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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, March 12, 1986. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:02 a.m., in room 2216, 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. This morning we continue our investigations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff matter. We have before us as our first witness, Gen. Robert T. Herres, U.S. Air Force, who is commander in chief of the U.S. Aerospace Defense Command.
I might add that the general graduated from the Naval academy in 1954. How did you get into a blue suit, General?
General HERRES. Well, we did not have an Air Force Academy in those days, sir.
Mr. NICHOLS. OK.
Mr. NICHOLS. General Herres holds a master's degree in electrical engineering. He flew combat missions in Vietnam and commanded the 8th Air Force of the Strategic Air Command. Prior to his present assignment, General Herres served as director of the Command Control and Communications System Directorate in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; his responsibilities included overseeing programs designed to ensure the interoperability of strategic and tactical command control systems.
In his present position General Herres is responsible for the security of the air space of the entire North American Continent.
General, we are pleased to have you with us this morning. You have a prepared statement, I believe, which without objection will be made a part of the record. You may speak to us of whatever is on your mind. STATEMENT OF GEN. ROBERT T. HERRES, U.S. AIR FORCE, COM
MANDER IN CHIEF, U.S. AEROSPACE DEFENSE COMMAND AND U.S. SPACE COMMAND
General HERRES. All right, sir. Thank you very much for the invitation and the welcome. I would like to point out at the risk of sounding immodest to follow up your introduction that I serve also as the commander in chief of the U.S. Space Command, which was recently formed last September, and its Air Force component. I am commander of its Air Force Component, the Air Force Space Command.
ADCOM [U.S. Aerospace Defense Command] is being wound down now as its responsibilities are being distributed, some to the U.S. Space Command and some elsewhere. I might also point out that ADCOM's responsibilities over the years have expanded beyond the air defense mission and are into the aerospace regime, space defense for example. Now, many of those responsibilities are being absorbed. Actually all of those in the aerospace regime are being absorbed by the U.S. Space Command which we are forming now.
I thought it might be useful if I tried to summarize the state ment that I have submitted because there are some points made in that statement that I would like to emphasize to you all, and hope that you would take them into consideration.
I point out early on that I think that we should be very careful about this reorganization procedure, because evolutionary steps rather than sharp dramatic change, I think, are a much wiser course of action to take.
My experience as a senior officer serving on the Air Staff, on the Joint Staff and as a senior commander in the field-three commands in the field at the officer lever-tells me that too much change too quickly in an organization as complex as the Department of the Defense can bring about a lot of painful chaos. And I think evolutionary change is going to be much more permanent and much more useful.
We have made a lot of progress over the years in this system, particularly over the years that I have been close to it at the senior level, and especially in the last 5 years. Since 1947 when the system that we operate under was formed, I think there has been a gradual increase in momentum toward more "jointness." Of course in those days, I think we called it “unification.” But there has been a lot a momentum toward jointness, and that momentum has increased I think, every year. The system has evolved quite a bit. What concerns me a lot about what I read about the reforms being considered, and the changes in the system that are being considered, is that we have a very delicate dual chain of command built into our system, as I understand it and have studied it, by design, dating back to 1947 when it was originally structured. There is an operational chain of command and there is a resource management chain of command. One runs through the SECDEF to the Commanders in Chief and the other from the SECDEF through the secretaries of the military departments. It seems to me that the real issues should all focus or relate in one way or another with regard to this reorganization, on the balance of the relationship between those two chains of command. I think that the idea that there should be two is in order to ensure that not too much power resides in the hands of any individual who is not directly responsible to the President, or who is not politically responsive. I think that that concept should be preserved and we should at all cost avoid changes that would blur the distinctions between those two chains of command.
If you accept all of that, and if you accept that rationale, then the real problem is: Is the balance correct? Does it make sense? And is it well defined? Clearly we could operate a much more efficient military establishment if we had a single autocratic chain of command, but I do not think the American people want that, and I do not think we can afford that risk. I think the fact that we have such a large and powerful military establishment which has a great many commitments all over the world, far more than any other military establishment has ever had in history, and that we are able to manage that military establishment in this kind of a democracy without threatening the existence of that democracy, I think that is remarkable--an achievement that we do not often recognize, or it is something we take for granted perhaps too much. Now, the price we pay for the preservation of that democractic heritage and the substance of such a large establishment with so many commitments is a certain amount of inefficiency by not having an autocratic chain of command.
Well, as I said, I think the problem at hand is to examine these two chains of command and see if they work, to see if they are properly balanced, and raise the question of whether or not converge again at the proper level. Now, in our system, as it is structured today-as you know-they converge again at the component level; the component level just below the unified commander, or the specified commander, as the case may be. I personally think that is the right level. At that level of course the component commanders look to two lines of supervision, one to the military department secretaries and one to the commanders in chief for each of the kinds of responsibilities I have just discussed. I think that can be done, and I think it is done with much more efficiency and more effectiveness than our critics give us credit for. I think it is unfortunate that the critics of the system are quick to grasp the exceptions in performance rather than the rule in performance to justify their criticism. To do these kinds of things, to measure the balance and so on-there really are not any easy ways to measure the intangibles of the effectiveness I have referred to. Nevertheless, even though I have suggested that evolutionary change is in order, I do think that some finite change is justified. I think much of that change would eventually take place on its own if the system were left to its own devices; but it is very clear that there is a momemtum in the consensus for some change. And it is caution about that that I would urge, and hopefully I can make some suggestions that would be constructive in that regard.
