Advance Questions for Ms. Carolyn H. Becraft
More than a decade has passed since the enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 and the Special Operations reforms.
Do you support full implementation of these defense reforms?
Yes. If confirmed as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, I am committed to the complete and effective implementation of these reforms.
What is your view of the extent to which these defense reforms have been implemented?
I believe these reforms have been fully accepted and integrated into the Armed Services. It is my understanding the legislation has strengthened civilian leadership while improving the effectiveness of its uniformed personnel. This was accomplished in large part by clarifying the responsibilities and authorities of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretaries of the Military Departments. Since the legislation was enacted, I believe we have seen the effectiveness of the joint warfighting forces significantly improve. Lines of communication, interoperability and joint operation and training appear to have benefited as a direct result of these reforms.
What do you consider to be the most important aspects of these defense reforms?
Overall, strengthening of the civilian leadership and enhanced clarity of the chain of command represent significant advancements that were fostered by the reforms. The enhanced ability of staffs and the combatant commanders-in-chief to plan and execute their assigned missions has been demonstrated both in peace and conflict.
The goals of the Congress in enacting these defense reforms, as reflected in section 3 of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act, can be summarized as strengthening civilian control; improving military advice; placing clear responsibility on the combatant commanders for the accomplishment of their missions; ensuring the authority of the combatant commanders is commensurate with their responsibility; increasing attention to the formulation of strategy and to contingency planning; providing for more efficient use of defense resources; and enhancing the effectiveness of military operations and improving the management and administration of the Department of Defense.
Do you agree with these goals?
Yes. I am confident that, working with the Secretary and Congress, the Department will continue these efforts and strive to ensure the full intent of Congress is realized.
Recently, there have been articles which indicate an interest within the Department of Defense in modifying Goldwater-Nichols in light of the changing environment and possible revisions to the national strategy.
Do you anticipate that legislative proposals to amend Goldwater-Nichols may be appropriate? If so, what areas do you believe it might be appropriate to address in these proposals?
At this stage of the process, I am unaware of any movement or need to amend Goldwater-Nichols. If confirmed, I will have the opportunity to fully understand and assess the situation. At that point, I will be in a better position to address what, if any, legislative provisions might be needed to improve Goldwater-Nichols.
If confirmed, what will be your relationship with:
The Secretary of the Navy
The Under Secretary of the Navy
The other Assistant Secretaries of the Navy
The General Counsel of the Navy
The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
The Chief of Naval Operations
The Commandant of the Marine Corps
The Inspector General of the Navy
The Chief of Naval Personnel
The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
The Surgeon General
The Chief, Naval Reserve
The Commanding Officer, Marine Forces Reserve
Sailors, Marines and their families
If confirmed as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, I intend to work closely with the Under Secretary, the other Assistant Secretaries and the General Counsel of the Navy to ensure the Department focuses on issues of concern to the Secretary consistent with Title 10, US Code.
My relationship with the Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Inspector General, Chief of Naval Personnel, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Surgeon General, Chief of Naval Reserve, and Commanding General of Marine Forces Reserve, will be as prescribed by the Secretary and as necessary to allow for the proper management of the Department of the Navy issues in manpower and reserve affairs. I look forward to working closely with them to ensure the Department of the Navy will effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century.
I believe it is important to develop and maintain open communication channels and strong liaison with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, as well as the Assistant Secretaries of Defense for Force Management Policy, Reserve Affairs, and Health Affairs. If confirmed, I will assist Secretary Dalton in carrying out his responsibilities to the Secretary of Defense for all manpower and reserve related issues of the Department of the Navy. I will strive to meet regularly with the senior OSD officials to keep them fully informed on matters affecting their responsibilities.
I am a firm believer that the heart and soul of the Navy-Marine Corps team is its people. I am committed to ensuring that Sailors, Marines and their families enjoy the best quality of life. If confirmed, I will continuously strive for that level of quality, to keep faith with the servicemembers throughout their careers.
