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The combat contract and the US military behavior in World War II are the objects of numerous research studies, providing the world public with insights into the stark reality of those tragic activities. The USA appeared to be unready to reflect the enemy’s blow at the first stage of the World War II. The US Army lacked both professionally trained soldiers and military technique. Later, the authorities took into account these drawbacks, making military transformations and initiating combat contracts.
Philosophical Background of Combat Contracts
Being widely discussed nowadays, the roots of initiating combat contracts can be traced back to the ancient and medieval philosophy. The problem of combat contracts comprises compliance or noncompliance with combat orders. The mortal peril is the invariable sacrifice of compliance, which cannot be avoided even under the influence of such facilitating factors, as logistics, firepower, and leadership.
Various philosophical approaches to liberty, as one of the core values of democratic communities, affect the choice of combat contracts. In fact, all people are expected to enjoy the right to make their choice. Nevertheless, this right is not absolute in its nature. In cases of the violation of other individuals’ liberty, the shapes of this value are to be restricted. The problem of war and the state’s defense is one of the liable issues.
Philosophers suggest three ways of solving the challenge of a state’s protection, evaluating the introduction of compulsory or voluntary military services. The first way is traced in the civic republican custom supported by Machiavelli and Rousseau. According to this approach, the welfare of any democratic state corresponds to the readiness of its citizens to transfer their liberty. As a result, they would obtain military training and serve for the state’s sake. Military training is compulsory for all citizens of the state like such privileges as public education. In the USA, this approach to military service correlates with the accepted proposals.
The second way can be observed in the libertarian customs. This approach disapproves the state coercion and compulsory military service, which contradicts the idea of freedom. This postulate is stable even under the circumstances of the necessity to protect the state against enemies. In cases of citizens’ rejection of the recruitment, their freedom is not worth defending. Therefore, people’s support is preferable than the compulsory conscription.
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The third approach takes into account rational issues. According to it, a single type of military service would not be suitable for the rational state’s defense politics. The nation is supposed to choose the proper form of its state’s protection, taking into account the requirements of the time. Certain events may demand urgent compulsory draft. During the next period, voluntary military service is possible. The challenge facing the state authorities is to determine the proper number of individuals liable to conscription.
Military Behavior During WWII
The USA had to participate in global war conflicts twice in the twentieth century. The tragic event of the World War II led to the initiation of combat contracts. At the very beginning of the war actions, the United States intended to be neutral towards both fighting sides. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt discussed current challenges with Churchill, creating the Atlantic Charter to support democratic will. The United States placed its troops in Greenland and Iceland to defend its fleet against the German attacks. However, the enemy’s assaults did not stop, which damaged the USA-Germany relations completely. Moreover, violent military behavior of Japan in Thailand, Indochina, and China did not contribute to the establishment of the peace (“World War II: War Comes to the United States”).
The bombing of American military forces in Hawaii by the Japanese troops became the decisive argument for the US entry into the World War II (Wright 98). President Roosevelt declared war against Japan and Americans supported him. “World War II affirmed in many basic ways the revolutionary ideal of the ‘citizen soldier” (Wright 97). Approximately 90% of the US citizens supported the US participation in the war as compared to 35% in 1939 (Wright 100). Meanwhile, Germany and Italy became Japan’s allies. Therefore, the USA had to fight against Axis states.
The first period of the World War II turned to be terrible for the United States. Japan’s military forces defeated the armies of the Philippines, Malaya, Burma, and the Netherlands. The Allied Navy was conquered in the Java Sea. Later, the Aleutian Islands and New Guinea lost the war. At the same time, Australia became the major Allied base in the struggle against Japan. War activities in Europe started after the conquering of Normandy, France in summer 1944. The US Navy damaged Japan’s fleet completely in the battles of the Coral Sea (“World War II: War Comes to the United States”).
