I Want You! The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Army
The evolution described in this book is not only about the all-volunteer force, it is also about my own evolution over the almost 40 years of my professional career. As the all-volunteer force advanced from a concept to a proposal, to a faltering reality, to a mature and resilient institution, I grew from a young Army captain, to an economist at the RAND Corporation, to a senior executive at the Department of Defense. The all-volunteer force was the result of the hard work of a large number of dedicated people — many highlighted in this book. My personal evolution was also the result of the support I received from a great many people. You never do it alone. This book is about them as much as it is about me and the all-volunteer force.
First and foremost is the support and encouragement I received from my wife, Louise, and our sons, David and Michael. Louise was there from the very beginning of both stories and even before. Through graduate school at Syracuse University, to my Army service at the Pentagon, out to California, and back and forth across the country four times, she raised a family, had a career, and was able to even put up with me with good humor. My late parents, Madeline and Leon Rostker, provided the intellectual stimulation and opportunities for me to discover my calling and then follow it. After my military tour in the Pentagon’s Systems Analysis office, it was my father who was most enthusiastic about me taking up RAND’s offer of employment. He said he was sure that it would be the best of all my offers to launch a career, and he was right.
RAND as an institution has had many lives and has changed and adapted over the nearly 40 years I have been associated with it. I am sure that each generation of RANDites thinks that it arrived during RAND’s golden years, but I am sure that when I came in 1970, it was RAND’s golden years. We had a privileged relationship with the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. We had a small, dedicated, and outstanding young staff that lived and worked together in the sunshine of Santa Monica. Military manpower was a new area for economists, and there was a whole world to discover. The person who recruited me to RAND and would be my mentor for the rest of my life was John White. John and I were both graduate students at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at the same time. While John was several years ahead of me, we shared many of the same professors and the same dissertation advisor, Jerry Miner. When I went off to the Pentagon to do my Army service, John went to RAND, and after my tour was over, he was instrumental in recruiting me to RAND.
At RAND, I was fortunate to meet and work with Rick Cooper, David S. C. Chu, Bob Roll, Glenn Gotz, John McCall, David Greenberg, Frank Camm, Dave Armor, Mike Polich, Bruce Orvis, Steve Drezner, and Jim and Susan Hosek and, in later years, Beth Asch, Jim Dertouzos, Dick Buddin, Mike Hix, and Larry Hanser — all soldiers in the cause of the all-volunteer force. I learned more from them than from any other group of people, and that continues to this day. In 1973, when John White moved up to become a vice president at RAND, I was fortunate enough to take over as Director of the Air Force Manpower, Personnel and Training Program. With his support and that of RAND President Don Rice, I honed my skills and learned my craft; then, in 1977, Don was instrumental in me getting a position as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Carter administration.
In my new job at the Pentagon, I was exposed to people and issues that I had never known about as a simple action officer just eight years earlier. I met people who were struggling to make the all-volunteer force work and who would be my colleagues for the rest of my professional life. In the pages of this book, you will meet them, but a number require special recognition. In the Navy, I worked directly for two Washington legends, Graham Claytor and Jim Woolsey, then the Secretary and Under Secretary of the Navy, respectively. I learned about the Navy and military life from my executive assistant, Commander Mike Boorda. In later years, Mike would say that he learned from me, and that was high praise from someone who would become Chief of Naval Operations.
I also worked closely with my counterparts in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. John White had left RAND and was the Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Former RAND colleague Gary Nelson worked for White, as did Richard Danzig and Robin Pirie. Both Richard and Robin would be colleagues again in the 1990s when we all returned to work in the Navy Secretariat. The irrepressible Johnny Johnston made things happen then and for years to come.
In the early years of the all-volunteer force, and in my early years at the Pentagon, there was a dedicated group of people who would sustain the all-volunteer force (and me) in good times and bad. You will also meet them in these pages: Irv Greenberg, Jeanne Fites, Eli Flyer, Al Martin, Steve Sellman, Paul Hogan, Bill Carr, Saul Pleeter, Marty Binkin, Joyce Shields, and Curt Gilroy in “The Building,” as the Pentagon is often called, and, Anita Lancaster, Ken Scheflin, and Robbie Brandewie from the Defense Manpower Data Center. Steve Herbits, Martin Anderson, Bill Brehm, and Don Srull provided leadership at critical times, and each shared with me his experiences. Tom Stanners and Gene Devine were legends at the Office of Management and Budget, as were Arnold Punaro, Frank Sullivan, P. T. Henry, and Charlie Abell from the Senate Armed Services Committee and Kim Winkup, Karen Heath, and John Chapla from the House Armed Services Committee. The other federally funded research and development centers joined RAND in helping decisionmakers grapple with a seemingly never-ending list of management issues, their representatives including Stan Horowits, Chris Jehn, Aline Quester, Martha Koopman, Bill Simms, Bob Lockman, John Tilson, Larry Goldberg, Dave Kassing, and John Bringerhoff. They, as well as Bob Goldich and Lawrence Kapp of the Congressional Research Service, who provided sage advise to Congress over the years, were most helpful to me in the preparation of this book.
