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General Maxwell Taylor

Youth Wants to Know

General Maxwell Taylor

Mar 18 1956



GENERAL MAXWELL TAYLOR, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army


GENERAL RUSSELL L. MAXWELL, National Security Industrial Association President

and a panel of youthful QUESTIONERS

The Announcer: YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW. The searching, provocative questions of today's young people, founded and produced by Theodore Granik.

And here is your moderator, Stephen McCormick.

Mr. McCormick: The primary mission of the United States Army today is to prevent war by deterring attack. To accomplish that mission, more than one million of our soldiers are stationed throughout the world. As Chief of Staff, General Maxwell Taylor commands the men and the might of our Army from Headquarters in the Pentagon here in Washington.

As a combat soldier he also has first-hand knowledge of the Army wartime mission, to defeat the enemy. 

On D-Day in 1944, General Taylor jumped with his airborne division in the Normandy Invasion. In the black stages of the Korean conflict he led the famed 8th Army and then commanded United Nations and United States forces in the Far East.

General Taylor, it is a pleasure to have you with us on YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW.

GENERAL TAYLOR: Thank you, I am glad to be with you. 

Mr. McCormick: We have many questions for you. 

QUESTION: General Taylor, it has been recently stated that the military strength of the United States is inadequate to fulfill our military obligations to our allies throughout the world. Do you agree with this statement and would you care to comment on the subject? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: That is always a hard question to answer in less than a few paragraphs. Actually, when you look at the whole context of our national security, our Army, Navy and Air Force, I think we have a very substantial force to keep ourselves secure and our friends, too. 

QUESTION: Do you feel each division, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are up to their full strength and potentialities which they each should have? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: If I say yes, I am complacent about the Army with which I am responsible for. Of course, I am not. I think we should always improve ourselves and should move forward constantly. 

QUESTION: General Taylor, what do you think about combining our forces with one air force? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: Well, that has a certain point, I must admit. However, bear in mind that the three services all have their history, their pride and their esprit, I would feel probably we would lose more if we tried to make the services like three peas in a pod, which really they are not. 

QUESTION: How important is service pride to this peacetime Army and our war time army? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: It is terribly important because men fight because they have pride in themselves, pride in their comrades and pride in their group. 

QUESTION: General, do you feel that if there is an all-out war in the future that atomic and nuclear weapons will be the deciding factor?

GENERAL TAYLOR: It is very hard to say whether it will be the deciding factor. I would say it will not be. The deciding factor will always be a man and not a thing.

QUESTION: In all-out atomic war, do you think the Infantry would be used defensively or would they have a definite offensive potential? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: As always they will be used in all types of roles and certainly in the end it will be an offensive role. 

QUESTION: Where we have a limited war like Korea, would atomic weapons be useful there or would they be only useful in all-out war? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: I don't like this word "limited" war, because it doesn't look limited to a soldier on a hill top in Korea. I would say we have a potential use for atomic weapons and very definitely in a small war.

Mr. McCormick: You can't put them in the category perhaps of a small war and a large war?

GENERAL TAYLOR: It is always a little dangerous to make categories. I will say we will decide how to use these weapons at the time, in the light of our national interests.

QUESTION: General, how near do you think the United States is to a war, big or small?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I am not able to judge that in terms of yards or miles. Certainly, we live in a world of tension where we must be strong.

QUESTION: General, what is the Army doing to increase mobility of its forces to cope with an atomic war?

GENERAL TAYLOR: We are very much impressed with the need to move faster, to get there "firstest" with the "mostest" men. You can see that in the helicopters and the airplanes which we have incorporated within the Army itself.

QUESTION: Does the Army want to have its own logistic and supply transport planes aside from the Air Force, of a larger caliber?

GENERAL TAYLOR: We do not want to compete with the Air Force, in their role of supporting us with large aircraft. What we need are planes that will move our soldiers, our weapons and supplies within our own battle area.

QUESTION: General, do you feel if an enemy attacked the continental United States, what part would the Infantry play and where would they be? Would they be attacking the enemy on their front or would they be defending the United States?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Bear in mind 40 percent of our Army is overseas and a great deal of its combat strength is right up against the Iron or the Bamboo Curtain. In the situation you indicate they will be fighting very hard overseas to keep the enemy at a distance. At home, of course, our anti-aircraft use with the NIKE missile will be shooting down the enemy bomber as fast as they can.

QUESTION: Do you think the United States can afford a full and complete system of universal military training and service?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Of course, I believe deeply in the importance of universal military training. You put it rather on a cost basis which I am not prepared to discuss. I think, however, it would give us a source of strength we could hardly afford to be without.

