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Therefore, in October 1945, the Army convened a special board of general officers, known as the Gillem Board, and charged it with submitting recommendations to the Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff.

The Gillem Board

The Gillem Board sat for 3^1/2 months.  At the conclusion of its studies the Board was possessed of two unshakeable convictions. First, that Negroes had made immense strides in education and industrial skill over the past 20 years; and, second, that the Army had not taken sufficient account of this progress. 

On these two facts the Gillem Board based its conclusions and recommendations.  And in so doing, it rejected the counsel of several high-ranking officers who maintained that Negro soldiers had proved most effective in such jobs as truck driver and heavy construction worker, and should therefore be concentrated in the engineer corps and supply services.

The Gillem Board was firmly convinced that the Army must expand, and not further contract, the jobs in which Negroes could serve.  "Many Negroes," it declared, "who, before the war, were laborers, are now craftsmen, capable in many instances of competing with the white man on an equal basis."  Therefore, "the principle of economy of forces clearly indicates...that every effort must be expended to utilize efficiently every qualified individual in a position in the military structure for which he is best suited."

But here the Gillem Board was confronted by a dilemma. How was this principle of economy of forces to be applied to Negro troops?  Clearly there were only two courses open to the Army if it were to "utilize efficiently every qualified individual in a position in the military structure for which he is best suited."

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