Army personnel work

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


BY Lieutenant Colonel W. V. BINGHAM

Reprinted from The Journal of Applied Psychology March, 1919, Vol. II, pp. 1-12


With Some Implications for Education and Industry.

By Lieutenant Colonel W. V. Bingham, Carnegie Institute of Technology.

(Formerly Executive Secretary of the Committee on Classification of personnel in the Army)

Every practical problem of personnel in war, industry, business or education presents at least three phases; first, study of the job, that is, determination of the duties to be performed and specification of the qualifications necessary to perform those duties; second, inventory of the individual man to ascertain and record his qualifications; third, placement of the man in the job. In the Army this implies a system of personnel classification, a routine for making accurate requisitions, a procedure for locating quickly the specified personnel, and a machinery for effecting its assignment or transfer to the post where it is most needed.

It is the contention of the writer that the most fundamental phase of personnel work and yet the most neglected, is the first mentioned; namely, analysis and precise definition of duties and qualifications.

Consider that almost every company in the Signal Corps and the Air Service has one or more so-called " Master Signal Electricians." If a number of soldiers had to be trained to fill these various posts within a few weeks, what sort of recruits would you select for training? You would be at a loss until you knew the duties. In an Outpost Company of a Field Signal Battalion, a Master Signal Electrician is " responsible for the installation, maintenance and operation of small telephone offices, and for the proper functioning of electrical apparatus such as buzzer-phones and short range radio apparatus." But in each Pigeon Company of 324 men there are also two Master Signal Electricians; one is " in charge of the training and instruction of the men as pigeoneers and is responsible for the care and condition of the pigeons." The other, " as loft master, is in charge of the breeding loft and the 90 mobile lofts, and is responsible for the proper movement of the latter. He calculates the needs of the lofts both as to pigeons and as to supplies." In the Telegraph Company you want neither a wire chief nor a racing pigeon fancier, but a telegraph engineer to " make studies and survey routes for construction of permanent telephone or telegraph lines;—and specify layout of telephone and telegraph offices and power plant for common battery telephone switchboards." The Supply Section of an Aero Supply Squadron requires as its Master Signal Electrician an airplane mechanic; other companies need a tinsmith, a coppersmith, an armorer, a tool-maker, a master painter, an instrument repairman, a construction foreman, a storage battery electrician, a truckmaster, all masquerading with the title, grade and pay of Master Signal Electrician. In the Fabric Workers Company this particular soldier must be a tailor, for his duties are " to supervise repairs and replacements to coverings for wings, fuselage and tail surface (in linen covered sections.)

Another common grade in the Army is that of "Wagoner." In some types of units the wagoners are the soldiers who have to repair the wagons, while in other units they are mere wagon drivers, and in still others they must drive automobiles. The " horseshoer " sometimes shoes horses, but in a motorized regiments the soldier with that title repairs the motor trucks. One hesitates to make any assignments of skilled personnel in default of some definition of duties. But when you have secured a statement of just what the soldier or officer has to do, you have taken a long stride toward judicious placement and training. Without such a definition you know neither whom to choose nor how to train, and gross wastage of precious time, money and life goes on with an extravagance approximated only by the blithe wastefulness of college class rooms. When the mobilization of the National Army began in September 1917, and the nation poured into the cantonments its human wealth of trained artisans, teachers, business and professional men, laborers, farmers and shop hands, many of them illiterate or non-English speaking, the newly appointed Personnel Officers had extremely little information to guide them in making judicious assignments of such varied skill and talent. The preparation of this information has demanded an exhaustive study of the entire Army organization to determine where ability of various kinds is required. Its effective utilization has necessitated the development and supervision of an Army personnel system to discover the occupational, educational and military qualifications possessed by the recruits and to insure their assignment to the proper units.

These tasks were assigned to the Committee on Classification of Personnel in the Army, created by Secretary Baker on August 5, 1917, as an instrument to increase the value of the Army's man-power through securing the most effective placement of each man.1 For this program an initial appropriation of $25,000.00 was made, and as the scope of the Committee's responsibilities grew, additional appropriations were approved until the total amounted to $851,650.00.

