cent in the grade of major, it is intended that Air Corps officers shall be promoted so as to maintain those percentages.
These are to be regarded as the minimum of colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors that the Air Corps must have. There is no