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(e) Section 308 (b) of the National Security Act of 1947 is amended to read as follows:
“(b) As used in this Act, the term 'Department of Defense shall be deemed to include the military departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, and all agencies created under title II of this Act."
(f) The titles of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Air Force, the Under Secretaries and the Assistant Secretaries of the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Chairman of the Munitions Board, and the Chairman of the Research and Development Board, shall not be changed by virtue of this Act, and the reappointment of the officials holding such titles on the effective date of this Act shall not be required.
(g) All laws, orders, regulations, and other actions relating to the National Military Establishment, the Departments of the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force, or to any officer or activity of such establishment or such departments, shall, except to the extent inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, have the same effect as if this Act had not been enacted; but, after the effective date of this Act, any such law, order, regulation, or other action which vested functions in or otherwise related to any officer, department, or establishment, shall be deemed to have vested such function in or relate to the officer or department, executive or military, succeeding the officer, department, oro establishment in which such function was vested. For purposes of this subsection the Department of Defense shall be deemed the department succeeding the National Military Establishment, and the military departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force shall be deemed the departments succeeding the Executive Departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The CHAIRMAN. You see before you a copy of the bill, S. 1269, also a photostatic copy of the Unification Act as it was passed in 1947 and upon which the changes proposed by S. 1269 have been inserted.
Also, for general information there is a copy of an organizational chart of the National Military Establishment as it now exists including the new office of Under Secretary of Defense.
Realizing that we are rapidly approaching the 1st of April, upon which date Mr. Forrestal relinquishes the office which he has held with such distinction since its inception in September 1947, I have asked him to appear before the committee today as the first witness to discuss the merits of the proposed legislation.
Mr. Forrestal, we are very glad to have you here, and as we said before, we are sorry that you are leaving and hope that you will always feel free to give this committee any advice that you think would help us in preparing this country for an eventual emergency.
We will be glad to have your testimony.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES FORRESTAL, SECRETARY OF
DEFENSE; ACCOMPANIED BY MARX LEVA, ASSISTANT TO THE
Mr. FORRESTAL. Mr. Chairman, because the subject before your committee this morning has been thoroughly analyzed in the Hoover Commission Report and has been covered as well by my annual report to the President and the Congress and by the President's message to the Congress of March 5, I feel it would be redundant for me to present a lengthy and detailed statement. Similarly, I shall not attempt to address myself to the specific accomplishments that have been achieved under the act as it now stands. With your permission, then, I will be relatively brief and will confine myself to what I regard as essentials.
From the beginning of discussions in 1945 concerning the future form of our system of national security, I have consistently held that we should seek to achieve the desired integration of our security structure through evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, means; that we should start from a point of common agreement and move forward by a gradual process involving periodic review and reevaluation, and trusting to the wisdom of the Congress to make from time to time such changes in the basic legislation as were clearly revealed by experience to be necessary.
The overriding reason for my support of the evolutionary approach derives from the simple fact that no man can foretell the future; that no man, whatever his rank or station, can predict with certainty the future needs of the country with respect to the organization and composition of its military establishment. And especially is this true now when the swift advance of technology is increasing our ability to shrink time and space at a rate which presages perhaps fundamental changes in the art of war. What may alone be prophesied with certainty is that national security will be a continuous, rather than an intermittent, problem for at least the next generation and one to which the President, the Congress and the American people must give their most careful and earnest attention,
For these reasons I have always opposed the establishment of a rigid and inflexible structure that would carry us into the danger of becoming frozen to a single concept of war. I have supported the gradual approach to unification and believe it to be as valid today as in 1945, or at the time the National Security Act was enacted by the Congress in July of 1947,
As I stated in my report to the President in December, the National Security Act of 1947 provides, in my judgment, a sound basis for substantial progress in the unification of the armed forces. The concept on which the legislation is framed, as stated in the declaration of policy, isto provide three military departments
for operation and administration
to provide for their authoritative coordination and unified direction under civilian control
and for their integration into an efficient team of land, naval, and air forces.