I do think a better balance than we have right now can be struck between the two chains of command to which I referred. As I stated in my prepared statement, the pendulum has hung on the resource management side of the chain of command ever since 1947. It has gradually moved toward the center, but it is still over on that side probably more than it should be, and needs to be, as mature as the DOD system is now. A lot of that motion has occurred recently because the momentum has picked up. I think the criticism that is directed at us in the Department of Defense about parochialism and other kinds of narrow viewpoints is largely traceable to the fact that the pendulum really is not quite in the middle. There will always be criticism, of course, because somebody would always like to see the pendulum on one side or the other; but I think if we can get it in the middle, we will be fairly insulated.
If we accept that the dual chain of command has to be preserved, in bringing them into the balance and preserving the distinctions as I said, this is the kind of reform we should seek.
The first and most important step in doing that in my view is to strengthen the position of the Chairman even further than has been done in the recent past. If I work for the Chairman as an individual, as my supervisor, rather than working for the JCS as a corporate group or in effect as a committee, I think that he is then in a stronger position to help me. Although he is now in an implied position-and that has been strengthened, of course, now-to be my supervisor; and in time of sensitive actions, he is clearly my supervisor by SECDEF direction-and that has been institutionalized. But I think if the law institutionalizes his role as my direct supervisor, then it strengthens his position to advocate my needs, to express my concerns and requirements to the defense management structure here in Washington and to you here on the Hill.
I think the Chairman also needs full jurisdiction over the Joint Staff, and the organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The OJCS and the Joint Staff are of course now tasked and directed to work for the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a corporate body. They cannot help but be motivated to try to seek agreement on issues amongst the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is their role. It is what they are told to do.
Now, the system is criticized for the weakness in the positions developed because of the seeking of compromise; but that is the way the system is built. The unfortunate part about that is that the Commanders in Chief are not as well represented on the issues, and the resolutions of those issues, as they might be; and I think that can be fixed.
I do not think any other steps need to be taken if the Chairman has the responsibility to supervise the Joint Staff, and if the Joint Staff really is the staff of the Chairman.
Each of the Service Chiefs has his own staff. Each has people who work joint issues with the Joint Staff. All the staffs, as a matter of fact, work joint issues in one form or another, but the military departments generally have structured some element in their staffs through which those joint issues will be funneled to directly support the Chiefs. I am not sure it is necessary for the Chiefs—in light of all that-as a corporate body to have a staff to support them separate from their individual staffs.
But the Chairman does need a staff; he needs help. He needs somebody to help him express the CINC's concerns; to reduce the arguments to the precision of the written word; arguments that can be expressed and be influential here in the Washington arena.
I think many of the "reforms," and I use that word in quotation marks to a certain degree-many of the "reforms” that have been proposed can be achieved, can be accomplished just by this one step-strengthening the Chairman and giving him the supervisory responsibility and giving him a staff to support him rather than JCS corporate body.
Each of the Service components have a natural constituency or have natural advocates. Sometimes I call them the legations or the ambassadors to Washington to represent their concerns. For example in my own parent Service, in the Air Force, Air Force Logistics Command has the logistics staff of the Air Force staff to look to, General Marquez and his people. Research and Development Command has General Randolph and his people to look to. The operational components look to the Deputy Chief of Staff of Plans and Operations and so on. But the CINC's really do not have a clearly identifiable "pocket" here in Washington to look to that understands their missions in detail and understands their concerns. The people who could support us in the Joint Staff are spread very thinly across a broad sprectum of issues and are really there trying to work for the corporate JCS.
So I think a lot of my problems as a unified CINC can be solved by having that Joint Staff responsive to the Chairman who can ensure that they work CINC's problems as well as the corporate joint problems of the entire joint structure. As I said, the Joint Staff is, in my view, the natural place for that kind of advocacy for the CINC's in Washington.
I would like to add, however, that in spite of criticisms and in spite of what I might have said, that the conditions that the Joint Staff always tries to seek the so-called least common denominator in the solution of problems or the resolution of issues—that condition does not always prevail. Generally speaking, when the Chairman gets involved, and deeply involved, and provides them with guidance, then they get back on line and start working the CINC's problems as well as the Service's problem. But what is lost sight of is that there are a lot of issues being worked in that joint arena day in and day out at the 0-6 level, at the colonel's level, at the junior general officer and flag officer level. There are so many of those issues that the Chairman does not have time to get involved in every single one. So the structure that I have suggested, I think, can help solve that problem. But the condition-again I emphasize-does not alway prevail.
The third point I would like to make is that the Chairman does need help. He need some of the help that I have just described with regard to the role of the Joint Staff and the responsiveness of the Joint Staff. But I do also agree that he needs help at the "fourstar" level within the Joint Staff. As you know, he is the only fourstar in the joint arena, other than the CINC's, I recognize that proposals abound in different forms for giving him a vice or a deputy.
Another way of solving that problem that I have thought about a lot—and thought about a lot when I was in the Joint Staff—is having a four-star (Joint Staff] director, still with a three-star vice director. That is another way of giving the Chairman some help. But the Chairman needs—that joint arena needs four-star representation here in Washington, not only with OSD, in working with the services, dealing with the number of issues that I just mentioned that the Chairman doesn't have time to get involved in, and as a conduit for the CINC's to get to the Joint Staff-to get support from the Joint Staff on issues—because of the “busy-ness” of the Chairman and the extent to which he is burdened by so many responsibilities and is spread so thinly. There are times that I am reluctant to call him on issues because I know that he has got a lot of other big problems on his mind, and I am not too sure whether I ought to elevate an issue to his level, but there is no other four-star in the joint arena for me to turn to. So, a vice, or a deputy Chairman, or