While it happened that the original membership of the Committee consisted almost wholly of psychologists, many industrial and business specialists in employing, classifying and assigning men were called upon to insure the successful prosecution of the work. This has included the following activities:

1. Classification and Placement of Enlisted Men:

Personnel offices have been established in all Army divisions, depot and training camps, coast defense stations, aviation fields, special training camps for Staff Corps and at other Army Posts. In these offices a special card system furnished accessible information as to the educational, occupational, and military qualifications of every man. With a minimum of clerical work this system selected 973,858 men for transfer largely into technical units in the Engineers, Aviation, Ordnance and other Staff Corps, and even more men for transfer within the divisions or camps. Sixteen civilian supervisors, directed by the Committee, acted in an organizing and supervisory capacity in the field. Approximately 450 officers and 7,000 men were engaged in this personnel work. The number of soldiers interviewed by trained examiners and classified according to their best Army usefulness was in all, approximately three and a half million men. 1 The Committee was organized with Walter Dill Scott as Director, E. L. Thorndike as Chairman, and the writer as Executive Secretary. The other members were J. R. Angell, R. C. Clothier, Raymond Dodge, H. L. Gardner, J. F. Shepard, E. K. Strong, Jr., L. M. Terman, J. B. Watson, and R. M. Yerkes. The places of five of these original members have since been filled by J. J. Coss, W. R. DeField, W. B. Hale, Winslow Russell, P. J. Reilly and J. J. Swan. A large force of able, devoted civilian and military associates of the Committee, in Washington, in the camps, and overseas, has made possible the realization of its plans.

2. The Allotment Branch or Central Clearing Office

of the Committee in Washington received reports on the numbers of skilled tradesmen found in each contingent of the draft, received and consolidated requisitions from the Staff Corps for specialists, and prorated these requisitions among the various camps according to their supply of necessary skilled men. On November 11, requisitions for roughly 600,000 men of designated qualifications had been filled here. Information was available at any moment for the Operations Division of the General Staff concerning the occupational qualifications of all the men in the several depot brigades, Army vocational schools, and similar sources of supply.

3. Trade Specifications and Index of Occupations:

Definitions of the many hundred different trades needed in our military establishment were prepared after exhaustive study, and were brought together in a book, "Army Trade Specifications." This index is an indispensable reference for Staff Corps and camp personnel officers in securing the skilled personnel needed.

4. Tables of Occupational Needs and Personnel Specifications:

Tables were prepared showing in detail the needs for skilled workers in each sort of platoon, company, regiment or other unit. These tables were studied, criticised, and approved by Army units at the front in France, and later formed the basis for organizing quickly the newest divisions. Out of these Occupational Tables have developed the Personnel Specifications which have now been completed for the enlisted personnel of four hundred different kinds of organizations.

5. Trade Tests:

To increase the accuracy of selecting skilled workers among the enlisted men, a system of practical trade tests was devised, standardized and installed in twenty camps. At the time of the armistice about 130,000 men who claimed occupational skill had been trade tested.

