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ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL SECURITY
FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 1963
STAFFING AND OPERATIONS,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 3302, New Senate Office Building, Senator Henry M. Jackson (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senator Jackson.
Staff members present: Dorothy Fosdick, staff director; Richard S. Page, research assistant; Judith J. Spahr, chief clerk; and Laurel A. Engberg, minority consultant.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRMAN
Senator JACKSON. The subcommittee will come to order. This is the second public meeting of the Subcommittee on National Security Staffing and Operations.
The Senate has charged the subcommittee with the task of reviewing the administration of national security policies and processes in this country and abroad, and of making recommendations for improvement where appropriate.
In appearing before this subcommittee last week, General Norstad emphasized that the United States and its allies have very great strength.
Today and in the years ahead, the major challenge facing us, assuming, of course, that we maintain the necessary strong military shield, is to use our strength wisely to protect our vital national interests and to keep the peace.
The Secretary of State and his Department have a key role in advising the President about the wise use of our power and influence in the world.
The President has indicated that he expects the Secretary to be his "agent of coordination" with respect to all major policies toward other nations. In the world of the atom, where decisions must sometimes be taken very quickly and where the President is often more deeply involved in directing detailed operations than has been customary in the past, the Secretary of State and his Department find that their role is new in many ways. As we have a "new Presidency,” so must we have a new Department of State.
It is, therefore, appropriate that the subcommittee has requested Governor Harriman to appear this morning. Governor Harriman's experience has ranged over the whole realm of foreign affairs and includes, as well, duty as the chief executive of the State of New York.
He was special representative of President Roosevelt with the rank of Ambassador. He has served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and in that connection I might point out that Ambassador Harriman was the first to detect a change in Soviet policy before the end of World War II which signaled the beginning of what was later to be come the cold war. His invaluable dispatches to the Department of State at that time proved his great perceptiveness in detecting the change that occurred within the Kremlin.
He also served as the head of the Marshall plan in Europe, and most recently as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs.
He is now taking over large new responsibilities as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
I can think of no one better qualified to fill this post and to tell the subcommittee something about the twin problems faced by the Department of State—how to serve the President's needs while directing the day-to-day conduct of foreign policy.
it is a great honor and pleasure, Governor Harriman, to welcome you this morning.
STATEMENT OF HON. W. AVERELL HARRIMAN, ASSISTANT SECRE
TARY OF STATE FOR FAR EASTERN AFFAIRS; ACCOMPANIED BY ROBERT W. BARNETT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FAR EASTERN AFFAIRS
Mr. HARRIMAN. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I appreciate greatly this opportunity to appear before this subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations.
Three years ago, I was given a similar opportunity to discuss organizing for national security. Today your concern, as I understand it, is to examine staffing and operations.
In my earlier testimony, I stated that "good organizational machinery can never substitute for good people." I believe, therefore, that your present inquiry is directed at a most vital consideration in the development of effective government.
I use the word, "effective” government, rather than "efficient," as our concept of checks and balances in government precludes achieving "efficiency" as such.
The word "operations” as applied to the Department of State connotes a different process than in some other departments of government, such as Defense. It does not mean the movement of men and materiel. It does mean the movement of ideas.
Policy decisions are made by the President and the Secretary of State. These policies must be interpreted and carried out by staff at different levels in the State Department and in the field.
As the ideas move, the application of judgments and interpretations of the essence of things must be applied. That, therefore, requires competent men at each stage in the process.
The machinery of the State Department is geared to carry out two basic functions: first, to assist the Secretary of State and, through him, the President, by providing information and opinions on which they can form their judgments. The second function is to carry out the policy decisions that are reached.
In organizing and staffing the State Department and missions overseas, these two functions should be borne in mind. In some cases, certain officers may be engaged in only one of these two functions, but in many cases they are engaged in both. Certainly a Foreign Service officer during his career must be engaged in both.
The first function requires careful assembly and reporting of all obtainable information, incisive analysis and judgment on its relevance to U.S. interests and objectives.
The second function requires not only decisive action, but astute judgment in interpreting established policy to particular situations. În addition, in the field initiative is essential in relating policy to unexpected developments.
The relationship of the Secretary of State with the President is highly personal.
In my previous testimony I stated: Each President has his own work style and each will therefore wish to organize his office differently.
This, of course, has an effect not only on the manner in which the Secretary of State functions, but to some extent on the Department itself.
I have observed this at close range under three Presidents, and from the sidelines under a fourth. The State Department must be sufficiently flexible to be responsive to the individual requirements of the President. On the other hand, the State Department must bear responsibility for dealing with our varied national interests in all parts of the world and on many subjects on which the White House may not have the time or the inclination to become involved.
The President's policies, of course, affect not only one department, but all agencies of government and the interconnection between them. Much of the difficulty in interdepartmental controversies results, I believe, from insensitivity in understanding the policies laid down by the President.
The work of the Cabinet, the National Security Council, and other groups at which he is present, are but one mode of communication between the President and those who operate the machinery of government. His public statements are often as much directed to Government employees as to the American public.
Officers at every level would do well, I believe, to recognize this characteristic of our American democratic process.' Failure to listen, or inability to understand the nuances and purpose of his public statements, impede the conduct of Government business and cooperation between the agencies of Government.
