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taries, and the great majority of those people who come before this committee have recommended changes.
So I think I can say to you in all candor that there's going to be a bill this year. The Senate is marking up today. We have instructions from our chairman to be prepared to bring a bill to the full committee by the time we markup in full committee the authorization bill. So I feel like we're going to have a bill, Mr. Secretary, and we do appreciate your cooperation, your working with us.
Mr. TAFT. Mr. Chairman, I would say that I agree with you, and we are prepared to work with you to be sure that the bill that you develop is the most effective and best bill that we can pass.
Mr. NICHOLS. Before we get into phase 2 of what we are about to do here in the weeks ahead, could you tell us what objections you find to the bill that was passed last year by the House. We don't know what the Senate is going to incorporate, but we've been given the understanding that perhaps a good bit of that legislation might be incorporated in the Senate bill.
What are your objections to it, Mr. Secretary?
Mr. Taft. Well, let me focus just on one aspect of it which I think does cause us concern, and that we would like to have changed. In responding to your question, which does ask me what our objections to the bill are, I don't want to suggest that we have an overall negative attitude toward it. There are things in the bill that we accept. Let me focus on one objection to it that I think is the most important one that we have. It goes to the question of the role of the JCS in the formulating of, and providing of advice, to the President and the Secretary of Defense, basically the National Command Authorities, and the role of the Chairman.
As it exists today, the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a body, have the function of being the principal military advisers to the National Command Authorities. As I understand your bill, it would give that function to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as an individual, and the corporately developed views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would not be the principal source of advice to the President.
Our feeling is that-as is present practice—any individual views of a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including those of the Chairman, should, of course, be presented to the President, and the National Command Authorities, wherever they vary from the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a group. However, we do think the Joint Chiefs of Staff as an entity is a strong means of developing sound advice, and that an effort should be made to have them, as a group, present corporate advice to the National Command Authorities, as under present practice.
Mr. Kasich. Will the chairman yield?
Mr. Taft. That is a change that you would be making in the present practice that we do not support in H.R. 3622.
Mr. NICHOLS. Yes, I yield, Mr. Kasich. Mr. Kasich. I just wondered, Mr. Chairman-thank you for yielding-whether Mr. Taft is aware of the Bennett amendment that occurred in the House that provides that for any particular decision where there is disagreement on the part of the individual service chiefs that that is provided for in the bill and that they would then submit their differing opinion directly to the Secretary of Defense. That was the Bennett amendment accepted on the House floor, substantively different than the bill as it went to the floor in that regard.
Mr. Taft. Yes, and we think that that amendment certainly improved the bill, but it still—I guess I would say it still leaves you with a set of individual views. Maybe three or four individual views, or five individual views; it does not achieve what we have today, which is the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff trying to reach an agreement.
Mr. SKELTON. Will the chairman yield, Mr. Chairman? Would the chairman yield?
Mr. NICHOLS. Yes, briefly, Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. That's the point of it. That's the purpose of the bill that we put in to do away with the log rolling, the watered down pablum advice that we've been getting. What we want is to have one person in charge, and this person should be a strong Chairman. An adequate dissent provision has been provided very adequately, not one, but two places, where the other members of the JCS shall make recommendations differing from the Chairman. But that's the purpose of our bill, our thrust. Although you give a nice pat on the back to the bill, the main problem is that you don't like the thrust of our bill.
Mr. Taft. Let me say I was not suggesting that this was not something that you intended to do in the bill.
Mr. SKELTON. We did. You bet we did.
Mr. TAFT. I understand that, and I have not obscured that, and I have pointed out our reservation about that, as the chairman requested. I don't think we have any difference as to the intent of the bill. I just wanted to make clear our reservation about it, which the chairman
Mr. NICHOLS. Let me reclaim my time, if I might, Mr. Secretary, and let me assure you that it would not be the intent of this chairman, nor the intent of this subcommittee, to in any way stifle, suppress, the voices of any of the members that sit on the JCS. I strongly feel that their voices ought to be heard. We have attempted to strengthen the Chairman.
