On June 6, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act, expanding the Army and National Guard and creating the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC.
The new law reinforced the U.S. military’s preparedness as new funding began rolling in in anticipation of a possible entry into World War I. The law also gave the president control and authority to mobilize the National Guard in case of war or emergency. The combined network of states’ militia would now be used as the primary reserve for the U.S. Army. It also allowed officers to attend Army schools and be paid for annual training for the very first time.
To date, over two hundred thousand soldiers serve in the Army Reserve, over three hundred thousand serve in the National Guard, and roughly thirty percent of all active duty officers are commissioned through the ROTC.
The next year, on April 2, 1917, Wilson would go before Congress to ask for a declaration of war. Four days later, the U.S. formally entered World War I.
Featured Image: Official Presidential portrait of Woodrow Wilson. (Oil on Canvas by Frank Graham Cootes, 1913)