CIVILIAN CONTROL, GOOD ADVICE AND SERVICE MANAGEMENT: THREE ELEMENTS OF U.S. CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS AFFECTED BY THE GOLDWATER-NICHOLS DEFENSE REORGANIZATION ACT

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2005-07-27

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Studying the effects of organizational change on civil-military relations sheds light on the essential tension between the need to increase military effectiveness (security) while at the same time maintaining the democratic ideal of military subjugation by the polity. Keeping that in mind, the questions posed in the following research ask, what are the effects of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 on U.S. civil-military relations? Has it enhanced or eroded civilian control? Has it given civilian leadership more tools to keep the military department-dominated Department of Defense (DOD) in check? Has it enhanced military advice? In a before and after case study comparison, change in civil-military relations as a result of the Goldwater-Nichols legislation will be analyzed in three issue areas, a) resource allocation, b) operations, and c) personnel policy. Dividing the cases by issue areas serves to artificially extricate resource allocation, operations and personnel policy from the larger Defense structure and from each other. Doing this will not only allow a more isolated study of the processes involved in each of these areas, but it will also allow the analysis to differentiate the organizational functions, processes, or decision-making of one issue area from another. Much of the analysis to date covers a broad sweep of DOD functions and does not differentiate the civil-military relationships from one issue to another. The results of the analysis show that there were observable improvements in the three measures of civil-military relations with the enactment of the legislation. The enhancement of civil-military relations was mitigated, however, by a number of factors and was highly dependent on the type of issue through which civilians and the military interacted (whether personnel, operations or resource allocation). The research was able to isolate civil-military relations by issue type to determine independent effects of the GNA legislation.

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