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Rear Admiral Frank F. Fletcher (Retired) to Senator Frederick Hale of Maine, Chairman of the Subcommittee of the Committee on Naval Affairs.

                                                                  WAGNER INN,

                                                   Poughkeepsie, N. Y., May 16, 1920.

Senator Frederick Hale,

     Chairman Subcommittee on the Naval Investigation.

     MY DEAR SENATOR HALE: In reply to your letter regarding suggestions as to desirable changes in the organization of the Navy Department I am of the following opinion.

     First. The assistant for material now in the office of the Chief of Operations should be made chief of material acting directly under the Secretary of the Navy.1

     Second. The assistant for personnel now in the Office of Chief of Operations should be chief of personnel acting directly under the Secretary of the Navy.

     Third. The General Board should be established legally by act of Congress as an advisory body of experienced officers to the Secretary of the Navy. In addition to its present duties it should be intrusted with the preparation of war plans. The war plans are founded upon a continuity of policy and study and should not vary according to the ideas of each changing executive. No executive officer of the Navy Department should be a member of the General Board.2

     Fourth. Create the office of chief inspector who would act in an advisory capacity to the Secretary of the Navy as to the condition and efficiency of the various parts of the naval establishment. This officer should also be a member of the General Board.3

     The present organization of the Navy Department is founded upon the so-called Meyer plan of organization in so far as the establishment of the Office of Chief of Operations. It is much superior to any previous plan of organization the department ever had and has stood the test of a war that called for a large expansion of the Navy. The slight modifications which I have suggested are believed to be in accordance with sounder principles of organization and will tend to greater stability.

                   Very respectfully,

                                                               F.F. FLETCHER,

                                                              Rear Admiral Retired.

Source Note: TCy, Naval Investigation, 2:3408-9.

Footnote 1: In his testimony before the House Committee on Naval Affairs on 3 March 1916, Fletcher had similarly argued that Congress should pass legislation creating the position of Aide for Material. Fletcher himself had previously served as Aide for Material from 1910 to 1912, but, much like the General Board, this position had been created at the Secretary of the Navy’s initiative rather than legislatively established by an act of Congress.  Morison, Naval Administration, II-22-4.

Footnote 2: Under naval regulations, the CNO served as an ex officio member of the General Board, a practice which did not end until March 1932. John Kuehn, America’s First General Staff: A Short History of the Rise and Fall of the General Board of the Navy, 1900-1950 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2017), 176-8.

Footnote 3: For similar proposals to create an office of inspections, see: Roosevelt to Hale, 4 June 1920; Twining to Hale, 22 May 1920, Naval Investigation, 2:3414.

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