Past Speakers of the: LANDON LECTURES

Landon Lecture by W. C. Westmoreland,

U.S. Army Chief of Staff
April 9, 1969

by W. C. Westmoreland

Seemingly, I stand at this moment in two worlds. As a member of the military, I stand in the world of the Establishment . . . and as a lecturer at this University, I stand in the world of the educator overlapping the world of the student. Supposedly, between our worlds there is a great distance - not just from this podium to the front row - but a gigantic chasm - the abyss called the "generation gap." This alleged gap is particularly wide since from what I hear, it begins at age thirty . . . and I must confess that I more than qualify.

In any event, without falling into the chasm, I hope to bridge that alleged gap today . . . if even for a moment . . . if even with a thread of understanding . . . understanding concerning your Army.

In my judgment, thorough knowledge and understanding of the military establishment and of the role that it plays in our society are matters of importance to all informed citizens. In this regard, the higher the proportion of American citizens who make a real effort to be informed, the better the likelihood that the citizenry will endorse, through our democratic processes, basic decisions affecting our national welfare . . . national security as well as in other areas.

It is not the task of the professional military to lead in this informing process. We in uniform should not - must not - become public advocates for particular courses of action. We must meticulously avoid actions which challenge the doctrine of civilian supremacy or which smack of Service partisanship.

Still as citizens, the military should not remain silent. It is difficult to associate silence with any kind of educative dialogue. Professional military men must be appreciative of their role in our society when they speak. On the other hand, it seems to me that our citizenry - specifically those of you who are being educated for future leadership - must also be aware of the functions of the military and of the limits of these functions.

Definitive formulations of roles are hard to come by in this area. Once again, you share with me a continuing concern as citizens for problems, which are infinitely easier to state than they are to solve.

Consequently, in talking about the Army, I shall go back to its beginning to discuss its foundation and, then, its necessity to have interface with our society. I will discuss its role as part of the military establishment, fundamental characteristics of the Army, wellsprings or sources of capabilities; and finally, I will comment on specific Army capabilities . . . what it can do, what it cannot do.

The foundation of our present military establishment was laid in the cornerstone of our government - the Constitution of the United States. Our founding fathers had a great fear of a large permanent military. They had inherited from Europe a distrust of the military, which had for years been the bulwark of the personal armies of Kings. They were terrified of the legislative army of Cromwell. Because of this inheritance, our founding fathers feared for the liberties of the people.

The framers of our Constitution correctly took care of watching the Army. They incorporated into the Constitution certain provisions, which for over 190 years have successfully regulated and directed our military - a situation, which is unique in the world, I might add.

The then new government received through the Constitution sufficient authority to develop a military establishment - an establishment as large as needed for the defense of our Nation, and one that could be supported by our national resources. The size of this establishment in a representative government depends on the current mood of the public.

Our Constitution states that-

"The Congress shall have power . . .

"To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.

"To provide and maintain a Navy . . .

"To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions . . .''

Several concepts are immediately apparent in these constitutional provisions.

First, notice the contrast between the phrases ''raise and support armies'' and "provide and maintain a Navy." It is clear that the framers of our Constitution wanted a citizen army, which could be raised in time of emergency. Their desire was the basis for our civilian-soldier concept - one that was intended to continue.

On the other hand, "to provide and maintain a Navy" conceived of a force inkling. Such a concept is quite consistent with the maritime nature of our original States, and our founders were well aware of the tremendous time lag between developing and producing capital ships. They reasoned that without such a force inkling, no naval threat could be engaged.

However, over the years technology has virtually eliminated the former luxury of time and distance - the threat to our national security has increased at the same time. Technology has rapidly advanced in all Services; weaponry has become increasingly sophisticated. Consequently, the need for an Army inkling has become an essential factor to our national security.

Going back to the Constitution, we see in its provisions concerning the militia the need to draw on the civilian in times of emergency. Conditions have not altered this need.

And in order to regulate and control the Navy, the Constitution implied control through use of its purse strings. However, to assuage the new government's fear of powerful standing armies, the unique two-year appropriation rider was attached to the ants of raising armies.

