Courtesy Reuters

Our Armed Forces: Merger or Coördination?

ON THE threshold of the atomic era, old values seem discounted by the terrifying phantoms of the future. There is a tendency to say that all that is old is bad because it is old, that only what is new is useful, that atomic fission changes everything. Yet basic human values, founded on the response of human beings to the hopes and fears of life, have not changed. The policies of nations will be made and carried out by human beings, will succeed or fail because of human powers or human weaknesses, in the atomic era as in the dawn of history. The military policy of the United States cannot be considered apart from these human values, then, as though it presented only mathematical or mechanical problems, to be measured and dealt with solely in terms of numbers, weights and distances.

It is now being urged that to gain the strength and alertness required to meet the terrific exigencies of the future we must merge our service departments into a single Department of the Armed Forces, under a single Secretary assisted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This idea of unification is, in general, supported by the Army (including the Army Air Forces) and is opposed by the Navy. Several plans have been presented to accomplish unification. The one which currently finds the most favor in Army circles provides for a separate air force, and would have the three Chiefs of Staff of the three services form the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the over-all direction of a Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, who would be the principal military adviser and executive of the Secretary. In this plan there would be one Under Secretary, who would be the chief civil assistant to the Secretary, and Assistant Secretaries who would have specialized functions in such matters as scientific research, supply, etc.[i] Variants of this scheme would place Assistant Secretaries at the head of each of the three services.

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