QUESTION: Do you think that nuclear weapons could be used effectively in defense in this country if the enemy were within our borders? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: I never expect to see the enemy within our borders. That just isn't going to happen. 

QUESTION: You mentioned a moment ago that I believe 40 percent of the Army is overseas. Do you think that they are spread too thin? The rest of the world is a rather large place, if they are to do an effective job. 

GENERAL TAYLOR: They are in the most critical and strategic locations about the world. Whether they are enough or not always raises the question of how much is enough. It is a matter of judgment. 

QUESTION: Do you believe the budget this year sufficiently meets the needs of the Army? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: We have a budget which will give me a good Army this year. No Chief of Staff ever thinks he has enough money, however. 

QUESTION: Do you think that in the budget perhaps the Army is being sort of slighted in favor of the Air Force? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: All of the services, of course, feel that we have essential roles that must be supported. If you would ask the Chief of Staff of the Air Force you would probably get a similar answer to mine. I would say the needs of the Army have been considered by competent people and I think we can have a good Army with what we have. 

QUESTION: Talking about the strength of our Army, this new reserve program which would have boys enlist for six months active duty and then be in the reserves for 7 and a half years, that doesn't seem to be working out with the full momentum that many people realized. Can you give us any reason for that?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Well, I hope this program will be augmented by 7 at the end of this session. It will definitely be on the up-take.

QUESTION: What can the Army do to make it more appealing to these boys? What is the problem there? Why aren't the fellows enlisting? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: They are coming along much better. I am glad you asked the question because it is true the program got off to a small start but that is natural. Here was a brand new program which I am sure you didn't understand. We are getting 800 volunteers a week at the present time which still isn't enough, but it is much better. 

QUESTION: I was wondering if the Army is prepared to give men six months' active duty, why don't we do this with everybody and why do we draft people for two years? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: The man gets 6 months now and then he goes into the reserve for 7 and a half years where he continues his training, in a unit right in his home town. He is not a complete soldier by any manner of means when he gets out at six months.

QUESTION: Is this 7 and a half years absolutely necessary? I mean couldn't a soldier learn what he had to learn say in five years or four years.

GENERAL TAYLOR: It is not a question of his learning all this time. He reaches a point in his education where he is a useful potential defender in the United States. He can do a job. He has to stay eligible to do that job during a period of time so that the nation has the benefit of the defense represented by his strength.

QUESTION: I am about to graduate from high school. What advice would you give me as to whether to go to college or go in the Army now?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I would have to talk to you about what you intend to do, your family and all sorts of things. It is a separate problem for every boy. The Army has a variety of options and I think there is one that applies to you.

QUESTION: I notice a great deal of retired Army and Navy officers have taken jobs in industry. Does this mean that the armed forces members retire prematurely?

GENERAL TAYLOR: These people retire after 30 or 35 years of service. It is quite natural that when their forced retirement comes up they try to look around and try to serve their country in some other way.

QUESTION: Do you think the private industry competes with the Army for trained men with technical knowledge?

GENERAL TAYLOR: They do very definitely. When we train a man to have a valuable skill which is needed in industry, they compete with us.

QUESTION: What is the Army doing to increase the reenlistment rate in technical fields?

GENERAL TAYLOR: We are working constantly to increase re-enlistment in all fields. We realize to train a man is a big investment. Hence before his time is up we do everything we can to explain to him what his future will be if he stays with us.

Mr. McCormick: Are you being successful in that?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Very much so. The Army is actually going to be about 70 percent professional in the next fiscal year. In other words, 70 percent will be volunteers, men who have chosen the Army and are not coming in through selective service.

QUESTION: Why is it generals who probably could do a great service for our country are forced to retire, when they want to continue?

GENERAL TAYLOR: We feel we have to have a cut-off point somewhere. War is a young man's game whether you like it or not. There is a place for age and experience but you must keep the vitality of young people like you gentlemen, coming up to the top.

QUESTION: Do the Army, Air Force and Navy all work together in their missile programs and all the other weapons or do they work separately?

GENERAL TAYLOR: We work very closely together. We all have slightly different jobs. In the missile field we are constructing missiles for slightly different purposes, but we exchange our information and give every help that is possible.

QUESTION: General Taylor, there are several recent articles about guided missiles and air power, like the one in this month's Reader's Digest. I was wondering, do you think too much attention is being paid to the Air Force and not enough to the Army?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I don't like to pick favorites in that because I feel both are terribly important. You can't neglect either one. The country needs to pay attention to all three of the services.

QUESTION: Do you feel our guided missile program is falling behind that of Russia? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: I wish I knew a lot of things about the guided missile program in Russia. All I know is that we are putting a great deal of effort into our own. 

