Reorganization of the Army

In the years after the Spanish-American War nearly a third of the Regular Army troops, on the average, served overseas. Most were in the Philippines suppressing the insurrection and, when that conflict officially ended in mid-1902, stamping out scattered resistance and organizing and training a native force known as the Philippine Scouts. Oth- er regulars were garrisoned in Alaska, Hawaii, China, and elsewhere. To carry out its responsibilities abroad and to maintain an adequate defense at home, the Regular Army from 1902 to 1911 had an average of 75,000 officers and men, far below the 100,000 that Congress had authorized in 1902 to fill thirty infantry and fifteen cavalry regiments supported by a corps of artillery. To make up for this deficiency in size of the regular forces and at the same time to remedy some of the defects revealed in the mobilization for the War with Spain, the planners in the War Department recommended a reorganization of the volunteer forces.
Secretary Root took the lead in presenting to Congress in 1901 a program for reform of the National Guard. In response to his recommendations, Congress in 1903 passed the Dick Act, which thoroughly revised the obsolete Militia Act of 1792. It separated the militia into two classes—the Organized Militia, to be known as the National Guard, and the Reserve Militia—and provided that over a five-year period the Guard’s organization and equipment would be patterned after that of the Regular Army. To help accomplish these changes in the Guard, the Dick Act made federal funds available; prescribed drill at least twice a month, supplemented with short annual training periods; permitted detailing of regular officers to Guard units; and directed the holding of joint maneuvers each year. The new measure failed, however, to significantly modify the longstanding provisions that severely restricted federal power to call up Guard units and control Guard personnel, which limited its effectiveness. Subsequent legislation in 1908 and 1914 reduced these restrictions to some extent, giving the President the right to prescribe the length of federal service and with the advice and consent of the Senate to appoint all officers of the Guard while the Guard was in federal service.

The military legislation passed in 1908 contained one additional provision that was to have far-reaching consequences. On April 23, 1908, the creation of the Medical Reserve Corps authorized the placement of several hundred medical personnel on a federal reserve status to be called to active duty if needed to augment the regular medical doctors. This was the small and humble beginning of the U.S. Army Reserve that in the future would train, commission, mobilize, and retain hundreds of thousands of officers. This legislation established the third component of the U.S. Army in addition to the Regular Army and the National Guard. The U.S. Army Reserve was to be a federal reserve, not belonging to the states, which would help provide the basis for the actual implementation of the expansible army theory.

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