A University professor, who is also a Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve, yesterday gave his whole-hearted approval to Sen. Stuart S. Syminton's defense reorganization plan, but expressed serious reservations concerning one aspect of the proposal.
W. Barton Leach '21, Story Professor of Law, characterized Symington's plan for unifying the Defense Department as "top notch" and "first class." The proposal advocates abolishing the offices of the three service secretaries and creating a Military Advisory Council, presided over by one Chairman, who would also run an expanded Joint Staff. This policy-making group would be responsible only to the Secretary of Defense.
Each of the services would still have a chief of staff, but he would not serve on the Advisory Council. Thus, it is contended, the Chiefs of Staff would lose their present, conflicting, "two-hat" status.
Describing the unification move as "vital," Leach nevertheless criticized the proposed elimination of the service secretaries for two reasons. In the first place, he pointed out, it would be wise to maintain the present system as long as the separate branches remain intact.
"A service must have a strong spokesman for its needs," he said.
As his second reason, Leach pointed out that the secretaries now must spend an "enormous" amount of time testifying in Senate Committees. If his subordinates were removed, the defense secretary would be overloaded with work and could not be effective.
The overall purpose of the proposal, however, is "essential" to the national security, Leach emphasized. Top military advisors must be disassociated from "parochial interests" if they are to have a broad view of the country's problems, he pointed out.
According to Leach, one of the most constructive features of the plan is that part allowing free transferance of personnel among the services. At the present, technicians must work out the "best ICBM" or the "best war-head" for their own branch in order to keep their jobs. This leads to wasteful competition.