A requirement of public office should be a careful reading of or listening to the President's statements, speeches, and press conferences.
I might add that a careful reading of the newspapers should be a requirement in obtaining a familiarity with, among other things, the expressions of Members of the Congress. This is particularly true of tho State Department. May I interject it is particularly true with
this administration. A man cannot serve President Kennedy unless he reads the newspaper carefully. He won't last very long if le doesn't, in this administration.
Senator JACKSON. I take it he must have read it within an hour or two after it is off the press, too. It is not a matter of reading it several days back.
Mr. HARRIMAN. And you have to read it rather early in the morning, too. It is a very good habit for everyone to accept, if I may suggest it. A man cannot function adequately in foreign policy unless he knows his country well.
The Secretary of State's first responsibility is to advise the President. In addition, he is the senior member of the Cabinet and has responsibility for all actions of Government that affect foreign policy. The most intimate of his relations with other Cabinet officers is with the Secretary of Defense. In fact, it is important for the Department of State and the Department of Defense to work closely together with freedom of interchange of information and judgment at all levels.
This is a very important matter, in my opinion, and sometimes the junior officers in both Departments have been under instructions not to work together with State officials. I am glad to say at the present time there is a freedom of contact between the two Departments at all levels, and it is only in that way that policy can be considered between these two important Departments.
It should be his privilege, but not his obligation, to comment on policies and actions of all other agencies of Government that affect our foreign interests. He is as well the principal U.S. negotiator with foreign states, individually and multilaterally. This requires traveling a good deal of his time. He is responsible for keeping the Congress informed on international developments and testifies on relevant legislative procedures and measures.
Furthermore, he plays a major role in informing the American public regarding all aspects of foreign affairs. No foreign policy can be effective without wide public support and understanding
Additional to these responsibilities, he is the chief executive of the State Department, charged with the functioning of its wide organization in Washington and in all parts of the world.
Obviously, to carry such burdens he requires experienced and capable lieutenants. The Under Secretary is his alter ego. The Assistant Secretaries should be men capable of making decisions in their areas of responsibility, both geographically and functionally, within the policy guidance provided by the Secretary. The qualitcations needed by Assistant Secretaries sometimes can be found in a Foreign Service officer, and sometimes from capable executives from outside.
In my judgment, it is well to keep a reasonable balance between the two. In my experience, I have found it is well to draw from both backgrounds for these senior positions in the State Department.
Regardless of the talent brought in on top, the backbone of the State Department is the Foreign Service. I have testified before of my great respect for our Foreign Service officers. I am glad to do it again. It includes men and women of great talent and sound judg. ment, based on wide experience, and dedication to their work.
Obviously, the Foreign Service is not and never can be perfect. It can and I believe it must be improved. The process of recruitment and selection in the junior grades is excellent. Also, I have sympathy for the process of lateral entry of special talent in the middle and upper grades.
The procedures for promotion have been most conscientiously laid down, but from my experience I do not believe that the result of these procedures is good enough.
Men with a spark and independence of expression are at times held down, whereas caution is rewarded. But, I believe it is certainly better today than it has been in the past. When I speak of today, Í don't mean in this administration, but I mean improvement over the
And the difficulties do not lie only within the Department. The Foreign Service officer has been subjected to the most unfair criticism. I have seen men's careers set back and in fact busted because they held the right views at the wrong time, or for reporting accurately facts which were not popular at the time, or at some later time.
Furthermore, the job of a Foreign Service officer throughout his career is to report the facts as he sees them and as he interprets them. If to survive, it is necessary to be always right, then the officer must always play safe. A man should be judged on his initiative, courage, and insight. I underline the testimony I have previously given:
an efficient career service can be developed only if loyalty is given to the members of that service. * * * Nor can we expect officials to act boldly and courageously, and to advocate some momentarily unpopular policy if necessary, if mistakes or differences of honest judgment can end in the destruction of their careers.
If this continues to happen, we will inevitably end up with a "do little," "play safe" civil service, inadequate for the needs of our country at this time.
Loyalty begets loyalty, and I urge this subcommittee to recommend in the strongest terms that our Government in all of its branches be loyal to the men and women who have devotedly served their country.
Obviously, the incompetent must be dropped out. The present system of Foreign Service provides for what is euphemistically called "selection out." I think those words are used because they don't want to have a stigma on a man, as he may be competent but he may not be particularly suited to the Foreign Service. I don't know who invented the term, but its meaning is to connote not a discharge for cause, but, rather, the finding on the part of the State Department that he hasn't got the temperament, the qualities, that particularly adapt him to the special tasks of the Foreign Service.
Here again in this process of "selection out,” the application of the system can be more fairly applied. I have noted that men because they haven't gotten along with one individual have been given very low ratings, when others have given them very high ratings.
If a man happens to be judged at a time when he has worked for a man who doesn't understand him or who disagrees with his views, he may be "selected out” for reasons that are not sound.
As a matter of fact, I think more consideration should be given to who writes the efficiency reports. I went over some of them a while
ago and in one case I found that in recent years a man was put in, in 2 years the lowest 25 percent, and in 2 years, he was put in the top 10 percent. It was the same man, a man who had been in the