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I do feel in the long run that the elimination of it would serve to slow up the processes of sound administration and would serve to certainly slow up the process I am familiar with, and that is the process of reaching a budget determination, which is one of the most difficult functions that they have.
I think that question could be well answered by men who have specifically operated in that sphere. I give you only my organizational reaction to it.
Senator BALDWIN. Thank you.
Senator KNOWLAND. I have no questions of Mr. Pace, but I do have one question I would like to ask of the chairman, which is a little aside from that topic.
That is that on the implementation legislation that will come eventually before the Congress, does the chairman have any information as to whether that will come before this committee?
The CHAIRMAN. You mean the Atlantic Pact implementation ?
Senator KNOWLAND. That is right, or before the Foreign Relations Committee, or jointly. I certainly think the Armed Services Committee should be in on such legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. I have talked with Senator Connally about it. Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
Senator KNOWLAND. I don't see how we can be responsible for the military end of this situation if we aren't in on any implementation of it.
The CHAIRMAN. I think you are right, and Senator Connally has been very, very kind about it and his approach has been much like ours.
Mr. Pace, there doesn't seem to be any more questions. We thank you very much for coming.
Mr. Pace. May I say it has been an extreme pleasure to appear before this committee.
The CHAIRMAN. We have no other hearings today.
We will recess at this time until tomorrow at 10:30, at which time we have the Secretaries accompanied by their Chiefs of Staff. I hope all the committee will be present promptly so we can have a very good hearing tomorrow.
(Whereupon, at 11:55 a. m., the committee adjourned, to reconvene at 10:30 a. m., Thursday, April 7, 1949.)
NATIONAL SECURITY ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1949
THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 1949
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., in the committee room, room 212, Senate Office Building, Hon. Millard Tydings (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Tydings, Byrd, Chapman, Johnson of Texas, Hunt, Saltonstall, and Knowland.
Also present: Verne D. Mudge, of the committee staff.
Secretary of the Air Force Symington is here at the invitation of the committee, and we are anxious to have his comments on S. 1269, a bill to convert the National Military Establishment into an executive department of the Government, to be known as the Department of Defense, et cetera.
Mr. Symington is here and we will be very glad to have his comments.
STATEMENT OF HON. W. STUART SYMINGTON, SECRETARY,
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
Secretary SYMINGTON. Mr. Chairman, I have a short statement here.
The CHAIRMAN. I suggest we allow the Secretary to complete his statement before we interrupt him with questions.
Secretary SYMINGTON. In my letter of March 26 to Mr. Tribby, I stated that I was in favor of this bill and hoped it would be promptly passed. That is still my position with regard to the bill.
From the very beginning of hearings on the proposal to unify the armed services, the Air Force has favored centralization and clear definition of authority and responsibility for the positions of the Secretary of Defense and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
That is still the Air Force position.
The Air Force believes that the men occupying the positions of Secretary of Defense and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must be administrators in the full sense of that word. Therefore, the Air Force recommends against the addition of any qualifying language which would water down the authority and responsibility of the men at the top, so as to make them coordinators instead of administrators.
The Air Force believes that it is unsound and unfair to place these key executives in positions of great responsibility while at the same time circumscribing their authority.
Why is it that this committee is conducting hearings on a bill which went into operation only a year and a half ago! It is a matter of common knowledge that the reason is that the National Military Establishment has not worked satisfactorily under the present bill. And is the acknowledged fault with the present bill a fault of too much or too little unification of the services! Again it is a matter of common knowledge that the trouble is too little unification.
Some 2 years ago the apostles of half measures had their way. They raised fears of military dictators. They said civilian control would be undermined if we had anything stronger than coordinator who would seek to persuade the services to agree. They insisted on continuing a Joint Chiefs of Staff system which could be immobilized by the dissent of any one member.
