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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC, Thursday, February 20, 1986. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:57 p.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. Gentlemen, in the interest of time, I think we will go ahead and get started. I hope we have some members here a little later on.
Today, we are going to hear from the Service Chiefs, Gen. John Wickham, Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. George Gabriel, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Adm. James Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations, and Gen. P.X. Kelley, the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Let me just say as an afterthought, if anybody had ever told me, 40 years ago when I was a second lieutenant, that I would have 16 stars out here in front of this table, with all this fruit salad, I would have said, “No way." Gentlemen, we are delighted to have you with us today, and we look forward to your testimony.
Gen. Wickham, I have your name first.
U.S. ARMY General WICKHAM. Thank you, sir. Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit a formal statement for the record, which we provided to the committee earlier, and if I might, just summarize those views quickly here. I will proceed.
Mr. NICHOLS. Let me say that all of the Chiefs who have formal statements, if you will present them, they will be included in the record without objection.
General WICKHAM. Thank you, sir. I bring to this committee a reasonable amount of experience in the joint arena, 14 of the last 18 years have been in joint assignments, including Director of the Joint Staff, Military Executive to two Secretaries of Defense, and as a commander-in-chief of a subordinate unified command in Korea. So, I think I bring a reasonable degree of perspective about the issues that this committee is wrestling with, and the Senate as well.
I want to commend this subcommittee and the full committee, for the work that has been done in building an evolutionary approach toward changing the defense structure, the national security structure.
Mr. Aspin, asked the Secretary of Defense, in his letter, that we address five areas, so I would like to cover those very briefly. They are already contained in my statement, but let me state them just to give you the top of the iceberg.
First point, dealing with unified commands. As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Chiefs are now in the process of reviewing the JCS Publication No. 2 which deals with the role of the CINC's and the authority that they have. The statute gives the CINC's full operational command over the forces that are apportioned to them in peacetime as well as in wartime. I had no difficulty with full operational command of the forces that were assigned to me in Korea, in terms of managing them and in terms of moving resources around, in terms of establishing training standards, and in terms of rejecting people that I did not feel were of high enough quality to go on the unified staff. We need to be sure that when we are making changes, that we are not making changes to something that is already working reasonably well.
Second, the proposals that have been floated around here in the House as well as in the Senate, argue that we need to give the CINC's far more authority in the programming, budgeting, administrative, and logistic area. I think these efforts would divert the CINC's from their wartime responsibilities. You need to be very cautious, in my humble opinion, about moving too far in that direction, lest you build staffs that complicate the warfighting focus. Furthermore, having been a CINC myself, CINC's argue from a re gional standpoint; CINC's argue for short-term interests, readiness and sustainability. If we are not careful, by giving the CINC's budgetary responsibility and greater authority in programming activities, we are going to break up our ability to integrate resources on a global basis, and to balance short-term versus long-term interests.
The Chiefs are responsible to you, by law, for integrating the service budgets and defending them on a global balance basis. If you are not careful, you are going to sunder that authority and break down the accountability for integrating service budgets.
Furthermore, I think the committee needs to recognize the extraordinary progress that has been made in giving CINC's greater visibility over their requirements for resources. I have watched the Defense Resources Board activity in the Pentagon for at least a dozen years, and the process we now have is the best I have seen in terms of giving the CINC's adequate visibility over the needs for resources and the ability to argue for resources.
The second point that Mr. Aspin raised in his letter asked us to comment on the quality of officers that we are providing to joint service. I speak from the Army's standpoint, and the Army officers that we send to the Joint Staff are selected for promotion ahead of their contemporaries on the Army Staff, and from the Army at large. As a matter of fact, last year, all of the eligible Army majors in the Joint Staff were selected for lieutenant colonel. So, I think we do put quality there, and they are being selected ahead of other folks.
In respect to giving the chairman the authority to specify Joint Staff qualifications, I would support that. I believe that is some thing that is already in the House bill. I also support use of a skill identifier that would track people who have had joint experience. We should try to capitalize on that joint experience in the future. I do not support the proposal for assignment of permanent Joint Staff officers, because we would tend to vitiate the strengths that come from cross verticalization of line officers. As you know from your experience in the line, Mr. Chairman, the line officer that moves back from the line into the staff arena brings balance that the Nation benefits from. We do not need, I believe, people that are in the ivory tower staying in the joint business all the time.
