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Government has a responsibility not only to make history but to record it
. James Madison said that a “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both.” As a principal guarantor of U.S. national security, the Department of Defense has a special obligation to keep the nation informed. Publication of documents and histories is one of the ways in which government makes itself accountable to the public.
This volume, the first of a series by the Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, affirms the importance of capturing and preserving the historical record in published works. It is a collection of documents with a single theme--the establishment and development of the organization of the Department of Defense. This reference collection contains source materials that will be useful to scholars, officials of government, reporters of current affairs, and others. It may also afford insights into the evolution of a large and complex department of government. Most important of all, the presentation of these documents in a single volume will serve well the broader purpose of informing the public about the operation of government.
Pocuments, U.S. Government Printing Office
The basic purpose of the National Security Act of 1947 was to establish an integrated structure to formulate national security policy at the uppermost level of the U.S. Government. The military establishment received special and detailed attention in this legislation because of its central role in making and executing national security policy. The changes wrought in the military establishment by the National Security Act and subsequent legislation and Executive orders--particularly the 1949 amendments, Reorganization Plan 6 of 1953, and the Reorganization Act of 1958-were intended to bring about unification of the armed forces through more centralized direction, stronger cohesion, and greater joint effort and mutual support. In the main, progress in this direction has been achieved through the exercise of control and coordination by the Secretary of Defense, whose powers have been significantly strengthened by legislative and executive actions. During the years since 1958 the Secretaries of Defense have used these expanded powers and sought relatively few changes in the basic law. The Joint Chiefs of Staff also have contributed to the integration of military policy and programs.
In this volume are gathered the basic statutes, Executive orders, and related documents that constitute the official authentication of the creation and organization of the Department of Defense since its establishment in 1947. These documents fall into two main categories. First and foremost are those pertaining to the fundamental instrument creating the Department of Defense—the National Security Act of 1947—together with all of the sig. nificant changes in that act in the years following. The second category (Part VI of this volume) consists of documents-executive rather than legislative-which pertain to the roles and missions of the armed Services. These are essential to an understanding of the evolution of the organizations and functions of the armed Services in relation to each other and to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
As is inevitable in such compilations, it has been necessary to be selective and discriminating in the choice of documents. The guiding principle was to restrict the choices to the highest levels of organization and function. Accordingly, documents pertaining to internal changes within the military Services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense are included only if their significance extends beyond a single Service. Pertinent history of the legislative and executive branch documents appears in headnotes, together with citations to additional sources. The organization charts presented have been altered from their original form to correct errors, clarify content, and improve readability.