From The Pentagon – Politics, Profits and Plunder by Clark R. Mollenhoff. (Pinnacle Books, NY, 1967)
In January, President Eisenhower had submitted a proposed Defense Department budge for fiscal 1962 of $41.8 billion. Within two months, President Kennedy and McNamara had added nearly $2 billion to the request to provide more money for Polaris-armed submarines, increase research in nonnuclear weapons for limited wars and boost personnel in the Army. General Maxwell Taylor became the special military representative of the President, and took part in planning the defense budge, which soon jumped to $46.7 billion – nearly $5 billion over President Eisenhower’s initial request for fiscal 1962.
While much of the activity was aimed at budge boosting, some budget slicing was taking place. McNamara ended the nuclear plane program, and moved into a highly sensitive area by recommending that the development funds for the B-70 be cut from $358 million to $220 million.
The controversy this created with General Curtis E. LeMay, the Air Force Chief of Staff, was only a forerunner of the long and bitter dispute that was to surround the manned bomber. In that first year of McNamara’s reign as Defense chief, the House took the suggestion of general LeMay and boosted the B-70 funds from $220 million to $525 million. And when the whole defense appropriations was passed by Congress, it included $400 million for the B-70 program, and $515 more for the B-58 and B-52 programs.
McNamara retaliated by declaring he would defy the wishes of Congress and not spend the additional funds; it was his first real clash with the Air Force enthusiasts in Congress and with General LeMay.
If Robert S. McNamara was lacking in political knowledge, the same could not have been said about the man President Kennedy named as Deputy Defense Secretary. The man was Roswell Leavitt Gilpatrick, a suave New York lawyer with an Ivy League background and years of experience in dealing with the military-industrial complex. Like McNamara, he was graduated Phi Beta Kappa, but unlike McNamara, he was schooled in the operations and politics of government.
Following graduation from Yale College in 1928 and Yale Law School in 1931, Gilpatrick became a partner in the eminent New York law firm of Cravath, de Gersdorff, Swaine & Wood. He left the first briefly to serve, from 1951 to 1953, as Under Secretary of the Air Force. He returned to law practice in 1953, represented many big defense contractors, became active in Democratic politics, and served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Aerospace Corporation established by the Air Force during the Eisenhower Administration to conduct studies in connection with the major missile programs.
Gilpatrick’s Washington connections served him well. In 1958, one of his former Washington associates, Frank Pace, asked him to handle some rather extensive legal work for the General Dynamics Corporation, which Pace then headed. Pace had served as Secretary of the Army in the Truman Administration, and had moved out of high government office into a lucrative job with this large defense contractor. His experience as a lawyer for general Dynamics from 1958 to 1961 was only one segment of the background that made Gilpatrick an important senior partner in the law firm that by 1961 had become Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
When Gilpatrick became the number two man in the Defense Department in January, 1961, he was regarded as the perfect type to team with McNamara. Smooth and knowledgeable in the ways of the big defense contractors, he knew the men in Congress who counted where Defense Department problems were concerned. The “Bob and Roz” team appeared to be one of the most effective combinations created by the Kennedy administration. If McNamara dealt abrasively with the ordinary Senator or Congressman, Roz Gilpatrick with his persuasive manner could smooth things over. He and his attractive wife gave wonderful parties to cultivate members of the Armed Services and Appropriations committees of the Senate and House. He also made an effort to keep a close relationship with his old friend Senator Stuart Symington, the Missourian who had been the first Air Force Secretary and who held an important post as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Other members of the top-level Pentagon team appointed by President Kennedy were Elvis J. Stahr, Jr., Secretary of the Army; John B. Connally, Jr., Secretary of the Navy; Eugene M. Zuckert, Secretary of the Air Force; General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Curtis LeMay, Air Force Chief of Staff; and Admiral George Anderson, Chief of Naval Operations. Probably the most significant appointment was that of General Maxwell D. Taylor as a special military representative of the President at the White House – a prelude to moving him to the Pentagon as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Taylor, strong dissenter from the massive-retaliation theories of the Eisenhower Administration, was to be a major figure in new shifts in defense posture.
Stahr, a Rhodes Scholar and lawyer with a distinguished record in the infantry during World War II, seemed most in line with the Kennedy pattern….
The name of John Connally was associated closely with that of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and there was no doubt the Fort Worth lawyer owed his appointment as Navy Secretary to his Texas political connection with Johnson. The handsome Texan had been linked with the Johnson political fortunes from the earliest days, and had even risked infuriating the Kennedys at the 1960 Democratic National convention by enthusiastically pushing Johnson’s nomination. He further roused their ire by questioning the physical condition of the then-candidate John Kennedy. Representing the big oil interests of Texas millionaire Sid Richardson had mad Connally a wealthy man, but he possessed the flexibility to adapt to the pattern of the Ivy League or the Boston Irish.
