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The Chairman was the guy running the operation. I found the JCS to be quite flexible if you had strong people in the various jobs. I had a great deal to do with the Sontay raid. I am the man that had to take it to the White House and get permission from the President to go ahead with that. I had to give him my personal guarantee that it was going to work operationally and it wouldn't involve a lot of additional lives being lost or people winding up in prison camps. I had complete confidence in our ability to conduct an operation of that kind. I had been Chief of Operations in the Pacific during the Rolling Thunder days and I knew what we could and could not do. We came up with excellent staffing on that operation. It worked like a charm. We lost nobody. We had an intelligence failure. The guys had been moved out before the raid but that was hardly a problem of the JCS. Because at that point in time this part of the work was being done by the CIA and the DIA working together, determining whether or not the intelligence was correct and whether or not these people were still in the camps.
I think there is some truth in the statement that you made earlier, Mr. Chairman, that you hear very frequently. The quality of the people in the job is at least as important, perhaps more important than the structure itself. I have seen that to be the case. As a man who has had responsibility for the care and feeding of several chairmen, let me tell you that the quality of that man, whether, he is a leader, a decisive man, a man who is convincing, has a lot to do with how the argument comes out in the tank in the final decisions that are made. We have had some weak ones, we have had some strong ones, but occasionally we have had strong ones who have been wrong, and this is what worries me about the present situation.
I tell this story occasionally. I started out in the Joint Staff, my first assignment, as a lieutenant colonel, back in the early 1950's, and I was on a group known as the liaison group for the National Security Council, representing the Joint Chiefs on the Planning Board of the National Security Council. We were drafting papers every day on national policy including our policy in Vietnam.
During the conduct of that work, the Dien Bien Phu crisis arose. The French had tried an all-out assault in the North. They had gotten themselves entrapped in a place called Dien Bien Phu. General Giap, the Northern Vietnamese commander, surrounded them from the heights and began to pummel them. The French were under great duress at this point, threatening to get out of the war. They asked for our help and assistance, and I was involved in all those discussions. It was an everyday discussion matter in the Planning Board of the National Security Council. I had to listen to what the Chiefs were saying and carry what I thought was the consensus across the river to introduce it into the planning work that was being done. What I was hearing was a major disagreement between the principal members of the Joint Chiefs, to wit, the chairman, Arthur Radford, an outstanding, dynamic officer who had been the Commander in Chief Pacific wanted to use nuclear weapons all around the Giap positions, and the others thought this was too much force, too imprecise, but it would cause great political problems with allies and enemy alike, and certainly was not the answer to that tactical situation. The Matthew Ridgeways and others prevailed and the President, General Eisenhower, finally said, “No, I don't think this is a good idea and I am going to abide by the advice of the other members of the Joint Chiefs.” He overruled Radford and we didn't drop nuclear weapons at Dien Bien Phu. Thank God.
I worry about this. Another Arthur Radford, in a strengthened chairman's position, but in that same position, carrying a single view across the Potomac because he is the senior man, could result in a debacle. I could name a half-dozen other officers who are outstanding combat commanders who if put in that position of authority and given that kind of additional prestige could lead us into some very, very tough decisions. I worry about that.
Mr. NICHOLS. Mr. Lally?
Mr. NICHOLS. General, thank you very, very much for your testimony. Let me say as a second lieutenant on the ground in Normandy, I had those same views that you had. I wondered how they were making out back in Washington with the staff.
Thank you very much for being with us.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC, Friday, March 7, 1986. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:15 a.m., in room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bill Nichols (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding. STATEMENT OF HON. BILL NICHOLS, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM
ALABAMA, CHAIRMAN, INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE Mr. NICHOLS. The subcommittee will come to order.
We continue our Investigations Subcommittee hearing this morning on reorganization of the Department of Defense. Our first witness is Lt. Gen. Chavarrie, who is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Military Personnel and Force Management.
Lieutenant General Chavarrie has had a very interesting career in the Air Force. He entered the old Army-Air Force Corps as an aviation cadet in August 1943. He flew combat tours in a B-25 in Europe during World War II.
Following his graduation from the National War College in July of 1967, he was assigned to the Strategic Branch, Plans and Policies Division, and the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers in Europe, and he became Assistant Deputy Director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Matters in the Directorate of Plans in October 1970, and in June 1971 was assigned as Deputy Assistant for National Security Council Matters in the same Directorate.
From December 1971 to June 1975, the General was assigned to the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Special Assistant for Joint Matters, the Office of the Director of Joint Staffs.
In 1975 through 1978, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary Legislative Affairs. General Chavarrie was named Director of Plans and Policy at Headquarters, U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Upon his return to the States in 1981, he became Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Resources, Air Force Headquarters, and assumed his present duties in September 1983.
