Military

To Change Or Not To Change: Revision Of
The Joint Chiefs Of Staff
CSC 1984
SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues
                   TO CHANGE OR NOT TO CHANGE:
   		    REVISION OF THE JOINT  CHIEFS STAFF
                        Submitted to
                         Dr. Berens
            In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements
                    for Written Communication
         The Marine Corps Command and Staff College
                   Quantico, Virginia  22134
                   Major R. M. McCormick
                United States Marine Corps
                       CG11    102    
                       April 6, 1984
                    TO CHANGE OR NOT TO CHANGE:
              REVISION OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
Thesis Statement:  The central question is whether or not
                   the current structure of the Joint Chiefs
                   of Staff should be revised; more
                   specifically, should any or all of the
                   revisions proposed by Generals Jones or
                   Meyer be adopted?  The answer to that
                   question is an emphatic NO!
                            Outline
  I.  Introduction
  II. Joint Chiefs of Staff Structure
      A.  Composition
      B.  Functions
III.  Five Reform Issues
      A.  Authoring of the Chairman
      B.  Quality and Timeliness of Advice
      C.  Dual-hatted Roles
      D.  Peacetime vs. Wartime Military Command Structure
IV.   Jones and Meyer:  Proposal  or Improvement
  V.  Congressional Interest
  VI. To Change or Not to Change
      A.  Chairman as the Principle Military
      B.  Chairman in the Chain of Command
      C.  Deputy Chairman
      D.  Tenure and Selection of the Joint Staff
      E.  Decrease the Role of Civilians below Secretary
          of Defense
VII.  Conclusion
                 TO CHANGE OR NOT TO CHANGE:
            REVISION OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
                         INTRODUCTION
      The Joint Chiefs of Staff was formally established in
1947.  Over the succeeding years minor changes have been
made in the organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the
most notable of which occurred under the direction of
President Eisenhower in 1958.  The calls for change have
come from many varied sources, most often from those who are
outside the organization and who speak with much ignorance.
But in 1982, General David C. Jones, USAF who had spent
eight years on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his last four as
Chairman, proposed major changes to both the organization
and authority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Shortly there-
after, General Edward C. Meyer, USA who had been a member of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff for four years as the Chief of
Staff, U.S. Army proposed even a more radical revision.
Their proposals were received with extreme interest by both
critics and supporters of change.  The great debate was on
once again, but this time the advocates of change had two
"insiders" who would lend much needed credibility to their
argument.  The central question is whether or not the
current structure of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be
revised; more specifically, should any or all of the
revisions proposed by Generals Jones or Meyer be adopted?
The answer to that question is an emphatic NO!
                JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF STRUCTURE
      Before one can discuss reform of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, one should have a basic understanding of the
composition and its functions.
                          COMPOSITION
      The Joint Chiefs of Staff, as we know it today, was
established in 1947 as a compromise between separately
organized military services and the need for unified
direction of all armed forces.  Currently, the Joint Chiefs
of Staff is composed of five voting members:  a chairman,
who can be from any of the services; the Army Chief of
Staff; the Chief of Naval Operations; the Air Force Chief of
Staff; and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  As a matter
of interest, the Commandant of the Marine Corps was not a
full-time voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until
1976.  With the exception of the chairman, all members of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff have dual responsibilities.  His
primary responsibility is as a member of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, but he also has the responsibility of providing
military direction to his service, although he is supposed
to leave the actual running of the service to his vice-chief
of staff or assistant commandant.  In reality, most service
chiefs view the priority of their responsibilities in exact
reverse to that just outlined.  In exercising their service
responsibilities, the chiefs are subject to the authority of
their service secretaries.  In the case of the Marine Corps,
the Commandant is subordinate to the Secretary of the Navy.
Although a secretary has no legal control over the joint
activities of his chief, the service chief is responsible
for keeping the secretary of his military department fully
informed on matters being considered or acted upon by the
Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In the joint arena the Joint Chiefs
are under the authority of the Secretary of Defense and the
President.1
      The Joint Staff is headed by a director and is
organized along conventional military staff lines:
personnel, operations, logistics, plans and policy, and
communications-electronics.  The director is a three-star
general officer appointed for a three-year term by the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the approval of
the Secretary of Defense and the other members of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.  The Joint Staff performs all the normal
staff functions except intelligence, which is carried out
for the Joint Chiefs of Staff by the director of the Defense
Intelligence Agency.
