To the Congress of the United States:

I address the Congress on a subject which has been of primary interest to me throughout all the years of my adult life--the defense of our country.

As a former soldier who has experienced modern war at first hand, and now as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I believe that our Defense Establishment is in need of immediate improvement. In this message I indicate actions which we are taking, and must yet take, to assure the greater safety of America.

Through the years our Nation has warded off all enemies. We have defended ourselves successfully against those who have waged war against us. We enjoy, as a people, a proud tradition of triumph in battle.

We are not, however, a warlike people. Our historic goal is peace. It shall ever be peace--peace to enjoy the freedom we cherish and the fruits of our labors. We maintain strong military forces in support of this supreme purpose, for we believe that in today's world only properly organized strength may altogether avert war.

Because we are not a military-minded people, we have sometimes failed to give proper thought to the problems of the organization and adequacy of our Armed Forces. Past periods of international stress and the actual outbreaks of wars have found us poorly prepared. On such occasions we have had to commit to battle insufficient and improperly organized military forces to hold the foe until our citizenry could be more fully mobilized and our resources marshaled. We know that we cannot permit a repetition of those conditions.

Today we live in a perilous period of international affairs. Soviet Russia and her allies have it within their power to join with us in the establishment of a true peace or to plunge the world into global war. To date they have chosen to conduct themselves in such a way that these are years neither of total war nor total peace.

We in the United States have, therefore, recently embarked upon the definition of a new, positive foreign policy. One of our basic aims is to gain again for the free world the initiative in shaping the international conditions under which freedom can thrive. Essential to this endeavor is the assurance of an alert, efficient, ever-prepared Defense Establishment.

Today our international undertakings are shared by the free peoples of other nations. We find ourselves in an unparalleled role of leadership of free men everywhere. With this leadership have come new responsibilities. With the basic purpose of assuring our own security and economic viability, we are helping our friends to protect their lives and liberties. And one major help that we may give them is reliance upon our own Military Establishment.

Today also witnesses one of history's times of swiftest advance in scientific achievements. These developments can accomplish wonders in providing a healthier and happier life for us all. But--converted to military uses--they threaten new, more devastating terrors in war. These simple, inescapable facts make imperative the maintenance of a defense organization commanding the most modern technological instruments in our arsenal of weapons.

In providing the kind of military security that our country needs, we must keep our people free and our economy solvent. We must not endanger the very things we seek to defend. We must not create a nation mighty in arms that is lacking in liberty and bankrupt in resources. Our armed strength must continue to rise from the vigor of a free people and a prosperous economy.

Recognizing all these national and international demands upon our Military Establishment, we must remain ever mindful of three great objectives in organizing our defense.

First: Our Military Establishment must be founded upon our basic constitutional principles and traditions. There must be a clear and unchallenged civilian responsibility in the Defense Establishment. This is essential not only to maintain democratic institutions, but also to protect the integrity of the military profession. Basic decisions relating to the military forces must be made by politically accountable civilian officials. Conversely, professional military leaders must not be thrust into the political arena to become the prey of partisan politics. To guard these principles, we must recognize and respect the clear lines of responsibility and authority which run from the President, through the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the military departments, over the operations of all branches of the Department of Defense.

Second: Effectiveness with economy must be made the watchwords of our defense effort. To maintain an adequate national defense for the indefinite future, we have found it necessary to devote a larger share of our national resources than any of us have heretofore anticipated. To protect our economy, maximum effectiveness at minimum cost is essential.

Third: We must develop the best possible military plans. These plans must be sound guides to action in case of war. They must incorporate the most competent and considered thinking from every point of view--military, scientific, industrial, and economic.

To strengthen civilian control by establishing clear lines of accountability, to further effectiveness with economy, and to provide adequate planning for military purposes--these were primarily objectives of the Congress in enacting the National Security Act of 1947 and strengthening it in 1949.

Now much has happened which makes it appropriate to review the workings of those basic statutes. Valuable lessons have been learned through 6 years of trial by experience. Our top military structure has been observed under changing conditions. The military action in Korea, the buildup of our forces everywhere, the provision of military aid to other friendly nations, and the participation of United States Armed Forces in regional collective security arrangements, such as those under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization--all these have supplied sharp tests of our military organization. Today, in making my specific recommendations, I have also had the benefit of the report prepared by the Committee on Department of Defense Organization established by the Secretary of Defense 3 months ago.

The time is here, then, to work to perfect our Military Establishment without delay.