From the start the McNamara Pentagon was stacked with Johnson men. Cyrus R. Vance, a long-time Johnson protégé, served as general counsel for the Department, later became Secretary of the Army and finally was named Deputy Defense Secretary. Solis Horwitz, another Johnson man, was director of organizational and management planning in the Defense Department general counsel’s office and was later elevated to the job of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Administration. The Assistant Secretary of Navy was Kenneth E. BeLieu, who had been staff director of Johnson’s Senate Preparedness Subcommittee a few years earlier.
When Connally resigned as Navy Secretary to run his successful campaign for Governor of Texas, another Johnson man moved into the Navy Secretary post – Fred Korth, a Fort Worth bank president who had been deputy counselor and Assistant Secretary of the Army during the last two years of the Truman Administration.
Air Force Secretary Zuckert, a graduate of the Yale Law School, had been an assistant professor and assistant dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Business administration when McNamara served on the faculty. Zuckert had used his talents in law and business administration on a number of government jobs, including a term as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force from 1947 to 1952, and as a Truman appointee to the Atomic Energy Commission in a term that ran from 1952 to 1054.
General Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was a holdover, as was General Decker, the Army Chief of Staff. The new man on the Joint Chiefs of Staff were General LeMay, who had succeeded General Thomas D. White as Air Force Chief of Staff, and Admiral Anderson, who succeeded Admiral Arleigh Burke as Chief of Naval Operations. General LeMay and Admiral Anderson were expected to be McNamara team men, who would be placated by bigger Defense Department budgets planned by the Kennedy Administration.
Chapter 28 - The Manned Bomber Fuss
General Curtis LeMay and other top Air Force generals accepted the fact that the ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads would eventually replace the manned bomber as the major deterrent to Communist aggression. But in the early 1960’s, the Air Force Chief of Staff and his supporters in the Pentagon and in Congress were not willing to accept the view that the missiles could be accepted as the ultimate weapons system, and that it was safe to start a phase out the manned bombers. Major controversy was to rage for years over the cuts that Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara insisted in making in the manned-bomber program.
Defense Secretary McNamara’s dispute with General LeMay and Congress centered on two major areas. First, he wanted to cut back the budget for new B-52 and B-58 manned bombers by as much as $500,000,000 a year on the theory that the Strategic Air Command was strong enough to serve as a deterrent force until the missiles could take their place. Second, he was highly skeptical of the need for proceeding with plans for the expensive 2000-miles-an hour B-70, which was planned as the follow-up bomber to take the place of the B-52 and the B-58. He saw no sense in proceeding with the B-70, and in his first year proposed cutting the B-70 funds from $385 million to $220 million….
The investigation of the Aerospace Corporation demonstrated that the establishment of a nonprofit corporation to handle research and management jobs for the Pentagon could result in some of the same abuses that had been found to exist when big business corporations were given too free a hand with the tax money….
General LeMay, as the Air Force Chief of Staff, was the leading opponent of McNamara’s plans to phase out manned bombers and he had the prestige with Congress to make his views count….A bomber could perform many missions a guided missile could not….(He) declared that even if the missile was the ultimate weapon of the future, it was still far from fully developed. He declared it was just plain foolhardy to base national defense plans on a system that had not been fully tested….
The House committee declared that the purpose of the extensive report was to make it clear exactly what it meant authorizing $491 million for the RS-70 system.
“The Secretary of the Air Force (Zuckert), as an official of the executive branch, is directed, ordered, mandated, and required to utilize the full amount of the $491 million,” the House members declared…The brave position of the House Armed Services Committee did not last for long. President Kennedy asked Chairman Vinson to come to the White House, and prevailed upon the aging committee chairman to drop the word “direct” and to substitute “authorize.” In exchange, President Kennedy promised that the Defense Department would “restudy” the whole program of the RS-70….
…Secretary of Defense McNamara, by persistent rejection of the RS-70 program, managed to downgrade it and kill it off in the face of the most stubborn opposition from General LeMay…President Johnson extended General LeMay’s term as Air Force Chief of Staff for another year, which prevented the blunt-talking champion of the manned bomber from becoming involved in the 1964 political campaign. When LeMay retired as Air Force Chief of Staff in January, 1965, he had been unable to change McNamara’s plans to phase out the manned bombers….The Defense Secretary gave the military men no choice; they accepted the FB-111 bomber as better than no follow-on bomber at all.
The FB-111, a bomber version of the controversial TFX fighter, had never been intended to be used as a long-range bomber. It lacked range, load carrying capacity and general performance characteristics needed in any follow-on replacement for the B-58 bombers…
Chapter 29 – THE CONTROVERSIAL TFX
The multibillion dollar TFB warplane contract was the most coveted prize the Pentagon ever dangled before bidders. Government spending, it was estimated, would exceed $6.5 billion – the largest contract for military planes in the nation’s history. The program was planned to include more than 1,700 planes for the Navy and Air Force. Such a contract could mean prosperity for an entire state, and the competition was intense.