We are delighted to have General Chavarrie with us this morn-
SECRETARY, MILITARY PERSONNEL AND FORCE MANAGE-
General CHAVARRIE. I will submit it for the record, and I will go through it very quickly to save you some time.
Mr. NICHOLS. That will be fine, without objection.
General CHAVARRIE. Thank you for those remarks. Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that during my 3 years on the Joint Staff, a very distinguished colleague of yours and a very distinguished Marine General, General Blaz, was one of my colleagues. We were colonels together, and I am as proud as can be that he became a distinguished Member of the Congress, but I think just as proud that he became a distinguished member of your committee.
Mr. NICHOLS. Although he is not of my party, we are extremely proud of the general. He makes a very fine contribution to the defense effort, and I am pleased that he is supportive of the legislation we are trying to get passed in this committee.
General CHAVARRIE. Sir, it is a pleasure again to discuss the concerns of the committee regarding the performance of military officers in joint activities. The original creation of the joint speciality was proposed in the report back in 1982, and that is the first time we heard about a joint speciality.
Then, in 1985, we did our study to improve the capabilities of officers in joint activities. So, since we have been involved in this since 1982, it is not a new subject for us in defense.
May I say that in 1985, in the report we submitted to the Congress, we established what we believe is a really better approach than the one of establishing a joint subspeciality.
The 1985 report would establish what we call a special experience identifier. In some ways, you could say a special identifier can be viewed as almost a joint subspeciality.
They almost do the same thing. They identify somebody that has had joint experience that you can gather back again, if you want him and he is good. So maybe we are dealing only with terms, because a subspeciality would be, I think, fairly close to what we now have as a special experience identifier.
There are several problems that we see, Mr. Chairman, associated with the creation of this subspeciality. You have heard this before, I think it might result in a cadre of joint specialists, because it changes our present goal of maintaining an officer corps throughout all the services which has joint experience.
It is not necessarily the best thing in the world to have a group, a cadre of officers who are joint specialists. If we go to war, the best thing to do is to have a body of people throughout the services, not just a very elite sort of cadre that know the joint business, but to have folks throughout the services who can serve as the core for the planners, logisticians and the intelligence of people that we would need, because we would be expanding on a very fast basis in terms of going to war.
I think General Wickham in his earlier testimony used the term “cross-fertilization”, and that is a better way of saying what I was trying to say. It is a desirable attribute of our present system, because it supports this flow of Service people into the Joint Staff, and the joint billets and back into the services.
Our identifier is a substitute for your recommendation that we establish a joint subspecialty in 1982, when that study was done and sent to the Congress. In 1985, in the subsequent study, we said, let's establish an identifier, keep our eye on this fellow, get him back into a joint billet, but don't make it so restrictive he becomes a specialist only in joint matters.
Despite the best of intentions, the joint specialty could create a kind of adversarial relationship in the officer corps, which might be detrimental to effective conduct of operations.
It would say to the officer corps that this could become a special group of people which has a small bucket of holy water poured on it to do special things that nobody else can really do. Are they more excellent officers than another group? I think not.
I think we would be tending to create that kind of a situation. Whether it would be created or not is a matter of judgment and experience, but there is a danger of that, and instead of having four types of officers, one from each Service in joint duty, we would have eight types.
We would have joint logisticians, and nonjoint logisticians, joint intelligence, nonjoint intelligence, and I think what we are interested in, sir, is the free flow of good officers with their speciality in and out of the joint billets, rather than a hard-core cadre of people who, theoretically, are the only ones who know something about the joint business.
Third, sir, the joint specialty would limit joint billet availability. It could work against achievement of a mutual goal of both the committee and the Defense Department, and that goal is that all our best officers that are destined to become flag or general officers have to have joint experience.
As you recall, in 1985, when we sent the report, we had eight factors that we were working on which state our desire to enhance the career of officers assigned to joint billets.
These eight things that we are doing, and they are enumerated in the report, I think, are helpful I believe, as sort of a bottom line. You got our attention on the joint business, and I think the only way to go is up more jointness-irrespective of the kind of legislation that the Congress passes.
Sir, before I conclude, may I give the committee a clear appreciation that in the Defense Department, we understand and support the positive thrust of the legislation in all its aspects, and under Departmental leadership and in response to your legislation, the services have clear instructions which recognize the value of joint duty and its critical importance to the national defense. We have increased emphasis on nominating highly qualified officers for joint duty, and increased the assignment to joint duty of graduates of the three joint schools, comprising the National Defense University. Also, more of our newly-promoted flag and general officers will be trained in joint activities with the addition of a second session to our present course called “Capstone”.
Significant progress has been made and will continue to be made, as in the words of Secretary Taft to this committee, when the services absorb the "cultural commitment.
We are a product of our experience and education in the military, and so we have this core of service allegiance. It is not always a good thing, but there is cultural commitment that goes with service, which is an attribute, when you get on the Joint Staff.