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Staff and is sitting on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It still isn't clear in my mind as to what is your interpretation of this new gentleman who will be the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Assume that there is a difference of opinion among the three members and he is sitting there. Now, he is going to make a report to the Secretary of Defense. Assume for a moment that you were the Secretary of Defense rather than the Secretary of Air. What form is his report coming up to you in!
Secretary SYMINGTON. I would believe, sir, that the form of his report, inasmuch as he would be completely subordinate to the Secretary of Defense, would not be in the form of a decision on his part. It would be in the form of a recommendation from him, based on his report to the Secretary of Defense of who was for what.
Senator SALTONSTALL. In other words, he is going to do two things: He is going to report the differences of opinion and the different points of view, and he is going to give his personal recommendation on top of that.
Secretary SYMINGTON. That would be my understanding of it.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Just to bring up the point Mr. Eberstadt brought up here, which I thought was a very valuable point, assume his recommendation was completely contradictory to that of the other three members. He has no power to carry out that decision.
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is correct, sir, as I understand it.
Senator SALTONSTALL. The Joint Chiefs would have to carry it out. So you would put the Joint Chiefs—we will say General Vandenberg, Admiral Denfeld, and General Bradley, the present occupants, in the position of carrying out a point of general strategy or defense that they do not personally approve of, even though the Chief of Staff does approve.
Do you see what I mean?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, sir. Answering your question more directly, then, it would not be my understanding that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs would have the right to reverse the Joint Chiefs of Staff and make a decision with respect to what the Joint Chiefs of Staff should do, regardless of their opinion.
It would be my understanding that the Chairman would have the right to recommend to the Secretary of Defense what he thought was the right thing to do regardless of the split or position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That would seem a normal function of a subordinate to the Secretary of Defense, which the Chairman would be.
Senator SALTON STALL. Would he have a vote on that Joint Chiefs of Staff?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Of course, now, you are getting me pretty far into the detail of how this thing would be set up. I know my feeling would be that much of his power would depend upon him as a person.
For example, I think we all agree with no reservations that the best thing which has happened lately in the functioning of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the addition of General Eisenhower. Senator SALTON STALL. I agree.
Secretary SYMINGTON. And, therefore, the question as to whether or not he would have a vote or would not have a vote to me would be somewhat of a detail so long as it was certain that there was some
body there who would constantly give the Secretary of Defense the position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the top level instead of as an executive director of the Joint Staff.
Senator SALTONSTALL. His duty, as you conceive it, would be to convene them, sit as Chairman, hear their points of view, and then report those points of view together with his own personal recommendation to the Secretary of Defense.
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is correct, sir.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Now, there are two things here. That gentleman will take precedence over all other officers of the armed services and under the present bill he has an unlimited term of service.
Now, assume we get another gentleman of the quality of either Marshall or Eisenhower. Isn't there a tendency to leave that man in too long ? . Wouldn't it be better to put a length of term of service here for the Chief of Staff?
Also the second question is: Should he have precedent in rank over all the other officers?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Answering your second question first, especially because of the problems that have been in the past, I would say certainly he should have rank over all the other officers.
As to whether or not he should be more permanent and there should be a limitation on his services, to be frank, Î am not in a position where I think I could comment on that as well as people who have had more experience with military organization.
Senator SALTON STALL. But you are a citizen just like myself.
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, and on that basis I would not be afraid of his continuing in office indefinitely along the lines of Ismay, for example, in England, because if he is a good man, they will want to keep him indefinitely, and if he isn't a good man, two people can get rid of him at the top. One would be the Secretary of Defense and one would be the President.
Senator SALTONSTALL. I have two other questions, Mr. Chairman.
This bill makes one department in its present form. Do you think as the first Secretary and one of the creators, if you will, of the Air Force, that its prestige will be in any way diminished by being a subsidiary part, a division, if you will, of one department rather than an executive department in its own right as it now is?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Well, I would say that any diminishing of the power and prestige of the Air Force as a result of making the Air Force a military department instead of an executive department would be very much in the interest of the United States.
Senator SALTONSTALL. In other words, you are very much in favor of having three military departments with one executive department of defense rather than three departments that would be executive departments, so to speak, under a common head!
Secretary SYMINGTON. That is correct, sir. Personally, I have always felt that it would be wiser in order to clarify this question of responsibility and authority to make the three heads of the three services Under Secretaries, although I fully support this bill as written, because now I feel that the most important thing to establish in our building is the question of who reports to whom and who has the authority about what and how far the authority goes.
Senator SALTONSTALL. I didn't quite get that. You say you are in favor of having them Under Secretaries?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I was personally, all through the discussion of this bill, although now I am for the bill as written.
Senator SALTONSTALL. So that if they are Under Secretaries, you certainly would not be in favor of creating Under Secretaries or Assistant Secretaries to the Secretary of Defense, would you?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Well, there was much discussion of that, and I would be in favor of an Under Secretary of Defense, as has been approved; yes, sir.
Senator SALTONSTALL. But not necessarily Assistant Secretaries?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Under direct questioning, my feeling about that is that if you continue Assistant Secretaries and Under Secretaries to Secretaries all over the entire building there may be some question of who is supposed to report to whom and who does what.
I think Senator Tydings pointed that out very well 3 years ago in his questioning of Senator Thomas with respect to that aspect of the bill that was drawn up by the Hill-Austin-Thomas committee; and I have felt that way about it since then.
However, that to me is detail as compared to the over-all accomplishment of the bill, and I am for the bill.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Now, in your prepared statement I didn't quite get it, but you said that—if you will refer toward the end of the statement-the Secretary of Defense should have control over the strictly administrative questions; is that right? Could you read that sentence again? It is toward the end of your statement. You used the words strictly administrative."
