ARMED FORCES: Upping the Re-Up

On May 26, 1954, Air Force Lieut. General Emmet ("Rosie") O'Donnell received a terse memo: "The Chief of Staff directs that a thoroughgoing study be made of Air Force organization, procedures and policies dealing with the re-enlistment problem." O'Donnell recognized the directive for what it was: a do-or-die order to solve a problem that had already become desperate.

Air Force re-enlistment was down to about 20%. The highest manpower losses were in the most-needed categories, the technicians and specialists whose training requires about four years. It was these men who were most...

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