V. OPTIONS FOR FURTHER ACTION
PROMOTION BASED ON PERFORMANCE
No significant error was committed in any of the three personnel
actions.  Their cumulative effect placed Admiral Kimmel and General
Short in their current two-star rank on the retired list. Relief and
retirement were all but inevitable, and not unfair under the
Promotion is based on potential, and not on past performance. That is,
promotion is based on expectation of performance at the level to which
the individual is being considered for promotion. At the time of the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel and General Short had
been promoted to four-star and three-star rank, respectively, based on
their potential for performance at that Level of command. Their relief
on 16 December 1941 reflected the Service Secretaries' assessment that
their potential for continued service at those grades had changed.
By the end of 1946, the Services and the Joint Congressional Committee
had independently concluded that Admiral Kimmel and General Short had
adequate information to suggest placing their forces in a higher state
of readiness to defend against an air attack on Pearl Harbor. They had
sufficient forces to put up an effective as well as spirited defense had
those forces been alerted and coordinated. Government officials at the
highest levels reached similar conclusions over the next 50 years. This
DoD study -- after examining all the facts and circumstances anew --
finds no basis to change the conclusion reached by the Services, Joint
Congressional Committee and others-that Admiral Kimmel and General Short
made "errors of judgment".
This report concludes that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were not
solely responsible for the disaster at Pearl Harbor. Others made
significant errors of judgment. In particular, senior Army and Navy
leaders failed to appreciate fully and to convey to the commanders in
Hawaii the sense of focus and urgency that intercepted Japanese messages
should have engendered. That they did not do so does not excuse the
errors of Admiral Kimmel and General Short. The scope of the disaster at
Pearl Harbor and the lofty ranks of Admiral Kimmel and General Short set
them apart from others who served in World War II. The decisions not to
promote or advance them on the retired list, or otherwise restore their
temporary ranks, were not unfair. There is no basis to require reversal
of those decisions.
As noted earlier, three- and four-star grades are "positions of
importance and responsibility" requiring individual Senate confirmation.
As earlier sections of this review suggest, though perhaps at times they
were unfairly characterized, Admiral Kimmel and General Short were not
entirely blameless in connection with Pearl Harbor. They were the
 See Section II, above.
men in charge at the site of the worst military disaster in US history,
and their errors of judgment were of sufficient magnitude to lead to the
conclusion that their overall performance did not compare favorably to
that expected of other three-star and four-star officers of their era.
PROMOTION BASED ON OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President broad
power, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint officers in
the Armed Forces.  The President may use that discretionary authority
to appoint an officer independently of the statutes that otherwise
govern the promotion process.  Thus, the President has the power to
nominate Admiral Kimmel and General Short for posthumous advancement on
the retired list.
Because of their unique positions as the commanders on the scene in
Hawaii, it was inevitable that much of the weight of public dismay over
the Pearl Harbor disaster focused immediately on Admiral Kimmel and
General Short. The need to keep secret the nation's codebreaking
capabilities prevented knowledgeable officials from correcting the
record during the war years. The families of Admiral Kimmel and General
Short are concerned today with the lingering effects of reports
published over fifty years ago. They argue that the "stigma and obloquy"
from that era persist, and demand official government action, saying
"the vehicle we have chosen"  to restore those officers' reputations
is advancement on the retired list.
Advancement on the retired list is not an appropriate vehicle with which
to remedy damage to reputation. With the end of the war and the
publication of the reports of the Services and the Joint Congressional
Committee came official public determinations that Admiral Kimmel and
General Short were not solely responsible for the disaster at Pearl
Harbor, clear public affirmations that their errors of judgment did not
rise to the level of dereliction, and that others also made errors of
judgment. There the official public record stands, as it should.
It is indisputable that Admiral Kimmel and General Short got more than
their fair share of bad press in the early war years, and that the
errors of others, whose errors contributed to the disaster at Pearl
Harbor, generally escaped censure. Posthumous advancement in rank,
however, necessarily would be based on the judgment that, at a minimum,
they had served satisfactorily at the three- and four-star level. Their
superiors at the time decided that they had not, and there is no
compelling basis to contradict this earlier decision.
 US Const., Article II, Section 2. The President "shall have the
Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate . . . [to]
appoint . . . Officers of the United States." Today, Senate confirmation
is required before an officer appointed to a three-star or four-star
position may serve in such a grade. 10 U.S.C. 601(a).
 During times of national emergency, the President has expanded
powers to make temporary appointments of officers in the Armed Forces.
10 USC 603.
 Thurmond transcript, p. 19.
To use posthumous advancement to compensate for harsh treatment in the
media, as a form of official apology or as a symbolic act, would not be
appropriate. Additionally, there is no precedent for such an
advancement. Finally, using advancement or promotion for such purposes
would be manifestly unfair to those who earned advancement based on
performance, and would imply a double standard for advancement in the
armed services. The highest retired grades to which an officer may
aspire should not be conferred on anyone as an apology. Rather, those
grades should be reserved for those officers whose performance stands
out above others.
An examination of the record does not show that advancement of Admiral
Kimmel and General Short on the retired list is warranted.
Page maintained by Larry W. Jewell, email@example.com. Created: 12/24/96 Updated: 12/24/96