QUESTION: When a big company wants to do a job like building a new automobile, they don't split it up into three divisions, but work as a unit. Couldn't it be worked out that the Air Force, Army and Navy combine and all work toward one goal for a missile?

GENERAL TAYLOR: That has an attractive sound, but you have to look into this. For instance, color television had two approaches for a number of years and eventually one will develop to be the better.

QUESTION: Speaking of new developments in the weapons field, when Senator Anderson, a member of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy was on our show, he said the United States possessed a plane that had flown for some minutes under atomic power exclusively. Now, what does the Army know about it that it can give out?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I know nothing about it that I can give out.

QUESTION: In [the] Reader's Digest article on guided missiles, I believe it was entitled "Guided Missiles--The Key to Peace," do you feel guided missiles might possibly be the key to peace? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: I do in this sense, that I feel all military strength is a deterrent against war. You made that comment in your opening announcement, and the missile as such contributes to that deterring power. If the other person knows you have a powerful weapon in the guided missile, he will be reluctant to start a war.

Mr. McCormick: Gasses were important, though they were never used. Do you feel that as we move into bigger and stranger fields we might get to the point where they are never used?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I think we must look to deterrents in all fields, in the air, on the sea and on the ground. My point has always been that you need a tri-dimensional. You can't have it all in just one area.

QUESTION: Do you think it would be possible for us to conduct a war now without atomic weapons? I mean just have the countries ban these weapons. Or do you think when an enemy was asked to surrender, that they would surrender without using their atomic weapons? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: This is a very hard question to answer because it depends on lots of things you can't judge here. I will just say for the Army that we are prepared to fight with and without atomic weapons.

Mr. McCormick: Does an enemy that is losing, General, reach into the bag of weapons and grab for most anything it has in order to stop losing?

GENERAL TAYLOR: He might certainly, but as you stated in the case of gas, the Germans did not. Yet on the other hand, that may well have been because they had no delivery system when the decision was to be made. It is hard to know.

QUESTION: General, military experts seem to agree that Russia has a larger and stronger ground force than ours. Well, anyway, a larger one. And our air power is what offsets it in the case of a struggle. If a war develops in which nuclear weapons are not used, can the Army of the United States expect to beat that aggression without atomic support?

GENERAL TAYLOR: You lead off with a statement that I would challenge. You said military experts all agree. I have never seen that. It would depend on the circumstances. If you list all of the peoples on our side numerically, if you are talking about just a head count, you can find that we have very great potential strength on the ground if we want to use it.

QUESTION: But on the other hand, the Russian strength is pretty well developed right now. How do the armies compare as they are now?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Of course, our Army itself, we never want to try to compare division for division, on a head count. We think quality is equally and perhaps more important in this business than mere numbers. I would point out that our military aid programs through the years have been helping many countries develop potential strength to assist us and we will assist them.

QUESTION: Would you say now that the United States and their allies are a match for Russian forces without the use of atomic weapons.

GENERAL TAYLOR: It would be very hard to say, frankly. I would say it would be very difficult at this time not to use atomic weapons in some form.

QUESTION: General Taylor, do you see a time when you can conduct a war by pushing buttons?


QUESTION: You feel that the ground force will always be prevalent?

GENERAL TAYLOR: All I would say is this. You will use ground forces either at the beginning, the middle or the end. I am sure of one thing, however, that they will be there at the end.

QUESTION: I was wondering how much our allies are helping us. Do you think they are doing their share in helping us train the foreign armies?

GENERAL TAYLOR: We are assisting on our side in training over 200 foreign divisions. We have an American Army detachment working directly or indirectly with that many foreign ground forces. So it is really a team operation, as I view it. We contribute something and they contribute something, all for the mutual defense of the free world.

QUESTION: General, how long will it take for the West German Army to be an effective force in NATO, and will it be?

GENERAL TAYLOR: It will take several years, undoubtedly. One cannot create an Army overnight. However, we are giving a great deal of help so that the German rate of development will be much faster than if they had to do all the work by themselves.

QUESTION: A great many people I think feel that the West Germans would not fight if East German troops were opposing them. Do you have any opinions on this subject? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: I don't think I would like to say except that I have the utmost confidence in the West Germans. 

QUESTION: General Taylor, you spoke a few moments ago about civil defense and you said you didn't expect us to be bombed by any country. Now, how efficient is our radar defense warning system in Alaska or throughout the north there? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: I think the enemy would like to hear my statement of that. We are working very hard, always, in improving it. 

