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“Any officer who wears the uniform of his country must accept certain inhibitions upon his conduct and upon the free expression of his own views. He is a servant of the people, not its preceptor. Balanced judgments and calm expression are to be expected of general officers."
On the subject of “muzzling,” while I was Chief of Naval Operations, drafts of my proposed speeches were submitted to the Department of Defense and occasionally by DOD to the State Department for censorship. The results usually bordered on "nitpicking.” I did not object to this procedure but considered it rather silly to have reviewed what I proposed to say by some individual who was in all likelihood less experienced in such matters as was I.
In my public statements, I stuck to those subjects which, as the ranking naval officer of the moment, it was my privilege to speak on. Typical subjects were the ability of the Navy to discharge its obligations to the Nation, its ability to cope with possible enemies, its morale, its plans for the future. So long as I stuck to these and kindred topics, I never felt myself “muzzled.”
As for unwritten precedents and ethical standards, some 45 years ago I took the first of a series of identical oaths to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic.” This has been the precept which governed my actions throughout my career.
I have no objection to your placing the foregoing statement in the record of the hearings. Sincerely,
W. M. FECHTELER, Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired).
CINCINNATI, OH10, January 11, 1962. Hon. JOHN STENNIS, U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Washington, D.O.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : I have carefully considered the questions raised in your letter of December 7 and have concluded that the best answer I can give to these questions is to express in simple form some beliefs which seem to me to be fundamental in relationship to this broad subject:
First, it seems clear to me that personnel in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces must be given an adequate education regarding on the one hand the values of freedom and on the other the aims and techniques of world forces which are hostile to freedom. With this understanding, each member of our Armed Forces will recognize that loyal performance of duty, even at the risk of his life, is justified by the need to preserve our Nation and its ideals. Whatever instruction of these personnel may be required in order to establish this understanding and the resulting steadfastness of purpose in the face of extreme personal hardship must be given.
Second, the need for comprehension of national values and of the current threat is equally insistent in the civilian sector of our people. This need must be met by educational programs presented by those in our society who by study and experience are best able to perform this function. So long as the environment is acceptable active duty military leadership should share in this effort, because it is apparent that the normal career functioning of these dedicated Americans makes them especially well informed regarding the current threat.
It is necessary, of course, that active duty military leaders participate in such public activity only in accord with policy guidelines as set by the national administration. The degree of control needed to insure policy compliance has to be determined by the Secretary of Defense in accordance with varying circumstances during his term of office.
Third, active duty personnel of our U.S. Armed Forces should not engage in partisan politics. The confidence of our citizens in our professional military force has been tied to a great extent to the detachment of these forces from partisan politics. Our uniformed forces must be regarded by our people as motivated by a single-minded devotion to the national security, and there must never be any question that this single mindedness may be diluted by partisan political activity.
Fourth, it is basic in our form of government that the top direction of our Defense Establishment should be by civilians. These are the individuals who should carry the top political responsibility for decisions affecting the national security.
I hope these expressions of belief may be of some help to your subcommittee in its deliberations. Cordially,
NEIL H. MCELROY.
AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION STATEMENT
AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION,
Washington, D.C., January 22, 1962. Hon. JOHN C. STENNIS, Chairman, Special Preparedness Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. DEAR SENATOR STENNIS: In response to your letter of January 16, the Air Force Association is pleased to furnish herewith its views regarding military activities in cold war education, which your subcommttee is investigating. We address ourselves to the following specific areas of interest as requested in your letter: The proper role of the military in national security affairs
This role has remained essentially unchanged during the 174 years of this Republic's existence. The Constitution of the United States makes abundantly clear the principle of civilian control over the military, a principle which has never been successfully or even seriously challenged in our history. Traditionally the military has been an instrument of national policy, with no direct responsibility for its final formulation. This is as it should be.
On the other hand, the military does have an obligation to participate in the formulation of national policy through the statutory role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as “principal military advisers to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council.” While acknowledging that final policy judgments must be made by our civil leaders, we reiterate our belief that, in the interest of wisdom and prudence, full weight must be given to military advice and counsel in matters pertaining to national security.
We hear assertions that the military is going beyond its constitutional role and usurping policy formulation privileges. We find no evidence of this. This Nation has no history of military coups, juntas, or mutinies, and there is no indication of any such future threat. Indeed, with civilian control of the military stronger than ever before, the subcommittee might profitably examine the extent to which professional military advice is being considered in making national security decisions.
The problem remains, however, of defining the extent to which military men should be permitted to voice publicly their personal professional opinions. The borderline between legitimate public expressions on essentially military matters and public disagreement with stated national policies is a fuzzy one, and your subcommittee would perform a great public service if it could contribute to clarification of that line. We do not wish to see generals and admirals engaging in partisan politics. But barring them from public discussion in the field of strategic concepts would be equally tragic.
