JUNE 4, 1947
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Probably the most far-reaching thing which has happened recently, because of the effect it may have upon the lives of our young people, was the report of the President's Commission on Universal Training. The President had asked that they lay special stress on nonmilitary benefits of universal training, but the commission explained in their report that they could not justify training unless the military side was present.
In a talk I had with a responsible member of our Government the other day, he remarked that history showed that lack of preparedness rather than preparedness precipitated wars. A warlike nation which thought itself a little better prepared than its neighbors, but which was really not anxious to go to war, would try to put over a bluff to achieve some end. The bluff would not work and the situations created would lead to war even if the first nation was ready to draw back.
If that is so, then it would appear that we would be entirely justified in accepting the recommendations of this report, which takes a broad view of all our national defenses. It says that no branch can be neglected and suggests that every young man between the ages of 18 and 20 spend a year in training. The first six months would be spent in basic training. Then a broad choice would be presented, so that the young man could acquire something which would help him in civilian life.
I am glad that the report states that this program is essential until the United Nations is able to take over the complete defense of world peace. I am not sure, however, that even then universal training should come to an end, for we will have to provide our portion of services to the United Nations. And if the underlying philosophy of this report is carried out in legislation, it might well be extremely valuable to the young people of the country as peacetime training.
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When Gen. Evans Carlson died the other day, I did not have an opportunity to pay him a tribute in my column, but I wish to do so now. My eldest son was with him as executive officer when he trained his first "raiders." It seems to me the type of training which he gave them would be valuable to any young man living in a peaceful world, just as it was extraordinarily good training for the most difficult kind of fighting. He trained the minds and characters of men as well as their bodies, and that is what I hope we will do in any universal military training which we undertake.