Ultimately, however, it was the military that had to make the all-volunteer force work. I was fortunate to work directly with a number of outstanding officers who steered their respective services’ personnel programs during the most trying years of the all-volunteer force and who were patient with me when the positions I held were more senior than my age or the experience I brought to the job normally demanded. Without their support, my service would have been much more difficult and certainly less enjoyable. In the Air Force, then-Major General John Roberts held the critical positions of Director of Personnel Plans and later Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel of the Air Force when I headed the Air Force’s Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program at RAND; in the Navy, then-Vice Admiral James Watkins was the Chief of Naval Personnel during my time as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs; and in the Army, Major General Maxwell Thurman headed the Army Recruiting Command when I was Director of Selective Service. He later served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel of the Army. All three eventually achieved four-star rank, General Roberts as Commander of the Air Training Command, Admiral Watkins as Chief of Naval Operations — after retirement, he served as Secretary of Energy under President George H. W. Bush — and General Thurman as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and commander U.S. Southern Command during the invasion of Panama.
John White, Richard Danzig, and Robin Pirie gave me the opportunity to guide the Selective Service System, and when President Carter decided to change course, we had a workable plan that could be put in place to register over 2 million young men during the summer of 1980 and the winter of 1981. Without their confidence, encouragement and — when things got hot — direct support, the 1980-1981 registration would not have been as effective as it was. Almost 15 years later, Richard Danzig smoothed the way for my return to government, when I worked for him and John Dalton, as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. And it was John White, then Deputy Secretary of Defense, who reached down into the Navy Department and gave me the “tarbaby” that was the Gulf War Illness problem, which resulted in probably the most significant single thing I did for DoD and our service men and women during my entire career. John gave me the opportunity to serve and help explain to those suffering from unexplained illness after their service in the Gulf War what may have happened and what did not happen during the war and, it was hoped, provide some measure of comfort, if not always relief.
Secretary of Defense William Cohen was one of my strongest supporters when I was the Director of Selective Service and he was the junior senator from Maine. After moving to DoD in 1997, he promoted me to be Under Secretary of the Army and then Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Much of the later chapters of the book covers this period.
I am indebted to the RAND Corporation for the opportunity to work on this book, and when the scope of the book took off, its continued support went far beyond the point that any of us had originally thought would be needed. Jim Thomson, President of RAND; Michael Rich, Executive Vice President; and Brent Bradley, Assistant to the President for Corporate Strategy, gave me the resources to do the job. Their task was helped when Jeanne Fites and Curt Gilroy of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness took up sponsorship. They provided additional funds that covered some of the costs of preparing the final manuscript. David S. C. Chu, the current Under Secretary, read every word of the final draft and not only provided insightful comments from the prospective only he could have, having served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Analysis and Evaluation from 1980 to 1993, but also opened his papers at the Library of Congress, allowing me to review the inner workings of the Defense Resources Board during those important years.
Two of the giants of the all-volunteer force, Walter Oi and John Warner, both were available to me as I wrote this book. Walter’s engagement with this issue goes back to the early 1960s as the Director of Research on the original 1964 Pentagon Draft Study. In 2006, Walter is still engaged as a member of the Defense Military Compensation Commission, as is John White. John Warner has also been engaged at every critical point since he first provided insightful analysis to the Gates Commission. He continues to provide support for the current Defense Military Compensation Commission.
The original plan for this book envisioned a short history to set the stage for a discussion of the economic analysis used by decisionmakers. After I was exposed, however, to the primary source materials contained in the 60 archive boxes of the Steve Herbits collection at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, I was hooked. For me, the words contained in the reports and memorandums archived at Hoover jumped off the pages and brought alive the critical discussions that took place so many years ago. I felt I was in the room and that I could hear people talking. Elena Danielson, the archivist at Hoover, was kind enough to allow me to copy 400 pages of these critical documents. But, alas, Herbits’ papers covered only a small portion of the all-volunteer force period I wanted to cover. I was delighted to find, in the “Bibliographic Note” at the end of Robert Griffith’s book, The U.S. Army’s Transition to the All-Volunteer Force 1968-1974, a reference to papers in Record Group 330 at the National Archives’ Washington National Records Center at Suitland Maryland. David O. (Doc) Cook, the Pentagon’s Director for Administration and Management, told me that Record Group 330 was all DoD papers; since I held the needed security clearances, he approved my access to these papers, subject to final security review and declassification. He asked Harold Neeley at Washington Headquarters Services to facilitate access to the stored files. Sandy Meagher and her supervisor, Robert Storer, provided direct support. As the size and importance of this collection became apparent and as my requests for documents grew to the many hundreds and consisted of thousands of pages, their support was critical. The timely and professional way they did their jobs made this book possible.
At the Records Center, Elizabeth Sears and Mike Waesche provided workspace and access to the 332 boxes of materials that DoD indicated contained materials on the all-volunteer force. Unlike the boxes at the Hoover Institution, which were neatly arranged and catalogued archive boxes, the boxes at the National Records Center were moving boxes, and the materials they contained had been dumped into them when file cabinets had been emptied 25 years before. When I was finished going through all the moving boxes, it was clear that, like the Herbits collection, these materials also stopped in the mid-1970s, when the formal all-volunteer force transition programs ended.
