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By David W Hogan; Arnold G Fisch; Robert K Wright; Center of Military History

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Extra info for The story of the noncommissioned officer corps : the backbone of the Army

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Long a concern, NCO pay received close attention in the postVietnam era. The laws creating the Modern Volunteer Army after Vietnam ensured that noncommissioned officers would be paid salaries that reflected their professional status in the Army and in American society. Today, the Regular Army fully recognizes the professionalization of the NCO Corps in its pay scales, as it does in other crucial ways. 47 NCO training and education had also long been the focus of Army reform debate. All professional groups formally educate and certify their members.

The low prestige of the Army in society at large forced the Army to accept recruits of inferior quality, when it could find them at all. By 1974 Army manpower levels were 20,000 below authorization, and only four of the thirteen active component divisions were 53 combat ready. NCOs found themselves caught between undisciplined soldiers and efforts to build an all-volunteer force. Through the efforts of leaders from the chief of staff to the NCOs in the field, the Army slowly regained its efficiency and esprit.

Constant vigilance became a watchword for NCOs assigned to patrol the Iron Curtain in Germany. 42 NCO Corps as a holding area for officers who could no longer keep their commissions and who were awarded six stripes instead. But things never returned to the climate of the late 1940s. The nation had heard the warning, and it maintained the draft and at least the minimum forces it needed to meet a continuing Communist threat throughout the world. Legislation gradually transformed the status of noncommissioned officers.

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