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Because of this widening legislative inquiry, Chairman Aspin be lieved it important that our members have a chance to inform themselves on defense organization.
Accordingly, Chairman Aspin and I wrote Secretary Weinberger last week detailing a broad range of defense organization issues that this subcommittee needs to examine. I shall insert that letter at the end of the hearing. See page 92.
At this point let me outline the major aspects of our inquiry.
First, the unified and specified commands. Should the Commanders in Chief, the CINC's, of the unified and specified commands, be strengthened, and if so, in what ways?
Among other things, the subcommittee will attempt to determine if the command authority exercised by the CINC's is adequate, or if they should have greater authority over subordinate component commanders, assignment of forces within those commands, their organization structures, and the arrangements which now prevail for combat support and administration within those commands.
Also the subcommittee would examine the general question of whether the CINC's play a sufficiently influential role in the Department of Defense resource allocation process.
Second, the military personnel system as it relates to officers performing joint military duties.
The subcommittee has received testimony over the years through the JCS hearings which began in 1982, suggesting that the education, training, and experience of joint officers have been insufficient to equip them for the crucial tasks they perform. Some witnesses also claim that the subsequent careers of joint officers have been adversely affected in terms of promotion, of advancement and of retention. The subcommittee, therefore, would explore the measures to institutionalize the recognition of joint duty as among the most important of assignments, including proposals to create a joint specialty.
Third, consolidating the military department headquarters staffs. For some years the apparent redundancy in the three top Department of Defense management headquarters-Office of the Secretary of Defense, Secretaries of Military Departments, and the Service Military Headquarters Staffs-has been the target of studies calling for reduced layering and duplication. The most common proposal is to consolidate the service Secretaries and the military headquarters staffs, and thereby strengthen civilian control. Is this possible? Would it be prudent? The subcommittee wants to examine this and other proposals, such as those calling for elimination of the service Secretaries altogether, and the creation of Under Secretaries of Defense for land, sea, and air.
Fourth, the defense agencies. Increasingly, the Congress hears calls-sometimes from incumbent Department of Defense officials—for the elimination of several or all defense agencies. The subcommittee would, therefore, examine the viability of the defense agency concept-whether agencies with the missions to support combat forces are sufficiently responsive to combat related operation requirements and capable of performing their wartime missions—and the adequacy of financial oversight of defense agencies within the Department of Defense.
Finally, I would encourage our witnesses to take a broad view of the issues raised by the current debate over defense organizations, especially as the bill now being drafted by the Senate becomes available.
Although as I have indicated, the documentary record on defense organization problems is an extensive one, we are approaching a most critical time in the legislative decision process.
Each of our witnesses has been invited to appear based upon a distinguished record of service to this country. Yet there may be no more critical duty for them to perform than to help shape the decisions that this Congress must make on the organization of our Nation's defense. For good or bad, that structure of command will be in place for years to come. It is one that must permit this country to prevail if we are ever again put to the supreme test of war.
The Romans said, and I quote, “If you would have peace, you must be prepared for war.” And while we pray for peace, we can never forget that organization, no less than a bayonet, or an aircraft carrier, is a weapon of war. We owe it to our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, and our marines to ensure that this weapon is lean enough, is flexible enough, and tough enough to help them win if, God forbid, that ever becomes necessary.
Our first witness this morning is Deputy Secretary of Defense, William H. Taft, IV.
Mr. Secretary, we appreciate you being here as spokesman for the Department of Defense, and we look forward to your testimony. STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM H. TAFT IV, DEPUTY SECRETARY
OF DEFENSE Mr. Taft. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be here to represent the Department.
I should say that I appear on behalf of the Secretary. He is appearing at this very moment before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I know that you and he have in the past, discussed this subject a number of times, and with the other members of the subcommittee as well—and the fact that I am here representing him, does not preclude and should not preclude, his continuing those discussions that you have had over the years, and he looks forward to doing that.
I would say that in my statement I'm going to focus on the elements of the defense structure that you have outlined in your opening statement, and in the letter of invitation announcing this series of hearings.
I would like to recognize before moving to those specifics, however, the leadership that has been exercised by this committee in the development of H.R. 3622, which relates, of course, to the organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in prior years, in the development of other legislation, some of which, of course, has been enacted, and others which remain as part of H.R. 3622, and are potentially the subject of these hearings.
Although there are a few aspects of H.R. 3622—which I'm sure we will have an opportunity to discuss—with which the Department is not in agreement, we do feel that that bill provides a basic framework which we do support, and about which a constructive consensus is developing.
As noted in my testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in December, defense organization is a matter which we in the Department take very seriously. This administration's commitment to seeking improvements in the Nation's military capabilities, and its willingness to undertake management changes in pursuit of this goal, have been established over the past 5 years. Although we have made a number of organizational changes where required, we have primarily concentrated on improving management systems and processes. Generally, we believe that such changes accomplish substantive management improvements more quickly than organizational changes, and achieve their objectives without as much turbulence as would normally accompany a major organizational shakeup.
We have demonstrated that we are in favor of change when it provides a net benefit to the operation of the Department. By the same token, however, any proposed reorganization of significant scope should be subjected to a rigorous needs test, and the implications of its implementation should be carefully considered.
Furthermore, we favor an evolutionary approach to organizational change which preserves that which is functioning effectively and modifies only that which needs fixing. My impression is, over the years that this committee has also favored this approach.
Let me now turn to the subjects in which you have expressed special interest in your opening statement.
On the unified and specified commands, we share your concern for improving the manner in which the combatant commanders prepare for performing their war-fighting mission. The matters addressed in this area by your letter do indeed deserve genuine consideration, the issues are complex, and change must be carefully fashioned to avoid reducing the current effectiveness of our capabilities.
