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STATEMENT OF ADM. EDWIN J. ROLAND, COMMANDANT, U.S. COAST

GUARD; ACCOMPANIED BY CAPT. 0. R. SMEDER, U.S. COAST GUARD, STAFF ASSISTANT TO CHIEF, OFFICE OF PERSONNEL; AND COMDR. RICARDO A. RATTI, CHIEF, LEGISLATIVE BRANCH, LEGAL DIVISION, U.S. COAST GUARD

Admiral ROLAND. Mr. Chairman, before I proceed I would like to introduce the officers who are here with me.

On my left, Commander Ratti, who is in the legal staff at Coast Guard Headquarters. He has served on the committees which have studied this legislation and also in the group which drafted the legislation.

On my right is Captain Smeder, who is special assistant to the Chief of the Office of Personnel at Coast Guard Headquarters.

Before proceeding with my statement, I would like to express the regrets of the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, James A. Reed, in not being able to appear before this committee today. He has shown a great interest in this legislation and he appeared yesterday before the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee on this proposal.

I would like to introduce into the record of this hearing his statement before that committee. He understands that I am doing this and desires that I do.

Senator BARTLETT. His statement will be accepted. (The statement of James A. Reed follows:)

STATEMENT OF JAMES A. REED, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY ON

H.R. 5623

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity of appearing here in support of H.R. 5623. My statement will be brief since Admiral Roland and other Coast Guard officials are here to testify in detail on the bill. However, I do want to make four points concerning this proposal.

First, this bill has my complete support and that of the Treasury Department. I do not profess to be an expert on military personnel laws or to be familiar with all the details of this proposal, but I am cognizant of the officer promotion problem in the Coast Guard today and I have followed the development of this bill with great interest. I am persuaded that this legislation is necessary, and in addition its enactment will eventually result a better Coast Guard. In my opinion the promotion system now in use in the Coast Guard is not responsive to the demands of today. It prevents the service from obtaining full use of the abilities of its officer corps. This is so since it reduces the incentive for excellent performance by the reliance on the concept of seniority alone. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly apparent that it is an anachronism to promote officers on a basis of seniority alone as the Coast Guard now does. Under that system each officer is continuously promoted to successively higher grades unless the service is able to prove that he is clearly not qualified for promotion. That such a promotion system should be changed to one based on merit is beyond question; and the fact that it is a military organization should not allow for an exception to this concept.

Second, I believe enactment of S. 1460 during this session of the Congress is urgent. The bill attacks a problem which exists today and which is growing worse. The problem is to remove the debilitating effect of stagnation in promotion by providing for a fair and equitable system of attrition, retention, and promotion. This bill resolves this problem in a practical, feasible, and equitable manner. Should the problem be allowed to persist, the need for more drastic action at a later date will unquestionably result. In my opinion there is an acute need for its alleviation now.

A third point about this legislation is that while it would make fundamental changes in the Coast Guard's officer promotion system, it is not a completely new or revolutionary proposal. Indeed, the bill retains those portions of existing law which are compatible with the proposed promotion system and adopts concepts and procedures which have been used and have proven their worth in the other Armed Forces. I might mention in this regard that the bill is designed so as to be compatible with the uniform promotion system presently being proposed for the Department of Defense.

Lastly, I would like to say a few words about the fundamental approach and objectives of this bill. One of the basic premises in the development of this legislation was that the efficiency of the service was paramount. A corollary to this premise was that any solution must be one which treated all officers as equitably as possible. This legislation resolves the immediate promotion problem in a way that will be as fair as possible to all officers and creates a long-range permanent promotion system that will lead to a more cohesive and efficient officer corps. I reaffirm that this bill has my complete support and that of the Treasury Department. This completes my statement. Thank you.

Admiral ROLAND. I appreciate the opportunity of appearing before you since I believe that this is one of the most important bills the Coast Guard has proposed in many years, important because it will result in far-reaching and fundamental changes in the Coast Guard's

, have a direct impact on the life of each officer'. also because it will

This bill is the culmination of almost 3 years of study and work. It had its genesis in the recognition by the Coast Guard in late 1959 of the existence of a hump problem-that is, a slowdown in promotions in the officer corps. But the bill is more than a hump bill. It does more than merely provide a mechanism for speeding up promotions. Our studies convinced us that it would not be enough to take action only to speed up promotions. We concluded that there are fundamental weaknesses in the Coast Guard's present officer promotion system and that these should be corrected. If they were not corrected, similar hump problems would continually occur in the future.