The first objective, toward which immediate actions already are being directed, is clarification of lines of authority within the Department of Defense so as to strengthen civilian responsibility.

I am convinced that the fundamental structure of our Department of Defense and its various component agencies as provided by the National Security Act, as amended, is sound. None of the changes I am proposing affects that basic structure, and this first objective can and will be attained without any legislative change.

With my full support, the Secretary of Defense must exercise over the Department of Defense the direction, authority, and control which are vested in him by the National Security Act. He should do so through the basic channels of responsibility and authority prescribed in that act--through the three civilian Secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, who are responsible to him for all aspects of the respective military departments (except for the legal responsibility of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to advise the President in military matters). No function in any part of the Department of Defense, or in any of its component agencies, should be performed independent of the direction, authority, and control of the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary is the accountable civilian head of the Department of Defense, and, under the law, my principal assistant in all matters relating to the Department. I want all to know that he has my full backing in that role.

To clarify a point which has led to considerable confusion in the past, the Secretary of Defense, with my approval, will shortly issue a revision of that portion of the 1948 memorandum commonly known as the Key West agreement, which provides for a system of designating executive agents for unified commands. Basic decisions with respect to the establishment and direction of unified commands are made by the President and the Secretary of Defense, upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their military planning and advisory role. But the provision of the Key West agreement, under which the Joint Chiefs of Staff designate one of their members as an executive agent for each unified command, has led to considerable confusion and misunderstanding with respect to the relationship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, and the relationship of the military chief of each service to the civilian Secretary of his military department.

Hence, the Secretary of Defense, with my approval, is revising the Key West agreement to provide that the Secretary of Defense shall designate in each case a military department to serve as the executive agent for a unified command. Under this new arrangement the channel of responsibility and authority to a commander of a unified command will unmistakably be from the President to the Secretary of Defense to the designated civilian Secretary of a military department. This arrangement will fix responsibility along a definite channel of accountable civilian officials as intended by the National Security Act.

It will be understood, however, that, for the strategic direction and operational control of forces and for the conduct of combat operations, the military chief of the designated military department will be authorized by the Secretary of Defense to receive and transmit reports and orders and to act for that department in its executive agency capacity. This arrangement will make it always possible to deal promptly with emergency or wartime situations. The military chief will clearly be acting in the name and by the direction of the Secretary of Defense. Promulgated orders will directly state that fact.

By taking this action to provide clearer lines of responsibility and authority for the exercise of civilian control, I believe we will make significant progress toward increasing proper accountability in the top levels of the Department of Defense.


Our second major objective is effectiveness with economy. Although the American people, throughout their history, have hoped to avoid supporting large military forces, today we must obviously maintain a strong military force to ward off attack, at a moment's notice, by enemies equipped with the most devastating weapons known to modern science. This need for immediate preparedness makes it all the more imperative to see that the Nation maintains effective military forces in the manner imposing the minimum burden on the national economy.

In an organization the size of the Department of Defense, true effectiveness with economy can be attained only by decentralization of operations, under flexible and effective direction and control from the center. I am impressed with the determination of the Secretary of Defense to administer the Department on this basis and to look to the Secretaries of the three military departments as his principal agents for the management and direction of the entire defense enterprise.

Such a system of decentralized operations, however, requires, for sound management, flexible machinery at the top. Unfortunately, this is not wholly possible in the Department of Defense as now established by law. Two principal fields of activity are rigidly assigned by law to unwieldy boards which--no matter how much authority may be centralized in their respective chairmen--provide organizational arrangements too slow and too clumsy to serve as effective management tools for the Secretary. In addition, other staff agencies have been set up in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and their functions prescribed by law, thus making it difficult for the Secretary to adjust his staff arrangements to deal with new problems as they arise, or to provide for flexible cooperation among the several staff agencies.

Accordingly, I am transmitting today to the Congress a reorganization plan which is designed to provide the Secretary of Defense with a more efficient staff organization. The plan calls for the abolition of the Munitions Board, the Research and Development Board, the Defense Supply Management Agency, and the office of Director of Installations and vests their functions in the Secretary of Defense. At the same time the plan authorizes the appointment of new Assistant Secretaries of Defense to whom the Secretary of Defense intends to assign the functions now vested in the agencies to be abolished and certain other functions now assigned to other officials. Specifically, the reorganization plan provides for 6 additional Assistant Secretaries--3 to whom the Secretary will assign the duties now performed by the 2 Boards (based on a redistribution of staff functions), 2 who will be utilized to replace individual officials who presently hold other titles, and 1 to be assigned to a position formerly but no longer filled by an Assistant Secretary. The new Assistant Secretary positions are required in order to make it possible to bring executives of the highest type to the Government service and to permit them to operate effectively and with less personnel than at present. In addition, the plan also provides that, in view of the importance of authoritative legal opinions and interpretations, the office of General Counsel be raised to a statutory position with rank substantially equivalent to that of an Assistant Secretary.