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In the majority of cases, fighters fully obeyed their officers’ commands and attacked the enemy. One can outline several ways of motivating soldiers who kept fighting despite the mortal threat, physical extreme tiredness, and poor conditions of their existence. Patriotism was the first reason soldiers protected their motherland. The second explanation of their will to fight is that comradeship and training contributed to overcoming the panic in American troops. The third cause of their obedience was the fear of severe punishment their officers implemented in the rare cases of refusing to follow their orders.
Despite patriotic slogans, this war became extremely bloody. Approximately 16 million American soldiers took part in the war activities. The conflict cost 400 thousand lives of American soldiers, including women (Wright 99). American soldiers showed real heroism in the battles of “El Guettar, Salerno, Monte Cassino, Normandy, Bastogne, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Coral Sea, Leyte Gulf, and the Philippine Sea” (Wright 99). In August 1945, the United States authorities made the historic decision to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the World War II. The USA’s victory in the World War II changed the balance of political powers in the world (Wright 99). “On Aug. 14, Japan announced its surrender, formally signed aboard the U.S. battleship ‘Missouri’ in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2” (“World War II: Allied Victory in the Pacific”).
The USA’s participation in the war was ineluctable. The European countries participated in the war activities for approximately two years. Nevertheless, the USA was not prepared for its involvement. One can note that the professionalism of the soldiers did not satisfy Lieutenant General Lesley McNair, who claimed that they required additional training. Therefore, there was the development of the V-12 Navy College Training Program to solve the problem. Future officers took part in the educational events which proved successful. To illustrate, approximately 125 thousand officers participated in it. In 1942, the President prohibited the military conscription from enlisting soldiers among individuals required for the draft. This fact boosted the draft in the US Marine Corps. As a result, the age of sailors in the US fleet was three years lower than the average year of soldiers. Nevertheless, the crucial role in the military planning belonged to the development of military aircraft (Wright 105).
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The United States was involved into two war fronts, fighting with Germany and Japan. Despite taking part in the war activities, the USA provided its allies military and financial support. Later, the United States invested in the post-war peace arrangement. Approximately 8 million American citizens participated in military service and about 20 million were engaged in the war production. In fact, the World War II mobilized the civilian industry, caused the unprecedented development in the science, and contributed to the invention of atomic weapons.
The participation in the World War II boosted the US air forces. One can consider those achievements a real success of the American nation, “for it was the product of a truly national effort, a remarkable collaboration among the scientific, industrial, and military components of American society” (Craven and Cate 170). To illustrate, the US Army’s needs were ignored in the peacetime. According to the Air Corps Act of 1926, the maximum number of military planes was 1,800. However, soldiers could use only 946 vessels in practice. Nevertheless, the state of affairs dramatically changed during the war time. According to the US Congress resolution, the number of military planes enhanced, reaching 2,320 vessels in 1940. The US government directed approximately $70,000,000 in 1939 in comparison with $30,000,000 in 1935 (Craven and Cate 171).
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As the US Army faced numerous challenges during the World War II, criticism replaced the wave of patriotism and soldiers needed high morale to survive. Morale is the subject to numerous disputes on the US soldiers’ experience in the World War II. In fact, the US Army Service Forces introduced the instruction called ‘Building Morale in the ASF’ in 1944. It was supposed to help combat leaders to inspire the soldiers involved in the frontline life (Keine 4). The manual quoted the viewpoint of one of the most influential people of the time, the general George Marshall, about the morale in the army. He wrote that boosting high morale combined with sound discipline was the crucial element of success. He also claimed that the major duty of leaders was the development of moral standards among the US soldiers. Furthermore, the highest ranking officers expressed their positions regarding the subject. For instance, the Adjutant General, Major General Ulio made the accent on self-esteem and self-assurance. At the same time, Civil War General Sheridan drew attention to absolute confidence (Keine 5). Ernie Pyle, a war correspondent, wrote that many soldiers jumbled high morale and the enthusiasm to fight (Keine 7). Paul Fussell, a historian, wrote that the level of morale among the US soldiers transformed during the World War II, developing from its simplest form to the most complicated one. He wrote that “prevailing mood and spirit, conducive to willing and dependable performance, steady self-control, and courageous, determined conduct despite danger…, based upon a conviction of being in the right and on the way to success” (Keine 8).
