Reprinted from Mill YORK TIMES, Tuesday, August 9,1955
PENTAGON AND HOOVER
By Hanson W. Baldwin
A special defense department task
force has been established to study the
100 major recommendations and dozens of minor changes regarding the
armed forces that were suggested by
lhe Hoover Commission.
Various study groups or task forces
of the Commission on Organization of
the Executive Branch of the Government made these recommendations about
the Defense Department and the services. They covered the fields of organization and policy. The Commission,
headed by former President Herbert
Hoover, endorsed most of the task force
findings—some of a very sweeping nature.
Charles A. Coolidge, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, heads the
Pentagon group lhat is studying all of
the Hoover suggestions. The group is
expelled to formulate a Pentagon "position," approving, disapproving or modifying the Hoover recommendations. It
is expected that bills covering some of
the points will be ready for presentation
to tbe next session of Congress in January.
The Coolidge study is of fundamental
importance to the armed forces. Many
with of the- Hoover Commission recommenda
tions were so sweeping in nature that
service people fear their effects upon
morale and combat effectiveness.
Medical care for dependents, travel
regulations, the operation of commis-
sen i.'s and post exchanges would all be
influenced — from the service man's
point of view, adversely—by the Commission reports.
EFFECTS OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The recommendations also would tend
• •> centralize even more authorilv in
civilian management at the Secretary
"f Defense level, and woulel reduce lhe
authority of military personnel, even in
Among the extensive and. in some
**ays, revolutionary recommendations
advanced we're more predominant civilian managemenl of military transportation, civilian responsibility for military
fiscal matters, civilian supervision for
military legal matters and the suggested
establishment of a "civilian-managed"
agency ... to administer common
supplv and service activities."
Thc Hoover recommendations regard-
tng the Pentagon, wilh some notable
'"nl outstanding exceptions, approached
'ne problem of military policy and
Organization primarily from Ihe point
of view of dollar economy. The tenor of
too many reports had the effect of under-emphasizing the reason for the existence- eif lhe armed services—combat effectiveness.
There were at least two notable exceptions to these strictures. The reports
on research and development and on
intelligence activities were among others
lhal did not overemphasize the "dollar economy" approach, and their recommendations thus were more valuable
and more convincing.
A MAJOR JOB IN PROSPECT
The new Pentagon evaluation task
Force has. therefore, a major job of sifting and analyzing recommendations,
some of which arc constructive, some of
which could he destructive.
In making this analysis, it should reject two commonly accepted "principles." When applied lo lhe Pentagon
and the armed forces they have caused
much of the confusion and red tape
and difficulty wilh which thc formulation of even the simplesl military plans
is now associated.
One of these shibboleths is that the
armed services can be run like any business. The other is that any businessman can move into the Pentagon and
quickly master, better than the professional, the intricacies of weapons sys-
tems, tactics, military personnel and
morale and so on.
"I have heard it said, time and
again," writes N. Henry Josephs, a New
York attorney who has experience with
the armed forces, "that the business nf
National Defense is the same as anv
other business. Men of big business argue, therefore, lhal there is no reason
whv general rules of good business iiiein-
agemenl should not apply equally to the
armed services. This falsi' premise is
responsible for lhe unrealistic approach
lo llu' problem by (some) of the Hoover
"Certain areas of waste in Ihe armed
services could and should be reduced,
lull in a manner which would not interfere with essential military patterns, or
in anv manner that would slow up, or
interfere with, mobility of military com-
ANOTHER LETTER CITED
Another Idler points out that "the
invasion of civil administrators into
what are clearly military functions is
eun' cause "f the confusion lhat plagues
the lop level military direction and command of our armed forces."
The letter also says in part:
"No experienced Inited States mililarv officer questions the concept of
civil superiority in policy-making and
supervision . . . But the trend over
the past decade has gone so far thai wc
find unthinking acceptance of the idea
thai anv successful business administrator or financial executive is by reason
of his appointment competent to decide
such things as weapon types, military
organization, disciplinary matters, or
solve the vastly complicated problems
of military logistics.
"Too many of our military decisions
in these and other areas are based on
a newly appointed civilian's quick field
trip, an oversimplified graphic presentation and a few hastily jotled memos
prepared by a special assistant.
"In the not so distant past a civilian
Secretary acquired some knowledge and
considerable experience in the policy
direction of an armed service simply by
staying in office for a while . . . The
rapid turnover today in the floating population of transient Secretaries and a
corps of special assistants plays havoc
with sound and authoritative mililarv
"One far-reaching and adverse effect of this type of control," the letter
continues, "is the drafting of legislation
affecting our armed forces by civilian
legal assistants whose closest approach
to seafaring is attending a revival of
'Pinafore.' or whose military experience
is documented by a reference in 'From
Here to Fternity.' "
". . . In our recommendations
we have sough! six objective*:
l-irst—To preserve the full
security of the nation in
a disturbed world.
Second—To in a i o t a i n the
functioning of all necessary agencies which make
for the eomnion welfare.
Third—To stimulate the fundament :i I research upon
which national security
and programs are based*
Fourth—To improve efficiency and eliminate waste in
the executive agencies.
Fifth—To eliminate or reduce
with private enterprise.
Sixth—and perhaps the most
important of all — Io
strengthen the economic,
social and govern ment a I
structure which has
brought us, now for one
hundred sixty-six years,
constant blessings and
—The Hoover Commission."
FACTS FORUM NEWS, October, 1955