      Over one thousand military officers and about six
hundred civilians make up the staff organizations of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In addition to the Joint Staff, each
service chief has from fifteen hundred to twenty-two hundred
on his own service staff which participate in joint matters
in one way or another.  The affected service must clear
every paper prepared by the Joint Staff which has an impact
on that service, and the service chief must be prebriefed by
his own staff prior to the triweekly Joint Chiefs of Staff
meeting.
      One additional group who contributes greatly to the
Joint Staff organization are the "Little Chiefs."  They are
three-star generals from the chiefs own services who are his
operational deputies.  They also meet triweekly and handle
much of the routine Joint Chiefs of Staff business.
                           FUNCTIONS
      The Joint Chiefs of Staff are the principal military
advisers to the President, the National Security Council,
and the Secretary of Defense.  Subject to the authority and
direction of the President and the Secretary of Defense, the
Joint Chiefs of Staff shall:2
      a.  prepare strategic plans and provide for the
strategic direction of the Armed Forces;
      b.  prepare joint logistic plans and assign logistic
responsibilities to the Armed Forces in accordance with
those plans;
      c.  establish unified commands in strategic areas;
      d.  review the major material and personnel require-
ments of the Armed Forces in accordance with strategic and
logistics plans;
      e.  formulate policies for the joint training the Armed
Forces;
      f.  formulate policies for coordinating the military
education of members of the Armed Forces;
      g.  provide for representation of the United States on
the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations; and
      h.  perform such other duties as the President or the
Secretary of Defense may prescribe.
                      FIVE REFORM ISSUES
      With this understanding of the composition and func-
tions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, let us now look at the
five basic issues which have persisted in the reform
debate.  These issues deal with the authority of the
chairman, the quality and timeliness of Joint Chiefs of
Staff advice, the dual-hatted roles of the Joint Chiefs, the
different peacetime and wartime military command structures,
and the perceived or real weakness of the Joint Staff.
Authority of the Chairman.  Over the years, each Chairman
has viewed his office differently and has applied his
authority with differing degrees.  The role has varied
between that of moderator and consensus seeker to that of a
strategist in a position of primacy within the Joint Chiefs
of Staff.  Usually, the Chairman comes from the position of
service chief.  He is appointed by the President to a two-
year term with a one time two-year continuance in peacetime
and unlimited appointments in time of war.  By law the
Chairman "may not exercise military command over the Joint
Chiefs of Staff or any of the armed forces."3  Although he
has standing authorization from the Joint Chiefs to respond
on their behalf in emergencies, he runs the risk of exceed-
ing his authority when this option is exercised.  In short,
the Chairman's status among the Joint Chiefs is that of
spokesman or "first among equals."4
      The Chairman's relationship with the Unified and
Specified Commanders-in-Chief is one of agency, not
command.5   The Chairman's role is limited to acting as
agent for the Secretary of Defense in transmitting orders
from the Secretary to the Commanders-in-Chief.   By law,
neither the Chairman nor the Joint Chiefs are  in the
operational chain of command.   Consequently,  there is no
single military officer responsible for overseeing and
directing the activities of the combatant commanders.   The
problem,  as seen by John G. Vester,  former Special Assistant
to the Secretary of Defense,  is that the distinction between
one who commands and one who transmits commands can create
confusion about the Joint Chiefs of Staff role in the chain
of command.6
Quality and Timeliness of Advice.   It has been argued that
Joint Chiefs of Staff action as a committee is not an
effective means for providing military advice.   Although a
high degree of satisfaction was found by civilian officials
with the advice provided by the Chairman and the individual
chiefs, the formal decision papers of the Joint Chiefs of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff were found by former Secretary of
Defense Harold Brown to be "worse than nothing."7  On the
other hand, the Joint Chiefs of Staff perceive the need for
caution in deciding on the scope of advice to give.  As
noted by Mr. Kester,
         If the Joint Chiefs respond to questions
         simply in terms of military capabilities,
         they may be dismissed as parochial military
         officers who don't understand the bigger
         picture; but if they offer their own
         analysis of geopolitical relations, or
         domestic consequences, they may be accused
         of meddling in areas in which civilian
         officials are more expert.8
In either event, the importance of the Joint Chiefs in
producing substantive advice induces national command
authorities to seek their advice elsewhere.9
      The most frequent problems, however, arise in the
annual budget review process wherein each service attempts
