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participants in the DRB their impact has been minimal.
force" budgets which should be scrutinized by the DRB.
been shattered by the deficit problem and the perceptions of
Mr. NICHOLS. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
You indicated your views on the consolidation of the service secretaries and military headquarters staffs, but I failed to hear you. Would you repeat that for me, please?
Mr. KORB. What I said was that what we ought to do is what we do now for public and legislative affairs, where you have the one staff. I think we ought to extend that to the entire service staff. So if the service secretary wants a military man to be in charge of personnel, fine; if he wants to bring in a civilian, that's fine, too. I think we ought to leave it up to him.
Mr. NICHOLS. I have no further questions. I would just like the record to show that Dr. Korb is the author of three major books on defense policy, "The Joint Chiefs of Staff: The First Twenty-Five Years," "The Fall and Rise of the Pentagon," "American Defense Policies in the 1970's.” He served with great dignity and expertise as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, and he is currently employed as vice president of the Raytheon Corp.
I wish we could have Mr. Korb come back, his statement was so good and illuminating, particularly since he just finished serving the administration.
One area I want to ask you about, Larry, is DLA. The argument is that they were originally established to buy common items. Now only 38 percent of what they're buying is common items. I understand that common items are in the eye of the beholder. For example, if DLA wants to buy 15 different sets of bolts, those bolts may not be common items, they may be defined as service-unique. Because DLA buys bolts in large quantities, they get a better deal.
Is that why we have moved away from-
Mr. KORB. That's basically correct. I might point out that when I came into office, the GAO, under Mr. Staats, when he was leaving office, pointed out that we ought to get DLA more involved in buying those things which were not critical to weapons systems performance.
Mr. Kasich. Do you think we can do a better job buying centrally than we can giving some of these purchases back to the individual services? For example, I think the fuel hose or something was mentioned on one of the aircraft. If the Air Force had purchased it rather than the DLA, we wouldn't have had the crash. I believe, at least that was asserted in here. What do you think about that?
Mr. KORB. If you look into that situation because that has been brought up before-that's basically a cheap shot at the Defense Logistics Agency by saying because they bought it they're responsible for the crash. There have been defective buys on lots of things and it is not just DLA that has bought defective parts.
But I think what you're talking about here is the whole question of whether DLA should be buying fuel hoses which are common to all of the services. Everybody buys fuel hoses. If they buy them in lot, can they not get a better buy? I know that the Chairman has talked about the great growth in DLA's manpower. But my experience has been-and when I left I checked the figures and read the statements of Secretary Wade and General Babers—their manpower has not expanded as fast as their workload and, in fact, the
number of people that they have is less than the services had when they performed the same function.
I might also point out that DLA does lots of things that haven't even been mentioned here; for example, surplus property disposal and hazardous waste disposal. These are lots of missions that they have that do take people and are very important that they be done. Moreover, DLA does have a higher availability rate for its parts than the services. I can't emphasize that too much.
Mr. KASICH. This decentralization question is the key here. If DLA was established to buy common items, and now the tail is wagging the dog and, in fact, they are buying more service-unique items than they are common items, doesn't it make sense to decentralize, go back and let each of the individual services make the purchases, because they know it better and they can contract better; they can do it more efficiently and they can save money?
Mr. KORB. I think that's-
Mr. NICHOLS. If the gentleman would yield, before Dr. Korb answers, in defense of DLA let me say a lot of that additional workload has been requested by the respective services. It is not something that DLA has pushed. It is something the services have, in effect, requested. We have testimony to that effect.
Mr. KORB. That is correct.
Mr. KORB. I understand that. I think if you sent back to the services the items that you're talking about you would not save money and you would have more manpower because you wouldn't be buying things like fuel hoses in common.
One of the issues we had when I was there, and eventually became famous later, was ashtrays.
Mr. KASICH. Right.
Mr. KORB. I think the Navy would probably wish that it was DLA that was buying the ashtrays for all the planes. But since they are unique to each aircraft they, in effect, did not go to DLA while I was there, though that was a recommendation of some of the people who looked at our buying practice.
Mr. NICHOLS. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. NICHOLS. I have heard the allegation-whether it's true or not, I'm not certain-but I have heard the allegation made that the Navy, in effect, actually shifted some buying responsibilities to DLA that they perhaps were not conducting in the best fashion. Is there any truth to that?
Mr. KORB. Yes, there is. The interesting thing is—as you well know, because you've been involved in this—that the Navy was very desirous of getting a DLA to do the things that weren't terribly glamorous, so that they could use the people they had to repair the critical parts.