Section 5016 of Title 10, United States Code, provides that the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy shall perform such duties and exercise such powers as the Secretary of the Navy may prescribe. Section 5016 also specifically addresses the position for which you have been nominated and provides that the principle duty of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs shall be the overall supervision of manpower and reserve component affairs of the Department of the Navy.
Assuming you are confirmed, what duties do you expect that Secretary Dalton will prescribe for you?
I believe Secretary Dalton intends the Assistant Secretary both to act as his senior policy advisor on the full spectrum of manpower and personnel issues and to closely monitor service implementation of those policies.
Major Challenges and Problems
In your view, what are the major challenges confronting the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs?
In my view, many of the tools currently in use to manage military personnel were devised when the military recruited and retained very different people, the military mission was focused on the Cold War and nuclear deterrence, the role of government was perceived differently, and computers and technology played only limited roles in our daily lives. The greatest challenges derive from addressing these issues in the context of how to best recruit and retain high quality personnel, properly train and prepare them for a wide-range of missions, effectively manage their careers to retain the necessary skill and grade structures, employ them at a realistic tempo of operations, and provide them and their families with a satisfactory quality of life.
Assuming you are confirmed, what plans do you have for addressing these challenges?
I believe the current focus is correct. In my judgment, the Department of the Navy has many initiatives already underway that provide a good starting point for addressing these challenges. If confirmed, I would expect to be actively involved with Secretary Dalton, the civilian and uniformed leadership and the Congress to address these challenges and to move forward with these initiatives.
What do you consider to be the most serious problems in the Navy?
I know of no serious problems, only the challenges I have noted previously. I look forward to the opportunity to support the Secretary of the Navy in managing this period of change.
If confirmed, what management actions and timelines would you establish to address these problems?
I am not in a position to provide a specific plan of action or timetable at this point. If confirmed, I intend to review plans of action already underway and institute any fine-tuning or redirection as appropriate, once I have the opportunity to delve into the details.
Quality of Life
In response to a continuing shortfall in funding for family housing construction and repair, the Department of Defense proposed the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. Although the Congress enacted this authority in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, the Navy has had limited success in carrying out the Military Housing Privatization Initiative in part because of a lack of support by the Navy leadership.
What are your views on military family housing?
Family housing and barracks programs, combined with compensation, medical care, child care, family services, morale, welfare and recreation programs, commissaries and exchanges form the cornerstone of the Department’s quality of life efforts. However, questions on specific housing policies and programs are best addressed to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment, under whom such programs fall. If confirmed, I will work closely with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment to improve all aspects of quality of life for Sailors, Marines and their families.
Should the military departments continue to be burdened with managing and maintaining family housing or would it be more cost effective to turn housing over to the private sector?
Housing is a key component of quality of life in the military, and crucial to maintaining readiness. However, questions on specific housing policies and programs are best addressed to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment, under whom such programs fall. If confirmed, I will work closely with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment to improve all aspects of quality of life for Sailors, Marines and their families.
The Army, Air Force, and Navy are committed to the so called "One plus One" barracks standard. Although the services have justified the substantial cost of this initiative as a retention tool, there are individuals both in the service and the Congress who believe the new barracks style will negatively impact unit cohesion and, potentially, discipline.
What are your views on the "One plus One" barracks standard?
Would you consider following the Marine Corps example of upgrading all barracks to an interim standard before fully committing to the "One plus One" Standard? If not, why not?
Questions on specific housing policies and programs are best addressed to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment, under whom such programs fall. As I noted earlier, housing is a key component of quality of life in the military, and if confirmed, I will work closely with Mr. Piriethe Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment to improve quality of life in all areas.
Officer Management Issues
Do you believe the officer corps has confidence in the integrity of the officer promotion system in the Navy?
Yes, I believe the officer corps has confidence in the integrity of the Navy and Marine Corps officer promotion system. This belief is based on the knowledge that each statutory officer promotion selection board is convened in strict adherence with Title 10, U.S. Code, and applicable DOD directives.
What role do you, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, expect to play in the officer promotion system?