to protect its slice of the budget pie.  In attempting to
reach common ground on budget levels, force structure, and
procurement of new weapons systems, General Jones observed
that the Joint Staff produces "a negotiated amalgam of
service views" rather than a well-integrated plan.1O  The
outcome is that JCS decisions on budget issues are abdicated
to civilian officials within the Office of the Secretary of
Defense.11
Dual-hatted Roles.  President Dwight Eisenhower's underlying
principle in the 1958 Joint Chiefs of Staff reorganization
was that,
          . . . separate ground, sea, and air
          warfare are gone forever....our
          country's security requirements must
          not be subordinated to outmoded or
          single-service concepts of war.  To
          this end a Service Chief's duties as
          a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
          take precedence over all his other
          duties.12
Unfortunately, the creation of a Vice Chief of Staff for
each service did not effectively remove the Chiefs from
their explicit service-related duties.  The problem,
according to Lawrence Korb's study of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, is that the 1958 amendment dealt with the symptom and
not the cause:  "The problem of the service chief is not
that he cannot divest himself of his service duties.  The
real problem is that he does not want to."13  The dual-hat
role compounds both service parochialism and the problem of
time management to accomplish two jobs.
Peacetime vs. Wartime Military Command Structure.  Legisla-
tion in 1953 and 1958 restricted the Joint Chiefs to the
staff functions of planning and advising civilian decision-
makers.  Except for the task of transmitting directives from
the Secretary of Defense to the Commander-in-Chiefs, the
Joint Chiefs of Staff were removed from the chain of
command.  In peacetime, we "equip" and maintain forces
through the service chiefs and service secretaries; but in
wartime, we "fight" and employ forces under the operational
command of the Commanders-in-Chief.  The Commanders-in-Chief
develop fighting strategies, but they must contend with the
separate services for equipping an  sustanability of their
fighting forces.  This dichotomy fosters a strategy - force
mismatch and generates interservice conflict.14
Weakness of the Joint Staff.  Joint Staff duty is not
routinely pursued by able officers partly because of the
tedious way work is conducted and partly because it is not
an assignment which enhances either careers or promotions.
During his tenure, General Jones noted,
          Officers come from and return to their
          services which control their assignments
          and promotions.  The strong service
          strings thus attached to a Joint Staff
          officer provides little incentive -- and
          often considerable disincentive -- for
          officers to seek joint duty....15
Additionally, newly assigned officers too often arrive on
the Joint Staff with little interservice experience.  This
problem is further compounded by statutory restrictions
which limit the preiod of assignment to no more than three
years.16  Thus  service allegience, lack of joint
experience, and tenure resrictions create a systematic
problem.
          Jones and Meyer: Proposals for Improvement
      To remedy the above problems, General Jones and General
Meyer proposed contrasting but major reforms for the
nation's top military body.  General Jones, after spending
eight years on the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the first Chair-
man to strongly advocate change at the Congressional level
while still in office.  In testimony before the House Armed
Services Committee, he cited four concerns that have
repeatedly appeared in studies on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
reform.17
      a.  Authority and responsibility are diffused between
those who fight and those who make the preparations to
fight.
      b.  Military advice is often not timely, crisp, or very
useful.
      c.  Dual-hatting of service chiefs increases their
parochialism and limits their perspective on joint matters.
      d.  The individual service staffs tend to dominate the
Joint Staff.
      General Jones' concern is for the country's warfighting
capability which, he says, needs to be more efficient
through better planning and support:  "The combat effective-
ness of the fighting force -- the end product -- does not
receive enough attention."18  His concerns are reflected
in a number of well publicized proposals:19
      a.  The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be
the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary
of Defense, and the National Security Council.
      b.  The service chiefs should be granted authority to
advise in their own right when they strongly disagree with
the Chairman.
      c.  The Commanders-in-Chief should report to the
Secretary of Defense through the Chairman rather than
through the corporate Joint Chiefs of Staff body.
      d.  A Deputy Chairman of four-star rank should be
authorized to assist the Chairman.  He would be chosen from
a different service than that of the Chairman.
      e.  The Joint Staff should work directly for the
Chairman and not the corporate Joint Chiefs.
      f.  Change is needed to improve the continuity and
quality of the Joint Staff by eliminating assignment
restrictions.