Now, let me read you into the record about some
Mr. Taft. We support those provisions, strengthening the Chairman by voice.
Mr. NICHOLS. Let me just read into the record what we did last year, that I think we thought cleared the air on that.
On page 25 of the report, Joint Chiefs of Staff as a body, shall provide advice to the President, and the Secretary of Defense on matters with respect to which such advice is requested. At the bottom of that page, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, other than the Chairman, may submit to the Secretary of Defense any opinion in disagreement with military advice of the Chairman, or of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After first informing the Secretary of Defense, such a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may submit to the President any opinion in disagreement with the military advice of the Chairman, or the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Finally, in addition to his other duties, as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chairman shall, subject to the authority and direction of the Secretary of Defense, inform the Secretary of Defense, and, when the Secretary of Defense considers it appropriate, inform the President, of those issues upon which the Joint Chiefs of Staff have not agreed, of the military advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a body on those matters with respect to which such advice is requested by the President, or Secretary of Defense, including advice on those matters on which the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have not agreed. We looked at that very carefully and we thought we had addressed that.
Let me, if I may, establish some parameters that I'm-I feel like really ought to be established.
First of all, in reference to the bill that the House passed, and in reference to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that bill has already gone in on the House side.
Mr. TAFT. I understand.
Mr. HOPKINS. It is now on the Senate side, standing, if you will, like a fire hydrant before the Senate dog. We now have to wait and see what they do with that.
Let me, if I may, bring up, Mr. Taft, where we are today, because I-before I get into that, Mr. Chairman, let me see if I can get the parameters set on the time that we have involved here.
You mentioned that a bill is going to be put together, and I'm for that, and it's my understanding that we're looking for a mark on the defense bill on March 20, backing down from that, meaning that this bill would have to be prepared by March 12, if I understand that correctly. And when we're looking at subjects like the unified and specified commands, and joint military personnel system, reorganization of military departments, and the defense agencies, I really have to say that I'm not sure that we're capable of producing a bill that will satisfy me. I want to make changes. I want our defense to be lean and mean, and all of those things. But I want the right bill. And just to pass a bill in the interest of passing a bill to pacify ourselves, I'm not sure we're capable in those time constraints, members of this committee, to do what I would consider proper work on this bill.
Mr. NICHOLS. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. NICHOLS. Let me just say that I recognize the time constraint. I agree with the distinguished minority member of this committee. I wish we had more time to do it. But we've heard discussion on this bill for three Congresses now, and Chairman Aspin has set a timetable that I'm trying to be cooperative with in meeting.
For that reason, and let me say I appreciate the good attendance of the subcommittee this morning, though the minority may not think it's a very good attendance. But when we have about four other committees meeting I assure you I'm glad to see these bodies here.
We're going to be meeting later this week for a session with the JCS themselves, and I say to the gentlemen that I'm going to endeavor to work with the members, but it may be necessary to meet on Mondays, and it may be necessary to meet on Fridays, in order to try to get to the list of witnesses that we have before us. And I hope, by the time we get through, that the gentleman from Kentucky, whose judgment we respect very much, will have enough advice, and hear enough testimony, that he will be able to make a determination on it.
Mr. HOPKINS. Mr. Taft, let me ask a question in reference to the concept that we're looking at here.
Information that I have thus far shows some divided personalities, which always happens. It's my understanding that from the Senate side right now we have two guys that I have a lot of admiration for, finding themselves in objection to you representing the Department on these concepts, and that being, Mr. Nunn, Mr. Goldwater, other people divided in there. But I have a great deal of respect for those people, and their knowledge over the years.
In reference to one of the concepts involving military department reorganization, that is to reduce the top three DOD management layers, less the service Secretaries, military headquarters, to two, by creating a single military headquarters staff in each department.