New strategic concepts and doctrine must emerge if our military forces are to keep pace with technology. These new concepts can best emerge if openly proposed and debated by the experts. Likewise, new ideas must be evaluated and tested, largely through professional writing, public speeches, and open discussion. Only in this way can all considerations be brought to light and sound ideas obtain acceptance and support.
Forbidding professional military people to discuss national security concepts would stifle thought in this area by those most qualified to contribute, and this at a time when the threat to security is greater than ever before. Further, the search for new concepts has attracted the attention of numbers of civilian experts who have no hesitation in making their views known and no restrictions on doing so. Their contributions are often useful but only if measured against professional expertise with regard to the actual implications of their adoption.
If the military is denied the right to comment on or challenge the views of civilian experts, the country will come to look to nonmilitary sources for guidance on basically military matters. The freedom of professional discussion of purely military concepts must not get lost in any effort to suppress undesirable political statements and activities of military personnel.
The adequacy of troop information and education
The Air Force Association keenly believes that additional effort in this area is desirable and passed a resolution at its latest national convention to that effect. We reserve judgment, however, as to the adequacy of present and planned programs, in the light of the study currently being conducted by the Committee appointed by the Secretary of Defense. Participation of military personnel in national security seminars
Free and open discussion is an essential element of democratic government. National security seminars can make a great contribution to better understanding by the military man of his mission. There is no reason to discard this educative tool because the technique has been subverted in a few isolated instances to promulgate partisan political views. Proper use of military personnel in educating the American public to the dangers
of the cold war menace Broad public understanding of the nature of the threat to national security is basic to the support of programs necessary to safeguard this Nation against the threat. Military personnel can contribute much to such understanding. Their public utterances must be subject to reasonable security and policy restrictions, it is true. Pentagon censorship is neither new or necessarily evil. But it is clearly wrong to censor material which is not in conflict with national policy as publicly enunicated by our civil leaders. If such material is censored, then one might logically conclude that national policy as publicly enunciated differs from national policy in fact. Widest latitude should be given to the free play of ideas. The burden of proof should rest on the censor, not on the military speaker or writer. Capricious and arbitrary use of the censor's pencil is a hallmark of totalitarianism and has no place in a democratic society.
We thank you for this opportunity and extend every good wish to the subcommittee in its effort. Sincerely,
AMERICAN VETERANS COMMITTEE STATEMENT
STATEMENT OF AMERICAN VETERANS COMMITTEE, WASHINGTON, D.C. 1. The question of the proper role of the military in national security affairs. The role of the military in national security affairs is to act as the arm of the Federal administration. Primarily, this means a striking force, ready to act when and where the administration decides. This does not mean that the military have no voice in political decisionmaking; it does mean that such participation is expressed through constitutional channels; namely through the recommendations of the military chiefs to the Secretaries of their respective services, to the Secretary of Defense, and to the President himself as the Commander in Chief, and through the presence of the Secretary of Defense in the Cabinet.
Although the role of "striking force” is primary in the role of the military, it performs many supporting functions both in peace and war. But all such functions should be conducted within a framework set by the Commander in Chief or those designated by him, should be carried out in line with national policy as defined by our constitutionally designated bodies, and should always be responsible to these civilian authorities.
The fundamental thought here is that the services shall be subordinate to the Commander in Chief and to the democratically elected bodies of government. To allow the Armed Forces to pursue independent policies can only lead to anarchy, friction, weakness, and ultimately to a destruction of our democratic and constitutional way of life.
It is for the President of the United States, both as Commander in Chief (his military position) and as Chief Executive (his civilian function) to tap the talents, use the resources, and harness the energies of the military to implement national policy.
In our system of checks and balances, it was never envisioned that in addition to the checks of the States on the Federal Government and vice versa, in addition to the check of one legislative house on the other, in addition to the check of executive on legislature and vice versa, in addition to the check of courts on both
executive and legislature and vice versa, that the military should have an independent check on all of these by advancing independent policies. The military, by virtue of its overwhelming potential in naked power vis-a-vis all civilian institutions could become dictator over, rather than participant within, our democratic process.
2. The adequacy of troop information and education. As to content, our scanning the materials prepared and issued by the I and E section of the Pentagon indicates that most of the subject matter is balanced, responsible, informative, and useful. We would like to propose one or more equally balanced, responsible, informative, and useful films on the subjects of communism and democracy. Both subjects require proper presentation, since it is our devotion to the democratic way of life that is the basis of our opposition to communism. Simply to denounce communism, no matter how dramatically presented, has not and will not destroy its appeal among people so frustrated by hunger, disease, and existing dictatorship and misrule as to draw them into the Communist orbit in despair. We require a positive presentation as well, a dramatic and accurate statement of how democracy provides (and has provided) a means for the solution of real problems.
One of the basic differences between a free society and a closed society is the readiness and ability of the former to tolerate criticism, to encourage debate, and finally to make temporary resolution of differences through the ballot and the consent of the governed. Through these free channels, we are able to preserve and extend our liberties while maintaining and improving our economic gains. This positive and creative role of democracy, requiring sensitive, realistic, and moderate presentation is our answer to communism.