The abolition of the present statutory staff agencies and the provision of the new Assistant Secretaries to aid the Secretary of Defense will be the key to the attainment of increased effectiveness at low cost in the Department of Defense. These steps will permit the Secretary to make a thorough reorganization of the nonmilitary staff agencies in his office. He will be able to establish truly effective and vigorous staff units under the leadership of the Assistant Secretaries. Each Assistant Secretary will function as a staff head within an assigned field of responsibility.

Without imposing themselves in the direct lines of responsibility and authority between the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the three military departments, the Assistant Secretaries of Defense will provide the Secretary with a continuing review of the programs of the Defense Establishment and help him institute major improvements in their execution. They will be charged with establishing systems, within their assigned fields, for obtaining complete and accurate information to support recommendations to the Secretary. The Assistant Secretaries will make frequent inspection visits to our farflung installations and check for the Secretary the effectiveness and efficiency of operations in their assigned fields.

Other improvements are badly needed in the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. Accordingly, the Secretary of Defense is initiating studies by the three Secretaries of the military departments of the internal organization of their departments with a view toward making those Secretaries truly responsible administrators, thereby obtaining greater effectiveness and attaining economies wherever possible. These studies will apply to the organization of the military departments some of the same principles of clearer lines of accountability which we are applying to the Department of Defense as a whole.

Immediate attention will also be given to studying improvements of those parts of the military departments directly concerned with the procurement and distribution of munitions and supplies and the inventory and accounting systems within each military department. We must take every step toward seeing that our Armed Forces are adequately supplied at all times with the materials essential for them to carry on their operations in the field. Necessary to this effort is a reorganization of supply machinery in the military departments. These studies of the organization of the military departments have my full support.

One other area for improved effectiveness is civilian and military personnel management. In this area certain specialized studies and actions are desirable. Accordingly, I have directed the Secretary of Defense to organize a study of the problems of attracting and holding competent career personnel--civilian and military--in the Department of Defense. As a part of this study, an examination of the Officer Personnel Act of 1947 and its practical administration will be undertaken to see if any changes are needed. I am directing that this study also include a review of statutes governing the retirement of military officers aimed at eliminating those undesirable provisions which force the early retirement of unusually capable officers who are willing to continue on active service.

The Secretary of Defense, with my approval, is issuing revised orders relating to the preparing and signing of efficiency reports for military personnel who serve full time in the Office of the Secretary, and new instructions to the military departments to guide selection boards in their operations. These actions are aimed at giving full credit to military officers serving in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for their work for the Department of Defense as a whole. Henceforth, civilian officials who have military officers detailed to their offices on a full-time basis will be responsible for filling out and signing the formal efficiency reports for such officers for the period of such service. In the case of officers serving in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, no other efficiency reports for such service will be maintained. The Secretary of each military department is being instructed to direct the boards convened in his department for the selection of military officers for promotion, to give the same weight to service in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the efficiency reports from that Office as to service in the military department staff and to efficiency reports of departmental officers. These actions are desirable in order to reward military officers equally for service on behalf of the Department of Defense and service on the staff of a military department.

These actions and others which will be undertaken are aimed at a more effective and efficient Department of Defense; indeed, actions toward this objective will be continuous.

The impact of all these measures will be felt through the whole structure of the Department of Defense, its utilization of millions of personnel and billions of dollars. A simple token testimony to this is this fact: in the Office of the Secretary of Defense alone a staff reduction of approximately 500 persons will be effected.


Our third broad objective is to improve our machinery for strategic planning for national security. Certain actions toward this end may be taken administratively to improve the organization and procedures within the Department of Defense. Other changes are incorporated in the reorganization plan transmitted to the Congress today.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, as provided in the National Security Act of 1947, are not a command body but are the principal military advisers to the President, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense. They are responsible for formulating the strategic plans by which the United States will cope with the challenge of any enemy. The three members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are the military chiefs of their respective services are responsible to their Secretaries for the efficiency of their services and their readiness for war.