In order to further the system of checks and balances, the Constitution vested military command in the Executive Branch with the President as Commander in Chief of the Services and of the Militia, when activated. Authority over the military was further fragmented by giving States control of their own militias. Thus, they became another effective check against a large standing federal army and as a by-product precluded America from ever having a legislative army of the Congress or a personal army of the President.

So, we see that from the very beginning, our Constitution affirmed the American historic concept of a dual military system under civilian control. That dual system is visible today in your "One Army'' - one army of the people made up of regulars, reserves, National Guard, selectees - all being interdependent, but being supervised by the people through the Congress, the President, and the States.

Throughout the years our Army has kept pace with a dynamic American society - but always under civilian control.

Our Armed Forces are the staunchest supporters of our form of government. They themselves would resist all efforts to change that basic policy.

The Army is profoundly aware that it exists for the American people and operates under the command and control of dedicated civilians who owe their position and authority to constitutional processes. Therefore, the Army can accomplish for an extended period only those missions, which are accepted by the American Nation, which the Army exists to support. Composed of a representative segment of the American people, the Army must believe as an institution that what it is doing is right, proper, and directed by the people.

Further, as I stressed earlier, the Army is acutely conscious that it is not and cannot become a political force within the United States. Each individual may, and as a citizen must, responsibly consider national issues and exercise his mandate to vote; but as an institution, the Army must not attempt to influence domestic political processes.

For this reason, the Army is reluctant to engage in domestic tasks, which involve domestic politics. However, it does have a role in civil works and disaster relief, and civil emergencies.

As an Agency within the Executive Branch, the Army is only one of many instruments of policy. The Army blends its military capabilities into an integrated whole, involving all of the instruments of national policy - political, economic, diplomatic and psychological - all a part of a well orchestrated national effort.

The Army must not only be prepared and flexible to meet new and unforeseen requirements to support national programs, it must also be prepared to do so effectively within the bounds of our national style.

Traditionally, the American people have cherished the concept of the citizen-soldier. Deeply imbedded within the American ethos is the idea that every citizen is a soldier. Our Army and our country have grown and developed on the precept of civilian and military teamwork.

Above all, we seek to maintain a balance between the citizen-soldier and the professional soldier.

To stay healthy, the military establishment is dependent on America's citizenry. I am talking, of course, about the continuous movement of citizens in and out of the Service . . . the movement which maintains the needed citizen contact and awareness between our military establishment and our citizenry, and without which the Army might become a danger to our society - a danger that our forefathers so carefully tried to preclude.

Allow me to talk for a moment about the dependence of the military on the people.

In an effort to remain apolitical, let me acknowledge my awareness of the Selective Service issue. It is a deep philosophical question. If all are not to serve, who should serve? What are the economic and social implications of an all-volunteer force? As you know, President Nixon has recently appointed an Advisory Commission, composed of leading citizens, to study this matter in depth.

I have purposely not gone into specifics on the Selective Service System - commonly called the draft - but I do want to make a point in passing. Contrary to what many people think, the Army has nothing to do with running the draft. The draft is run by an entirely separate agency of the government over which neither the Army nor the Department of Defense has any control.

Having set the record straight on that one, I shall continue.

Perhaps one of the distinguishing characteristics of our century is the movement of all professions toward the concept of specialization. Yet, I believe that recently we have witnessed in our society a gradual reversal toward generalization. Certainly, as never before in our history, our entire Nation has need for well-rounded thinkers - spherical thinkers, as I prefer to call them - not men with a single vision. Rather, we need enlightened men who can relate . . . men who can see the mutual dependence - or non-dependence - of matters . . . and yet, at the same time, men who can view the several parts as a whole.

Although the military profession has had its share of specialization, it has only been an extracurricular effort.

A brief look at the educational credentials of the Officer Corps of the Army shows both their high quality and their broad basis. For example: Nearly 90 percent of the career officers in the Army today hold baccalaureate degrees - our goal, of course, is 100 percent. Also, under a civilian schooling program, specially selected officers are trained at leading universities in order to meet specific needs which demand the higher disciplines associated with masters degrees and doctorates. Today, some 20 percent of our career officers already hold advanced degrees; and we estimate that approximately 75 percent of our career officers may expect the opportunity to gain advanced degrees during their service.

