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NATIONAL SECURITY ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1949
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 1949
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a. m., in the committee room, room 212, Senate Office Building, Hon. Millard Tydings (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Tydings, Byrd, Chapman, Hunt, Bridges, Saltonstall, Baldwin, and Knowland.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order.
We have with us today Mr. Pace, the Director of the Budget, who is here at our request. Mr. Pace, as we know, is somewhat new in his present position, Mr. Webb having recently left that position. However, Mr. Pace is here and he has a number of assistants, who are longtime men in the Bureau of the Budget. I hope he will feel free if any phase of the matter comes up about which he wants to consult with his assistants, to consult with them or have them testify, as he sees fit. STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK PACE, DIRECTOR OF THE BUDGET,
ACCOMPANIED BY FREDERICK J. LAWTON, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE BUDGET; CHARLES B. STAUFFACHER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION; WILLIAM FINAN, DEPUTY CHIEF, MANAGEMENT IMPROVEMENT BRANCH; AND WILLIAM SCHAUB, DEPUTY CHIEF, DIVISION OF ESTIMATES
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Pace, how long have you been Director of the Bureau of the Budget?
Mr. PACE. I have been Director for 2 months.
Mr. PACE. I was Assistant Director of the Bureau of the Budget. Prior to that I was Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General, and prior to that I was in the Department of Justice.
The CHAIRMAN. You have been about 14 months in the Budget Bureau ?
Mr. PACE. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And there are many of these ramifications that have not come to you intimately?
Mr. PACE. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. We would like for you to give us the position of the Bureau of the Budget on the President's message in regard to S. 1269.
Mr. Pace. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity you have afforded me to present my views on S. 1269. I think it is significant, as the President indicated in his message to Congress of March 5, that the question now under consideration is not whether we should have unification of the armed services, but rather how it can be made more effective.
Prior to commenting on some of the specific provisions of the bill, I would like to mention two particular purposes of the President in requesting this legislation. First, the President has stated that it is of extraordinary importance in these times that the people and the Congress be able to hold an official accountable for the management of our military affairs and programs. Both the provisions of the Constitution and administrative necessity require that the principal responsibility for the direction of the national preparedness and defense rests with the President. The President cannot, however, equitably be held accountable for the ultimate supervision of military affairs unless he, in turn, is able to vest clear-cut responsibility in subordinate officials. Under existing legislation it is difficult for him to do this. Although the Secretary of Defense is designated the head of the National Military Establishment, he has but general control. On the other hand, his nominal subordinates are specifically described as heads of executive departments with all powers not specifically conferred upon the Secretary of Defense.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you please repeat that last sentence ?
Mr. PACE. On the other hand, his nominal subordinates are specific cally described as heads of executive departments with all powers not specifically conferred upon the Secretary of Defense. That is under the present act.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. PACE. Second, in nearly all of the discussion which surrounded enactment of the National Security Act of 1947, and in previous testimony provided this committee on S. 1269, principal attention was devoted to the impact of these measures on the armed services themselves. Little or no attention was paid to their significance for the job of the President. Personally, I consider this to be an oversight, and that S. 1269 is of great importance in this respect. One of the original objectives of the National Security Act was to obtain, through the establishment of a Secretary of Defense, the reconciliation of many interservice problems which previously could have been settled only by the President. To some extent, this objective is being realized.
On the other hand, the limited authority of the Secretary of Defense under the National Security Act has prevented him from settling as many questions as had been hoped. Moreover, the task of reconciliation of interservice problems has been made more difficult by the creation of a third major armed service department. The establishment of the Department of the Air Force has created many additional issues which have to be presented to the President for final resolution.
If the role of the Secretary of Defense were redefined along the lines proposed in S. 1269 it would become possible for matters which should not require Presidential attention to be resolved without his personal participation. By this I am not suggesting that many issues would not continue to be raised with the President. Rather, the President's task of reconciling those issues which should properly he referred to him would be made less onerous. They could be presented by a single responsible official who would place matters before him in a manner most suitable for presidential determination.
I should like now to discuss briefly several of the provisions of S. 1269.
First, what is the reason for and significance of establishing a Department of Defense? A number of amendments are proposed which will convert the National Military Establishment into an executive department, with a Secretary at the head who can be held fully accountable for its administration. These changes will not make the Military Establishment less responsive to the will of the President and the Congress. On the contrary, they are expressly designed to facilitate Presidential and congressional control over the armed services. Nor will these provisions have the effect of merging the services. They will simply broaden the responsibility of the Secretary, under the President, for their management. The service depatrments will become subordinate parts of a single agency. The limitations which the act in its present form places upon the authority of the Secretary of Defense will be removed so that he may exercise authority and control over the affairs of the Department.
Senator BRIDGES. Do you think they will have the same independence of action they have had before!
Mr. Pace. Not exactly the same independence of action; no, sir, Senator.
Senator BRIDGES. Now, of course, I am one of those individuals who wants to see us have a coordinated defense establishment, and I supported the act before. There were a great many claims; we listened here for weeks and months to testimony, and a large part of those claims have not been borne out as a result of the action, but I do not want to see too great power concentrated in one man, and I do not want either to see the independent agencies completely blanked out as far as presenting their independent views to Congress.
Mr. PACE. That is not done by this act.
Senator BRIDGES. Of course, Mr. Pace, you are in the Bureau of the Budget, and this is an indirect thing. You approach it from that angle, so I am not putting the burden on you.