Early in 1962, the rivalry for the TFX contract narrowed down to two major firms. The Boeing Company with headquarters in Seatle, Washington, proposed to build the plane at its plant in Wichita, Kansas. The General Dynamics Corporation’s Convair Division, in Fort Worth, Texas, cooperating with the Grumman Engineering Company of Bethpage, New York, planned to build the Air Force version in Texas and the Navy version in New York…Politically the Texas-New York combination backing General Dynamics and Grumman had a distinct advantage. Texas electoral votes (24) and New York electoral votes (45) went to Kennedy in 1960, while Washington’s nine electoral votes and the eight Kansas votes had gone to Republican candidate, Richard Nixon.
Late in the summer of 1962, persistent rumors of Texas political pressure on the TFX contract came to Senator Jackson. Calling Deputy Defense Secretary Roswell Gilpatrick, he told him he had heard General Dynamics was certain to receive the contract. Gilpatrick assured him there was nothing to it and that the decision would be made “strictly on the merits.”
…On November 24, 1962, the blow fell with the Pentagon’s announcement that the TFX contract would be awarded to General Dynamics…Scoop Jackson rejected the report that cost-conscious McNamara would take the second-best plane and pay more for it. He asked Sen. John L. McClellan, chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, to examine the TFX contract.
The McClellan subcommittee investigators questioned witnesses, examined documents and established: 1) The four service evaluation did favor to Boeing, 2) The Boeing price was $100 million lower on the first phase of the contract, and it might be $415 million lower on the total job, 3) The Pentagon Source Selection Board, composed of top generals and admirals, was unanimous in its finding that the Boeing plane would be cheaper and better, 4) The only document at the Pentagon that supported the General Dynamics plane was a five-page memorandum of justification, dated November 21, 1062. It was signed by McNamara; Eugene Zuckert, Secretary of the Air Force; and Fred Korth, Secretary of the Navy. (Gilpatrick also agreed with the award, but his signature was not necessary because McNamara had signed.)
This document was loaded with errors, according to the investigators from the McClellan subcommittee…It was appalling to learn that McNamara’s decision to award the contract to General Dynamics could result in wasting $100 million to $415 million on a second-best plane. Republicans derisively dubbed the plane the “LBJ” sine it appeared to have been peremptorily awarded to Texas….
General Curtis E. LeMay, the Air Force Chief of Staff, testified that he was not consulted prior to McNamara’s decision to overrule the Source Selection Board.
“I thought we had such a clear cut and unanimous opinion all up and down the line that I was completely surprised at the decision,” the Air Force Chief declared.
“Did any group, any authority at any level from you down to the evaluation group ever recommend the General Dynamics plane?” McClellan asked.
“No, sir,” LeMay answered. In all his experience he was unable to recall a single instance where the decision of the service selection board had been rejected by a civilian secretary….
In the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatrick was given the job of implementing the new, tough code of ethics….Ironically, Deputy Defense Secretary Gilpatrick was the first high-ranking Administration official to come under sharp congressional criticism in connection with the new code of ethics. The TFX warplane contract investigation raised questions of the “conflicts of interest” problem against Gilpatrick and also against Navy Secretary Fred Korth…
From 1958 to January, 1961 Gilpatrick was a lawyer for the General Dynamics Corporation…New money was needed to keep General Dynamics moving, and Roswell Gilpatrick had a major role in the merger between General Dynamics and Material Services Corporation, a Chicago construction firm controlled by Colonel Henry Crown, an influential Democratic political figure. Frank Pace and other high officials were Gilpatrick’s personal friends, and the New York lawyer had an office in the General Dynamic’s headquarters….
The difficulty of Gilpatrick’s personal role in the TFX affair certainly made it unlikely that he would be enforcing the new code of ethics on such others as Navy Secretary Fred Korth, who had a similar problem.
Korth, a Fort Worth attorney and bank president, became Navy Secretary in January, 1962. He succeeded John Connally, another Fort Worth lawyer who resigned to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Texas. Fred Korth was an enthusiastic booster of his home town and of the General Dynamics firm, which had the huge Convair plant in Fort Worth….and the General Dynamics Corporation was one of the best customers of Kroth’s Continental National Bank of Fort Worth.
Only three months before Korth became Navy secretary, he had given his personal approval to a $400,000 loan from the Continental National Bank to the General Dynamics Corporation….When it came time for Korth to make a decision on the TFX contract, the Navy Secretary overruled the recommendations of the top admirals and suggested the Defense Secretary aware the contact to General Dynamics….