Competition for commission

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Cekekb
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Competition for commission

Post by Cekekb » 12 Oct 2020 18:50

Reading bio of Troy H. Middleton I came on information that he was comissioned on basis of a competition for officer commission.
Is there any good source on how such competitionon worked?
How large was percentage of officers commissioned in that way? Was this practice continued after WWI?

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Oct 2020 22:19

Competition in that there were X number of commissions available, and a larger number of candidates. Usually. Where there were more candidates that commissions available examinations, written, and oral were given to cull the herd. This applied to admission to West Point and Annapolis officer colleges, and to the ROTC route.

Battle field commissions of course did not require exams.

In the 19th Century the examination system was slow to develop. Most US officers were state militia which had a strong political element.

Richard Anderson
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Oct 2020 00:28

Pretty much what Carl said. The competitive commissions were essentially a product of the period immediately after the Spanish-American War and during the Philippine Insurrection. The Army expanded rapidly and needed officers, but the supply was only a trickle and Volunteer officers commissioned by States were in bad odor (not that the RA guys did any better in the S-A War), so upstanding men of solid middle class or better antecedents (no riff-raff) and with a college education were allowed to take a test. George Marshall was actually commissioned that way and he considered himself lucky that the test was easy, since he didn't consider himself much of a student. IIRC Ben Lear was also commissioned by that route, as were many others. The competitive commission essentially disappeared when the Officer Reserve Corps was organized in July 1916. From then until 1940 ROTC graduates were commissioned in the ORC, but after Marshall instituted the Officer Candidate School in 1940 they went through that before they were commissioned.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Delta Tank
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Delta Tank » 11 Nov 2020 02:07

Richard Anderson wrote:
13 Oct 2020 00:28
Pretty much what Carl said. The competitive commissions were essentially a product of the period immediately after the Spanish-American War and during the Philippine Insurrection. The Army expanded rapidly and needed officers, but the supply was only a trickle and Volunteer officers commissioned by States were in bad odor (not that the RA guys did any better in the S-A War), so upstanding men of solid middle class or better antecedents (no riff-raff) and with a college education were allowed to take a test. George Marshall was actually commissioned that way and he considered himself lucky that the test was easy, since he didn't consider himself much of a student. IIRC Ben Lear was also commissioned by that route, as were many others. The competitive commission essentially disappeared when the Officer Reserve Corps was organized in July 1916. From then until 1940 ROTC graduates were commissioned in the ORC, but after Marshall instituted the Officer Candidate School in 1940 they went through that before they were commissioned.
Rich,
What does ORC stand for? So, if you went through ROTC, you had to go through OCS before you received your commission?

Mike

Richard Anderson
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2020 02:24

Delta Tank wrote:
11 Nov 2020 02:07
Rich,
What does ORC stand for? So, if you went through ROTC, you had to go through OCS before you received your commission?

Mike
ORC = Officer Reserve Corps
ERC = Enlisted Reserve Corps

The two together made up the OR = Organized Reserve. The kicker, interwar was that the ERC was limited by law to 33% of enlisted unit strength and there were no enlistment or pay incentives for signing up.

Yes, graduation from a college or university ROTC program did not automatically mean a commission. That only applied to West Point graduates. Instead, they were fed into the OCS program and were commissioned after 94 to 114 days.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Delta Tank
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Delta Tank » 11 Nov 2020 02:48

Richard Anderson wrote:
11 Nov 2020 02:24
Delta Tank wrote:
11 Nov 2020 02:07
Rich,
What does ORC stand for? So, if you went through ROTC, you had to go through OCS before you received your commission?

Mike
ORC = Officer Reserve Corps
ERC = Enlisted Reserve Corps

The two together made up the OR = Organized Reserve. The kicker, interwar was that the ERC was limited by law to 33% of enlisted unit strength and there were no enlistment or pay incentives for signing up.

