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The bill is based on my firm belief that the interrelated problems of supply, fiscal management, and logistic support in all their aspects are of such importance to the corps that they must have the emphasis this bill will permit us to give them.
Mr. Chairman, this is the end of my prepared statement.
Chairman RUSSELL. General Shoup, the trend in our Armed Forces today is very decidedly in the direction of more specialization rather than less specialization.
This bill seems to be directed at less specialization in the Marine Corps, at least since the supply duties of the officers affected would have to be discharged by unrestricted officers.
Would abolishing this specialized category contribute to the efficiency of the Marine Corps ?
General SHOUP. As I pointed out, we have 1,340 supply duty billets in the Marine Corps right today and only 400 of them are filled by these officers in the SDO category. That, in itself, is ample proof that unrestricted officers can perform all of the duties that are commonly related to those in the SDO category today.
In addition, I think it is proper to say that we have a good example of how a young service, more modern, let us say, in terms of years of age, even though they were a splinter from an older service, never started out with any such thing as an SDO category.
The Air Force does not have it.
The specialization that you talk about, for example, we have electronics officers, we send people to schools, we have all of the specialization we need.
We do not propose that we will discontinue sending officers to the schools that are related to efficient supply management. We will continue to send such officers as we need them to those schools.
However, they can do other duties.
For example, we have any number of unrestricted officers today doing supply duty. We also have today supply-duty-only category officers who have tremendous capabilities to do other things in this
. And, further, they do not have the opportunity under the provisions that are operating today to get the broad command experience.
For example, there is no better way to learn the requirements of supply in our small organization, which is devoted mostly to combat organization, than to get out and command a combat organization and understand why, understand what the supply is all about.
Now, these supply-duty-only officers are restricted in this manner. They can by a stretch of the imagination command maybe a service battalion. İ have given SDO officers command of the service regiment. But those are not the categories of duties in which the initial SDO category was intended for.
Chairman RUSSELL. Would a man holding a commission as brigadier general in the Supply Corps be qualified to take over command of a regimental combat team immediately and go ahead with it?
General SHOUP. He will be, if he comes up through the unrestricted basis.
And right today, for example, we have two fine brigadiers—I speak of two-they are commanding our big supply depots. Either one of those officers has almost a tailored background to be put in command of our big stations like Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune, but I cannot do it under this setup that we have.
Chairman RUSSELL. In other words, it is sometimes a handicap to an officer?
General SHOUP. Yes, sir.
Well, for example, right now I am quite confident, were this legislation in effect, that our selection board sitting today would certainly select one or both of these two officers as a major general. But they will be deprived of that opportunity.
Further, it is interesting to note that this is one of the features of it:
That the people in the SDO category in one sense are not getting equal treatment with the others, and in another sense they are getting restricted protection. For example, at this point we have some colonels in the Marine Corps because of some of the restrictions that are presently on SDO; and there is no way except an act of God, which we do not like to call upon in this kind of predicament, to get these people out unless they have 35 years of service.
Well, now, what does that do?
We have a situation now, for example, the last SDO officer who waited about a year to get promoted will be with us until 1972, and the only chance that he could possibly have to make major general is Quartermaster General, and there is only one of those under the present setup;
Now, the colonels below these people, we have today three who do not have to get out until 1965. That means between now and 1965, again, barring acts of God, there is no promotion opportunity whatsoever for colonels in the SDÓ.
Yet, there are colonels here that I am sure ought to be promoted, and in the course of less years than that. And then after that period, it will again be 6 years before any colonel in the SDO category can make brigadier general. I do not think that is good at all, particularly when we have officers in this category in equal percentages qualified to make these higher ranks.
In other words, we broaden the base and more of the colonels in the SDO will become brigadier, and some of the brigadiers in SDO will become major general.
Further, in the unrestricted category of brigadier general today he is coming up for selection for major general at the end of about 3 years service, and if he is passed over twice, he goes out.
No so with these people. There is no chance to select them. If, as is sometimes the case--but very seldom--there is no opportunity after 3 or 4 years to determine whether this officer should go on into the higher grade and continue service, he is guaranteed until he has 35 years service, and now they are being selected to where they have 12 years to go here before this officer most recently promoted could be relieved of duty or retired or anything else except by his own request.
Chairman RUSSELL. The answer to my original question, though, I assume, is that any of these supply officers are qualified by training and experience to assume their grade in combat and lead Marines in combat?
General SHOUP. I would not say that without equivocation. There are a number of the colonels today, just sticking with the grade of colonel, that I would have no reservation whatsoever to give an infantry regiment to. There are some I would not do it with, obviously, because they have not had the background.
Some of these officers that are in this supply area here now have had previous experience before they became SDO, in combat battalions during World War II.
Chairman RUSSELL. In the event this legislation were to pass, of course, this committee would be very much concerned to see that these supply duty officers who are serving in that capacity at the present time would have a fair chance, along with line officers and others, for promotion. There is a section, I believe 3(b), of the bill that is apparently intended to insure that that will be the case, but I want to make the record perfectly clear that in the event this bill does pass, supply duty officers would have the same percentage of selection for their first promotion opportunity as officers in the same grade who have never had such supply duty.
General SHOUP. Yes, sir.
And it will be equal or better to what it would have been if they stayed in the SDO category:
Further, the provision is such that the officer, the first time he comes up for selection after the passage of this bill, of the ranks below colonel, has this equal opportunity for selection, and then, if selected, as he goes up the grade he will average from 5 to 12 years in the unrestricted category before he again comes up for selection.