The day when wars were fought by military tactics alone has long since passed . . . if, indeed, it ever existed. Rather, the waging of war and the maintenance of peace and security are the products of national efforts, which include all instruments of national policy - the political, the socioeconomic, the psychological, and the military.

Obviously, current demands have added new dimensions to the challenges faced by our military commanders. As never before, the military is in need of generalists, not specialists-officers who are military men first and foremost but who have an awareness and appreciation of the other factors that inevitably have a bearing on military policy. Vietnam is, undoubtedly, the best example of our need for this type of leader.

Five wars are being waged in Vietnam today at one and the same time. It is unrealistic to speak of them separately because they are so closely meshed and mutually supporting. And yet for analysis, it is often necessary to view each individually to discover its complexities and its interrelationship with the others. I shall cite these wars briefly:

1. The war in Vietnam is fundamentally political. Such is the case with all wars.

2. The war is sociological.

3. The war is economic.

4. The war is psychological.

However, the existence of these four separate - but related - wars tends to be obscured by the tempo of the fifth, the military war. Violence is more easily depicted - and more readily perceived - than are the rather un-dramatic, but vital, actions of nation building.

This so-called war of national liberation being less than total - and I'm referring to total war in the sense of World War I and World War II - is often more complex . . . often more demanding. And thus, we need more than ever before the leader who is the spherical thinker . . . not the man with stovepipe vision. We need the man who finds exhilaration in the study of all aspects of mankind: man's capacity to love and hate, his willingness to serve and desire to govern, his thirst for truth . . . the man who is just and compassionate . . . the man who is a humanist. We need the leader who looks out for his men, who knows his position as a servant of our people . . . who has wisdom to see beyond his present actions to what their consequences might be.

There is only one place that this type of man can originate. He must be the product of a liberal education. He must come from our institutions of higher learning - the fountainheads of humanism. Surely, the late General Eisenhower - who came from this "heart of America" - was one of these men.

Al1 of us - you and I - wish within our hearts that armies could be forever eliminated from the face of the earth. Only a fool would ever hope for war. One who has tasted the bitterness and witnessed the cruelties of war certainly would never become its advocate. Yet, while we work to achieve peace - to see that day when armies are eliminated from the face of the earth - we must continue to face the harsh realities of life. And, violence between men and violence between nations are harsh realities with which we must be able to cope.

I have talked about the foundations of the military establishment as they relate to the Army. I have discussed the citizen-soldier concept, and I have touched upon the Army's leadership needs as they both pertain to the Army's reflecting the will of our society.

With the foregoing as background and as food for thought, I should further like to reinforce some of the points I have attempted to make in addition to accomplishing my mission of stimulating responsible thought concerning our Army.

I have organized these additional thoughts to discuss in turn: the role of the Army within the military establishment . . . fundamental characteristics of the Army . . . wellsprings or sources of capabilities . . . and lastly, several remarks on specific Army capabilities.

In addition to the checks and balances established by the Constitution, your Army operates within very precise guidelines that establish its statutory responsibilities to the Nation. The military establishment as a whole is directed-

" . . . to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; to insure by timely and effective military action the security of the United states, its possessions, and areas vital to its interests; to uphold and enhance the national policies and interests of the United States; and to safeguard the internal security of the United States."

In short, the military establishment is tasked to defend and secure the Nation, its citizens, and its interests. The primary role of the Army is its responsibility " . . . for the preparation of land forces . . ." necessary for the effective defense of the Nation.

In carrying out this role, the Army is able to physically seize and occupy the land and thereby assert prolonged influence on the will of man who is a land-being. And in influencing man, the Army is capable of applying force selectively and in measured fashion. It may be:

"force" represented by the power to influence action through assistance or advisory relationships, or
"force" as represented by the restrained use of conventional land power as in Vietnam, or
"force" implied in the possession of nuclear weapons.

The most important characteristic of the Army is its dependence on man. Because the Army relies on man and not machines, and because it is composed of men from every field of endeavor, it is capable of unique flexibility - a flexibility that permits the Army to adapt to any mission it may be assigned. Many times in history your Army has demonstrated is flexibility in meeting the needs of our Nation - needs that emphasize construction rather than destruction.