Soldiers fought every day for their survival. Except severe battles, they faced numerous challenges. Nasty weather, poor logistical conditions, low hygiene standards, lack of proper food, shelter, and clothing did not contribute to the maintenance of the high moral level. To illustrate, these difficulties became extremely severe during the Battle of the Bulge (Keine 29). Soldiers did not wash and shave. They lived, slept, and defecated in cold and dirty foxholes. Consequently, they had problems with their health because of the reasons mentioned above. In contrast to other states’ armies, the US Army did not supply their soldiers with alcohol. Nevertheless, fighters obtained strong drinks by other means (Keine 35).
The US Army introduced a wide-ranging plan for officer’s acquisition and coaching during the war. Nevertheless, one can draw attention to the poor level of their professionalism (Keine 38). Low competence and undertrained replacement of people holding positions of authority in the US armed forces caused significant problems (Keine 40).
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Despite faults and severe challenges concerned with the poor training of the soldiers in the US Army, the American nation has won the war because of patriotism and heroism of its defenders. Nevertheless, the drawbacks were taken into account. Consequently, special military training and combat contracts were introduced.
Combat Contracts in Post-War Period
As mentioned above, during the World War II, the nation met the dilemma whether to choose the republican approach of compulsory military training or to initiate the rational selective service. As a result, the voluntary option was considered to be preferable in the 1950s (Bacevich 419). Nevertheless, supporting the position of ex-President Roosevelt, President Truman suggested the US Congress voting for the program of universal military training (UMT). Truman firmly believed that this type of military service would contribute to the creation of the powerful state. According to the President, all American males, aged 18, were to be eligible for the compulsory conscription. They had to undertake one year of military coaching. After the service, the young men would not be sent to the frontline. On the contrary, they would stay in the general reserves, being prepared for the urgent draft in case of a military threat. According to the postwar program, the small reserve was created as the first line of the state’s protection. President Truman noted that the United States would have “a well-trained and effectively organized citizen reserve to reinforce professional armed forces in times of danger” (Bacevich 420). He drew the public attention to the fact that the country could not allow creating and training military forces as it had happened during the WWI and the WWII. The voluntary system and selective services were not demanded. UMT would contribute to the nation’s well-being, improving men’s health because of physical training and educating them to be good citizens (Bacevich 420).
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To sum up, many researchers discuss the issue of combat contracts and the US military behavior nowadays. There are various philosophical approaches to liberty, which influence the choice of combat contracts and solve the challenge of a state’s protection, evaluating the introduction of compulsory or voluntary military services. The republican approach suggests compulsory military training for the state’s sake. In the USA, this approach to military service correlates with the accepted proposals. The libertarian approach rejects the state coercion in the military field because it contradicts the idea of freedom. Citizens can choose whether they would protect their country. According to the third approach, the nation is supposed to choose the compulsory or voluntary form of its state’s protection, taking into account the requirements of the time.
The USA had to take part in two global war conflicts in the twentieth century. The tragic event of the World War II made the country initiate combat contracts. Despite patriotic slogans, the war became extremely bloody. The nation met the dilemma whether to choose the republican approach of compulsory military training or to initiate the rational selective service. The USA was not prepared for its involvement in the war as its soldiers lacked the professionalism. The US army urgently needed additional training. According to President Roosevelt, it was compulsory for all American males, aged 18, to undergo conscription during the World War II and undertake one year of military coaching.
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The US Army introduced a wide-ranging plan for officer’s acquisition and coaching during the war. In the 1950s, the voluntary option was considered preferable and the voluntary system and selective services were not demanded. The government considered that UMT would contribute to the nation’s well-being, improving men’s health because of physical training and educating them to be good citizens.