These officers are clearly overworked, and steps must be devised to relieve them of time-consuming details of minor importance. They must be encouraged to delegate lesser duties to reliable subordinate individuals and agencies in both the Joint Chiefs of Staff structure and in their military-department staffs. One of our aims in making more effective our strategic planning machinery, therefore, is to improve the organization and procedures of the supporting staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff so that the Chiefs, acting as a body, will be better able to perform their roles as strategic planners and military advisers.

Our military plans are based primarily on military factors, but they must also take into account a wider range of policy and economic factors, as well as the latest developments of modern science. Therefore, our second aim in assuring the very best strategic planning is to broaden the degree of active participation of other persons and units at the staff level in the consideration of matters before the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to bring to bear more diversified and expert skills.

The reorganization plan transmitted to the Congress today is designed--without detracting from the military advisory functions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a group--to place upon the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff greater responsibility for organizing and directing the subordinate structure of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in such a way as to help the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discharge their total responsibilities.

Specifically, the reorganization plan makes the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff responsible for managing the work of the Joint Staff and its Director. The Joint Staff is, of course, a study-and-reporting body serving the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The plan makes the service of the Director of the Joint Staff subject to the approval of the Secretary of Defense. It also makes the service of officers on the Joint Staff subject to the approval of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. These new responsibilities of the Chairman are in consonance with his present functions of serving as the presiding officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, providing agenda for meetings, assisting the Joint Chiefs of Staff to perform their duties as promptly as practicable, and keeping the Secretary of Defense and the President informed of issues before the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, the proposed changes will relieve the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a body, of a large amount of administrative detail involved in the management of its subordinate committee and staff structure.

In support of our second aim, broadened participation in strategic planning, the Secretary of Defense will direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to arrange for the fullest cooperation of the Joint Staff and the subcommittees of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with other parts of the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the early stages of staff work on any major problem. If necessary, to aid in this additional burden, an Assistant or Deputy Director of the Joint Staff will be designated to give particular attention to this staff collaboration. Thus, at the developmental stages of important staff studies by the subordinate elements of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, there will be a proper integration of the views and special skills of the other staff agencies of the Department, such as those responsible for budget, manpower, supply, research, and engineering. This action will assure the presentation of improved staff products to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their consideration.

Also, special attention will be given to providing for the participation of competent civilian scientists and engineers within the substructure of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Such participants will be able to contribute a wide range of scientific information and knowledge to our strategic planning.

Only by including outstanding civilian experts in the process of strategic planning can our military services bring new weapons rapidly into their established weapons systems, make recommendations with respect to the use of new systems of weapons in the future war plans, and see that the whole range of scientific information and knowledge of fundamental cost factors are taken into account in strategic planning.

Taken together, the changes included in the reorganization plan and the several administrative actions should go a long way toward improving the strategic planning machinery of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and lead to the development of plans based on the broadest conception of the overall national interest rather than the particular desires of the individual services.

I transmit herewith Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1953, prepared in accordance with the Reorganization Act of 1949, as amended, and providing for reorganizations in the Department of Defense.

After investigation I have found and hereby declare that each reorganization included in Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1953 is necessary to accomplish one or more of the purposes set forth in section 2(a) of the Reorganization Act of 1949, as amended.

I have found and hereby declare that it is necessary to include in the accompanying reorganization plan, by reason of reorganizations made thereby, provisions for the appointment and compensation of six additional Assistant Secretaries of Defense and a General Counsel of the Department of Defense. The rates of compensation fixed for these officers are those which I have found to prevail in respect to comparable officers in the executive branch of the Government.

The statutory authority for the exercise of the function of guidance to the Munitions Board in connection with strategic and logistic plans, abolished by section 2(d) of the reorganization plan, is section 213(c) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended.

The taking effect of the reorganizations included in Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1953 is expected to result in a more effective, efficient, and economical performance of functions in the Department of Defense. It is impracticable to specify or itemize at this time the reduction of expenditures which it is probable will be brought about by such taking effect.

The Congress is a full partner in actions to strengthen our Military Establishment. Jointly we must carry forward a sound program to keep America strong. The Congress and the President, acting in their proper spheres, must perform their duties to the American people in support of our highest traditions. Should, for any reason, the national military policy become a subject of partisan politics, the only loser would be the American people.

We owe it to all the people to maintain the best Military Establishment that we know how to devise. There are none, however, to whom we owe it more than the soldiers, the sailors, the marines, and the airmen in uniform whose lives are pledged to the defense of our freedom.

Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The White House, April 30, 1953.

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