WORLD WAR II
The Army’s experience with NCOs during World War II was much like its experience during World War I. One important difference was that while NCO training was still on-the-job, many wartime units had a lengthy period of training in the United States before deploying overseas, giving many new NCOs invaluable leadership experience. On the other hand, many units spent much more time in combat than during the earlier war. Casualties and other losses forced commanders to watch for potential new NCOs among their men, and these men usually had only their natural leadership talent and combat experience to guide them once promoted.
The creation of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II led to women in the NCO ranks for the first time.
In 1945, Congress passed legislation entitling enlisted men with at least 20 years of service, and not more than 29, to be placed on the retired list. They thereupon drew 2.5 percent of their average pay for the six months preceding retirement, multiplied by the number of years of active service. These men remained in the reserve until completion of 30 years of service.
In the immediate post-World War II era, the service for the first time began a systematic effort to improve the training of NCOs. The Army developed a career guidance plan for each stage of an NCO’s career. Across the Army, major commands established schools to provide Soldiers with the training needed to perform effectively in NCO leadership positions. Leading the way in this field was the postwar constabulary in occupied Germany. The sensitive and decentralized nature of the constabulary’s operations required the highest caliber of NCOs. On Dec. 17, 1949, the first class enrolled in the 2nd Constabulary Brigade's NCO school. Two years later, the school became the Seventh Army Noncommissioned Officers Academy. In 1959, Headquarters, Department of the Army, established the first Army-wide standards for NCO academies.
In addition to NCO academies, the Army encouraged enlisted men to advance their education by other means. By 1952, the Army had developed the Army Education Program to allow Soldiers to attain credits for academic education. This program provided a number of ways for the enlisted man to attain a high school or college diploma.