Evolution and short-term results of the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986




Weatherford, Bret Wayne, 1960-

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There are many important areas of discussion within the military reform movement, such as selection and procurement of weapons and equipment, strategy, officer education and unit organization. In this thesis I concentrate on efforts to reform the higher joint military entities within the American defense establishment--primarily the Joint Chiefs of Staff (hereafter referred to as the JCS). Also covered will be the joint staff which serves the JCS, and the commanders and staffs of the unified/specified commands, which have always had some connection to the JCS. The unified commands have generally mirrored the organization of the JCS. Other institutions of government (such as Congress) and parts of the Department of Defense (such as the Secretary of Defense and the service departments) will be touched upon at times, but only in their relationship to these senior military bodies. [...] In this study I will cover the evolution of the JCS system; its origins, the 1947 Defense Act, and the amendments to that Act under the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. Also to be covered are the criticisms of the pre-1986 JCS, including some brief case studies of military actions cited by reformers to illustrate shortcomings of that system. The efforts to reorganize the system, and why those failed in the 1960s and 1970s but succeeded in the 1980s, will be covered. The changes of the 1986 Reorganization Act will be examined. Finally, there will be some analysis of the early effects of the Goldwater-Nichols Act on problems attributed to the old system