Yes, graduation from a college or university ROTC program did not automatically mean a commission. That only applied to West Point graduates. Instead, they were fed into the OCS program and were commissioned after 94 to 114 days.
Rich,

Thanks!! So, that applied to The Citadel, VMI, etc. grads? I read somewhere that more company commanders came from Texas A&M than any other school. I don’t know if that is true and that may of been written by an “Aggie”!😂

Mike

Richard Anderson
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2020 04:06

Delta Tank wrote:
11 Nov 2020 02:48
Rich,

Thanks!! So, that applied to The Citadel, VMI, etc. grads? I read somewhere that more company commanders came from Texas A&M than any other school. I don’t know if that is true and that may of been written by an “Aggie”!😂

Mike
AFAIK, none of those were direct commissions. The only truly "military" schools in the country were and are the Service academies. Famously, Marshal was a VMI Keydet, but obtained his commissioned through competitive examination, which was the common route until the establishment of the OCS program by Marshal in the fall of 1940. The route from ROTC to commission is post World War II. One of the more interesting officers as an example was the first CG of the 90th Inf Div in World War II.

"Perhaps the most important cadre assigned to the 90th Div was its first commander, Major General (Maj Gen) Henry Terrell, Jr. A Texan, General Terrell was born in San Antonio on 14 October 1890. He entered the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1908, but did not graduate. Instead, in 1911 Terrell enrolled in Dowd’s Army and Navy Academy in Washington, D.C., which was a military preparatory school. The War Department awarded him a competitive commission in the Regular Army as a 2d Lieutenant in the 22d Inf Regt on 24 April 1912, which he accepted on 4 June.

Terrell first served with the 22d Inf until 16 January 1915 when he was transferred to the 29th Inf Regt with effect on 1 March 1915, sailing to join the regiment in Panama on 15 March. On 1 July 1916, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, still in the 29th, then on 15 May 1917 he was promoted to Captain and assigned to the newly-organized 58th Inf Regt. He attended the Infantry School of Fire at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in the fall of 1917, then rejoined the 58th Inf Regt in November. Terrell married Helen Guenther while stationed with the 58th Inf Regt at Camp Green, Charlotte, South Carolina on 3 December 1917.

He left New York for France on 11 May 1918 as commander of Company L, 3d Bn, 58th Inf Regt, which was part of the 4th Division. Terrell was promoted to Major in the National Army on 7 June 1918 in France and accepted on 8 July. He was then temporarily assigned to the 152d Depot Brigade until receiving command of the 1st Bn, 39th Inf Regt of the 4th Division. He led his battalion in the Aisne-Marne Offensive on 18 July and then commanded the 3d Bn in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. On 28 September, during the Battle of Montfaucon, Terrell took command of the regiment after its commander, Colonel Frank C. Bolles, was wounded in action. Terrell was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for his actions during the war.

Terrell returned to the States in late November 1918, immediately after the Armistice, although why he returned so early, before his regiment returned in spring 1919 is unknown. He was stationed at Jacksonville, Florida, probably at Camp Joseph E. Johnston, by December 1918, but it is not known what his assignment was. Terrell’s next known assignment was on 4 September 1919, when he was detailed by the War Department as Commandant and Senior Military Instructor at West Texas Military Academy, which was a Junior ROTC School. In common with many other officers he was formally discharged from the Army on 21 January 1920, reverting to his Regular Army rank of Captain, but was promoted to Major in the Regular Army on 1 July 1920. After two years at West Texas Military Academy, Terrell moved to another ROTC position on 1 September 1921, this time at the Oregon Agricultural College at Corvallis.

Terrell was in Oregon until 1923, when he went to Fort Benning to attend the Infantry School Advanced Course. He graduated there in spring 1924 and was immediately sent to Fort Leavenworth to continue his military education at the Command and General Staff School. Terrell was an Honors Graduate there in 1925, which placed him on the eligible list for the General Staff Corps (GSC), although he was not appointed to the GSC until 19 August 1938.

