United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Release

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

News Release


Release No: 669-96
December 11, 1996

Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White Remarks to NDU Symposium

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

John P. White, Deputy Secretary of Defense

NDU Goldwater-Nichols Symposium, Bolling AFB

December 3, 1996

Thank you for inviting me to speak at your symposium. The Goldwater-Nichols Act is a subject of deep importance to the Department of Defense. As someone who served in DOD in the late 70s, and then returned to the Pentagon in the mid-90s, I am struck by the difference made by the Act during this time period. From the day I walked back into the building, it was clear that Goldwater-Nichols had made tremendous changes in the way DOD operates as an institution. It was also clear that those changes were largely for the better in fact, they've been almost all for the better. There's just no question that because of Goldwater-Nichols we are stronger. We are better at joint operations. The chain of command is more clear. The roles of the CINCs and the Services are clearly enunciated. The President and the Secretary are better served by having the Chairman as their principal military advisor. The quality of the Joint Staff is utterly remarkable. And there is close, effective cooperation between OSD and the Joint Staff. We have made great strides from where we were in the 70s, and Goldwater-Nichols is the principal reason. As a result, our military institution is stronger and more versatile, and our nation more secure.

In between my tours at the Pentagon, I also had the opportunity to participate as a member of the CSIS Defense Organization Project chaired by Phil Odeen. This was a precursor to Goldwater-Nichols whose charter was to propose a pragmatic and feasible agenda for strengthening the organizations and procedures through which we establish and execute our defense policies. I also studied Goldwater-Nichols from my perspective as Chairman of the Commission on Roles and Missions, the CORM. Indeed, the CORM's central goal improving DOD's operational effectiveness was the same as that of Goldwater-Nichols. The CORM's central conclusion was that today our emphasis must be on molding DOD into a cohesive set of institutions that work toward a common purpose -- effective unified military operations. Everything else DOD does from developing doctrine to acquiring new weapons must support that effort. Goldwater-Nichols has taken us far down that road. But the CORM concluded that we needed to do even more in order for Goldwater-Nichols to reach its full potential. Nothing I have seen as Deputy Secretary in the last year-and-a-half has dissuaded me from this view. Indeed, quite the opposite. Even with the implementation of the lion's share of the CORM recommendations, more needs to be done.

As a general matter, there is no question in my mind that the Department needs to continue to change. The world around us is changing at a frantic pace. Our forces and military operations have changed dramatically to respond to the evolving security environment -- but they need to change even more. Consequently, the way we support the warfighter is also changing. And when you start talking about supporting the warfighter, what you are really talking about is the relative roles of the key elements of the Department. This is the core issue that Goldwater-Nichols addressed.

This symposium is called a retrospective on Goldwater- Nichols, but my talk today is going to be more of a prospective. I want to focus not so much on where we have been as where we need to go when it comes to supporting joint military operations -- namely the unified, regional commands. I want us to look at all that we do through the prism of Goldwater-Nichols. How can we realize the full potential of the philosophy underlying Goldwater-Nichols?

To date, the change brought on by Goldwater-Nichols is most evident in the way we conduct military operations. By specifying that military operations would be primarily joint operations under the responsibility of the CINCs, the law fundamentally changed the way the Department worked. It made the lines of command more clear, and the fighting force more effective. Today, joint operations, once considered a major challenge, are now the norm whenever our military is called upon to uphold and defend American interests, whether it is in Panama, the Arabian Gulf, Haiti, Rwanda or Bosnia.

Our recent operation to evacuate non-combatants from Liberia is a prime example of jointness at work. We initially went in with Air Force planes carrying Army Special Ops Forces and Navy SEALS. We then had elements of a Marine Expeditionary Force relieve the Special Ops Forces. You have to remember too, that this was a pick-up game it was come-as-you-are; there was no time for a lot of advanced planning. And it was just done without great fanfare or comment, as if to say, Of course we did it that way that's what we do. Ten years ago it would have been front-page news that we could organize and execute this type of operation, with the newspapers delighting in the intramural fighting among the Services. Today, we just did it and the only questions that came up in the planning were who was where, what their capabilities were, and whether we could use them.

In fact, every morning, I meet with the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Vice Chairman. As we talk about all the various operations that we do, most recently the issues around Zaire, never once has anyone raised the issue of what Service gets to do what in order to somehow share the opportunities. We have done it all as best we could based on what we thought were the assets, the requirements and the mission. Of course, that's the way, in my judgment, it ought to be. And in fact I think it works.

