Throughout its long existence, the Fahy Committee was chiefly concerned with the position of the Negro in the Army. After protracted argument it won from the Army an agreement to abolish the racial quota and to open all specialties in all Army units and all Army schools and courses to qualified Negroes.
Finally, it won the Army's promise to cease restricting black servicemen to black units and overhead installations alone and to assign them instead on the basis of individual ability and the Army's need As for the other services, the committee secured from the Navy a pledge to give petty officer status to chief stewards and stewards of the first, second, and third class, and its influence was discernible in the Navy's decision to allow stewards to transfer to the general service.
The committee also made, and the Navy accepted, several practical suggestions that might lead to an increase in the number of black officers and enlisted men.
The committee approved the Air Force integration program and publicized the success of this major reform as it was carried out during 1949; for the benefit of the reluctant Army, the committee could point to the demonstrated ability of black servicemen and the widespread acceptance of integration among the rank and file of the Air Force In regard to the Marine Corps, however, the committee was forced to acknowledge that the corps had not yet "fully carried out Navy policy. "
The Fahy Committee won from the services a commitment to equal treatment and opportunity and a practical program to achieve that end. Yet even with this victory and the strong support of many senior military officials, the possibility that determined foes of integration might erect roadblocks or that simple bureaucratic inertia would delay progress could not be discounted.
There was, for example, nothing in the postwar practices of the Marine Corps, even the temporary integration of its few black recruits during basic training, that hinted at any long-range intention of adopting the Navy's integration program. And the fate of one of the committee's major recommendations, that all the services adopt equal enlistment standards, had yet to be decided. The acceptance of this recommendation hinged on the results of a Defense Department study to determine the jobs in each service that could be filled by men in the lowest mental classification category acceptable to all three services. Although the Navy and the Air Force had agreed to reexamine the matter, they had consistently opposed the application of enlistment parity in the past, and the Secretary of Defense's Personnel Policy Board had indorsed their position. Secretary Forrestal, himself, had rejected the concept, and there was nothing in the record to suggest that his successor would do otherwise. Yet the parity of enlistment standards was a vital part of the committee's argument for the abolition of the Army's racial quota. If enlistment standards were not equalized, especially in a period when the Army was turning to Selective Service for much of its manpower, the number of men in the Army's categories IV and V was bound to increase, and that increase would provide strong justification for reviving the racial quota.
The Army staff was aware, if the public was not, that a resurrected quota was possible, for the President had given the Secretary of the Army authority to take such action if there was "a disproportionate balance of racial strengths."
The Army's concern with disproportionate balance was always linked to a concern with the influx of men, mostly black, who scored poorly on the classification tests. The problem, the Army repeatedly claimed, was not the quantity of black troops but their quality. Yet at the time the Army agreed to the committee's demand to drop the quota, some 40 percent of all black soldiers scored below eighty. These men could rarely profit from the Army's agreement to integrate all specialist training and assignments. The committee, aware of the problem, had strongly urged the Army to refuse reenlistment, with few exceptions, to anyone scoring below eighty.
Fahy reminded the
Secretary of the Army
Frank Pace, Jr., by
letter today, that the Army was still enlisting men that scored below 70 on the
Army General Classification Test
(AGCT) which was introduced in March 1941 as
its principal instrument for the measurement of a soldier's learning ability. Contrary to what had been agreed to in April 1946.
On 11 May 1950 Fahy reminded Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr., that despite the Army's promise to eliminate its low (p. 377) scorers it continued to reenlist men scoring less than seventy.[14-143]
141Freedom to Serve, p. 27.
142Ltr, SA to President, 1 Mar 50, Fahy Papers, Truman Library.
Footnote 14-143: Memo, Fahy for SA, 11 May 50, Fahy Papers, Truman Library. Frank Pace, an Arkansas lawyer and former Assistant Director of the Bureau of the Budget, succeeded Gordon Gray as Secretary of the Army on 12 April 1950.(Back)