Remember that when DLA first existed we had service manpower ceilings. Now, thanks to the leadership of lots of people on this committee, we have done away with that. But remember, we used to have manpower ceilings both prescribed by OMB and the Congress. Because the services could not get any more people, they were happy to have this other agency manage those things.
Even Admiral Rickover used to give a lot of things to DLA to run so he could focus his attention on what he thought were the really critical areas.
Mr. KASICH. Could the services, though, Dr. Korb, be giving these responsibilities to DLA thinking, "here, take it, I'll use my people somewhere else?” That's what the proponents of abolishing it would argue.
Mr. KORB. I think there was a certain amount of the approach that what they gave to DLA was not, in their view, as critical as the things that they kept, and they knew by giving it to DLA they could use the limited number of people they had on what they felt were more important things and, in effect, could save money.
Mr. Kasich. Mr. Chairman, we started our hearings a couple of years ago and things have gotten much better over there than they were. I am nervous about making any changes at this point in time. I share the chairman's concern.
Mr. NICHOLS. I would just say to the gentleman from Ohio that they had a lot of room to get better. [Laughter.]
Mr. Secretary, would the military departments have the required numbers of experienced civilian personnel to assume the procurement and contract audit functions which Mr. Courter's bill would assign to the departments without permitting them to increase their civilian personnel level?
Mr. KORB. I don't see how, without an increase in civilian personnel, they could handle that. In my experience, every year the services would always ask for more people than either the Office of the Secretary of Defense or OMB was willing to give them. So how they could take on all these additional responsibilities with no increase in people, I do not know. I have never seen any analysis that would demonstrate it. I think you would simply overwhelm the people that you had.
Mr. LALLY. A personal opinion. Do you think that four activities buying uniforms could do a better job than one activity, as is currently done?
Mr. KORB. No; I think the one activity can do it better.
I apologize, Mr. Korb. There are always 14 different meetings going on at one place or another. I just got an emergency call to go back over to the Floor again.
But I want to ask you the question I asked the general. Since you do bring a great background with you as the Assistant Secretary for Manpower, Reserve Affairs and Logistics, what do you think about the ratio between the field grade officers and general officers compared to people who are serving in occupations in the military that are of a combat nature?
Mr. KORB. I think General Vessey mentioned the right figures in his testimony. Being in charge of manpower, I was often asked this question before Congress. We did a study and we found out that the only nation in the world that has a lower ratio is West Germany, and they're pretty close to us. But we have a better ratio than just about everybody else today.
You have got to remember that lots of the flag and general officers in DOD are involved in international bodies, things that didn't exist before World War II. For example, we have a couple of general officers at NATO headquarters. We have flag and general officers in the CIA, for example, which didn't exist before World War II. We have military officers serving at NASA, as you have seen because of the recent tragic events. We have military officers on the National Security Council.
So what's happened is you have a greater demand for officers for organizations that did not exist before World War II. The United Nations is another organization to which we assign military officers. I think that is really not a serious problem, at least in terms of the manpower that I saw.
I think you do have one problem; that is, sometimes people stay too long in Washington without getting out into the field. I think General Vessey and Secretary Orr took the leadership in getting people back out into the field.
Mr. CARNEY. What I am perplexed with is the fact that when we have so many people in the officers corps, they are not getting an opportunity to take the types of command that make them good officers. I mean, their business is war, basically. If the unfortunate situation occurs where we have to have people in combat situations, most of the leaders will have been educated and trained in pushing pencils and that type of thing.
How do you ensure that an infantry officer, an armored officer, a Marine Corps officer, will be able to carry out those functions?
Mr. KORB. I think the officers of the line, the combat officers, do get the experience. Many people who point out the extra number of higher ranking officers are usually referring to people, for example, who were logistics specialists, people who are procurement specialists. I mean, you take the Navy Supply Corps, for example, which is not a combat arm. They are the business managers of the Navy. So what happens is that one group stays pretty much in combat positions, and another group begins to specialize in things like management information systems. Again, if you look at the nature of warfare, what we would call direct combat is a very, very small percentage of the force compared to what it was years ago. So my problem is—
Mr. CARNEY. A lot of people argue that's precisely the reason why we had such a poor performance, particularly in Vietnam. I mean, for every combat soldier you had 45 guys in Saigon.
Mr. KORB. That had nothing to do with the number of officers that you had on active duty. Rather it had a lot to do with the way in which we conducted the war.
In Vietnam you took a military that went from something like 2.8 to 3.4 million, so you added a lot of people. It wasn't the fact that the force you had before the war was too large. Remember now, we're down to a very, very small force. We're down to 2.1 million people on active duty, which is smaller than we were in the period after the Korean war and before we went into Vietnam. I'm sure there are obviously some places where you have too many staffs, both civilian and military-