Some critics have said that we have taken jointness too far in the way we conduct operations; that in Liberia, for instance, we didn't really need to pull in elements from all those different Services. I would say that is definitely not the case. In Liberia, we changed the force mix to meet mission requirements, both there and elsewhere.

Bosnia is another good example of joint operations. Bosnia, on the ground, is an Army show, and there's no quarrel about that anywhere in the Pentagon. But the ground forces have active, critical support from Air Force and Marine air plus the 6th Fleet -- all, until last month, under the command of a Navy admiral.

The real genius of Goldwater-Nichols in terms of joint ops is that it forced us to start doing in the 80s what the strategic environment of the 90s and beyond absolutely demands. Today, the range of potential security crises we could face means that joint operations have to be the norm. Indeed, for almost any conflict we can imagine, the key to victory will be the synchronized application of military force from land, sea and air, along with coalition forces. Thanks to Goldwater-Nichols, no one does this any better than the US military. That given, we still need to do better.

The true vision of Goldwater-Nichols won't be fulfilled until we have effective cooperation, not just in operations, but in the way we prepare for and support those operations. This means extending the philosophy that underlies Goldwater-Nichols to the areas of doctrine and training, requirements and acquisition, logistics and support, as well as personnel management.

Let's look at doctrine and training. The good news is, there's a lot of progress to report here. But we still have a long way to go. There's a lot of excellent work being done on joint doctrine by the Joint Warfighting Center and on joint tactics, techniques and procedures by the Joint Training, Analysis, and Simulation Center, or JTASC, down in the Tidewater area. In terms of sheer volume, we have published close to 70 manuals on joint doctrine, with another 40 in the works.

And, of course, the crowning achievement to date in the development of joint doctrine is the Chairman's Joint Vision 2010. General Shalikashvili calls this a conceptual template for moving the entire Armed Forces into the 21st century jointly. It's a remarkable achievement and a far, far cry from the past when each of the Services relied on their own visions of the future almost exclusively to guide their decisions about developing forces. These supporting visions of each of the Services are invaluable, but they are not complete without a joint warfighting vision that ties them together and defines the total capability that is needed.

My concern about joint doctrine is that we have done the easy work, but the hard work is still ahead. Some of this hard work has to do with solving today's problems with today's known capabilities and technology. There are some real vexing problems here that just haven't been worked out from a doctrinal standpoint. The role of deep attack is a good example. We have yet to define mission responsibility clearly. And we have two issues that have come up recently because they now have greater importance than in the past -- force protection and counterproliferation. In both cases, we are not doing enough and, in both cases, as we turn to implementation, we have to look to Goldwater-Nichols as a guide for how to allocate responsibility. We have to allocate and execute those responsibilities in this larger context to make sure we do force protection and counterproliferation correctly. We are in the process of doing that. But, we have not finished yet by a long shot.

One issue that is even further out and harder to deal with is information operations. Information operations are very important, very complicated and, as we are defining it, a very new set of responsibilities and capabilities. We need to understand the CINCs' role, the Joint Staff's role, the Services' role; we have not done that yet. That has to be done in terms of the larger argument about how we are going to play with respect to these kinds of operations. There is an added complexity here because there is a large Intelligence Community-added set of functions and responsibilities that we also have to include. So we have a lot to do, but we are on the right path.

Even if you accept the premise that we are doing a pretty good job at developing joint doctrine and again, let me make clear that I think Joint Vision 2010 is an excellent start you are still faced with the problem of making that doctrine work in practice. How do we turn something like Joint Vision 2010 into reality?

For starters, we are improving joint training by increasing our use of simulation, and by increasing our proficiency as an integrated team, especially in the area of weapons system interoperability. We have also made real progress in training Joint Task Force Commanders. But it is less clear that the warfighting forces themselves have benefited from the same level of dedicated, routine joint training. Joint training means more than a set of theater exercises every year. It has to mean a new attitude that focuses on joint operations from the earliest training events.

One of the recommendations of the CORM was that joint training be fully-funded in DOD's budget and that the CINCs be given more control over the portions of Service component training budgets that are integral to joint training. We are now well on the way to making this a reality. The Joint Training System, which will be fully in place by FY98, will help us identify the CINCs' joint training requirements and priorities. And we are committed to increasing funding for the Chairman's exercise program up to $533 million in 2003.

Beyond funding, we have a number of important activities underway to improve joint training. Notable among these is the work going on at USACOM and its Joint Training, Analysis and Simulation Center that I mentioned a moment ago. USACOM's role as the joint force provider is maturing, but needs to take on greater and greater training responsibilities. As evidence of the great start they've had, they have designed a three-tier system involving training for tactical operations conducted by the Services, joint field exercises involving troops from more than one Service, and exercises designed to train joint commanders and their staffs. Moreover, USACOM has been instrumental in developing something called the Universal Joint Task List. What this does is set out all the tasks our military has to perform to carry out their missions. It's now accepted throughout the force as the means for determining who needs to train for what, so the force will be ready for joint operations across the full range of missions.