So he has between 5 to 12 years in the various ranks before he would come up for selection again, which I consider ample opportunity to get in sufficient tasks and jobs and experience that he would have again, when he came up with his contemporaries, equal opportunity for selection.
Chairman RUSSELL. It has also been suggested to me in the same connection, following that question, that some of these supply duty officers have not had an opportunity to attend the company and field officer schools, and, therefore, have not had as much opportunity for training as line officers and those of similar rank in the line.
Do you propose to give these former supply duty officers, in the event we pass this legislation, an opportunity to attend school before they are in line for promotion ?
General SHOUP. We will certainly give every one of them an opportunity to attend the school commensurate with their rank and potential, and be selected on the same basis that others are.
Now, I would not say that we could waste the time of the school on every colonel on this list. I think we would be wasting our time.
But in the same manner that we have boards to select those who go to schools, these people will be considered on the same basis, and I assure you that
number of these officers below the rank of colonel, down in the major, captain, and lieutenant colonel categories, there will be more of them go to our schools of the type you are speaking of in the event of the passage of this legislation than there would before. There would be a goodly number more, although our schools are not devoid, Mr. Chairman–I do not want to let you think that our schools are devoid or that these people are barred from our regular schools now.
That is not true.
General SHOUP. Yes, sir.
But we do not have a tremendous number of them on a comparative basis, obviously, if there are only 400 officers in this category of all ranks.
Then the number is not equal to the unrestricted.
Chairman RUSSELL. Someone has suggested that we could solve this problem, General, by transferring the supply function of the Marine Corps over to the Navy's Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, and that the supply-duty-only officers be given an opportunity by law to transfer to the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts.
Have you given any thought to that?
And I think, if you are going to go hunting, you ought to carry your own shotgun shells with you. If we are going to do the fighting, why, I think we ought to have the supply system be our supply system.
We have a tremendous amount of support now, as you know, from the Navy and
our air stations and medical supplies and all that. Chairman Russell. I assume you oppose this suggestion, but, as a practical matter, you are completely dependent on the Navy now for certain types of supplies and support?
General SHOUP. Yes, sir, but not in the combat field.
General SHOUP. We get our bombs, aviation gets their bombs, but the ground troops, outside of medical supplies, our Marine Corps supply system furnishes, and our Marine Corps supply system supplies in the field.
I do not say a fellow in a blue uniform could not go out there and be a supply officer in a Marine battalion, if he had the training:
Chairman RUSSELL. As a matter of fact, men in blue uniforms have gotten killed trying to take Marines back to hospitals in every war we have been engaged in!
General SHOUP. Yes, sir.
Not only that, Mr. Chairman, but the percentage of Navy Crosses to the Navy corpsmen in World War II is greater than any other group in the Marine Corps.
Chairman RUSSELL. I was not aware of that, but I knew that any time there is any shooting where the Marines are getting hit, there is some boy there in blue trying to get the casualties off the field.
General SHOUP. Yes, sir.
Chairman RUSSELL. And he is just as liable to get hit as anybody else.
General Shoup. There is a very close relationship between the Marine Corps and the Navy in every respect of supply, supply support, and combat support, as you well know.
Chairman RUSSELL. Senator Saltonstall ?
General, we have a law, of course, that at the present time limits the number of general officers and the number of colonels and majors in the Marines.
This bill, in substance, without increasing the number, will make the competition for promotions for those officers more difficult, am I correct?
General Shoup. Promotions to general officer?
Senator SALTONSTALL. We have under the law so many generals, so many colonels and so on in the Marines, have we not?
General Shoup. Yes, sir.
Senator SALTONSTALL. If you throw in all these 400 supply officers into that general competition, it will make the competition for promotion more difficult?
General SHOUP. At the same time you are throwing in six general officer billets.
Senator SALTONSTALL. I understood we were not increasing the billets.
General Shoup. We are not increasing the number of general officers in the Marine Corps, but of the total general officers in the Marine Corps today, six of them are SDO. So those six would become unrestricted billets, so with the 400 go six billets. .
Senator SALTONSTALL. What I mean is you are throwing 400 more men into competition for promotion.
General Shoup. I have not done the arithmetic on a relative basis, Senator, but whatever six is to 400, 56 is to 17,000 or something like that, I suspect that they are better off.
Chairman RUSSELL. They are now headed for promotion but in their particular relationship?
General SHOUP. Yes, sir.
Chairman RUSSELL. It does not really increase the number of officers in the Marine Corps ?
General Shoup. No, sir, no increase.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Í understand that, but what I am trying to bring out is that it does increase the competition for officers in the overall service, because these 400 were formerly limited to the Supply Department, is that not right?
General SHOUP. Yes, sir, that is right, in that respect.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Now, the chairman has brought up section 3(b) of this act.
If you will turn to page 2 of that act, the way section 3 (b) is drafted, and come down to line 17 through 23, as I read that, that would mean that the Secretary of the Navy would have to allocate in any of these promotion problems a certain proportion for promotion to the officers who were formerly designated for supply duty only.
General SHOUP. Yes, sir, in the grade of colonel and brigadier. Senator SALTONSTALL. Yes.
Now, may that not affect the efficiency of the Marine Corps because if you put a certain percentage into the Supply Department and make the selections come from them, you may affect officers who are better qualified who will not be eligible for promotion because of the percentage that has to go in this department?
General SHOUP. This provision is in there for this purpose. For example, take the grade of colonel. There would have been, as I pointed out here, although it is very slow, some of these people had an opportunity to compete for the three billets that would be open in 1965, the colonels, and for the three again that would be open in 1971.
Now, in order to insure that these people do not get euchred out of the opportunity, and we do need in the Marine Corps some people who