Now, in figures, and I may not have the exact figures, but certainly the service Secretary and assistant Secretaries, and so forth, have somewhere between 250 and 800 people, each, under them. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have somewhere between 2,500, 3,500, under them. And it's my understanding of this concept that it would join those two organizations together, and thereby it would eliminate approximately some 1,500 people in the process. Are you opposed to that concept? Are you familiar with that concept? Or could you elaborate on what that might do? Are you for it, or against it, Mr. Taft?
Mr. Taft. Let me be sure I understand which concept you're talking about. I understand and I addressed in my statement, the idea of consolidating the service staffs which now report to the Chiefs of Staff in each of the military departments and the service secretariats which now report to the service Secretary. Is it the consolidation of those two staffs that you are asking about?
Mr. HOPKINS. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, not the service Chiefs. Mr. Taft. It is that consolidation that you are asking about? Mr. HOPKINS. Right.
Mr. TAFT. My view on that is that what we ought to do is to assure that there is a minimum of duplication of any overlap between the activities of those two different staffs, or in the case of the Navy, three staffs, because the Commandant of the Marine Corps also has his Marine Corps staff, but I do not believe that the elimination of any one of those staffs, and the consolidation, essentially, of the team reporting to the service Secretary, and the service Chief is desirable. And the principal reason for that is that I believe that the service Secretary is looked to by the Secretary of Defense to administer the Department. He participates in the executive branch as a member of the administration, and he should have his own staff, it seems to me, to support him in carrying out those peculiarly civilian duties that are a part of his office. They should not duplicate what he can get from the service Chief's staff, but they need to be his own. The service Chief needs, I think, his staff for just the basic administration of the military side of the house.
That is the reason why I do not favor the elimination of either of those staffs. I do favor, and we have done, a cutting down of many areas of overlap, and have reduced the numbers and the size of each of those staffs to the minimum, and, as I indicated in my statement, that has been going on over recent years.
Mr. HOPKINS. Mr. Taft, I assume by your answer that you're basically in opposition to the thrust of the concept of reorganizing the military Departments.
The other three areas, the unified and specified commands, the joint military personnel system, and the defense agencies, would they also—I don't mean to imply that you're totally opposed to everything that they're putting up, but basically I'm saying to you, are you in opposition to the other three also, Mr. Taft? Are there any of the four concepts that you favor that have been presented thus far that you're aware of?
Mr. Taft. Well, I think, of the four concepts, I would say that I favored the strengthening of the personnel system having to do with joint military personnel and more encouragement of high quality people and more recognition in the personnel system of joint performance.
On the question of strengthening the CINC's: I have indicated that I favor, generally, the strengthening of the CINC's. I would like to do this, not at the expense of the service chiefs and the service Secretaries, but in addition to preserving their roles to the extent we can. I have a model for that—what I have done in the resource allocation process where we have engaged the CINC's in that process very much more significantly in the past 3 years than was ever the case previously. It can be done.
The question on the military side of the house is a more complex one of command authority, but we are looking at that. JCS has the review underway, and I think, as I indicated in my statement, our inclination is to strengthen the CINC's over where they are now. How that is done; how much of it is done; I would await the outcome of the JCS study. I think that's wise, but we're tending in that direction. So those two we would tend to support.
On the defense agencies, I am not aware of any particular proposals beyond what is in the Senate staff bill, which is to strengthen the Secretary's supervision of those agencies, and to strengthen the JCS supervision of those agencies, and particularly, in regard to their preparedness for wartime and their ability to perform the support functions that they have to do in wartime, and I would support that too.
So, three out of four. I guess we picked the wrong one to start with.
Mr. HOPKINS. Thank you, Mr. Taft. I have a number of questions but my time has expired and in interest of my colleagues I'll
Mr. NICHOLS. Before I go, Mr. Kasich, let me ask the Secretary. It's imperative, I think, that we have as much information, and as much direction and guidance, as can be provided by the JCS study that you mentioned, and by the Packard Commission study. We expect to discuss this with Mr. Packard next week.
Mr. Taft. Yes.
Mr. NICHOLS. In a session next week. I understand from the morning paper that there's some confusion involved in the Packard