Terrell's next assignment was to a staff position as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training (G-3) for the Ninth Corps Area, Headquartered at the Presidio of San Francisco. Three years later he traveled by sea on the U.S. Army Transport Chateau Thierry with his wife from San Francisco to New York 13 June 1928. From there they traveled to Washington, D.C. where Terrell took up a post on the staff of the Chief of Infantry until 1931 when he attended the Army War College, which at the time was also in Washington at what is now know is Fort McNair, but then was called Washington Barracks. After he graduated from the War College in 1932, Terrell moved on to his next assignment as an instructor at the Infantry School at Fort Benning until 1936.

On 1 August 1935, Terrell was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel after just over fifteen years of service as a Major. While that may seem extraordinary, it was not unusual in the interwar Army. George Patton spent just under fourteen years as a Major and George C. Marshall spent ten years as a Lieutenant Colonel, even though both were considered superior officers. A year later Terrell finally returned to line duty after seventeen years on staff and teaching assignments when he was sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas to join the 9th Inf Regt as a battalion commander. There, from on 17 October to 9 November 1936 he commanded the regiment temporarily while waiting for the arrival of a new commander.

Terrell returned to staff work again on 10 August 1938 when he was detailed to the GSC and assigned to the War Department General Staff. As the Army began to expand he was promoted to Colonel in the AUS on 16 October 1940 and then to Brigadier General in the AUS on 29 January 1941. He continued with his duties on the General Staff to February 1941, when he assumed temporary command of the 8th Div until 3 April 1941, when he was assigned as the Deputy Director Headquarters First Army Maneuvers until the fall of 1941. After writing reports on the maneuvers in December, Terrell was promoted to Major General in the AUS on 15 February 1942 and was assigned as Commanding General of the 90th Div.' (This is drawn from the draft of my next book, Spearheading the Breakout.)
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Delta Tank
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Delta Tank » 11 Nov 2020 14:50

Rich,

That was interesting! Now, another question. We rotated pilots out of combat assignments back to the States to be instructors so they could pass on their experiences to new pilots. Did we do that with infantry and armor officers? I don’t think we did, but I am not sure. A buddy asked me this question, I figure you would know this off the top of your head.

Thanks in advance.

Mike

Richard Anderson
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2020 16:22

Delta Tank wrote:
11 Nov 2020 14:50
Rich,

That was interesting! Now, another question. We rotated pilots out of combat assignments back to the States to be instructors so they could pass on their experiences to new pilots. Did we do that with infantry and armor officers? I don’t think we did, but I am not sure. A buddy asked me this question, I figure you would know this off the top of your head.

Thanks in advance.

Mike
No, the only rotations home for training were for general officers, usually those that had aged out of a combat slot or been relieved. The general policy was to put them into training positions. Even abject failures like Brig Gen Jay MacKelvie were given another chance. He was rotated to a staff job with ETOUSA SOS and then was assigned as Commanding General, 80th Division Artillery on 19 September 1944, replacing the previous CG who was KIA, where he evidently performed well, although he mysteriously was awarded a Purple Heart at some point even though there is zero record of him ever being wounded.

Otherwise, the only rotations home were the coveted home furloughs that began in early 1945, but I doubt that more than a few thousand occurred before the end of the war and they were not for training, but were actual leaves.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Competition for commission

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 11 Nov 2020 17:15

Richard Anderson wrote:
11 Nov 2020 16:22
...

No, the only rotations home for training were for general officers, usually those that had aged out of a combat slot or been relieved. The general policy was to put them into training positions. ...
There were a few like Collins who were sent back for health reasons, & continued active service. In Collins case he slacked off on taking the Malaria prophylaxis & contracted a bad case. Eventually he was judged fit for service in 'temperate climates' and landed in a corps command.

To address this digression more broadly:
Vandigrift of the Marines was pulled out of the S Pac and landed in the Marine Commandants job, which did allow some of his thoughts on S Pac operations of 1942 to percolate down. The Navy had in 1942 a steady supply of survivors of sunken & dry-docked ships to redistribute to newly commissioned ships or boost up the training establishment. Organized or not that had its effect. & for better or worse Navy officers with operating experience in the North Atlantic 1940> were sent to the Pacific to apply what they had learned earlier.

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