However, actually what has happened already is that the members of the various branches of the services do not dare to appear, do not dare to come up here, they are being watched.
I just want to say, Mr. Chairman, I think it is a terrible thing when you put fear in the hearts of responsible people in the services so that they can't perform and give honest opinions or are afraid to do that.
When you go back and trace history, we won our wars, and it has been where you have had great concentration of power in the hands of the military and that great concentration of power at the top made the mistakes that were made. I don't intend to see this railroaded through Congress, as is the very evident attempt. There is pressure all along the line.
I believe that we have a representative form of Government here, and that we have gotten along pretty well over the years, and our armed forces have performed pretty well in grave emergencies, and we can iron this thing out.
I was just talking to you, Mr. Chairman, earlier today about holding the meeting tomorrow. I can't be here tomorrow. I want to hear these people. I haven't been able to hear a lot of this testimony.
Now, I get pressured from all sides that this thing has got to go through. We have survived pretty well for a long time. We have had a grand Army and we have had a grand Navy and we have a nice Air Force now. I think we have pretty competent people heading
So I don't think it is as simple as what you are attempting to make it seem.
If make a mistake and the time comes when we are engaged in a great war and we suffer, the people who vote this here and the people who advocate it are going to be held responsible, and they should be held responsible, by the American people.
If we are tottering around here as a Nation or partly destroyed or our resources are greatly dissipated, they are going to feel with some harshness toward these people, and I hope they do.
The CHAIRMAN. On the other hand, because we are not unified to the right degree, we might lose the war. It is a choice. Senator BRIDGES. There is a reasonable medium basis.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the ground we are trying to find, where we can accomplish the maximum amount of unification without the extinction of either the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force.
Senator BRIDGES. That is what I would like to see.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you directing your remarks primarily to budgetary considerations in connection with this?
Mr. Pace. I was directing myself to the over-all considerations.
The CHAIRMAN. And you are coming later to the budgetary considerations?
Mr. Pace. I will mention budgetary considerations at a later time. The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.
Mr. PACE. Do you care to have me speak for a moment to the statement of Senator Bridges?
The CHAIRMAN. Certainly.
Mr. PACE. I think it is unquestionably true that extreme competence has been shown in all three branches of the service. The purpose of this suggested revision is to permit an operation in the armed services that will be both simpler for all concerned and will provide a basis for better administration in the organization.
I think that the bill, Senator, provides that the Secretaries shall remain the heads of the military departments. They currently have authority to go to the President and the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, which would be eliminated by this suggested revision. However, the Congress' calling them before it would in no wise be vitiated, nor would it be affected.
Senator BRIDGES. From a practical viewpoint, do you think that if the Secretary of the Navy or the Assistant Secretary were going to be called into this, or the Secretary of Air or the Secretary of War or any of the Chiefs of those divisions, if they are prohibited by law from going to the President or over the head of their superior, that if one of those persons were called up here by Congress and he was a common fellow and he had a career here, he would have to decide whether he wanted to throw that career in the ocean or into the air and go down as a martyr to the cause or else he had to conform to the suggestions because he would be done in any of the services if he didn't go through? You are a civilian, I am a civilian. We don't have that fear. We don't have that situation in our hearts. You haven't, I haven't.
But that is true with the Military, Naval or Air people. I am just afraid, I would like to keep the avenue open.
By what I said to you I don't want you to infer-I have a very high opinion of Louis Johnson as Secretary of Defense, and there is no personality in this thing as far as I am concerned, because I at the present time certainly feel we have competent men heading it up.
The time may change as situations develop in this country. You might see radical groups getting control of the Government here and carrying a point with the Secretary of Defense on these great powers. We are in a very changing world and we have to legislate not only for today in the current set-up, but ahead, which is what I am worrying about.
Pardon me for the interruption, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Pace. These changes amount to nothing more than the application to our organization for national defense of the traditional practices governing the organization of our major departments of Government. The present role of the Secretary of Defense in the National Military Establishment is fundamentally a limited one. Within the Department of Defense the role of the Secretary_expressed in terms of his responsibility and authority—is enlarged to include supervision over the affairs of the Department. We have become familiar with and know what we can expect from the head of a department.
The Secretary of Defense, in the Department of Defense, would occupy a position in respect to the Army, Navy, and Air Force similar, for example, to that of the Secretaries of Commerce or Treasury in respect of the major constituent units in their departments. Although a change in the name of the agency would have no effect of itself, it seems appropriate to give the establishment a title which will reflect its new status. Accordingly, amendments are proposed which would change "National Military Establishment” to “Department of Defense" wherever the agency's title appears in the Security Act.
Senator BALDWIN. Might I ask a question, Mr. Chairman?
Senator BALDWIN. Right at that point in your statement, what would be your answer to this question: Supposing that the Department of Defense, the Secretary of Defense, and the whole country had the problem of whether or not we were going to build a fleet of carriers for the Navy, from which large planes could be launched, presumably to carry atomic weapons. The question is: Shall we build those carriers or shan't we build them? Where, in your opinion, would the ultimate decision of that question reside under your proposal ?
Mr. PACE. The ultimate decision would reside exactly where it resides now, probably in the President of the United States. It would come from recommendations that would be made presently by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under this proposal by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, plus a responsible head, to the Secretary of Defense, who in turn would make recommendations to the President, who in turn would make his recommendations to the Congress.
Senator BALDWIN. The President would make a recommendation to the Congress, who would have to decide.
Mr. PACE. There would be no fundamental change.