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General Vogt. I might ask that about the Vice President of the United States, sir. It is sort of analogous. Mr. NICHOLS. Mr. Barrett, do you have any questions?

Mr. BARRETT. Yes, sir; I do have a question about the command arrangements in Vietnam. What would have been the right command arrangement in Vietnam, in your view?

General Vogt. There should have been a commander responsive directly to the JCS in Washington. When I was there it would have been General Abrams. He would have had responsibility for the conduct of the entire war, in the north in Laos, in Cambodia, and in South Vietnam as well. Instead, as I said, we had this divided authority and it led to great problems for me. I had the same airplanes called upon to do all these other jobs with various commanders telling me how those airplanes ought to be used, and it got into quite a tussle from time to time. The enemy would be advancing in the south, about to take Quang Tri or something else, and I would get an order from the guy in the north to put most of my air up to the Hanoi area that day. This is insane.

Mr. BARRETT. Would that have included the naval elements off of Vietnam too?

General Vogt. Absolutely.

Mr. BARRETT. Then that would have been in effect a unified command?

General Vogt. It would have been a combat command responsive directly to the JCS, which I think you made a provision for in your bill, if I read it correctly.

General Vogt. That is what I was getting to. I was going to ask you, General-

General Vogt. Absolutely.
Mr. BARRETT (continuing). If you agree with the provisions.

General Vogt. I saw that in the bill and I agree with it 100 percent. I think it is an excellent way to approach the problem.

Mr. BARRETT. There is another provision in the bill that requires that the unified command plan be reviewed periodically, and I will just tell you that the thinking behind that is the very situation you described in Vietnam. Surely, no one could agree that that far away Pacific commander was the right commander in the chain of command in Vietnam. The idea there is that worldwide conditions will change, and the unified command plan should respond to those changing conditions.

General Vogt. That is correct. That is what is difficult about trying to do this in law. Really, you should make provisions for it but not direct it. I think the Secretary of Defense is the key here. A strong Secretary of Defense could have ironed out this command arrangement problem a long time ago. But he didn't in the case of Vietnam. Successive Secretaries didn't. They got, you know, advice from one JCS member, advice from another. In some instances the advice from the Chairman wouldn't necessarily have been the best advice. Had he been in a strengthened position, he would have given the wrong advice. Generally speaking, when we had Navy commands in there they tended to want to perpetuate the CINCPAC structure. They didn't want to go the other route. The Army member and the Air Force member would tend toward the other direction. In that case I think it would have been wise to listen to those guys, and we wouldn't have had the problems that I de scribed that I had later on. I think it is ironic that even when I got promises from the commander in chief himself as I did from the President, nothing happened. He couldn't clean it up. I wish you luck in advising a cleanup that will clean up something that we were unable to do when I was there.

Mr. BARRETT. That is the next question, on the chain of command. The chairman asked you about putting the chain of command in law-the President to the Secretary of Defense to a unified commander. As you know, that has been considered the chain of command for decades. But it is not in the law. You described a situation where the Secretary of Defense was in the chain of command. He countermanded orders that had been developed in another way. I don't want to get into the argument about who should be in the chain of command at any given time, but I want to ask you this about the law. It seems to me that the President should be able to decide who he wants in the chain of command, and if we were to put it in the law that the Secretary of Defense is in the chain of command, that might limit the President in the situation that you were describing.

General Vogt. I think what has been confusing in the past is what is the National Command Authority. The National Security Act of 1947, as I recall, talked about the National Command Authority being responsible for the flow of information and orders down to the combat commanders. Now, in the past nobody has been willing to define who the NCA is. The Chiefs for a while liked to believe that they were in the National Command Authority structure. In fact, they were not. As I read the National Security Act of 1947, as amended in the 1950's, it in effect said the JCS are advisers. They are not operators. They are not in the chain of command. They are advisers to the Secretary of Defense, to the National Security Council and to the President. That is all they are purported to be.

This problem came up when I was a director. Some question was raised about the authority of the Chairman to act as the chief operator. I described the process. WASAG would meet, decisions would be made, there would be a new directive to go out to the commander. The Chairman would prepare the message. It was actually done by the director and the staff. He would OK it. Then it would have to be initialed and approved by the Secretary of Defense before it was submitted to the wires and sent to the commander. Some people thought this was, in effect, giving the Chairman too much authority. The issue was raised, and it was settled by the same Dave Packard that is heading this Commission today. He simply prepared, with my help, the DOD directive. I have forgotten the number of it but I can probably dig it out of the records somewhere. That directive said that the Chairman is effectively in the chain of command and will carry out for the Secretary of Defense the drafting of messages and orders to the field commanders for the conduct of the war in Vietnam, and that is how it worked. It was done simply with a signature by the Secretary of Defense, prepared by Packard, and nobody ever questioned it from that point on. And that is how it worked.

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. LALLY. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. NICHOLS. Mr. Barrett, do you have any other questions?

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.
General Vogt. Thank you, sir. It is a great pleasure to be here.
Mr. NICHOLS. The subcommittee will stand adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 5:10 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned.]



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.



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 for 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 morning, who I have been corrected, is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, rather than Air Force. Thank you, General.


General CHAVARRIE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. NICHOLS. Do you have a prepared statement for us, General?

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