The present bill, therefore, is designed to accomplish two primary objectives—to attack the present hump problem and to improve the basic promotion system so that such problems will not recur. The underlying objective, of course, is the improvement of our officer career management system and through it an improvement in the efficiency of the service.

May I discuss the hump problem briefly? It had its origin in World War II when the service expanded and took in large groups of officers. The result was that for each year from 1942 through 1945 the number of officers who entered the service was considerably larger than the number who entered yearly before or after the war.

These wartime officers constitute the hump. Our officer distribution is pyramidal in form with the result that in the higher ranks fewer officers are authorized than in the lower echelons. As these wartime officers moved up to the commander grade, promotions slowed up. The promotion time to commander is, at present, over 18 years of service. We estimate that if no corrective action is taken, this will rise to 22 years of service by 1972. Similarly, under present procedures, we estimate that by 1970 an officer will not be able to be

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promoted to lieutenant until he is in his ninth year of service and to captain until after he has completed 27 years of service.

This continuing slowing of promotion is the hump problem. I think you can easily visualize the effect this is having and will have on the service. This excessive slowdown in promotions inevitably means stagnation for the service and for the individual officer. It is a waste of manpower, since it holds officers in a grade after they have mastered its duties and are ready to move on to more challenging responsibilities. The morale effect on junior officers who see little career opportunity ahead is obvious.

Further, with the competition that exists today to induce talented young men to enter the service, the Coast Guard will find it more and more difficult to attract and retain the personnel it needs if we can only offer them such a limited career opportunity. In short, I do not believe that we can maintain the efficiency of the service if such conditions are permitted to continue.

Section 3 of S. 1460 is patterned after the Navy-Marine Corps hump law of 1959. This portion of the bill would enable the Coast Guard to take immediate action to speed up promotions. This would be accomplished by forcing the retirement of some officers now in the grades of commander and captain. The vacancies thus created would be filled by promotion of officers whose advancements have been deyaled because of the hump problem. This part of the bill would be temporary law, the authority would only be effective for a 3-year period, at the end of which it would expire. At that time we believe the permanent promotion system will be able to operate effectively by itself to control the flow of promotions.

We, of course, regret the necessity for such forced attrition of these officers. But fairness and necessity dictate that it be done. If it is not done the officers below them will suffer even heavier attrition under the proposed new promotion system. One way of looking at this part of the bill is to remember that these officers in the grades of captain and commander reached those grades without being subjected to forced attrition. The officers junior to them will have to face selection and forced attrition to reach those ranks. Thus, in this part of the bill, we are in effect applying an after-the-fact best qualified selection to the officers now serving as captains and commanders.

S. 1460 will thus give to the Coast Guard the means for dealing with the present hump problem. But as I mentioned a moment ago, it goes further than that—this bill is also designed to provide the service with the ability to avoid such problems in the future. It will give us the tools by which a planned career pattern can be established and maintained. It will make possible effective control of the flow of promotion so that these wide disparities in promotion times can be reduced or eliminated.

I believe some of the members of this committee will remember that in 1955 the Coast Guard asked for legislation to speed up the flow of promotion in the grades of captain and admiral. That legislation was enacted by the Congress and has worked quite wellit has accomplished the purposes for which it was designed. One of the results is that we have been able to maintain a reasonable flow of promotion into the captain and admiral grades. When that legislation was under consideration my predecessor, Admiral Rich

mond, envisioned that it might someday be necessary to extend its principles to the lower grades. His vision was correct.

In the present bill we are extending to the lower grades the principles of best fitted selection and forced attrition. In short, except in the grades of captain and admiral, we now have no really effective machinery to control the attrition of officers. Without this, we can do little to speed up or control promotions.

I should like to emphasize, as Admiral Richmond did in 1955, that this is not a proposal to clean out deadwood in the service That may be one of the results, but there are in fact only a few such officers in the Coast Guard. The great majority of our officers are competent and well qualified. The fact is, however, that under the pyramidal structure which governs the service, every officer who enters as an ensign cannot be promoted to admiral or to captain.