In addition, the joint community, led by the Joint Warfighting Center and USACOM with collaboration from the Services, is developing a new set of tools to assist in the training of our joint warfighters. Chief among these is the Joint Simulation System scheduled to come on line at the turn of the century. This system will allow us to conduct wargames that are grounded in common principles of joint warfare in a common virtual environment for our CINCs, Services, war colleges and eventually our allies. And it will operate through our real- world command and control system so we conduct joint training as routine, without having to move troops and commanders from their home bases to a central location. We're also moving forward with a new system of special criteria to measure the state of joint readiness. USACOM has pioneered with a prototype of this system that we are planning to enhance so we can have a better, quicker picture of our readiness to carry out joint operations, and to spot and correct problems in joint readiness before they happen.

Another key step to turning joint vision into joint reality is improving the way we develop requirements and acquire systems. Here again, we have made a lot of progress, but we cannot let up. Over the past few years, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, the JROC, has been given a much stronger role. This has been enormously beneficial in helping develop a truly joint perspective on requirements and resources because it brings the Services together under the leadership of the Vice-Chairman and makes them actually debate these issues and forge a consensus. Even in the past 24 months, JROC has evolved a lot, and I think all the participants are much more comfortable with the whole process. The Services are still the primary source of new "mission needs statements." This is as it should be. But the JROC reviews these requirements in a joint context with the CINCs' warfighting needs as paramount. And thanks to two dynamic Vice Chairmen -- Admiral Bill Owens the former VCJCS and General Joe Ralston the present VCJCS -- the JROC is doing a superb job.

In the old days, there really wasn't a method for getting the CINCs' input on requirements and resource issues. Today, CINCs' views are heard in lots of ways. The CINCs have a major input to the Chairman's Program Recommendations (CPR) document which is the Chairman's input to the Defense Planning Guidance. Through the JROC, they are fully engaged during all phases of the program review and budget process. Finally, the CINCs have an input to the Chairman's Program Assessment (CPA) that is the Chairman's fiscal input to the Secretary of Defense. I can tell you that the Secretary and I are heavily influenced by both the CPR and the CPA. There are also the annual Integrated Priority Lists, and, thanks to Goldwater-Nichols, CINCs also have direct communication with the Secretary. And, finally, they participate in the large number of Joint Warfighting Capability Assessment studies conducted under the auspices of the JROC.

These changes mean we now have better input from the CINCs into the requirements and resource allocation process. They also mean a stronger role for the Chairman, since he is responsible for coordinating their views and the views of the Services, while the role of the Services remain central, as it should. This has resulted in better support for joint warfighting needs. The success of these efforts can be seen in a series of program adjustments recommended in the past year, such as focusing and limiting UAV programs, and retiring the EF-111 while making necessary adjustments in the EA-6B fleet, and most importantly, the recent Joint Strike Fighter, or JSF, announcement.

The spirit of cooperation engendered by Goldwater-Nichols has made acquisition reform a real option. We still have a long way to go, but all of the goals of acquisition reform are now achievable. Full implementation is one of our most important challenges. And it is inherently a joint challenge. The Secretary and I were talking about this the other day and he said, You know, this is the third time I've tried this. But it's the first time it's really worked, and in fact it's worked better than I thought it would three years ago when I began pushing it. That's because we have a spirit of cooperation in the Department that we did not have before, where people recognize the requirement to make these kinds of reforms that are laid out in acquisition reform. What the Department needs to do now is build on and expand cooperative joint acquisition programs such as the JSF, ballistic missile defense and the various guided weapon and missile programs being developed jointly such as the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

Logistics and general support is another key area where we can do better. We must make joint logistics capability a more integral part of our mission planning. Our goal should be to get the most combat power to the CINCs as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, it is clear that our present lack of a joint logistics capability results in a lot of inefficiencies. This summer the Defense Science Board compared DOD logistics support with the commercial sector and found it less efficient in almost all cases. For example, distribution of in-stock items took nearly a month for DOD -- most commercial companies do it in one to three days. The Board did not address the question of joint logistics capability head-on, but its observations and recommendations are relevant as we consider ways of improving our logistics and support system.