If confirmed as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, I expect to play a significant role in oversight of the officer promotion process. Maintenance of the integrity and sanctity of the officer promotion process is vital and I will work to ensure that it is maintained.
What role do you, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, expect to play in the general officer management and nomination process?
If confirmed, I will support the Secretary’s ongoing efforts to ensure that senior leaders maintain the highest personal and professional standards and are held accountable to those standards in the nomination and confirmation process. With respect to the question of general and flag officer management, if confirmed, I will carefully review any proposals in consultation with senior Navy and Marine Corps manpower policy officials.
The Inspector General of the Department of Defense, at the request of this Committee, recently completed a review of investigations conducted by the military departments concerning senior active and reserve component officers.
If confirmed, will you make the matter of senior officer investigations a priority for your review and action?
If confirmed, I am committed to making this responsibility a priority and will review and act upon investigations of any senior officials, as appropriate.
Will you assure the Committee that, where you determine appropriate, you will require the recommendations of the DODIG to be implemented?
If confirmed, I will work with the Secretary and the Navy Inspector General in complying with the recommendations of the DODIG, where determined appropriate.
A continuing criticism of the military departments is that when the military departments, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Congressional Oversight Committees attempt to analyze separation data the inconsistency of separation codes among the services and the lack of accurate and specific separation codes make a meaningful analysis impossible.
If confirmed, will you agree to work with the Assistant Secretaries of the Army and Air Force, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to standardize and accurately define personnel separation codes in order to ensure an accurate historical record and to permit meaningful analysis of separation data?
Yes. I am aware that a working group comprised of representation from all the Services has been meeting under the auspices of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy. It is my understanding that the efforts of this group will result in the publication of a standardized listing of separation codes.
Military retirement and military compensation
During the past year, many in the Department of Defense have attributed problems in recruiting and retention to the military retirement system and military compensation levels.
Do you share the views that the current military retirement system is a negative factor in individual decisions with regard to enlisting or re-enlisting?
The real and perceived notions of value of a military retirement and other "big ticket" military benefits (including health care and commissary/exchange privileges) available to a service member upon retirement, impact retention and, indirectly, recruiting. Feedback received during my travels to military bases throughout the world indicates a perception of declining value for the post-1986 military retirement system. I know that there have been a number of studies of the military retirement system over the past several decades and, if confirmed, I will research this issue and work with the Secretary to ensure Congress is informed of personnel needs.
If so, what changes would you propose to remedy the negative aspects of the military retirement system?
I am aware that a number of ideas have been put forth, including the Navy’s proposal to permit military personnel to participate in a thrift savings plan like Federal civilian employees. If confirmed, I look forward to working with the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense in conducting an examination and developing a plan that will facilitate a Congressional review of retirement issues.
In your opinion, do current military base pay rates contribute to increased attrition?
Basic Pay is one of the most important parts of the total military compensation package. Maintaining the competitiveness of the compensation package is paramount to retention and recruiting. Individual perceptions of current military base pay rates contribute to lowered retention in today’s robust civilian economy. As long as good paying civilian jobs are readily available, service members may choose to leave the military, particularly if a "pay gap" (either real or perceived) exists.
Would you recommend a re-engineering of the military pay system to reduce or eliminate bonuses and special pays to permit funding higher base pay rates or would you recommend targeted special pays and bonuses at the expense of base pay increase?
In today’s resource constrained environment, we need to carefully weigh the optimal mix of the elements of total compensation – basic pay, allowances, bonuses and special pays. If confirmed, I will thoroughly study all aspects of total compensation and provide recommendations on the pay system to the Secretary.
If confirmed, you will be entering this important position at a time of concern about the adequacy of the budget, force levels and readiness of our forces.
What background and experience do you have that you believe qualifies you for this position?