I believe that this concept is sound and should not now be abandoned. In my judgment, the amendments proposed in the Tydings bill are in consonance with this concept and would materially improve and strengthen the existing law without disturbing the firm foundations upon which it is built.
I would, however, be lacking in candor if I did not admit the truth contained in the general conclusions of the Hoover Commission Report that this concept, while sound, has not yet been applied with complete success. There have been individual achievements of significance. Notable
among them are the agreements on roles and missions of the military services which were successfully negotiated at the Key West and Newport conferences and which provide a firm basis for future planning; the increasing development of coordinated purchasing arrangements which have resulted in a substantial reduction of duplication and considerable dollar savings; the development of a comprehensive legislative program for the National Military Establishment as a whole; the development of a uniform code of military justice which is now before the Congress; other important accomplishments
which are set forth in detail in my annual report to the President and the Congress; and still other accomplishments which have been brought to fruition since the date of my report. ? We have not been wanting in detailed achievements and these, when taken collectively, constitute a beginning on the problem of unification. Nevertheless, experience over the 18 months since my office was created has revealed certain weaknesses and inconsistencies in the legislation which were not foreseen at the outset and which have, in fact, prevented full realization of the authoritative coordination and unified direction under civilian control which is called for in the declaration of policy.
Specifically, the authority of the Secretary of Defense has proved to be circumscribed to a point where it has not been possible for him to assume his full responsibilities as the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to the national security. This situation has arisen from the failure of the act to define precisely the authority of the Secretary of Defense or to delineate his relationship to the departmental Secretaries. The act vests in him power to exercise general direction and control over the individual executive departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force, which has proved upon application to be vague, confusing, and specifically limited by the provision which reserves to the respective departmental Secretaries all powers not expressly conferred upon the Secretary of Defense.
That statement, as I am sure this committee fully recognizes, is made without any oblique observation about the action of any of the members of the National Military Establishment.
It is my belief that the proposed amendments would have the effect of strengthening the central authority without doing violence to the Federal principle, which is sound, and which is inherent in the concept of three military departments and of an integrated team of land, naval, and air forces. The authority of the Secretary of Defense would be clarified and strengthened, but, as the President pointed out in his message to the Congress on March 5, the proposed amendments by no means contemplate the blanket transfer to the Secretary of Defense of statutory authority now applicable to the three military departments. These departments would retain their respective identities, would retain the combatant functions assigned them under the 1947 act, and would continue to be administered by their respective Secretaries who would have broad power and responsibility, although the limits of their authority and their relationship to the Secretary of Defense would be more clearly defined. It might be accurately said that the proposed amendments are designed to convert the military establishment from a confederacy to a federation, a conversion somewhat analogous to the transition of the American form of government in the first years of our history as a nation, and one required for essentially the same reason-an insufficiency of authority at the center.
This design may be illustrated by reference to the substance of the amendments. Briefly, the proposed changes would (1) clarify the authority of the Secretary of Defense to direct and control the military departments; (2) provide the Secretary with the additional staff assistance required for the proper exercise of his increased authority, including an Under Secretary of Defense and a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; (3) strengthen civilian control over the Joint Chiefs of Staff by providing the Chairman I have just mentioned, who would be directly accountable to the President and the Secretary of Defense, rather than to the individual military departments; (4) recreate the Munitions Board and the Research and Development Board as staff agencies directly responsible to the Secretary of Defense.
In various other areas of authority, the three military services would retain their prerogatives and their individuality. Specifically, as I have already indicated and as President Truman stated in his recent message to Congress, there is to be no change whatever in the statutory assignment of combatant functions to the Army, the Navy (including naval aviation and the Marine Corps), and the Air Force.
I would like to address myself briefly to what I believe may be the chief objection raised to the proposed amendments; namely, that these amendments would vest in the Secretary of Defense too great a concentration of power. I have given long and serious thought to this objection because it is similar to an objection to which I lent my support 2 years ago.