      Following General Jones' reorganization proposals,
General Meyer recommended even stronger changes.20  He
agreed with General Jones that the Chairman should be the
principal military advisor, the Joint Staff should work
directly for the Chairman, and that the Commanders-in-Chief
should have an increased role in resource allocations.
Additionally, he recommended:
      a.  The service chiefs should be removed from the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
      b.  A national Military Advisory Council should be
formed of senior four-star officers who would be completely
removed from their parent services.
      c.  By legislation, the Chairman should be placed into
the chain of command between the Secretary of Defense and
the Commanders-in-Chief.
      d.  The role of Department of Defense civilians below
the level of the Secretary of Defense should be decreased
significantly.
                   Congressional Interest
      Congressional interest was aroused by the proposals of
General Jones and General Meyer.  Representative Richard C.
White (D-TX) concluded that "organizational realignment of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff...should be considered part and
parcel of any national commitment to rebuild our
defenses."21  As chairman of the Investigations Sub-
committee, House Armed services Committee, he initiated
public hearings in April 1982 to review the issue of reform
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Of those invited to testify,
there were twenty-four military officers, seven former
civilian leaders from the Office of the Secretary of
Defense, five civilian scholars or members of study groups,
and four members of Congress.22  Their testimony was as
varied as their background and perception.
                 TO CHANGE OR NOT TO CHANGE
      Based on research and my personal involvement as the
Senior Aide de Camp to the Commandant of the Marine Corps
during the latest Joint Chiefs of Staff reform debate, I
have come to the following conclusions with respect to the
Jones and Meyers proposals.
Chairman as the Principle Military Advisor.  The Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff should not be the principal
military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense and
the National Security Council.  The argument has been put
forth many times that the Chairman's statutory limitations
as a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs has fostered a rule of
unanimity, an "agreement not to disagree," among the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.  As observed by General Jones:
          By law, if we cannot reach unanimous
          agreement on an issue, we must inform
          the Secretary of Defense... but we are
          understandably reluctant to forward
          disagreements, so we invest much time
          and effort to accommodate differing
          views of the Chiefs.23
This is simply not true.  The Joint Chiefs very seldom do
not reach unanimous agreement and in a timely fashion.
What is wrong with legitimate disagreement?  General Louis
H. Wilson points out that the Joint Chiefs are very much
like the Supreme Court in that no one demands, or expects,
unanimity on constitutional issues.  High level military
decisions are no less complex than many Supreme Court
decisions and should be reached with the same kind of
independence.24  General Don Starry also strikes out
against unanimity:
          It is this self-imposed unanimity
          rule which must be changed....where
          there are disagreements...the Joint
          Chiefs of Staff are providing an
          essential service to the Secretary
          and the President hy drawing up and
          displaying alternative courses of
          action.25
Chairman in the Chain of Command.  The Commanders-in-Chief
should report to the Secretary of Defense through the
Chairman rather than through the corporate Joint Chiefs of
Staff body.  The present distribution of power within the
Joint Chiefs of Staff is analogous to our Madisonian form of
government wherein power is not concentrated in any single
person or government body.  As General Lyman Lemnitzer
stated:26
          . . .This country of ours is based upon a
          system of checks and balances such as we
          have in our National Government.  It
          provides a sound system uniquely fitted
          to our democracy's mode of operating...an
          overly strong or single Chief of Staff
          concept is not compatible with our
          traditional governmental system.
Deputy Chairman.  The appointment of a Deputy Chairman would
provide nothing more than another layer of bureaucracy
serving only to isolate the Chairman from the service
chiefs.  Under General Vessey, each Joint Chief serves as
Acting Chief during his absence on a quarterly basis.  As
the main argument for a deputy was predicated on numerous
necessary absences of the Chairman, General Vessey's
decision has provided the solution.