I do not mean to suggest that the Congress was unwise in its 1947 decision to go slowly and to experiment cautiously with a novel form of organization. But now the experiment has been conducted. We have tried out this half-measure organization, and there is unanimous agreement that it is inadequate.
But the apostles of half measures are still with us. They concede the necessity of more centralized authority, but when the crucial issue arises of actually giving this authority on the important issues which will produce a true unification of the services, they draw back. They are for it in principle but they oppose each really significant unifying step which would put the principle into practice. Their precept is an ancient one: "Hang your clothes on a hickory limb but don't go near the water."
The fears lest the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff become a commander of the armed forces and a military dictator, are as strong as ever. There are still those who feel that the Joint Chiefs of Staff can operate under the unanimous-consent committee-action principle. This, despite the fact that no other agency of American Government is expected to operate under such a system.
I do not share such fears. My views coincide with those of Mr. John J. McCloy, as expressed in his dissent to the Report of the Eberstadt Task Force Committee in the following language:
The country needs and deserves to have something other than plans based on the desires of any particular service or on a compromise of the desires of all the services.
It is my view that the position of highest rank and dig. nity in the armed forces should go to the military man whose heavy responsibility it will be to give thought to the over-all application of the Nation's force and to advise the Secretary of Defense accordingly.
I would not call him a military assistant or an adviser; on the other hand he would not possess command authority over the services. His authority would be subordinate to that of the Secretary of Defense and, of course, to the President, but I would leave no doubt in anyone's mind that he occupied the post of highest distinction of all our men in uniform. I am not much influenced by the “men on horseback" argument. It has been my experience that it is frequently put forward by those who themselves seek unfettered power. I doubt whether we need fear the man in uniform in this regard any more than the man or men in civilian clothes to whom we have given far greater authority.
I believe that the language of the bill as it now stands, establishing a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who shall be the head thereof, should be left as it is. In my opinion you should not add any qualifying language which might raise any doubt that “wherever McDonald sits, there is the head of the table."
I understand that the committee has invited Mr. Eberstadt to propose some changes in the language of the present bill pertaining to budget matters. The achievement of economy in the Military Establishment through elimination of unnecessary duplication and the institution of modern business management practices, including budget preparation and administration, has been one of the principal objectives of the Air Force. In fact, most of the budget and management recommendations made by the Eberstadt Task Force Report covered actions which previously had been under way in the Air Force for a long time.
Until we have the opportunity to review the new language which Mr. Eberstadt proposes, I prefer to withhold any comment on that part of the bill.
In summary, I feel that the language of this bill should not be modified so as to restrict the administrative powers of the Secretary of Defense, or to raise any question as to whether the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is actually the head thereof, the latter having the authority to present the Secretary of Defense with decisions based on the recommendations of his colleagues, even though those recommendations may not represent unaninious viewpoints.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your testimony and particularly because it is direct and to the point, which is the objective of these hearings.
We will start down the table now. Mr. Chapman?
Senator SALTONSTALL. I have only one or two questions of Mr. Symington.
Do I understand, Mr. Symington, from what you say that you believe the Chief of Staff should have the power of decision where there is a difference of opinion within the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or that he should be simply one to report their decision or their points of view to the Secretary of Defense!
Secretary SYMINSTOX. Senator, as you know, your question strikes at the meat of this problem.
Senator SALTONSTALL. I couldn't quite be sure from what you said.
Secretary SYMINGTON. I will say first in a broad way that the language in the bill is satisfactory to the Air Force and we think it will work.
Without trying to answer the detail of the question, which to me would be an organizational, administrative detail that might better be left up to the Secretary of Defense, I would say that the important thing to do in the Joint Chiefs of Staff is to get a decision. I believe most of the troubles we have had and the obvious problem of not having the services operate properly under the previous bill has been because of lack of decision in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Or, putting it another way, one member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is able to gut the decisions of the other two.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Then again assume that you continue as Secretary of Air and assume General Vandenberg is your Chief of