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Shalikashvili Grades Goldwater-Nichols Progress

By Staff Sgt. Lee Roberts, USAF
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 1996 – On the 10th anniversary of the Goldwater- Nichols Act, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili graded the main provisions of the landmark legislation that reorganized DoD.

Shalikashvili gave his report card at a National Defense University symposium on the act and its consequences at Bolling Air Force Base, here.

The act, sponsored by Sen. Barry Goldwater and Rep. Bill Nichols, caused a major defense reorganization the most significant since the National Security Act of 1947, which established the Department of Defense.

The Goldwater-Nichols Act aimed to integrate service capabilities and strengthen DoD joint elements.

It also designated the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the principal military adviser to the president, National Security Council and secretary of defense. The act established the position of vice chairman and streamlined the operational chain of command from the president to the secretary of defense to the unified commanders.

Shalikashvili gave his personal report card on how DoD has implemented Goldwater-Nichols changes. He also suggested further reforms to consider as the military looks ahead to the 20th anniversary.

The first Goldwater-Nichols objective was to reorganize DoD and strengthen civilian authority in the department, Shalikashvili stressed. "Generally, the provisions of the act in this regard have been implemented quite well, particularly through the secretary's defense planning guidance and his contingency planning guidance."

Shalikashvili noted as the military continues to work at smoothing the integration of these documents into the broader budget and strategic planning cycles, there is room for better coordination and direction. He graded this area a high "B."

The second objective of the legislation was to improve the military advice given the president, the National Security Council and the secretary of defense.

"I think this part of the act is an important success story," Shalikashvili said. "Through the increased responsibilities and authority given to the chairman and the assignment of the Joint Staff to his direct support, we have broken free from the 'lowest common denominator' recommendation that so often plagued us in the past." He graded this portion of the act a solid "A."

He said the third and fourth objectives enhanced the authorities of unified commanders over their forces and clarified their responsibilities. The act made the unified commanders fully responsible for accomplishing the missions of their commands. This portion of the act proved successful during several joint and combined operations including the invasion and liberation of Panama and Desert Storm. He said the unified commanders are vastly more capable of fulfilling their warfighting roles and calls this a success story by any measure. He rates it a solid "A."

The fifth objective was to increase attention to the formulation of strategy and planning, Shalikashvili continued. "We've improved a great deal here. Our national security and national military strategies are both very good, but not perfect. As a matter of fact, I believe that our major war plans today are the best I have seen in all the years that I've been reviewing such documents." He assigned a very high "B" saying there is still room for improvement.

Shalikashvili said the sixth objective was to provide for more efficient use of defense resources.

"A key part of our success in this area was in creating the position of vice chairman," he said. "The four great men who've served as the 'the vice,' Bob Herres, Dave Jeremiah, Bill Owens and now Joe Ralston, have enabled us to pay far greater attention to requirements to integrate them better and to influence programmatic issues at the highest levels of the Department of Defense."

Shalikashvili said the vice chairmen have matured the process of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. The council, along with its allied Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessments, have made a key difference to planning within DoD. The chairman gave this area a "B" because he is convinced there will be further progress.

The seventh objective was to improve joint officer management policies. The chairman said progress has been made in the quality of officers being assigned to joint duty. Some officers consider the Joint Staff the premier military staff, he noted. "On the other hand, when you look at the difficulties we are continuing to experience in getting our promotion statistics right and look at how many waivers are still required for many aspects of joint officer management, you realize that we still have a ways to go." He placed his grade in this area between a "B" and a "C."

The eighth and final objective was to enhance the effectiveness of military operations and improve the management and administration of DoD. Shalikashvili called this a very broad objective that captures what might be termed "cultural" elements of jointness: education, doctrine, training and readiness assessment.

There is now a joint professional military education structure that provides education throughout an officer's career. Precommissioning programs provide a greater focus on jointness, while intermediate and senior service and joint schools have a rigorous joint accreditation process.

"I have stressed that teaching joint skills and teamwork must not crowd out the first importance of service core competencies," Shalikashvili said. "Rather, joint skills and teamwork must be built upon service core competencies, as we equip our future leaders for the challenges of joint and combined operations that have become our way of life." He gave education a solid "B" grade.

Joint doctrine has emerged as a central organizing force in our military operations, Shalikashvili explained. "Today, the bulk of our joint doctrine is now in place. And we now have an effective system to achieve closure on remaining doctrinal issues and to update our doctrine as required. The effectiveness and practical value of joint doctrine has been demonstrated numerous times in joint and combined operations around the globe. Our joint doctrine is a vibrant and growing body of knowledge, a very successful aspect of Goldwater- Nichols." The chairman gave this area an "A."

Shalikashvili said the Joint Staff, assisted by the Joint Warfighting Center at Fort Monroe, Va., has developed a comprehensive joint training system which achieves better focus and balance in the worldwide joint training program.

The general said he is pleased with the progress in joint training and believes the progress will continue, especially with further advances in the use of innovative training technologies. He gave this area a "B" grade.

Joint readiness assessment has improved a great deal, particularly having the ability to evaluate unified commanders' ability to execute their missions, he said. "We still have a way to go in this area, particularly in refining our ability to use readiness data to predict future trends," he said. "But I'm confident we'll continue to improve." He gave this area a "B" grade. With four "A's," six "B's" and one "C," what is in the future of the military as it moves ahead toward the 20th anniversary of the Goldwater-Nichols Act?

Shalikashvili said he hopes future celebrations will commemorate the full and complete implementation of Goldwater- Nichols, with a chairman's report card that reflects straight A's. "I have no doubt that this is doable," the general said.

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