Tenure and Selection of the Joint Staff.  The Joint Staff
should not be hand picked by the Chairman, nor should the
staff work directly for the Chairman and not for the
corporate Joint Chiefs.  This is another attempt to
strengthen the power of the Chairman.  The creation of an
elite corps of staff officers to fill the Joint Staff would
be tantamount to re-creation of the infamous German General
Staff.27
In the opinion of Admiral Hayward, "The inefficiency of
the Joint Chiefs ... is quite correctable by our own
leadership....;" therefore, legislative relief is not
necessary.28
Decrease the Role of Civilian Below the Secretary of
Defense.  Only the Army has supported General Meyer's
proposal on this decrease and has not received much
legitimate discussion and most certainly has no chance
for adoption.
                          CONCLUSION
      The Joint Chiefs of Staff as a corporate body is at
best flawed, but change for the sake of change is not the
solution.  Most certainly the establishment of an all
powerful Chairman is not the answer.  The testimony of four
former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and my personal
observation of both the past Chairman, General Jones and the
present Chairman, General John W. Vessey lead me to believe
that the effectiveness of the Chairman is personality de-
pendent.  The problems General Jones spoke of were primarily
as a result of his own inability to lead the Joint Chiefs
and to manage the Joint Staff efficiently.  General Vessey,
on the other hand, has taken charge, has proven to be an
effective leader and the Joint Chiefs of Staff has, under
his direction, provided the President, Secretary of Defense
and the National Security Council with timely advice.
      Until reforms are proposed which will offer a realistic
alternative to what we have now, I say leave it alone.
                            NOTES
      1Lawrence J. Korb, The Joint Chiefs of Staff:  The
First Twenty-Five Years.  (Bloomington:  Indiana University
Press, 1976), pp. 3-4.
      2JCS Publication Number 4, Section 2.  Legal
Authority, pp. I-2-1 - I-2-2.
      3U.S. Laws, Statutes, etc., "General Military Law,"
U.S. Code, Title 10 - Armed Forces, 1976 ed. (Washington:
U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1977), Sec. 143.
      4General Edward C. Meyer, "The JCS - How Much Reform
is Needed?", Armed Forces Journal International, April 1982,
p. 88.
      5John G. Kester, "The Future of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff," American Enterprise Institute:  Foreign Policy and
Defense Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, February 1980, p. 5.
      6Ibid., pp. 4-5.
      7Dr. Harold Brown in testimony before U.S. Congress,
House Armed Services Committee, Investigations Subcommittee,
Reorganizational Proposals for the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Hearings (HASC No. 97-47) (Washington:  U.S. Govt. Print.
Off;, 1982), p. 127.
      8Kester, op. cit., p. 3.
      9Dr. Harold Brown, HASC No. 97-47, p. 118.
      10David C. Jones, "What's Wrong With Our Defense
Establishment?", New York Times Magazine, 7 November 1982,
p. 4.
      11John G. Kester, HASC No. 97-47, pp. 509, 522.
      12Richard C. Steadman, "Report to the Secretary of
Defense on the National Military Command Structure," July
1978 (Washington:  U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1978), pp. 4045-
4046.  Also, HASC No. 97-47, p. 903.
      13Korb, op. cit., p. 20.
      14David C. Jones, New York Times Magazine, p. 3.
      15David C. Jones, "Why the Joint Chiefs of Staff Must
Change," Armed Forces Journal International, March 1982,
p. 68.
      16U.S. Code, Title 10 - Armed Forces, Sec. 143.
      17General David C. Jones, HASC No. 97-47, pp. 53-58.
      18David C. Jones, New York Times Magazine, p. 4.
      19General David C. Jones, HASC No. 97-47, pp. 58-59.
      20General Edward C. Meyer, HASC No. 97-47, p. 6.
      21Congressman Richard C. White, HASC No. 97-47, p. 2.
      22List of Witnesses, HASC No. 97-47, pp. III-IV.
      23General David C. Jones, Armed Forces Journal
International, p. 66.
      24General Louis H. Wilson, HASC No. 97-47, p. 286.
      25General Donn Starry, HASC No. 97-47, p. 661.
      26General Lyman Lemnitzer, HASC No. 97-47, p. 153.
      27General Louis H. Wilson, HASC No. 97-47, p. 283.
      28Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, HASC No. 97-47, p. 104.



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