Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Reserve Forces Act of 1955.

August 09, 1955

I HAVE TODAY approved the Reserve Forces Act of 1955• Although the bill falls short of the program which I sent to the Congress by my special message on January 13, 1955, and which the Department of Defense urged the Congress to adopt, nevertheless the bill does contain provisions that will definitely strengthen the Reserve structure.

(1) It provides a statutory means of assuring that our Federal Reserves will be composed of prior-trained men on a planned basis.

(2) It will permit an increase in the Ready Reserve manpower ceiling from 1,500,000 to 2,900,000.

(3) It clearly establishes the obligation to participate in reserve training and provides for effective and reasonable enforcement measures to achieve this participation.

(4) It authorizes the President to order up 1,000,000 Ready Reservists in an emergency proclaimed by him.

I am, however, concerned by the failure of the bill to afford the same guarantees of prior training for the National Guard as it has done for the Reserves. The bill is also deficient in failing to grant authority to induct into the Reserve if sufficient numbers to meet military requirements are not obtained voluntarily.

The securing of sufficient numbers in the Reserve on a voluntary basis will undoubtedly be hampered by the unwarranted disparity under the bill between the $78 per month offered to members of the National Guard who volunteer to undergo initial active duty for training, and the $50 per month provided for members of the Reserve who undergo identical, initial training.

In my special message of January thirteenth and in recommendations of the Department of Defense, it was urged that provisions be included to insure a hard core of prior-service personnel to the National Guard. Not only did the Congress fail to include such provisions, but it also excluded the National Guard from the provisions for interim incentives to secure participation of prior service personnel in the various reserve training programs.

I have serious doubts that in the absence of further statutory authority, the National Guard can fully attain its planned size, and the standards of military proficiency and readiness, that are essential in our mobilization planning. I am, therefore, instructing the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to conduct a continuing review of National Guard programs and standards to determine whether they meet the imperative requirements of our first line defenses.

The bill reduces the present eight-year military obligation to six years. The effect of this reduction will not manifest itself to any great degree in the immediate future. Such reduction is, however, a matter that merits careful study to determine whether, at some future period, it will be necessary to request restoration of the eight-year obligation.

Taking into consideration all factors and the essential need to build strong reserves, I am instructing the Secretary of Defense to take immediate and effective action to utilize the means that the bill provides to augment and strengthen the Reserve Forces throughout the country and to prepare for presentation to the next session of the Congress amendments necessary to correct the deficiencies in this legislation.

Note: The Reserve Forces Act of 1955 is Public Law 305, 84th Congress (69 Stat. 598). For the President's message of January 13, see Item 12, above.

On August 13 the President issued Executive Order 10629 (3 CFR, 1955 Supp. ) authorizing enlistments in the Ready Reserve of the Army Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve.
A White House release of that date quoted the President as saying: "No time should be lost in moving toward the goal of stronger Reserves as rapidly as the new law permits. It is my sincere hope that young Americans will respond to this volunteer program in such measure as to insure its success."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Reserve Forces Act of 1955. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233450

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