When I explained my problem to Elizabeth and Mike, they told me that there was a better way to get to related papers in the later years. They gave me a copy of the DoD record coding system, and I was able to identify specific codes for the all-volunteer force, Selective Service, recruiting and retention, and enlisted and officer personnel management. They then led me to a mass of filing cabinets that contained all the “accessions” received by the Records Center, including those from DoD. Eventually, I was able to locate folders for all four codes for each year from 1960 through 2002. These folders came from accessions marked “Official Records 1960,” “Official Records 1961,” and so on. I learned that these were accessions from the immediate office of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, and that each year their staffs went through their files and sent anything that was two years old or older to the Records Center. After another round of requests and approvals, an additional 67 boxes were made available, together with 50 folders that were removed from their boxes. All in all, I copied and Sandy Meagher and her staff reviewed and declassified over 5,600 pages from 960 documents. Joanne Palmer at RAND did an outstanding job of scanning all these and more into Portable Document Format (PDF) files that are contained on the DVD.
Further documents were obtained from the Presidential libraries of President Gerald Ford at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center in Atlanta, and President Ronald Reagan in Simi Valley, California, as well as from the Nixon Presidential Materials that are being held by the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. Melvin Laird recommended that I review his papers that were at the Ford Presidential Library. Martin Anderson’s White House papers, which cover the Military Manpower Task Force established in 1980, required special clearance from the Office of the White House General Counsel, and I am indebted to David Chu and to Paul Koffsky and Stewart Aly of the DoD General Counsel’s office for their help in getting the White House to approve the release of these documents. Many former government officials retained copies of important documents from their time in service. They literally scoured attics and garages and sent me folders and boxes of documents. Invariably, each new package of documents shed new light on some incident I thought I understood. For these invaluable sources of materials, I am indebted to Martin Anderson, Al Martin, Steve Sellman, Jeanne Fites, Joyce Shields, Gene Devine, Bill Brehm, Don Srull, Stu Rakoff, Eli Flyer, John Johnston, Irv Greenberg, Bill Carr, Jeff Goldstein, Bob Goldich, and Anita Lancaster. All these documents and more are available on the accompanying DVD, and since the text is linked to these documents, this book is a guide to over 1,700 primary source documents.
The Internet was also an important source of material, including the audio files of John Ford and my seminars at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. My wife, Louise, edited President Carter’s 1980 State of the Union address to highlight the parts where he called for a return to active draft registration. Photographs were provided courtesy of the Jimmy Carter Library and the National Archives.
One advantage of modern information technology is the ability to hyperlink materials. Stand-alone encyclopedias have used linking, and legal reference services link over the internet. When I ran the DoD Gulf War Illness Office, we produced online Case Narratives with footnotes that were linked to source material. When I discovered the vast number of government documents, the number of links for this book took off. I estimate that there may be as many as 6,000 links in this book. Managing such a large number of supporting documents was a major undertaking made manageable by a bibliographic program, EndNote, which is integrated into Microsoft Word. Word and Adobe Acrobat allow me to enter links one at a time, clearly a daunting task that would have taken time but would have been prone to human error. My son Michael suggested that a computer program could be written that would read the information inserted in Word by EndNote and automatically write the link without further intervention. In fact, Michael S. Tseng at RAND wrote just such a program for me, and we were able to automate the linking process. I am indebted to both Michaels for saving me the time and the tedium. The resourceful people at EEI Communications were able to take the Word document with the automated links and transfer the whole document into Adobe’s InDesign program for final layout of both the book and the DVD.
Throughout this project, I benefited from the superb support I received from RAND staff. My long-serving administrative assistant, Nancy Rizor, read and reread countless drafts and made valuable suggestions. Gail Kouril and the rest of the RAND Library staff were able to locate the most obscure references. The Publications and Creative Services group at RAND maintains an archive of every RAND document published since the founding of the corporation in 1948. Michael Rich, RAND’s Executive Vice President, facilitated the use of historically important RAND documents that helped tell the story of the evolution of the all-volunteer force. The Pentagon Library, damaged in the attack of September 11, 2001, was a valued source of one-of-a-kind documents. They are an important resource for the whole defense community.
I am indebted to Jim Hosek and Robin Pirie for taking on the task of formally reviewing the manuscript for this book. Both excel in their firsthand knowledge of the events and technical studies described in this book. The book is all the better for their efforts. Phyllis M. Gilmore edited the book with a light but firm hand and, for good or bad, let my voice come through. Finally, halfway through my Army tour at the Pentagon, Congressman Melvin Laird took over as Secretary of Defense. To an Army captain, but one of the 50,000 people working in the building at that time, Secretary Laird was a storied figure. I could never have imagined that, 35 years later, I would write a book about the all-volunteer force or that Secretary Laird would honor me by writing a foreword to that book. If someone at the time had told me that would happen, I would have said, “fiction,” but this only goes to show that life is often stranger than fiction.