6. Personnel Work for Officers:

Qualification Cards for officers, furnishing a record of occupational, educational and military experience and a rating by superior officers, were developed and put into use throughout the Army. These cards are filed in Washington, and duplicates filed in the custody of the Division Commanders for their own use in assigning their officers. 4 5 6 7. Rating of Officers: A uniform system of rating officers was developed. This rating system was first installed in the Officers' Training Camps as an aid in selecting candidates for commissions. Later it was used in selecting candidates for Officers' Training Schools. Now its use is universal both in America and in France as a means of securing every three months, a rating on every officer as an aid in determining promotion, demotion, discharge, and appointments to the Officers' Reserve Corps. 8. Commissioned Personnel Specifications: Definitions of duties and qualifications of no less than 500 different kinds of officers in the various arms and branches of the service have been prepared, after ascertaining the answer to the question, " Just what does he do ? " These commissioned personnel specifications are for use in recruiting officer material, in selecting men for training as officers, and making assignments. Statistical studies have been made of the relative significance of age, education, civilian earnings, intelligence and other qualifications of officers in the different branches of the service. 9. Cooperation with the Air Service: The methods of selecting aviators were investigated and checked by reference to the actual success or failure of the pilots. An improved system of tests for aviation candidates was introduced and a new program of examination and selection installed. 10. Cooperation with the Provost Marshal General's Office: Plans for securing classificatory information regarding all registrants were submitted to the Provost Marshal General and were partially embodied in the draft questionnaire. 11. Development Battalions: The Committee cooperated closely with the General Staff and the Surgeon General's Office in preparing and introducing the plans for segregating, sorting, training, and utilizing the partially fit. 12. Cooperation with the Surgeon General's Office: Some assistance was given to the Psychology Section of the Surgeon General's Department in devising and 7 administering the intelligence tests for enlisted men and officers. The psychologists in turn have tested 1,716,000 soldiers and furnished the personnel officers with their intelligence ratings to assist in making assignments, balancing units, and selecting men for special responsibilities. 13. Cooperation with the Navy: At the time of the armistice, representatives of this Committee were assisting the Navy and the Marine Corps to prepare and install a complete personnel classification program to correspond with the Army system. In addition, one member of the Committee has done valuable work in refining methods of selecting and training men for special duties in the Navy, such as the work of the fire-control squad, the gun-pointer, the hydrophone listener, and the lookout. 14. The War Service Exchange: This branch of the Committee was established January 18, 1918, to receive and classify applications of persons desiring to serve the Government and to refer them to the branches of the service needing them, and to cooperate with other agencies in locating and supplying men needed for special purposes by the various branches of the service. This organization relieved high officials of the War Department of the necessity of devoting valuable time to the interviewing of the many influential men who came to Washington to offer their services to the Government. It also cared for a total of about one hundred and ten thousand written proffers of service. It placed approximately ten thousand men, including many of superior attainments. 15. Personnel Work in the American Expeditionary Forces: Members of the Committee studied the personnel needs of the A. E. F., and, with the cordial approval of General Pershing, established there a personnel organization similar to that in America. The Officers' Qualification Cards have had their widest usefulness over-seas, in supplying replacements and in locating rare specialists in emergencies. 16. British Experience: Detailed study was made of the working of the British personnel organization, which in some respects is far 8 superior to ours. Special reports and exhibits obtained in London from the British War Office, covered their whole program of recruitment, classification, trade-testing, assignment and transfer; industrial furloughs; weekly consolidation and analysis of strength reports; and plans for demobilization. This in outline is a picture of the personnel work, begun in the National Army cantonments with the arrival of the first trainloads of drafted men. Neither the civilians nor the Army Officers who initiated this development dreamed of the scope it would so rapidly assume or the share it would have in effecting the speedy organization of a well balanced Army, trained and ready for the critical hour in France. The Committee on Classification of Personnel in the Army as such has disappeared. After fourteen months of service under the Adjutant General it was transferred to the General Staff and merged with the Central Personnel Branch, newly created to supervise the procurement, placement, transfer and promotion of officers throughout all branches of the Army. This means that centralized control of personnel work for both officers and soldiers is recognized and thoroughly established as an integral part of the United States Army organization. Among the legacies left to the Army by the Committee, such as the qualification card, the index of occupations, the trade specifications and the standardized trade tests, not the least significant is the concept of personnel specifications with all that that term implies regarding analysis and definition of duties and formulation of