Published August 1961 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United STATES SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD Room 342, Old Senate Office Building, Washington 25, D. C. Volume I -- Number 31 8-4-61 BYRD'S EYE VIEW A Public Service Column by SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S CALL TO ARMS EXPLAINED Within the next few weeks the lives of many young West Virginians may be temporarily discommoded by a Presidential call to arms as our country firms up her determination to resist Communist threats against the freedom of West Berliners. This call to service will be in the form of increased draft quotas, and in the activation of some units of the Ready Reserve -- the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. The period of active service can be as much as one year from the date of call. In 'addition, enlistment periods of some current members of the Armed Forces may be extended for as much as one year. Not all such enlistments will be extended. The call to active duty, however, may be very temporary in nature insofar as reservists are concerned, for the intent of our military planners is to have their places taken by the extra draftees and the volunteers who sign up for regular enlistment periods. For this purpose, draft calls will be doubled, and then tripled, until the strength of our Armed Forces has been increased by approximately 225,000 persons, over and above the strength previously planned. Nationally, not more than 250,000 reservists will be called to active duty with the Armed Forces. However, under the resolution passed by the Congress, the president can also order reserve units to active training for periods longer than the usual 15 or 17 days, in order to improve their degree of readiness. It also is possible for the Chief Executive to order two or more separate periods of active training during the fiscal year. According to the Department of Defense, there will be an order of priority in the calling up of reservists. Among the ready reservists, an effort will be made to use drill-paid reservists before calling non drill-paid reservists. This system is said to be the most equitable way of activating the various units. Draft inductees, under the law, may not be sent out of the country unless they have had 4 months of training. Most reservists have already had six months of training. Whatever action the President may take with regard to the duty periods of reservists will depend, of course, on the state of world affairs. But the reemployment rights of those called to service will be protected.
Today, we have an armed force of 2,493,000, and we plan, during this fiscal year, to go to a force of 2,743,000. If the Berlin crisis should ease, it is unlikely that there will be any reduction in this figure of preparedness, because the aggressive _ surge of the new imperialism of Soviet Russia can be expected to become evident in other parts of the world. In fashioning stronger manpower for our Armed Forces, and in enriching our programs for weapons and armaments, we are stating emphatically to Mr. Khrushchev and his puppets, to our allies, and to so-called neutral nations, that we are a people with the will and determination to take whatever steps may be necessary -- end to fight, if need be that we may continue to be free and secure. We will continue to work and pray for peace. But the surest way to prevent war is to be prepared for it.
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