As you know, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have initiated a review of JCS Pub. 2, entitled “Unified Action Armed Forces,” which the Secretary directed be completed by June 30 of this year. Changes to the current command structure should, in our view, take advantage of the outcome of that study, and reflect its findings. The Secretary and I are committed to giving genuine aggressive consideration to these issues, and to work closely with you and your colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee in examining them.
The thrust of the Senate staff proposals in this area was generally to enhance the authority of CINC's over the components of their commands, somewhat at the expense of the military services. The Secretary and I have consistently supported expanding the CINCs’ opportunities for involvement in resource allocation matters that you mentioned, and also in other significant management decisions of the Department. We have tried to do this, however, in an absolute sense without reducing existing opportunities of the service secretaries, and the service chiefs, to advise us. I would say this is a very delicate task. As a rule, we do believe that any adjustments that might be made in JCS Pub. 2, or in other relevant directives, can be accommodated in the existing statutory authority that the Department has. And I would note that there are significant advantages in avoiding more specific statutory prescriptions which may limit flexibility, as long as, and this is an important proviso, as long as the congressional intent is reflected in the current practice. Of course, these hearings and the others that we've had before other committees, provide a good opportunity for assuring that our practice does reflect congressional desires.
On the joint military personnel system: we have shared the committee's concern with the personnel impacts surrounding joint duty for our military officers. In response to your direction, the Secretary forwarded on May 16, 1985, a report on our study to improve the capabilities of officers in joint activities. Among the actions that we have completed in this regard, the Secretary and the Chairman of the JCS have instructed the service Secretaries, and service Chiefs, to recognize the value of joint duty and its critical importance to national defense. We have increased emphasis on nominating highly qualified officers for joint duty, and we have increased the utilization, in joint duty assignments, of graduates of the three joint schools comprising the National Defense University. And we have also added a second course in joint activities for newly promoted flag and general officers.
The question of establishing a joint specialty was carefully considered in our report, and we believe a special experience identifier in officers' records is the best avenue to enhance the level of experience in joint activities. However, in response to your direction in this year's Authorization Act, an independent research organization is currently employed to conduct a study on the establishment of the joint duty career specialty and related issues. We will carefully examine the results of that study, and implement policy or procedural changes as appropriate.
On consolidating the military staffs and the service secretariats: while some consolidation has already been achieved, further steps may be possible on a limited basis. The Department does not believe, however, that the staffs of the service secretariats and the service staffs should be consolidated in a wholesale and complete fashion. The service secretariats participate in the formulation and implementation of policy within the executive branch. They respond to congressional requirements, and supervise compliance with legislation involving the Armed Forces. And they are the Secretary's line managers of their respective services with respect to administration, training, and support functions. In order to perform these roles, we believe each service Secretary should have a separate staff to provide independent analytic support and executive assistance. I believe this is an important aspect of assuring civilian control of the military departments.
It is important to note that the service secretariats are relatively small in size, and that the Department has made, over recent years, a concerted effort to keep their size to a minimum, consistent with mission and management requirements. There has been a total net reduction in the size of service secretariat staffs of 25 percent in the last 8 years; that is, since 1978. It's highly doubtful that operational efficiencies would result from further wholesale integration or consolidation of the secretariat and service headquarters staffs. We believe that the relatively minor personnel savings that might be achieved would not justify the corresponding loss of effective civilian executive influence in the administration of the military departments.
On defense agencies: The Reorganization Act of 1958, of course, is the beginning of this type of entity. It authorized the Secretary of Defense to provide for common support and service activities by agencies or other organizational entities such as single managers, where it is advantageous in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and economy. Over the years, under that authority, successive Secretaries of Defense consolidated activities, which involved more than one military department, under a single functional manager, leaving unique service functions in the military departments. In most instances these consolidations have resulted in increased efficiency, reduced duplication of effort, and improved resource utilization. There is, of course, still room for improvement in resource management and operating relationships between the military departments and defense agencies in specific areas. On balance, however, the defense agency concept provides, we believe, the most effective, efficient, and economic approach to the management of service and support functions that cross-cut the military departments.
There has been, Mr. Chairman, considerable effort addressed to the Department's organization in recent years. There have been many studies by outside groups, but we have reviewed these issues within the Department, and we have made some changes. There has been, also, legislation. More recently there has been a set of hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and many distinguished witnesses have appeared before you during the deliberations that led to the passage of H.R. 3622. The Packard Commission, our President's Blue Ribbon Panel on Defense Organization and Management, will release its report in a few weeks time.
Even though differences remain, it does appear to us that, as a result of all of this activity, a consensus is evolving, both within and outside of the administration regarding a number of principles that should guide our determination of the method for implementing whatever changes we may settle on as desirable.
First, the Secretary's flexibility to manage the Department in a rapidly changing, complex, and dangerous world should be preserved. Neither the administration, nor the Congress, can foresee all of the circumstances that future Secretaries of Defense may face, and our feeling is that those Secretaries should not be so constrained that their organization cannot be readily adapted to whatever future contingencies and situations may arise.
Second, we feel that we should assure continued and effective civilian control of the military. This is a fundamental constitutional principle that must not be abridged.
Third, we should not only avoid, but actively discourage, micromanagement of the details of activities and operations, whether that comes from the Congress, or from top level DOD staffs, OSD staffs, or service secretariats.
Fourth, we should maintain the Department's philosophy of centralized policymaking and decentralized operations. This is a fundamental management principle of this administration, and one which I think has proven its value over the past 5 years.