Our goal is to achieve a truly joint logistics system. To achieve this goal, we formed a Joint Staff working group to study ways of integrating the logistics systems of all the Services. And we are looking at ways to use the tools of the information revolution to speed integration. For example, we are currently developing a Global Command Support System which will become part of the Global Command and Control System. This will produce a super system that will eventually permit users to get instantaneous logistical information -- everything from spare parts to personnel -- from any place on the globe.

In the area of general support, we are committed to revolutionizing how we do business by incorporating modern business practices and the latest information technology. I think of this revolution in military support as a complement to the revolution in military affairs. This revolution is every bit as important. It involves enhancing the Services' core capabilities, expanding joint support and the in-theater role of the CINCs, and relying more heavily on the private sector, through outsourcing and other forms of cooperation. We have a great deal at stake. Most importantly, improving support for operations, but also saving billions of dollars that can be better used for force modernization.

Finally, turning joint vision into joint reality means assessing our personnel management practices. One of the most important contributions of Goldwater-Nichols was to require joint assignments and inaugurate the concept of the Joint Specialty Officer, the JSO program. Overnight, this enhanced the career value of joint assignments. As a result, the quality of officers assigned to joint entities improved dramatically. Today, as a general matter, the best officers don't avoid joint tours -- they fight for them. I see evidence of this every day as I interact with officers on the Joint Staff and in OSD. The quality is far higher than it was back in the 70s.

But I am skeptical that we are living up to the spirit of the law. Overall, we have had problems promoting JSOs and other officers in joint assignments at the rate required by Goldwater- Nichols. For FY95, the numbers are particularly good if you look in the lower ranks, say 0-5 and below. But those numbers are not as encouraging when you start getting up to 0-6 and 0-7 ranks. That has to change to ensure that officers being selected for flag rank have had a joint tour. And there are historical anomalies and inconsistencies in the Joint Duty Assignment List, the JDAL. Recognizing these problems, Secretary Perry recently approved the JDAL Validation Board, which will conduct a systematic review of the entire list to ensure that these joint billets truly comply with the intent of law and policy.

As joint and combined operations continue to dominate our work, it is imperative that our top leaders fully understand and are experienced in joint matters -- even when they are wearing their Service hats. But of course, there is a need for balance. In light of all of the changes in our overall needs now and in the future, it is time to reassess our career management goals. Do we have the proper mix of Service and joint experiences from our officers? Are we developing future officers who will stress the innovation, flexibility, cooperation and commitment that will be necessary for victory in combat in the next century?

As we talk about striving to fulfill the potential of Goldwater-Nichols in these areas operations, doctrine and training, requirements and acquisition, logistics and support and personnel management it quickly becomes apparent that we are fundamentally changing the entire institution. That is what has been going on for the last ten years, and it must continue.

One last area that should not avoid our scrutiny is OSD. OSD is by no means immune from the need for change. In fact, even apart from the Quadrennial Defense Review, we are already doing a major reassessment of the size and scope of OSD's responsibilities and considering whether some of its functions should be devolved back to the Services. My belief is that the sole function of OSD should be to serve the Secretary with the policy advice and information he needs to make decisions. It should not be OSD's role to manage large, sustaining programs. It should help guide the changes that must be made, not manage them.

Change we must, change we will. But what exactly are the correct changes? That is the question facing the QDR, which we began in mid-November. The QDR will be nothing less than a total reassessment of America's defense strategy, force structure, military modernization programs and defense infrastructure.

The QDR will provide a blueprint for America's security strategy well into the next century. To be an effective blueprint, it is vitally important that the QDR be a fundamental taking stock, examining every aspect of our defense program: what we do, why we do it, how we do it, and how we pay for it. The QDR cannot just go through the motions. The goal is not to rationalize and protect what we have now. The goal is to visualize and pursue what we will need for tomorrow. The point is, only if we are willing to consider major, fundamental change can we transform the Defense Department into a leaner, more responsive, more flexible organization that can meet the needs of our military forces into the 21st century. This means we have to be willing to question fundamentals on everything from strategy to acquisition to the relative roles of the CINCs and the Services. This is the context in which we should consider and think about the kinds of changes I have mentioned here today to improve jointness and fulfill the potential of Goldwater-Nichols.

In summary, the changes obtained in joint operations, while still in need of improvement, must be reflected in all the other functions we perform in support of such operations. Namely:

Improved joint doctrine and more effective joint

training/joint readiness measures;

Better joint requirements definition, fully implementing acquisition reform and expanded joint programs;

A revolution in logistics and support practices by developing joint logistics and implementing a revolution in business affairs;

A reassessment of officer management policies.

Is Goldwater-Nichols a success? So far so good, but we must continue to build on the momentum of the previous ten years. Thank you very much.

Additional Links

Stay Connected