Secretary SYMINGTON. I don't remember using that, sir.
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
Senator SALTONSTALL. Do you believe by this act that the Secretary of Defense has complete powers of policy within the Department? You use the word "administrative."
Secretary SYMINGTON. He can't have complete powers of policy because a great deal of the policy will be set by the President and Congress.
Senator SALTON STALL. Under the President and the Congress will he have the policy, we will say, of conducting the three military Departments, his decision will be final?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Senator, may I burden you with a little story in that connection?
Senator SALTONSTALL. Your clarity of expression is always excellent.
Secretary SYMINGTON. Thank you, sir. Last summer somebody asked me to call on Mr. Hoover, President Hoover, and I did, and we had lunch together. The conversation ran to the farm-land problems, which I knew nothing about.
At the end of the lunch I said:
Mr. President, all I hope is that your committee will take a word out of this Government situation which I think has cost the American people billions of dollars in its defense establishment. I say that with reservations to you, sir, because the high priest of that word has been the head of your task force for the investigation of the Military Establishment.
He asked, "What is the word?” I said, “Coordination.” He said, “Would you add 'liaison' to that?" And I said, “Yes, I suppose so."
Mr. Hoover said, “What word would you substitute ?" And I said, “administration.” He said, “Well, at the end of the last war or thereabouts President Wilson asked me on the phone if I would run the food business and I said that I thought I might, after we talked it over; and I came down and Mr. Wilson had a lot of committees and councils and charts and staffs, and he said, 'Hoover, this is the way I want to see it done.' We went all over it."
“After Mr. Wilson got through, I said, "That is very interesting, but I think you can be sure I am not the right man to handle this job. Mr. Wilson said, 'Why not?' and I said, 'Well, because things that I have run in the past I have run. I have been given the authority along with the responsibility; and under all this set-up I couldn't be sure that the situation would go the way I felt it would be necessary for it to go. Mr. Wilson said, 'Let's discuss it,' and after further discussion, he said, 'I will accept your position on it. What would you like to call yourself? »
Mr. Hoover said, “I don't want any highfaluting title of any kind. . Why don't you just call me an administrator."
He said, “Symington, to the best of my knowledge, that is the first time the word was ever used in the American Government.”
I said, "Mr. Hoover, this is where I came in. Thank you for a very pleasant lunch."
That is my position.
Senator SALTON STALL. Does that apply with relation to the budget? In other words, should the Secretaries of Air, Navy, and Army be permitted, we will say, to contradict or dispute the Secretary of Defense's decision on the budget ?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I do not think so; no, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Byrd, do you want to ask questions now or later?
Senator BYRD. I will wait a while.
Senator Johnson. Mr. Secretary, how long have you been with the Air Force ?
Secretary SYMINGTON. About 3 years and 2 months, sir.
Senator JOHNSON. And do you think it is in the interest of the Nation that we pass S. 1269 as written?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Without any reservation, I do; yes, sir.
Senator JOHNSON. How long have you felt that we should have legislation of this type, scope, and authority?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Since the spring of 1946 when it first came to my attention.
Senator JOHNSON. When the original act was written, you asked that the Secretary of Defense be given substantially the same authority that he is given here! Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, sir.
Senator Johnson. You think it is a mistake that he wasn't given it at that time?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, sir.
Senator JOHNSON. You believe if we give him the power as called for in this bill, that it will result in increased efficiency, in greater economy, and in much greater unity in the services than now exists?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I do think that, but I think you have to add something to that, Senator Johnson, The Eberstadt report was done in three volumes and, unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the only volume that was released to the press and to the public was volume 1.
I read the three volumes and was disappointed in that fact because volume 2 and volume 3 were much more sympathetic with the problems of the military than was volume 1.
In volume 2 on page 198 at the top of the page, Eberstadt's report states that the Secretary of Defense has the power to enforce decisions. That may be true. It is my opinion that his power, however, should be much more clarified by law.
It is also my opinion that unless at the same time you clarify the position of authority of the Secretary of Defense you also clarify the position of the military authority in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that you will not do what is necessary to put this problem on the rails.
I believe it is essential, just as essential to clarify the military position as it is the position of the Secretary of Defense, because as it is today, or as it has been, the greatest problem the Secretary of Defense has had-again only my opinion and after watching it operate for a year and a half-is that he has consistently been a referee of three brawls as he tried to operate his job.
Senator JOHNSON. Without authority to make decisions?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Regardless of whether he did or didn't have the authority, it would certainly have been better for him to have had the problem placed before him as you would place a problem before three department heads in a business, by, say, an executive vice president to the president, than to have it presented to him consistently as a unilateral difference of opinion between three services.
Senator JOHNSON. Whatever doubts may have existed as to whether he had authority under the old act, it is cleared up in this act?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Which I think is very advisable for the interest of the country.
Senator JOHNSON. You think every shop must have a recognized boss?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I don't think you can allocate responsibility, Senator, unless you also allocate authority. It is not the American way of doing business.
Senator JOHNSON. As the administrator and Secretary in one of the branches, you are asking for this law?
Secretary SYMINGTON. Yes, sir.
Senator Johnson. Do you care to make any comments along the line of questioning Senator Byrd initiated the other day about savings that came about as a result of the passage of the Unification Act ?
Secretary SYMINGTON. I was only at that hearing because I delivered a plaque, and I stayed a little while and left.
Senator JOHNSON. Have there been any savings made in your Department as a result of unification?
Secretary SYMINGTON. In November 1947, I testified before the Finletter Commission that if we would rack this problem up from the standpoint of what was best for the country, and not what was best for any particular branch, if we would do that, we could save billions of dollars annually in the National Defense Establishment; and I have never seen any reason to withdraw the position that I held at that time.