Introduction. Assignment to duty with
units of the Army outside the continental limits of the mainland of the United States is
classified as foreign service. This includes service in Alaska, Puerto Rico, the
Panama Canal Zone, Hawaii, and in the Philippine Islands. The large permanent garrisons
maintained in Hawaii, the Canal Zone, and in the Philippines provide exceptional
opportunities for valuable experience with all arms and services, with the combined arms,
and with the Navy. The training is unique in that it is conducted in the very areas of
possible war engagements. The opportunity for travel and the enjoyment if experiencing
life abroad thus provided is considered by most officers as a particularly desirable
feature of Army life.
All stations on foreign service which are
occupied by United States troops are in healthy localities. The living standards of these
garrisons are at least equal to home stations, in most respects, and exceed them in some
important particulars. The augmentation of these garrisons during 1939-40 has, however,
presented a difficult problem with respect to quarters and conditions in this respect will
continue to be abnormal during the emergency.
Length of Tour. The length of the tour
on all foreign service assignments is two years. This period may be extended by the War
Department in case of insurrection or threatened hostilities. Foreign service Department
Commanders may extend or curtail tours by as much as three months to make the best use of
transport accommodations. The date of beginning a tour of foreign service is the date of
arrival in the overseas department; it ends in the date of departure.
Selection for Assignment to Foreign
Service. The War Department makes the selection of officers to be assigned to foreign
service. Selections are made to fill anticipated vacancies by arm or service, and
by grade, so that the authorized strength of garrisons will be maintained. Except for
special assignments, officers are detailed by roster in such a manner that the officer
with the least foreign service credit is the next to go. These selections are made from two
rosters: the regular foreign-service roster, and the volunteer foreign-service roster.
The regular foreign-service roster is
a list of officers so arranged that the officer with the least foreign service is at the
top, and all others arranged in accordance with their credits for this service. In
general, the officer with least foreign-service credit in the branch and grade in which
the vacancy exists is selected. However, this is not an inviolable procedure, and several
common sense policies may hasten or delay the detail of a particular officer. For example,
an officer would seldom he relieved from an assignment prior to its normal expiration
because of his place on the roster; conversely, an officer who is to be relieved from a
normal assignment might be selected for foreign service somewhat in advance of his name
reaching the top of the roster.
The volunteer foreign-service roster
is maintained by the Adjutant General and contains the names of officers who have
volunteered for foreign service. Replacements are selected from this roster when
practicable. The name of an officer is placed on this roster only at his request. The use
of this roster tends to defer, to some extent, assignment abroad for those officers whose
names are carried on the regular roster.
An officer who desires to have his name
borne on this roster must make application to the Adjutant General. He may apply for
foreign service in general, stating his preferences in order of choice, or he may restrict
his application to a particular overseas department or station. He may have his name
removed from this roster by request, but after the actual issue of orders such requests
are not considered. Officers are not selected from this roster until they become available
for change of station, nor before the expiration of three years since their last tour.
During the period of the emergency declared
by the President in 1940, many reserve officers and some units of the National Guard are
on duty in the foreign service garrisons of the United States.
Statement of Preferences. The annual Statement
of Preference Report submitted by all officers contains space for recording a
choice for assignment to foreign service. Most officers list three choices in accordance
with their desires. While the needs of the service must govern these selections, it has been the policy of the War Department to
consider the preferences which are expressed in this manner.
Embarkation. An officer ordered
to foreign service is sent via the embarkation port nearest to his station. The main ports
of embarkation for Army transports are New York and San Francisco; for Alaska the
port of embarkation is Seattle. The New York Point of Embarkation is the Army Supply
Base, 1st Avenue and 58th St., Brooklyn, New York. The San Francisco Port of Embarkation
is at Fort Mason.
The Quartermaster General furnishes
officers who are under orders to foreign stations with very complete instructions and
information relative to shipment of baggage, automobiles, transportation for dependents,
and transport regulations. They must be completely and scrupulously complied with, for
otherwise the officer may subject himself or his family to avoidable hardships. The Army
transports operate at near to capacity, the stay in port is short, and all arrangements
incident to loading and sailing must be conducted according to the prescribed plan.
Passengers on Army transports must comply
with AR 40-215, which requires vaccination against smallpox, typhoid and para-typhoid
fever prior to embarkation. All vaccinations should be completed before an officer
leaves his old station. Official records must be presented prior to embarkation which show
completion of this immunization.
Mail of all kinds for outgoing passengers
should be forwarded to them in care of "The General Superintendent, Army Transport
Service, (San Francisco, California; or Pier 2, New York General Depot, Brooklyn, New
York), on transport (Give name), sailing (Give date)." Such mail will be held until
called for, or until instructions for its disposition are received from the addressee.
Unclaimed mail will be put aboard the transport provided passengers have claimed their
A medical officer of the Army
accompanies each transport.
There is a stewardess on each transport on which ladies and
children are assigned as passengers.
Steamer chairs are provided by the transport service for
the use of passengers. Chairs for personal use which cannot be folded may not be brought
Passengers should take light clothing for use during part
of the voyage. Rain clothing is not essential aboard transports.
Animals are not allowed on Army transports.
Laundry facilities are unavailable on most
The lengths of trips on Army transports are
approximately as listed below:
New York to Panama
... 6 days
Panama to San Francisco
San Francisco to Honolulu
San Francisco to Manila
... 13 days