requirements as to the physical, intellectual, educational, technical and personal qualifications required for the performance of those duties. The concept of personnel specifications is quite as significant for industry and education as it is for war. The college student pursuing an electrical engineering course or a course in interior decoration, or the young woman who aims to be a secretary or a social worker or a teacher of the arts and crafts, needs a clear definition of precisely the duties for which he or she is being trained. Let the student have before him a full and explicit description of the duties of the job he must be able to hold down after graduation, and of the qualifications in the form of particular sorts of skill, technical knowledge, general abilities and personal traits which he must possess if he is going to make a success of that job. Let each instructor be in a position to speak with authority when challenged to justify every 9 task he assigns as contributing directly to the development of one or more of these essential qualifications. Let the factory foreman and the employment manager crys-talize their formulations of the precise duties and requisite qualifications for every post. They will clear the way for a program of intelligent hiring, judicious placement, effective training, steady promotion and just remuneration. 10 SAMPLE PERSONNEL SPECIFICATIONS HEADQUARTERS AND SUPPLY COMPANY Anti-Aircraft Sector (Army Artillery) Army title set in bold face type followed on the same line by the corresponding civilian occupation, the number of men, the degree of skill and the occupational symbol. On the next line appears the suggested substitute occupation. Then follows the description of army duties. 2 Sergeants Major, Junior Grade: 1 Battalion Sergeant Major. Clerical worker, general 1 Jour. 38g Substitute: Clerk, railroad. Chief clerk of sector office. Under direction of Adjutant, supervises the preparation and filing of reports, returns, correspondence, orders, and bulletins. 1 Supply Sergeant Major............Sto ckkeeper 1 Jour. 18s Substitute: Merchant. Calculates the needs of the sector in quartermaster, signal, engineer, and ordnance property; requisitions and issues same, including daily allowance of food and fuel, to the batteries; keeps property accounts with supply depots and batteries. 1 First Sergeant: Foreman with qualities of leadership and mechanical ability............. ........... 1 Unci. Agent of company commander in maintaining discipline; manages company under direction of company commander, arranging details in execution of orders and assigning men to various employments; required to act on own initiative in emergencies in absence of company officers; supervises the preparation of company reports, returns, and correspondence. 1 Electrician Sergeant, First Class. Electrician, general 1 Jour. l0g Substitute: Telephone troubleman, outside. Has charge of communications system of the sector, exclusive of wireless. Maintains and repairs telephone system, locating " troubles " and supervising the work of wiremen and repairmen. Maintains other electrical equipment of sector, including searchlights. 1 Assistant Engineer... Gasoline engineman, stationary . 1 Jour.25s Substitute: Auto repairman, general. Has charge of power-generator system, gasoline engines, and motor transportation of the sector, directing the repairs necessary to their proper maintenance. 1 Radio Sergeant............ ....Wireless constructor 1 Jour. 31wc Substitute: Wireless operator. Has charge of the wireless apparatus of the sector; constructing, maintaining and supervising the operations of the radio system, and the instruction of radio operators in the operation, care, and repair of wireless instruments and equipment. 11 SAMPLE PERSONNEL SPECIFICATION (OFFICERS) Name of Corps or Arm: Coast Artillery Corps Subdivision or Organization: Battery, Motorized Gun or Howitzer Official Designation and Rank of Officer: Battery Commander, Captain I. Description of Duties. Commands 4 lieutenants and 219 to 278 men. Responsible for preparation of company reports and records; for the proper equipment of his command and for the messing of the personnel. Responsible for property of the battery; guns or howitzers, motor trucks and tractors; infantry equipment of each soldier and other company supplies. Responsible for the training and discipline of officers and men as soldiers and their instruction in loading and firing of guns or howitzers, machine guns and small arms and their proper care; in motor transportation, observation, signalling and telephonic communication; in earthwork construction, in gas defense, and in camouflage. Responsible for the tactical movement of his battery (men, guns and equipment); tactical preparation of position for guns; orientation (by means of surveying); calculation of firing data (involving use of trigonometry and logarithms) and correction of data when firing and under fire. When battery operates independently will assume duties of Major, requiring tactical judgment in reconnaisance, and initiative in direction and supervision of fire. II. SPECIAL TECHNICAL QUALIFICATIONS. Required: Working knowledge of mathematics through trigonometry and logarithms. Desired: Knowledge of mechanics, electricity, and motor transportation. III. FIRST CHOICE OF CIVILIAN OCCUPATION. Years of Experience Civil Engineer............ ................... 3—5 IV. OTHER CHOICES OF CIVILIAN OCCUPATION. Years of Experience Electrical or mechanical engineer............ ... 3—5 Graduate of recognized technical school with business or professional experience.......... .. 3—5 College graduate with business or professional experience.......... .................... ... 3—5 V. STAFF CORPS SCHOOL. Will be required to attend school for three months. VI. AGE LIMITS. Possible Age Limit 25-45 years. Best Age Limit 30-40 years. VII. PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS. Officer must be qualified for full military service. VIII. MINIMUM SCHOOLING. Two years of college. 12