To maintain a reasonable flow of promotion only part of the officers in a given grade can be advanced to the next higher grade. It seems obvious that if only part of the officers can be advanced, the ones to receive the promotions should be those who are the best qualified.

This is really the heart of S. 1460. It creates a system for selecting the officers who are best qualified for advancement. Under this best qualified selection system, boards would screen the records of officers to determine which of them should be promoted to the next higher grade. This is thus a competitive system under which the incentive for good performance is the reward of promotion.

While the promotion system which this bill proposes would be a substantial change for most of the Coast Guard, it is not entirely new. At the present time we choose our flag officers on a “best qualified" basis. We also choose our cadets at the Academy on the same principle. In this bill we are merely applying this system of selecting the best qualified to the grades in between.

A second major principle of the best qualified selection system embodied in S. 1460 is that officers who are not selected for promotion are separated or retired from the service. This is an essential corollary of the system of selecting the best qualified officers for promotion. If officers who fail to be selected for a higher grade were allowed to remain in the service indefinitely they would block the advancement of the more qualified officers below them. Also, the effectiveness of such officers would be reduced by their realization that they could not be promoted beyond their present grade.

The bill, therefore, provides that any officer who fails of selection twice will be separated from the service. Those officers who are below the grade of lieutenant commander would be separated by honorable discharge with severance pay. Those who are lieutenant commanders or above and who have a greater investment in the service would be separated by retirement when they have completed at least 20 years of service.

A third principle which the bill adopts is that of terminating most officers careers at 30 years if they have not been separated earlier. S. 1460 would require that all captains, not selected for flag rank, retire upon completion of 30 years of service. This is by no means a judgment that such officers are no longer capable of giving good service beyond that point. But their retention after 30 years would

block the advancement of officers junior to them and require greater attrition against those junior officers. We have concluded that this change is now necessary if we are to maintain a proper flow of promotion. The legislation retains the existing provisions of law which require the retirement of rear admirals upon the completion of either 35 years of service or 7 years in grade. .

The promotion system embodied in S. 1460 is quite similar to that now used by the Navy. The Navy system has been in effect for many years and has been refined and improved several times since its inception. Since it has proven its worth in the Navy over the years, we believe it will work in the Coast Guard. The present Navy system and this proposal for the Coast Guard are almost identical in fundamental approach and philosophy. Due to the smaller size and less complicated organization of the Coast Guard, we have been able to simplify many of the provisions of Navy law in adapting them to the Coast Guard. However, the two systems are compatible to the extent that under S. 1460 the Coast Guard should be able to offer our officers a career pattern comparable to that of Navy officers.

I might mention at this point that this bill has been carefully examined by the Department of Defense and it has their approval. Its enactment will in fact advance uniformity in officer promotion matters and aid in equalizing career opportunities among the armed services.

We have tried to make the operation of the promotion system flexible and adaptable. At the same time we have tried to build into it necessary protections for the individual officer and provisions to reduce the adverse morale impact. In the development of this bill we conducted a continuous review to ensure that an up-to-date officer career management program would be attained. However, it is probable that with experience we will discover that some refinements will one day be necessary.

I have discussed the major parts of S. 1460. The remaining sections of the bill contain savings clauses and transitional provisions. These various provisions are necessary in effecting the change to the proposed new promotion system.

For legislation such as this to be completely successful it must have the support of the officer corps. Before the bill can be supported it must be understood. We have therefore made special efforts to insure that the bill is widely understood in the service. Copies of S. 1460 have been distributed to each district in the Coast Guard, explanatory material has been published for servicewide distribution, and officers familiar with the legislation have given briefings on it in Coast Guard Headquarters, the district offices, and at our larger units.

I have with me a copy of the explanation of this bill which we distributed to the service. If satisfactory to the committee I would like to have it entered into the record of these hearings.

Senator BARTLETT. It will be included. (The document follows:)

SUPPLEMENT No. 1 TO THE COMMANDANT'S BULLETIN No. 21-63 (Comments on legislation to amend the provisions of title 14, United States Code, relating to the appointment, promotion, separation and retirement of officers of the Coast Guard)

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