  • The need to map and survey our new and growing nation caused our young republic to send its small Army west of the Appalachians.

  • A need for engineering talent to develop our nation led to creation of the first higher engineering school established in the United States - the United States Military Academy founded in 1802. (Incidentally, the Military Academy has kept up with the increasing complexity of modern defense. As a result, West Point now has a broad curriculum, balanced between the sciences and the humanities. In his four year academic program a cadet completes 19 courses in the mathematics-science-engineering field, 21 courses in the social science-humanities field, and 8 elective courses which he may choose to pursue in either field, or a combination of both fields.)

  • Needs for increased arteries of communication in a developing nation caused Army engineers to plan and construct roads, railroads, and canals . . . to include the Panama Canal and the Alaskan Highway.

  • Needs of health gave impetus to the Army Medical Corps to conquer typhoid and yellow fever . . . to develop a means of water purification through chlorination . . . to develop blood plasma substitutes.

  • Incidentally, the first American psychiatry text was written by an Army doctor.

  • Needs of the Nation during the Great Depression of the l930's led to extensive Army involvement in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), a massive effort in social welfare which was a predecessor of the present Office of Economic Opportunity and specifically the Job Corps.

  • Needs for research in space vehicles led to Army development of EXPLORER I, the only ready satellite with which the challenge of SPUTNIK could be met.

  • The need to chart the Antarctic led Army experts in 1962 to map parts of that vast frozen continent.

  • A need to meet aggression led to our commitment in Korea and in Vietnam.

The Army has always been a pioneer. Not only has it built roads, written textbooks and charted virgin wilderness . . . it has also, many times, let the way toward social change.

  • The Army helps many men who would not ordinarily be able to serve in the Armed Forces because of a lack of education. These men are given special training which enables them to become effective soldiers and - very important - gives them an opportunity to learn skills and develop attitudes and habits which will make them more productive citizens. Thus, the Army, the individual, and the Nation benefit by this program.

  • The interest of the Army does not end when the youth of America take off their uniforms. Through a special project that we call TRANSITION, we assist soldiers about to be discharged to prepare themselves for civilian life. For several months prior to completing their Army service, soldiers can receive special training to prepare them better for civilian jobs in government and industry - training that improves their future prospects and again adds strength to our Nation.

  • The Army led this Nation in creating a truly integrated society.

  • where race plays no part and any man can advance in accordance with his demonstrated abilities.

Through their military service, our youth have learned how to live and work together as Americans. Men from every race, creed, and color are working, living, and lighting side by side in the Services of our country.

Today, a Negro soldier is dragged from the battlefield by a white medic. A white soldier lives to see another dawn only because a Negro soldier threw himself upon an exploding grenade. And a Protestant soldier is counseled and led in prayer by a Catholic Chaplain. These are experiences that will serve to strengths our Nation by overcoming the parochial images and the misunderstandings associated with social changes taking place within our - within their - country.

In my opinion, these examples illustrate that the Army is equally interested in the peaceful aspects of its role. It accepts those responsibilities with the same fervor that it does its others, and always for the same purpose - the continued security of our Nation.

I could cite many other contributions to our society through the constructive side of the Army. However, let me make it perfectly clear that I am not attempting to paint a picture of sweetness and light. The Army is equally capable of performing its mission of providing security to our Nation through its complete mastery of the art of warfare.

We have seen that the Army reflects the flexibility and adaptability of the American citizen. The Army's capabilities are derived from-or come from-what I shall call the Wellsprings of Capability . . . wellsprings which are continuously charged by the constant relationship between our Army and our society.

The most important wellsprings or sources of capability are: the Army as a profession, the nature of the threat to our Nation, and our national policy.

The primary Wellspring of Capability is the nature of the Army, and the other military services, as a profession. It is unique as a profession, for it demands the ultimate commitment-service, if necessary, to the point of death.

