Dissenting View of Symington Airpower Report

April 1, 1957
Two months ago, when we reproduced the findings and conclusions of the majority report of the Symington Airpower Subcommittee, time and space precluded publication of the conclusions of a dissenting minority report, prepared and submitted by Sen. Leverett Saltonstall (R.-Mass.). Herewith are Senator Saltonstall’s conclusions which, as he points out, were concurred in by former Sen. James H. Duff (R.-Penna.), who sat on the subcommittee but was defeated for reelection last fall. As in the case of the majority report, we have not published the lengthy supporting testimony on which the conclusions were based.—The Editors

I have declined to sign the majority report because I conclude that:

1. The majority report takes an unduly pessimistic view of the state of our defense today and of our planning for the future.

2. It is not sufficiently objective because it does not take into account all of the testimony pertinent to the points covered.

3. It does not give sufficient weight to the testimony of the civilian heads of the Department of Defense. This runs counter to the constitutional principle of civilian control over the military forces which has been inherent in our form of government since 1789. Our present system which has its roots in our Constitution has proved itself in both peace and war.

4. It confines its analysis almost exclusively to the four years since 1953. In my judgment, the present military effort cannot properly be evaluated without considering our position at the close of World War II, the speedy demobilization after the war, and the build-up for the Korean war, which determined the composition and capabilities of our defense forces in 1953.

5. Our airpower and our naval strength, together with our ground forces, make us superior to the Soviet Union today.

That is the opinion of those who testified before the subcommittee on this point. I am confident it is the firm determination of those responsible for our defense to continue to plan and provide adequate military strength, of which airpower is the most vital segment, for the nation in years to come.

We can never engage in a numbers race with Russia. We do not want to do so. What we do want are balanced land, sea, and air forces which give us a visible deterrent and such power to retaliate quickly and devastatingly that no enemy would dare to attack us.

6. Our defense establishment can never be in a state of perfection because military forces in being at any one time can always be improved by new weapons and equipment, which scientific progress is continually making possible.

The task, then, is to press forward with those programs which, in our judgment, will provide for such modernization of our forces as is essential for the security needs of our country.

Vast programs to this end are now in progress. We can be optimistic about them and take confidence from the many instances of solid accomplishment.

In my judgment, there are no quick and easy solutions to those problems already identified. They require continued unrelenting efforts by the Department of Defense. The Congress, too, will be called upon to act, particularly insofar as legislative authorizations and appropriations are concerned.

Where we can anticipate any problem areas in the future we must be quick to take early steps to meet them. The importance of this becomes apparent in considering our need to maintain our technological lead upon which our military superiority so heavily depends. Here is an area requiring sustained action over the years. It is one where every American citizen has responsibilities. Our educational institutions have a special responsibility. We must enlist their aid in producing ever larger numbers of scientists and engineers.

I believe eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and we all have a solemn duty in that regard.

This minority report has been reviewed by former Sen. James H. duff, who served with great diligence as the other minority member on the subcommittee throughout its hearings. He has authorized me to say that if he were a member of the Senate, he would approve this minority report.