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As the recent history of the Military Departments shows, the most important organizational trend since enactment of the National Security Act of 1947 has been the strengthening of the authority of the Secretary of Defense and his staff, usually_to the derogation of the Service Secretaries and the Military Departments. (Because there are four Services, “Secretaries of the Military Departments" would be the proper title for the civilian heads of the three Military Departments
. However, the colloquial term "Service Secretaries” is used extensively and is adopted for use in this study.) In his book, Defense Management in the 1980s: The Role of the Service Secretaries, Colonel Richard J. Daleski, USAF notes this trend:
Prior to 1947, Service Secretaries were the sole members of the President's Cabinet responsible for military affairs. However, subsequent defense reorganizations have gutted the Service Secretaries' legal prerogatives. Especially between 1949 and 1958, there was a sharp erosion in the Service Secretaries' organizational position and opportunities for influence in defense
matters. (page 5) Evidence of this trend is found in the following: o the strengthening of the statutory authority of the Secretary of
Defense by the 1949 and 1958 Amendments to the National Se
curity Act of 1947 and the 1953 Reorganization Plan; o the substantial increase in the number of assistants to the Sec
retary of Defense provided in statute, especially the provisions
resulting from the 1953 Reorganization Plan; o the substantial increase in the number of personnel assigned
to the Office of the Secretary of Defense; o the consolidation of supply and service functions common to
the Services in Defense Agencies and DoD Field Activities
under the control of the Secretary of Defense; o the assignment of nearly all Service combat forces to unified
and specified commands which report (through the JCS) to the
Secretary of Defense; o the development of the Planning, Programming, and Budget
ing System which substantially enhanced the control of the Secretary of Defense over the Department's resource allocation
process; and o the establishment of the Defense Systems Acquisition Review
Council which strengthened the Secretary of Defense's review and oversight of major research and development and acquisi
tion programs. The one change in executive authority that, perhaps, can be viewed as contrary to this trend was the presidentially approved revision in 1953 of the portion of the Key West Agreement dealing with the chain of command. This revision provided that the chain of command above each unified command was from the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the Secretary of the Military Department designated as executive agent for that unified command, to the Chief of the Service, to the unified commander. However, while the Service Secretary had not been previously included in the chain of command, the 1953 revision was designed to clarify
the authority of the Secretary of Defense at least as much as it was designed to clarify the authority of the Service Secretaries. Moreover, even if this particular step were viewed as a reversal of the overall trend of increasing authority of the Secretary of Defense, that reversal was short-lived. In his Message to the Congress in 1958, President Eisenhower explained that he was removing both the Service Secretaries and the Service Chiefs from the operational chain of command.
Overlaying the basic trend of increased authority for the Secretary of Defense has been the management styles of various Secretaries of Defense. Some Secretaries, notably Secretary McNamara, favored a highly centralized decision-making process. Others, especially Secretaries Laird and Weinberger, promoted a greater degree of decentralization. In particular, Secretary Weinberger has sought to shift more authority and accountability to the Service Secretaries than had been the case during the previous Administration. This shift is evidenced visibly by the inclusion of the Service Secretaries as permanent members of the Defense Resources Board. The power and influence of the Service Secretaries and their Departments have been increased or decreased as a result of the management style of the Secretary of Defense. These changes, however, can be viewed as marginal fluctuations when compared with the impact of the basic trend of increased authority for the Secretary of Defense.
In summary, the overall trend for the past 40 or more years in the organization of the U.S. military establishment has been_to invest more authority and responsibility in the Secretary of Defense while decreasing the authority and responsibility of the Service Secretaries. Recognition of this trend does not, however, necessarily answer the question of what is the optimal balance (or separation) of powers between the Secretary of Defense and the three Service Secretaries within the single Department of Defense.
2. Weakening of the Ties Between Service Secretaries and Service Chiefs of Staff
The second major organizational trend is the weakening of the ties between Service Secretaries and Service Chiefs of Staff. These ties, especially in the War Department, were weakened by the creation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1942 and the position of Secretary of Defense in 1947. As these two central organs in the unified Department of Defense consolidated their power and influence in the new bureaucracy, the ties between the Service Secretaries and Chiefs were further weakened.
When the War and Navy Departments existed as separate executive-level departments, there were powerful forces that could make the civilian Secretary and his military Chief natural allies. A strong alliance between the Secretary of War and his Chief of Staff began to develop shortly after the Spanish-American War and endured through World War II, although its intensity declined during the war. (Hammond, Organizing For Defense, pages 24 and 183). In the Navy Department, this natural alliance never materialized due to the continuing search by senior naval officers "towards a way to minimize the power of the Secretary over naval affairs." (Hammond, page 76)
Both internal and external challenges forced the Secretary-Chief alliance in the War Department. The internal challenges were from the insubordinate, autonomous bureaus. The external challenges were from the Congress. The Chief had to rely on the Secretary to gain and maintain control over the bureaus "for the bureaus were simply not subservient to the Chief." (Hammond, page 25). In addition, the Chief found the Secretary valuable in protecting the Army from involvement in politics and non-military policymaking. (Hammond, page 183). For his part, the Secretary needed the Chief to help provide central direction and control of the Department.
