Military Reorganization

May 21, 1958

Report Outline
Conflict Over Military Reorganization
Past Steps to Unifv Defense Structure
Debate on New Reorganization Plan
Special Features of Reorganization Plan

Conflict Over Military Reorganization

Approach of House Test on President's Plan

A DMINISTRATION PROPOSALS for reorganization of the national military establishment, as modified by unanimous vote of the House Armed Services Committee on May 16, face consideration on the House floor in an atmosphere quite different from that which attended their launching last month. President Eisenhower indicated at a news conference on April 9, six days after he had outlined the proposals in a special message to Congress, that he expected strong opposition from sources in the Pentagon and from like-minded members of House and Senate, but that he was prepared to do all in his power to overcome that opposition.

A two-pronged attack on the defense reorganization plan began to develop as soon as the House Armed Services Committee opened hearings on April 22. A group of committee members led by Chairman Carl Vinson (D-Ga.) argued that under a proper interpretation of existing law the Secretary of Defense could accomplish many of the changes for which new or more specific legislative authorization had been requested. The same committee members, through sharp questioning of Defense Secretary Neil H. McElroy and other leading advocates of the President's plan, drew admissions that its provisions, if enacted as proposed, conceivably could be used to bring about changes that Congress has been loath to accept. The possibilities would include elimination of naval aircraft, disbandment of the Marine Corps, creation of an over-sized general staff, and denial to the Army of a continuing role in missile development.

The bill approved by the committee, while incorporating many of the President's proposals, sought to allay the fears in Congress by including a provision authorizing heads of the armed services to object to a reassignment of functions by the Secretary of Defense. The change then could not take effect if House and Senate barred it by adopting a concurrent resolution, which does not require the President's signature. Because the Secretary already has undefined authority to reassign functions without reference to Congress—authority for which the administration sought statutory affirmation and clarification—the change proposed by the committee would increase, not relax, restrictions on the powers of the Defense Secretary.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Military
Oct. 04, 2019  Veterans' Struggles
Sep. 23, 2011  Military Suicides
Sep. 05, 2008  Rise in Counterinsurgency
Aug. 31, 2007  Wounded Veterans
Nov. 19, 2004  Treatment of Veterans
Jun. 25, 2004  Privatizing the Military
May 30, 2003  Reforming the Corps
Apr. 26, 1996  New Military Culture
Jun. 08, 1990  Downsizing America's Armed Forces
Jul. 20, 1966  American Forces in Europe
Jan. 15, 1964  American Troops Abroad
May 21, 1958  Military Reorganization
Feb. 28, 1952  Benefits for Korean Veterans
May 12, 1948  Militarization
Nov. 06, 1946  Veterans' Bonus
Jul. 17, 1946  War Veterans in Civil Life
Nov. 27, 1941  Government Aid to Ex-Service Men
Sep. 27, 1932  The Bonus After the 1932 Elections
Oct. 06, 1930  Veteran-Aid Policies of the United States
Jan. 07, 1924  Congress and the Bonus
Defense Technology and Force Planning