Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process

By Cheryl Y. Marcum; Lauren R. Sager Weinstein et al. | Go to book overview

2.
Trends in DoD Political Appointees

Historical Background1

The National Security Act of 1947 established the position of Secretary of Defense, the first OSD presidential appointment that required Senate confirmation. The organization itself was at that time called the National Military Establishment but was renamed two years later as the Department of Defense through amendments to the act. James V. Forrestal was sworn in as the first Secretary of Defense on September 17, 1947.

For approximately 150 years, the armed forces of the United States were administered by two departments: War (renamed Army in 1947) and Navy. The National Security Act of 1947 added a third department for the newly independent Air Force (Watson, 1997). From 1789 until the moment the first Secretary of Defense was sworn in, it had been the President's duty as commander in chief to provide unified direction to the armed forces. The arrangement worked reasonably well until the early 20th century, when the United States emerged as a world power. The increasing demands on the President's time forced him to rely ever more heavily on subordinates to discharge his military duties. This became particularly apparent during World War II, as President Franklin Roosevelt increasingly delegated authority through improvised mechanisms. By the end of that war, “with the United States confronting security problems unprecedented in scale and scope, the need for organizational reform appeared more urgent than ever.”

In the summer of 1947, Congress responded to this need by passing the National Security Act. This act subordinated the secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the newly established Air Force to a new Secretary of Defense, thus inserting a new layer of civilian authority between the services and their commander in chief. Over the years, the organization has been progressively refined, and new layers of authority have been inserted with the intended purpose of strengthening the secretary's control.

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1
The bulk of the material in this section is drawn from Rearden (1984). In particular, all quotes not otherwise attributed are from this source.

-3-

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Department of Defense Political Appointments: Positions and Process
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Summary xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Acronyms xix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Trends in DOD Political Appointees 3
  • 3 - The Appointment Process and Rules Governing Political Appointees 19
  • 4 - Conclusion 41
  • A - An Overview of the Federal Workforce System 45
  • B - DOD Pas Position Data Sources 49
  • C - Pas Position Titles in Osd from 1947 to 1999 by Function 53
  • D - Chronology of Pas Positions Assigned to Osd Functional Areas 69
  • E - Authorized Osd Pas Positions by Function (May 31, 1999) 71
  • References 73
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