QUESTION: How much warning time do you think we could have? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: There again I wouldn't like to quote an exact time. Obviously with the increased speed of weapons and missiles, that time factor becomes very close and very important.

Mr. McCormick: I gather, General, you are working to the point where you can give us more warning time?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Definitely. 

QUESTION: With these atomic missiles, do we have any real defense against them? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: Of course, there are many problems. It is a very tough technological problem in meeting the missile. However, I have the utmost confidence in the ability, ingenuity and inventiveness of our scientists and I say nothing is impossible. 

QUESTION: Do you think that this inventiveness shown by our scientists will come in time? Would it possibly come before the Russians could attack us?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Can you tell me when the Russians are going to attack us.

QUESTION: I don't know. It is merely a presumption.

GENERAL TAYLOR: All I can say is that that is the job of our top leadership, to see that we do pull together all the [re]sources of our country. The men in uniform, the scientists, the men with the slide rules, they must all combine to meet this possibility. 

QUESTION: How does the Pentagon keep Washington briefed on all this? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: It is true [through?] the general organization of the Federal Government--we are constantly reporting to the Secretary of Defense. The National Security Council is the clearing house for this top level sort of thing which is reported to the President.

Mr. McCormick: It seems that you spend a great deal of time doing some briefing around Washington.


Mr. McCormick: Sometimes you have enough time to go over and do your own job, I gather.

GENERAL TAYLOR: When we are not briefing someone else, someone else is briefing us.

QUESTION: Do you think liaison between the Pentagon and Capitol Hill is strong and clear enough?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I think you really ought to ask our friends on Capitol Hill. From my point of view, I would say it is.

QUESTION: General, I would like to ask a question that is possibly a little nasty. I would like to know why it has taken the Army ten years to develop a Redstone rocket which technical magazines say is only equivalent of what the Germans had in World War II, the V-II. It is nothing better than what the Germans had.

GENERAL TAYLOR: You have been reading the wrong magazine. 

QUESTION: This was in Aviation Magazine.

GENERAL TAYLOR: You are still wrong, that the Redstone Missile is not a better missile than the V-II. The V-II could sometimes hit the City of London, but had some difficulty, there.

QUESTION: What progress are you making in your guided missiles and in your artillery missiles?

GENERAL TAYLOR: Going back to the Missile question, when 1945 came and Germany surrendered, the Army immediately took the very best brains of the V-II and have had them working with our missile people ever since. That is the reason for our primary position in the missiles field, today.

QUESTION: I understand the Russians also got some of those experts. Is that just because they happened to be in the geographical location the Russians reached first?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I am sure the Russians did everything they could to seize all the talented German people they could. Fortunately, their success was limited.

QUESTION: You think we got more and better scientists than they did?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I don't know their team very well. I just know we have a good one.

QUESTION: I have heard so much about brain washing techniques and torture and everything. Do you think that you personally could have withstood any brain washing or torture techniques?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I wouldn't venture to say. That would be too presumptuous for me to say. I just know many brave soldiers did. 

QUESTION: What about the military courts that judge men or put a sentence on a man or an officer because he is broken during this torture or has talked? How does a soldier know that he is going to be the one to break?

GENERAL TAYLOR: He never knows in advance until the time comes, unfortunately.

QUESTION: Do you think it is possible to train a soldier to withstand brain washing?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I would say that the Army has a part in that, to make every effort to toughen the moral and the mental outlook of our soldiers, but let me tell you where the real training takes place. It is in your homes, your churches and the schools where you are going. You are developing right now the ability to do that job. Ask yourselves how you will react.

QUESTION: Is something being done now by the Army to help men withstand this, or to test soldiers to see whether or not they will withstand possible brain washing? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: The first thing we try to tell soldiers is never be taken prisoner. It is worse than death to be a prisoner of the Communists. After that we give such advice and training as we can. As I say, the fundamental work is done before the boy gets into the Army.

QUESTION: Is there any way that the Army and the armed services can tell when a man is fit to go into combat and fit to withstand brain washing? Is there any sorting device that we have in operation?

GENERAL TAYLOR: All we can do is take a man for four months and give him the best kind of training we know how to do. There is no way of evaluating a man's morale, except in very general terms, his endurance and character. We never yet have gotten blue litmus paper that we can hold up to a man and say "You will resist."

Mr. McCormick: It would be wise if some system could be evolved to determine whether a man would not be able to take combat or whether a man could take combat. I suppose it is just about impossible.

GENERAL TAYLOR: It is very, very difficult because it involves all the measurements of the imponderables of human character for which there are no means of evaluation. 