After having viewed the problem at close range for the past 18 months, I must admit to you quite frankly that my position on the question has changed. I am now convinced that there are adequate checks and balances inherent in our governmental structure to prevent misuse of the broad authority which I feel must be vested in the Secretary of Defense. I am also convinced that a failure to endow this official with sufficient authority to control effectively the conduct of our military affairs will force upon us far greater security risks than will be the case if singleness of control and responsibility are achieved.
I thus believe that while the objection has a theoretical persuasiveness, it does not meet the test of practical application. For example, no view of the structure and operation of the National Military Establishment is correct which does not clearly recognize that in all its vast, complex and interlocking parts, it remains but one instrument of higher authority; that is, of Presidential authority. Once this fact is recognized, it becomes evident that the proposals in the Tydings bill would place no powers in the Secretary of Defense which are not already vested in the President. These proposals would do no more than redistribute certain of the Presidential powers over the Military Establishment through a new delegation to a principal deputy.
Nor can it be said, in my judgment, that by this new delegation the President would be rendered remote from control over military affairs, For whatever the powers of the Secretary of Defense, the Chief Executive will maintain effective and intimate control of the Military Establishment through the Bureau of the Budget, the National Security Council, and through the appointive power. Through these channels and many others, the President's decisions will continue to exert a strong and essential influence on the conduct of military affairs.
I might add, of course, that in wartime, the Presiders, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force would immediately proceed to exercise the necessary dire . and solid influence, because that is implicit in the character of his ofhue.
In this general connection, I wish to refer briefly to my testimony before this committee in March 1947 during the original hearings on this legislation. I stated my belief at that time that there is a definite limit to the size of the administering unit which can be successfully directed by one man; that there is, if you will, a point of diminishing efficiency retum on management. I hold the same view today and do not regard it as inconsistent with the proposed amendments. For these, as I have said, do not alter the Federal concept of a Military Establishment composed primarily of the three departments. Within the proposed Department of Defense there are to be three military departments administered by their respective Secretaries under the direction, authority, and control of the Secretary of Defense These departmental Secretaries will be administrators with broad responsibility and authority. The great size of each military department will make this condition unavoidable and will require that these three officials be men of the highest ability and vision. They will be principal assistants to the Secretary of Defense and he must rely heavily upon their judgment and skill.
I have recently testified before this committee on the importance which I attach to the position of Under Secretary of Defense, so I shall not repeat what I said here on that subject on March 10.
I do want to address myself briefly, however, to my concept of the position to be occupied by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In my opinion, he must be the military person to whom the President and the Secretary of Defense will look for the organization and evaluation of military judgment. The men who now comprise the Joint Chiefs of Staff are each directing a particular service. The common effort of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on problems common to all the services must be organized, must be directed, and the deliberations of the Joint Chiefs must be focused by someone who has a full-time preoccupation with that duty.
I want to make it clear that I do not advocate the surrender of the power of decision to any such military person. A surrender of the power of decision would involve the surrender of the principle of civilian control. But the chairman must be in a position to secure unanimity from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or, if he fails to secure such unanimity, he must be able to identify the basis of the differences of opinion, and must in such a circumstance have the right to submit to the Secretary of Defense his recommendations as to the decision which the Secretary of Defense should make.
To conclude, it is my belief that the proposed changes will make possible effective organization and management of the Department of Defense. While retaining the separate identities and functions of the three fighting forces, these amendments will provide a responsible official at the head of the Department of Defense, with strengthened civilian and military assistance, to undertake the immense task of aiding the President and the Congress in determining defense requirements and in supervising the administration of our military affairs. I regard these proposals as essential to continued progress toward unification. I am convinced, as is the President, that only by assuring such steady progress can we reach our major objectives, which the President stated succinctly in his message of March 5: "The most effective organization of our armed forces, a full return on our defense dollar, and strengthened civilian control."
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Secretary, before we ask you any questions, I know that you and Mr. Symington are here, and as I recall there was a plaque that you would like to present this morning.