Unintended Consequences of the Goldwater-Nichols Act (Joint Force Quarterly, Spring 1998)
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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The tenth anniversary of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 focused attention largely on that laws most apparent and positive aspects. Much good has derived from it. The Nation has enjoyed a string of successes in war and in military operations other than war. The law increased cooperation and interoperability among the services, improved professional military education, and unified the national military command structure. Reforms mandated under Goldwater-Nichols fundamentally altered relationships between the services and joint system and between civilian and military sides of the defense establishment. Some insist the law did not go far enough and they therefore advocate additional reforms. In certain respects they may be correct. However, in one area the reforms may have already gone too far. As we advance into the second decade of the Goldwater-Nichols era and consider what further changes in defense organization are needed, we must be careful not to upset the delicate balance implicit in civilian control of the military.
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