QUESTION: Do you think that the Code that the Army has set up for prisoners of war who do have the misfortune to be captured is adequate and a good code and a fair one? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: I think that is a very fine code and I hope you will read that over reflectively. A lot of experienced people put many, many weeks into developing the language of that code. Again, it involves deep principles and merely memorizing the code won't do the job. It is really living by the principles that counts. 

QUESTION: Is every soldier expected to live up to this code under the stress of torture? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: We certainly hope all our soldiers will.

QUESTION: Isn't it true, General, as many psychologists have said, that different men have different breaking points and are able to stand different types of torture? Just as one person might be a better ball player than another? Because of that, is it fair to court martial men because they do not have the stamina to withhold information?

GENERAL TAYLOR: I agree with you on the point that men do vary, but I also hope that our codes of justice, our courts, are broad enough and able to take cognizance of all of those factors so that every case is a special case. 

QUESTION: General, do you think that our military aid to other countries is adequate, now? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: "Adequate" goes back to the question of how much is enough. It takes a great deal of help to keep these nations we are assisting going forward in their military progress. Progress is important to us because it adds to the deterrent effect which we said is so important. Each year for a long time in my judgment, we are going to have to assist certain of our allies. 

QUESTION: General Taylor, do you think we should recognize the petition of Israel for arms or that we should do something about it? 

GENERAL TAYLOR: You are getting out of my field, now. I think I should refer that to my friends in the State Department.

QUESTION: To get back to Dave's question, how much is too much aid and how do we know when to stop giving aid? How do we know when our allies' forces are adequate?

GENERAL TAYLOR: We must decide what we think those forces would accomplish. For example, in one given country we should be sure they have enough strength to maintain internal security, for example. Then we have our missions assisting them in these countries and then we look to the head man who is a qualified officer, carefully selected, to give us an opinion, having reached that level for which we are shooting.

QUESTION: Would the Army set up what we might call a blue print or cooperate with the State Department or does it do it alone?

GENERAL TAYLOR: On the aid program? 


GENERAL TAYLOR: It is a highly integrated affair in which the State Department is very much involved, all the services are involved. The Department of Defense really steers the whole program in so far as the purely military aspects are concerned.

QUESTION: I am coming up to the point where I will either be drafted or go in the service. I would like to know how a boy my age can know whether it would be better to go in the Army, the Air Force or in the Navy.

GENERAL TAYLOR: I believe it is a question of desire and where your interests lie. And you should also go and talk to the representatives of the three services who can tell you about what will happen to you when you go in the services.

QUESTION: I guess it is pretty easy for the Air Force to get a recruiting program going: just throw a fast-flying plane at them. What is the Army doing?

GENERAL TAYLOR: You had better go around and see. You will find the Air Force has many strange and odd jobs just as the Army does. I think it is always sometimes easy to pick out, say, the fast-flying airplane, the diving submarine or the rolling tank and think that that is all of the three services represented. There are lots of things that could come up in the services.

Mr. McCormick: I wish we had more time, but I find our time is up. 

We certainly do thank you, General Taylor, Army Chief of Staff, for being with us here today and answering the youngsters' questions. Do come back and see us soon.

GENERAL TAYLOR: It has been a pleasure to be here. I am glad to know that Youth does want to know.

Mr. McCormick: And now I would like you to meet General Russell L. Maxwell, United States Army, Retired, President of the National Security Industrial Association, and vice-president of the American Machine and Foundry Company, in charge of personnel.

GENERAL MAXWELL: The increased curiosity of the young men and women on this program is admirable. In a very few years they will have the responsibility of providing answers to a new generation.

That generation may well ask "Why are we as a nation so lacking in the special skills our age must have? The increasing demand for experts is now apparent and will become more intense. It is a problem of special concern to the Department of Defense and to industry whose needs in that field increase daily. 

Efforts to solve these problems are a part of the special activities of the industry defense team which has been the bulwark of our national preservation. Working together, our Army, Navy and Air Force have organizations such as the National Security Industrial Association, comprising 600 industrial concerns, continuously seeking answers to such complex problems. Through NSIA, industry makes available to the Department of Defense without cost the skills, knowledge and experience of civilian experts in every field. Men dedicated to the task, together with our Armed forces as partners in defense, aiming towards one goal, a nation secure.

The Announcer: The questions you have just heard do not necessarily reflect the opinions of YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW or the National Broadcasting Company. For reprints of today's discussion on YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW, send 10 cents to Randsdell, Inc., Printers and Publishers, Washington 18, D. C.

You have been listening to YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW, founded by its producer, Theodore Granik.

This program came to you this afternoon from the Sheraton Park Hotel in Washington, D. C.

This has been an NBC presentation.