The professional military man must bear the awesome responsibility not only for his own life but also for those who serve under his command. Further, when an officer takes his oath of office he swears that he ". . . will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . without any mental reservation. . . .'' Through this oath, responsibility of the military profession goes beyond self and those under one's direct command. It extends to the survival of our Nation. With total commitment and total responsibility comes the total dedication to country, which characterizes the American soldier.

As the Army places unique demands upon a man, so also it develops unique perspectives within the individual - perspectives that also contribute to the Wellspring of Army Capability. The soldier must believe that what he is doing is contributing in some manner to the resolution of what "really matters'' to our citizenry - that is in the best interests of his country.

In earlier days this direct association was relatively easy to establish. The Indian fighter saw and knew the settlers whom he protected. Today, it tends to be more difficult to establish such a relationship due to our global commitments and our larger and far more complex society. However, it has been my experience that this relationship has been successfully bridged by those young men and women who have continued to step forward when their country needed them.

Another contributor to the Wellsprings of Capability is also derived from the professional nature of the Army. It is what I term the ''search for adequacy.'' In this tumultuous world, one can never completely be certain of his enemy's capabilities, much less of his intentions. Yet, the professional military leader continues by his oath to be responsible for American lives and the security of the Nation. He must strive to develop the capabilities imbuing which will deter attack or which, at least, will defend the interests of the United States at the lowest possible cost in lives. Contrary to some voices, this leader is not a grasping megalomaniac. Nor is he part of a cabal - the so-called "military-industrial complex" - a complex which allegedly generates ever increasing military requirements and, in turn, military capabilities. Rather, the military leader's judgment represents, in the aggregate, a considered judgment . . . a judgment of dedicated and experienced professionals with one goal in mind - our Nation's survival against the threats of an uncertain tomorrow.

Many will argue that the military wants too much . . . that it inflates its requirements and deprecates its capabilities to grow larger at the expense of other national needs. This debate is good. It is healthy. It is the unique product of an open society. The Army's voice is only one of many in the great defense debate. Al1 voices must be heard. But one important fact stands out in our form of society; it is the responsibility of the people to establish the final priority.

The second Wellspring of Capability is the nature of the threat. It is the standard against which your Army determines its requirements and measures its capabilities.

The threat is complex. It is bipolar at the strategic nuclear level and multi-polar in its potential for conducting conventional warfare. In addition, there are literally tens of nations capable of supporting aggressive insurgency within the borders of their neighbors.

The threat is further complicated by a spectrum of weaponry which extends from the highly sophisticated weapons possessed by the Soviet Union to the sharpened stake and cross bow which have been employed in undeveloped countries.

Areas of possible commitment range from tropical jungle to arid desert, to frigid arctic. Each of these extreme environments requires its own adaptations of Army capabilities and techniques of employment.

Never before in the history of war has the military force of a nation faced such a diverse challenge. Today it is conceivable that a combat unit could be required to move from the jungles of Vietnam to mountainous southern Germany in a matter of days. Overnight, the threat the unit must address changes drastically - from the jungle ambush to massed Soviet tanks operating in an advanced tactical environment with the ever-present threat of the enemy's use of nuclear weapons.

The range of problems facing the U.S. Army today is unique. For example: our Army must be prepared to act equally effectively against threats to the safety of United States citizens abroad; against ants of deliberate aggression under the guise of insurgency; and against overt attack accompanied by nuclear assault. No other army faces a wider range of challenges.

The third and last Wellspring which I wish to discuss is "national policy'' - an omnibus term which I use to describe the range of decisions made at higher national levels and which delineate the Army's capabilities. "National policy'' in this sense would include decisions such as the basic national military strategy which the Nation shall pursue and the resources - men, material and money - which are to be allocated to the Army to meet that strategy. The Army is offered lull and adequate opportunity to have its views considered, but the decision very properly rests within the civilian national leadership.

There are other less obvious factors, which influence Army capabilities. Here I am thinking of such aspects as the rate of technological advance in our society, which poses problems in developing and producing weapons. If we delay purchase of a new weapon, we may be able to buy a new, radically better weapon later; but, if we wait too long, we may find ourselves facing an enemy fully armed with weapons better than ours. Decisions regarding research and development are difficult, but they at least imply freedom to influence the future.