Merely to hate communism because it is dictatorial, militaristic, foreign, and aggressive is limited motivation to fight.
More important in the consideration of present I and E policy is the process of education. Troop education, to be effective, should be in line with national policy, with materials and directives issuing from a central point, with a degree of consensus in presentation.
This means that the content and method of troop education cannot be left to each command, to each installation, to each officer.
The man in the ranks should be studying the meaning of America and not the personalized wisdom or ignorance, not the individual ideals or prejudices of his commander.
The I and E program should represent the American consensus. While not every little sect or crackpot group, or irresponsible extremist may expect to have his ideologic idiosyncracy incorporated in the overall curriculum of teachings, certainly most Americans who manage to work together despite disagreements should find the broad body of teaching acceptable within tolerable limits.
Having stated such a concensus, this body of thought should be carried to all our troops and be presented with fairness and moderation.
Certainly those charged with the presentation of the material directly to the troops at the various levels of command should be trained for this work. Some will come with good background in both content and method; others will have to be trained. But, if this matter is worth discussing at all, then certainly the results of the discussion ought to be presented to the troops by men of maximum competence as believers in the democratic way of life and as pedagogues. Hence, I and E should not be treated as a now and then thing, as a whim or pet of some command, as an exercise for amateurs. Education in and for democracy among our troops should be compulsory, continuing, respected, and handled by trained experts.
3. Participation of military personnel in national security seminars. There are the seminars run by unauthorized self-appointed civilians pressing a tendentious point of view and usii military facilities to do so, such as military buildings, captive military audiences, or military endorsement. Here a private point of view operates under a military and official cloak. Certainly, this practice ought to be outlawed, except where a civilian group is officially charged under appropriate arrangements with the Government of the United States to conduct such seminars.
Second, there are the seminars run offbase where men in uniform and of impressive rank are invited in as speakers. Certainly, the appearance of high officers at such seminars ought to be expressly authorized by their superior officer in advance. Such outside groups often represent private interests or views inconsistent with or opposed to acceptable national policy, using the uniform to provide a semiofficial stamp of approval. Sometimes such a seminar may be
an honest public probing of the problems facing our democracy and the voice of a well-informed military man may add to the discussion. But this is hardly a decision for the individual officer to make by himself. If the Government authorities believe that the seminar is bona fide and/or the appearance of the military man will contribute to presentation and understanding of the national policy then the decision to be present must be made by the civilian authorities and those delegated by them.
In any case, military personnel should be used very sparingly in such seminars except where they are serving as experts in their field ; namely, in the discussion of military matters. Certainly, there are plenty of well-informed citizens, of all views, ready and able to participate in such seminars without dragging in the officer to act as authority on a subject that is not his special domain and without running the further risk of giving an air of governmental approval to views that will inevitably carry with them a measure of personal predilection, whether left or right.
4. The proper use of military personnel in educating the American public to the dangers of the cold war menace. At present there is widespread awareness, in our opinion, of the cold war danger.
The great problem ahead is how to deal with the menace. In part, we must rely on military strength and here the policymakers must and do lean on the military forces as a resource. But the answer of force is only a partial answer. Other answers must be found by the economist in his knowledge of underdeveloped societies; other answers must be found by sociologists in their understanding of the aspirations of other races and oppressed peoples. Other answers must come from political scientists, from psychologists, from propagandists and educators who know how to win the minds of people. Other answers must come from religious leaders and from medical men and from agronomists and from population experts.
How to win the cold war is a technique that can only be worked out through the combined thinking and action of the entire Nation.
In this combined effort to defend our free society against totalitarianism the military has a great role to play. It is charged with a weighty responsibility of putting together an effective fighting organization to provide our Nation with the necessary combat strength to deter or defeat any aggressor. Such a force requires maximum unity, not only in its line of military command, but also in its motivation. To achieve such unity both in thought and action as well as to link the Army with our national purpose requires a program of education and indoctrination, issuing from our highest civilian sources, to serve as the basis for troop information and motivation.
JEWISH WAR VETERANS LETTER AND STATEMENT
JEWISH WAR VETERANS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Washington, D.C., January 8, 1962. Mr. JOHN C. STENNIS, Chairman, Special Preparedness Subcommittee, Armed Services Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The attached statement is submitted pursuant to your kind letter of November 27, 1961, addressed to our national commander. It represents the views of our country's oldest active veterans organization, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, after consideration of the four points representing the prime focus of the study undertaken by your Special Preparedness Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
For 66 years, the Jewish War Veterans has concerned itself with problems relating to national security. Between the wars, during the years of civilian apathy and, perhaps, hostility, ours was a dedicated effort in support of prudent military preparedness. An alert Defense Establishment must perforce be an enlightened one. While this complicated and continuously changing world demands the attention of our finest minds, it also requires citizen soldiers with an understanding of the task at hand. Providing such an understanding, while the immediate responsibility of the Department of Defense, should represent a coordinated effort of all Government agencies directly concerned with the security of the United States.