My career has been focused on people programs for military personnel and their families. This means combining strategic, long range thinking to develop solutions for day-to-day leadership. I am a Vietnam-era veteran. Since 1982, I have worked with the Congress and DoD to improve opportunities and quality of life for military personnel. For the past 4 1/2 years I have served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel Support, Families and Education. In this capacity, I have devoted my energies to improving quality of life and opportunities for military personnel around the world. I have worked closely with the Department of Navy to ensure: resources were redirected to ensure compliance with the Secretary Dalton’s QoL Master Plan; Navy/Marine Corps MWR programs were appropriately funded; tuition assistance and voluntary education programs continue to meet the needs of Sailors and Marines; DoD Domestic Schools were established on Guam. A large portion of my work involved working closely with Navy and Marine Corps Senior Leadership to ensure that the strategic plans and policies developed corresponded with the unique requirements of the Department of Navy. As a result of my travels, discussions and deliberations with senior officer, enlisted and civilian officials, I know a fair amount--but not everything--about the opportunities and problems facing the Navy and Marine Corps.
Do you believe that there are any steps that you need to take to enhance your expertise to perform the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs?
Although I believe I possess the essential management skills and expertise to be the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, I feel strongly that foremost in any assignment is gaining knowledge from the expertise and advice of others. If confirmed, I will continually and eagerly seek out the advice of the Navy and Marine Corps leadership. In my current capacity as DASD (PSF&E) I have developed excellent relationships with those senior military and civilian officials in DON who have made the Department an outstanding institution for which all Americans can take both comfort and pride. If confirmed I will continue my lifelong pattern of enhancing my learning from a wide range of experts, to include Sailors and Marines in the fleet. I will work closely and collaboratively with DON Senior leadership, members of Congress, and ultimately the American public to ensure a foundation for preparing the DON for leadership in the 21st century.
Management of the Congressional Fellowship Program
In the Committee Report to accompany the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, S. Rept. 104-267, the Committee expressed concern about the management of legislative fellows from the Department of Defense. The Committee remains concerned that the legislative fellowship program has not received the required attention and that no significant management reforms have been implemented.
If confirmed, will you review the Department’s actions as a result of the language in the Committee Report and provide the Committee your assessment of which management reforms have been implemented and which require additional action?
If confirmed, I will review the Department of the Navy’s implementation of management reforms concerning legislative fellows to ensure the continued compliance by the Department with DoD Directives. I understand that the DoD Inspector General completed an Audit Report last year on this issue and, if confirmed, would welcome the opportunity to review the results of the audit with the members of the Committee.
What are your personal views on the value and current management of the legislative fellowship program within the Department of Defense? Specifically, in your opinion are legislative fellowships awarded to deserving military or civilian personnel? Following their fellowship, are legislative fellows assigned to positions in their service in which the experience and knowledge they gained during their fellowship is used effectively?
I believe the Legislative Fellows program is an invaluable educational experience for military members. This program allows the DoN to bring the military’s unique perspective to the process of drafting and passing legislation while providing the service member an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the legislative process. This experience will be of value to both the Service and the member during subsequent tours. If confirmed, I will continue to assign a high priority to selecting only the most outstanding officers for this program.
Military legislative fellows routinely do not wear their military uniforms while working in the Senate. Do you believe that the fellowship program would be degraded if military fellows were required to wear their military uniforms? If so, in what way would the program be degraded?
I believe the integration of military fellows into the legislative process is central to success. The long standing practice of military fellows working in civilian attire has a positive impact on the preserving their independence. In performance of their duties, fellows interact routinely with senior military leaders. Wearing civilian attire helps insulate them from any real or perceived influence of military rank. This practice enhances their credibility as a Legislative Fellow.
In order to exercise its legislative and oversight responsibilities, it is important that this Committee and other appropriate committees of the Congress are able to receive testimony, briefings, and other communications of information.
Do you agree, if confirmed for this high position, to appear before this Committee and other appropriate committees of the Congress?
Do you agree, when asked, to give your personal views, even if those views differ from the Administration in power?
Do you agree, if confirmed, to appear before this Committee, or designated members of this Committee, and provide information, subject to appropriate and necessary security protection, with respect to your responsibilities as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs?
Do you agree to ensure that testimony, briefings and other communications of information are provided to this Committee and its staff and other appropriate Committees?