The weapons the Army possesses today reflect procurement decisions made five to ten years ago. As in all worldly affairs, "You pay your money, and take your choice." A1l things in life have costs. And as resources devoted to national defense are reduced, so also is the level of defense readiness reduced.

The Army is most certainly not a slave to the past . . . a slave unable to react to the present . . . a slave unable to prepare for the future. Its capabilities are directed by decisions, which lie beyond its power - in authority or in time. This is the third Wellspring of Capability.

Up to this point my remarks have purposely been general in nature - and perhaps a bit theoretical. Hopefully I have set the stage for several specific thoughts that I would like to leave with you.

Naturally, the degree of proficiency with which the Army can fulfill any particular capability is, of course, dependent on the wellsprings, which I have discussed in terms of the men, material, and money provided to the Army.

However, at almost any reasonable level of resource allocation the Army has certain capabilities; but at the same time there are capabilities that the Army cannot possess - regardless of its level of resources - capabilities which money cannot buy. Let's take a look at what the Army can do . . . and also, what it cannot do.

For example:

  • The Army can conduct offensive operations to attain specific objectives, but it cannot insure the desirability, viability, or reliability of the political situation, which results. The Army can help win a war, but every element of government and the Nation must help to win the peace.

  • The Army can provide forces designed to defend in Europe or Asia in order to represent the national will to defend, but it cannot constitute the national will.

  • While our Army should be and is a mirror of the society, which it represents, the possession of capability alone does not deter aggression. There must be the will to employ in order to deter. That will must come from the Nation - not the Army.

  • The Army can prevent a guerrilla army from achieving its military objectives, but it cannot resolve the political problems from which an insurgency is derived. Successful elimination of the sources of insurgency involves far more than a military effort. It requires a coordinated national effort in support of an allied nation willing to institute political, military and economic change.

  • The Army can equip, train, and advise a foreign army, but it cannot insure that the army will be used to advance representative government or economic development. Increasing the military capabilities of a foreign army does not guarantee that the army will be used as we may wish, nor does it insure the favorable solution of internal political or economic problems.

  • The Army can be employed to alleviate the symptoms of domestic discontent, but it cannot remove the sources of discontent. The Army can, within carefully prescribed limits, contribute its expertise to resolution of grievances, but it cannot do this to the detriment of its primary mission of providing security against foreign threat.

I have described the upper and lower limits of capability - in each case extreme examples. Current and probable Army capabilities generally fall between the two. Precisely where they fall can only be determined by decisions made by the Executive Branch, by the Congress and, ultimately, by the electorate.

We are now at a point in history where we are conducting a major review of our commitments and policies. That review naturally requires that numerous questions be asked and answered. If the informed citizen is to properly evaluate proposals, he must be aware of these questions:

- Is the most significant threat to the United States foreign or domestic, or is it a combination of the two?

- To what extent can we safely rely on the support of overseas allies to insure our national security? Is their degree of support commensurate with our degree of reliance?

- Who are our enemies? What are their intentions? Do we base our actions on what they are capable of, or do we base our actions on our assessment of intentions?

Today, in seeking to bridge the so-called generation gap, I have stressed the continuous need for interface between America's citizens and her Army. I have stressed the Army's role in our society, in particular as an element provided by the Constitution with safeguards as to its use.

It is an element, which as a social force has spear-headed integration, improved education, and has trained thousands for leadership.

It is an element that, in conjunction with the other Services, provides security for our Nation.

It is an element that is always ready to respond to constituted civilian authority in support of our Nation's commitments.

It is an element that does not make policy, but is an instrument of that policy.

It is the shield behind which our democratic processes have thrived and our Nation has developed.

In talking to you, I have addressed my remarks recognizing fully your dual status: both as students concerned with the present, and as students faced with the awesome responsibility of the future leadership of our society.

Accordingly, I ask that in each role:

  • You understand the constitutional basis for the formation and utilization if the Armed Forces of our Nation.

  • And finally, that you recognize that these forces are essential elements in the society of which you will soon become an active and - most certainly - a constructive participant.

The transcription of this Landon Lecture was accomplished through the cooperation of the Kansas State University Libraries and the Office of Mediated Education.

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