The third point that you asked about in the letter were comments toward the service staffs and the secretariats. Should they be merged? The law now says that I preside over the Army staff and that I am responsible to the Secretary of the Army for the efficient management of the Army. I think there is wisdom in that law, and that wisdom is that it provides me the authority to manage the staff in the interests of Army operations and in the interests of Army programming, yet being responsible to the Secretary of the Army
Were I to be severed from the Army staff, and to put civilians under me as Assistant Secretaries, I think that we might run the risk of diluting pure military advice. The Congress, in its wisdom years ago, put the service Secretary in charge of departmental provisioning of forces, and put the Chief of Staff in the business of responding to him on service-departmental issues, but also serving as a member of the JCS for joint operational matters. If you take the staff away from me, by merging it with the Secretariat and putting it under the service Secretary, I think you will dilute the opportunity for pure military advice through the joint arena—the joint chain of command. Then, I would have to clear everything, even of joint nature, as well as of service nature, with the Service Secretary. I think there is wisdom in the separation that we have now with the Secretariat. It is a small Secretariat in the Army, about 10 percent of the Army staff. We probably could have some more consolidation, but I do not recommend a total merger of the Secretariat and the Army staffs.
The fourth point that you asked about was defense agencies. I will not go through the historical background of how these things grew up, but I think they grew up for sound reasons. The defense agencies do provide a degree of efficiency, in a joint way, in the management of resources. We do provide, in the defense agencies, the opportunity for joint participation and they are jointly manned. They provide support for the CINC's, and furthermore, as separate agencies, there is visibility of resources for those agencies in the Defense Resources Board process. They have to justify their programs and they have to bear the brunt of their decisions. If those agencies were broken up and submerged in the departments, I think we would lose the joint flavor and clearly lose the visibility that we have in the Defense Resources Board process. For example, I think it would be a grave mistake to break up an agency like the Defense Logistics Agency into the military departments.
The DLA manages 900,000-line items for the Army. The Army only uses 1.2-million-line items, and they manage 900,000 of them. To break DLA up, and say, Army, you take your share, but no more people to manage its functions, we could not do it. So, for DLA and these other agencies, for whatever criticisms there are about efficiencies, I think we need to continue them. Perhaps, they could be cut back a little bit in terms of overhead, the way we have done in the Army staff. I have cut the Army staff 2 years running now, and I think some of that could be done.
The last point that was asked in the letter dealt with the area of Special Operations Forces. And, I would just comment, Mr. Chairman, that the Army has made substantial progress in building the Special Operations Forces. We have grown in the past 3 years from something on the order of 19,000 up to 24,000 personnel in Special Operations Forces. The budget has grown from about $250 million to over one-half a billion dollars, and it is well above that if we add black programs. So there has been great progress in building strength into Special Operating Forces. Were the Congress to say we want to create a special agency run by civilians that handles all of SOF, I think we would be making a mistake in terms of solid support for the joint commanders.
The final point I leave with you, Mr. Chairman, concerns the Senate Armed Services Committee draft reorganization bill. I have looked at that bill; we have had discussions with the leadership of the committee, and we testified before the committee. I would like to insert in the record here my formal statement before that committee, and also a letter that I sent to Chairman Goldwater, which covered four basic concerns that I feel are important with regard to that draft Senate bill.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I leave one last thought with you. You spoke of yourself and your history as a second lieutenant years ago. I have given my life, 36 years, to the U.S. Army. I take my responsibilities in this area of testimony as probably the most important contribution of my whole service. I give to you and to the Senate the best advice I can give you. I am not parochial, and I am not defending something that is going to affect my life in the Army, because these changes that you will legislate will be beyond my time. Someone else will have to live with them. So, I have tried to be as honest as I can. I am giving you my best advice, and to the individual members that I have spoken with, the best advice that I can give by the law and by my length of service. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GEN. JOHN A. WICKHAM, JR. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify during your review of our Nation's defense organization.