The creation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff greatly affected this Secretary-Chief alliance. Service Chiefs became powerful figures, working directly with the President and having an important role in the direction of the U.S. war effort. Paul Hammond comments on the results of the new stature of the Service Chiefs:
..Where before the central authority of the Chief of Staff had never been secure from successful challenge, so that he always required the Secretary's active support, in World War
II the risk of challenge all but disappeared. (page 183) Moreover, the JCS gave the Service Chiefs an avenue independent of the Service Secretary for pursuing the interests of the uniformed Services and for assuming the role of Service spokesmen. In his book, The Management of Defense, John C. Ries confirms this outcome:
...As individuals, the Joint Chiefs were responsible to their service secretaries. Collectively, the Joint Chiefs constituted the military advisors of the secretary of defense. And since the Joint Chiefs were the only service department representatives with a statutory role in the departmental policy process, they became the the spokesmen for the services.
The service secretaries...were bypassed. (page 148) In addition, as the Secretary of Defense became a more powerful figure, the Service Chiefs began to use the JCS channel on non-JCS issues in order to circumvent the Service Secretaries and present their views directly to the Secretary of Defense.
In Organizing for Defense, Paul Hammond discusses the weakening of the ties between Service Secretaries and Chiefs and the resulting erosion in the role of the Secretaries:
In the 1950's, the Secretary was less necessary to the service, for its Chief was often a more effective champion than he in OSD, the new layer of government where so many of the questions vital to it were settled. And by this time, bureau independence was negligible. As the bonds of the Secretary-Chief alliance were weakened by unification, nothing took their place, for the alternative basis for secretarial control, a civilian staff, had neither the cohesion nor the position in the military establishment necessary to make it a counterweight to the policy planning of the Chief of Staff. In the service departments the civilian Secretaries have therefore been largely advocates and expediters of policies formulated by others. (page
3. Erosion of the Contributions of Service Secretaries to Civilian Control of the Military
The trend discussed in the preceding subsection has been the major factor in the erosion of the Service Secretaries' contributions to civilian control of the military. It was only in an environment in which the Service Chief and his staff had to depend on the Secretary for its own authority that the Secretary was able to exercise responsible control. The Service Secretary has lost the independence from the military headquarters staff that their former dependence on him provided. While there have been exceptions to this general rule-a contemporary example being the forceful management style of the current Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman-the overall trend has been unaltered.
The Service Secretary, as a result, has become heavily dependent on, if not the captive of, the Service Chief and the military headquarters staff. In The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dr. Lawrence J. Korb comments on this situation:
Except in rare cases, the service secretaries play a very small part in the major areas of the service policy-making process. The initiatives and positions are developed by the service chief and his military staff, and the secretary usually contents himself with acting as a spokesman for these service positions. For example, the secretary usually has very little say
in the preparation of his departmental budget. (page 4) Noting the strong orientation of Service Secretaries to the role of advocate, the Symington Committee concluded that the Service Secretaries diminished, rather than enhanced, civilian control:
... The Committee (including its Chairman) now believes, however, that, by perpetuating separate Service secretariats, it will be more difficult to subordinate service interest to national interest. The Committee therefore considers that it would be wise to discontinue what is now a dual system of civilian control as a result of interposing between the Secretary of Defense and the Services themselves a set of Secretaries identified with
each service. (page 8) Identification of this trend does not suggest that the Service Secretaries do not have an important role to play in providing civilian control of the military. The trend merely signifies that, whatever their role, Service Secretaries are having less success in fulfilling it.
4. Trends in the Personnel Strengths of the Top Management Headquarters of the Military Departments
The history of the personnel strengths of the top management headquarters of the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force are shown in Tables 6-1, 6-2, and 6-3 respectively. Within the scope of this study, it was not possible to determine the reasons for fluctuations in the number of personnel assigned to these top management headquarters. In many instances, activities and their assigned personnel were transferred from headquarters to field activities. The trends for the Secretariats, military headquarters staffs, and combined staffs are evaluated in the following paragraphs.
ACTUAL END STRENGTHS IN THE TOP MANAGEMENT YEADQUARTERS OF THE
DEPARTIMENT OF THE ARMY
Data for 1934-1970 provided in a letter to the Chairman of the Senate