Three Military Services Grew Despite Order To Cut Staff

Posted: December 05, 1989

WASHINGTON — A worldwide effort to wring the fat out of U.S. military headquarters'

staffs by eliminating several thousand troops and dozens of generals and admirals actually produced a few more members of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

Two years ago, then-Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci ordered that 3,000 positions be cut, but when the military carried out that directive, three of the branches ended up with nine more positions than when they started, according to Pentagon documents recently released by Congress.

They managed to accomplish that gain by transferring most of the personnel involved rather than dropping their jobs as the defense secretary had ordered.

Moreover, the Pentagon study team that helped Carlucci formulate the reductions also found that the size of the military headerquarters' staffs at 55 offices around the world were larger than believed. The Pentagon had been telling Congress that it had 33,000 people in such positions, but the Pentagon team found the actual number was more than 59,000.

As defense secretaries and Congress have ordered percentage cuts over the years in such staffs, the military commanders have simply moved nearly half of them off their flow charts, protecting them from such orders, said the study team, led by Pentagon deputy inspector general Derek J. Vander Schaaf.

"We have found out that the people do not leave," Vander Schaaf told Congress at a hearing earlier this year.

Rep. John R. Kasich (R., Ohio), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said last week, "The military will use any method - they will use Houdini tactics - to prevent any reduction in their turf or resources."

As Defense Secretary Dick Cheney sets out to achieve a leaner military force amid rising deficits and a shrinking Soviet threat, he could face similar efforts to resist trimming personnel.

But Vander Schaaf said in an interview last week, "The Defense Department,

from the secretary on down, is going to have to try to make the bureaucracy accept these kinds of reductions."

A team led by Vander Schaaf was directed by Carlucci two years ago to hunt down military managers with "overlapping responsibilities, duplication of functions and excessive layering of organizational echelons" and to recommend cuts.

Vander Schaaf's team found numerous examples of a bloated military superstructure.

Both the Air Force and Navy have staffs "whose job it is to locate, identify, track and catalog space items," the report said. The investigators wondered why there was a 49-member team at NATO headquarters to report to the secretary of defense - and a 46-member team there to report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Investigators discovered that three different commands all claimed to be primarily responsible for developing "in-depth" plans to defend Baltimore. ''Plans are being developed and resources consumed to prepare for ghost missions," their study said.

"There is a sense that planning has become an end in itself," the report said, citing the Air Force's Strategic Air Command and its six planning


The team found that every U.S. soldier in Korea was supported by 1.2 U.S. administrators.

Vander Schaaf told the congressional hearing that his team had tried to eliminate worthless jobs. "Is it worth doing? Is it . . . improving our defense structure?" he asked. "If it is not doing that, or if somebody else is doing it, . . . then we do not need them."

His team concluded that 7,309 positions - 12 percent - could be cut without harming national security. But after stiff objections from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's top military officers, Carlucci ordered only 3,000 positions cut - and allowed some of them to be transferred to other military units.

According to the new Pentagon documents, the military services eliminated 2,970 slots, but 2,244 people who held those positions were transferred to other jobs. The Army cut 1,120 positions, while adding 1,123 through transfers, for a net gain of three. The Navy dropped 650 jobs and shifted 654, for a gain of four. The Marines removed 39, while picking up 41 new posts, gaining two.

Only the Air Force recorded a net job loss. It slashed 1,161 positions and transferred 426, for a net loss of 735.

Vander Schaaf's recommendations angered the military, and the bitterness was evident at a congressional hearing earlier this year.

"The other day, I had lunch with someone . . . over in the office of the secretary of defense, and they referred to me as the Salman Rushdie of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Vander Schaaf said during the hearing. He was referring to the British author whose novel, The Satanic Verses, so enraged the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini earlier this year that the Iranian cleric offered $1 million to anyone who would kill Rushdie.

The officer who drafted the military's response to the proposed cuts, Air Force Maj. Gen. George L. Butler, said at the hearing, "I am not here representing the Ayatollah Khomeini. I can also assure you that there is no price on Mr. Vander Schaaf's head on the part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - if only because . . . funds are a little short right now."

Butler said Vander Schaaf had reached "unfounded conclusions" because of a "failure to understand" the complexity of military command.

The general said he believed it made little sense to scale back headquarters' staffs during tight times. "In a period of flat or shrinking budgets, the need for centralized prioritization and allocation becomes doubly important, particularly when numerous commanders are competing for the same forces or urging support for different programs competing for the same resources," he said.

Vander Schaaf's team also had proposed killing 51 slots filled by generals and admirals. All those positions remain filled, Vander Schaaf said last week.

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