My personal views are based on broad joint experience. For 14 of the past 18 years I have served in joint assignments including duty as Director of the Joint Staff, Senior Military Executive to the Secretary of Defense, and CINC of the combined as well as unified command in the Republic of Korea. Also, I attended the Armed Forces Staff College and the National War College. Thus, I understand from a variety of perspectives many of the problems which are reviewed in the SASC's staff report, and which also have led to changes proposed in the House bill on Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reorganization. I support most of the changes in the House bill. One provision I do not agree with concerns the Deputy Chairman which I shall discuss later.
I have been a strong supporter of reform, but reform that is evolutionary rather than drastic in nature. Late last year, the House passed a JCS reorganization bill that originated in this subcommittee and reflected, in many respects, your understanding that radical reorganization would be harmful to the Nation's security. I am encouraged that as we draw closer to achievement of a Defense Reorganization Act, Members of both Houses of the Congress appear to be taking care to insure that we preserve proven institutions, solve actual rather than alleged shortcomings while taking into account the significant improvements already undertaken by the JCS themselves, and, in the end, realize an improved defense establishment.
In your letter to Secretary Weinberger, you asked that we come prepared to discuss a number of detailed questions in five areas. In his brief statement, I would like to share some general views with you on each in order to set the stage for later discussion.
As to the unified and specified commands, the JCS initiated a full review of the basic joint publication-JCS Pub 2-dealing with the organization, responsibilities, and authority of our combatant commands. JCS Pub 2 is a comprehensive document-the cornerstone of joint action for the JCS, the services, and the combatant commands. The CINC's are included in our review, and you will receive a report on the results from Secretary Weinberger.
I would not want to prejudice that review with any comments I make today. Nonetheless, I think it is important to tell you that many of the proposals advanced, especially those that give the CINC's more authority in the administrative, logistic, and budget areas, must be carefully weighed against the primary purpose for which the CINC's were established, namely to provide unified, operational command over forces assigned from the services in order to accomplish military missions. As you know, the CINC's focus is, and must remain, operational warfighting and not the full range of support and administrative functions that are the proper burden of the services and military departments. The CINC's have full operational command over forces assigned to them which gives them substantial power and authority over resources, quality of people, organization of forces, and activities of component commands.
You must consider in any proposal that tasks the combatant commanders with support or programming functions how much of their time and energies as well as that of their staffs will be spent on non-warfighting tasks, rather than on their operational responsibilities involving joint and coalition forces. Moreover, the services are accountable to the Congress among other things for total program development, for balance between near term and long term requirements, and for integration of world-wide national security needs. CINC's on the other hand focus on near term regional requirements of force sustainability and readiness. Thus, giving CINC's greater authority over programming and resources could emphasize near term regional interests at the expense of long term total requirements and blur the services' responsibilities as well as accountability for overall program integration and balance.
It is important to take full account of the substantial roles Secretary Weinberger and the JCS have given the CINC's in recent years to insure that their warfighting requirements are fully considered by the services, OSD, and the Congress. The current defense resources board process is the most comprehensive review of budget issues and involves the CINC's more thoroughly than any other process I've seen in all my years in the Pentagon. In short, I do not believe we should encumber the CINC's with authority in the administrative, logisitics, or budget/program areas.
Your second area of concern had to do with the quality of officers who perform joint duty.
The Army always has tried to provide officers of recognized competence to joint assignments. Particularly to the Joint Staff. Joint Staff officers frequently exceed the norms found inside our own service. For example, for three years 100 percent of the eligible Army majors on the Joint Staff were selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel. Repeated tours of duty in the joint arena strengthen the careers of Army officers. Guidance to promotion boards makes this point very clearly.
Toward the goal of upgrading Joint Staff quality, I support giving authority to the Chairman to specify the qualifications needed by the officers on the Joint Staff. Last year the Office of the Secretary of Defense prepared a House-directed report of the proposal for a joint duty specialty. I support the report's conclusion that a joint skill identifier would be preferable. Joint billets generally require functional specialists with solid, current service backgrounds, not simply those who have had joint duty or joint education.
Regarding proposals to consolidate staffs within the military departments, let me say that I support the views Secretary Marsh gave you. The Secretary and I share a very close working relationship. Virtually every day he and I consult on departmental matters. I seek his views and decisions on all key matters. I also keep him informed on actions of the JCS which impact on the Army. I do not see confusion in the role of the Secretary or in my responsibilities to him under statute and DOD directives. Nor do I see any significant advantages to be achieved through full-scale