An Army Transformed: The U.S. Army's Post-Vietnam Recovery and the Dynamics of Change in Military Organizations
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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During the 2 decades preceding the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the U.S. Army went through tremendous reform and rejuvenation. It recovered from the Vietnam War, transitioned to an all-volunteer personnel model, and refocused on a potential future war against a very capable adversary in Europe. The Armys transformation was evident to external observers from being seen as an organization in distress in the early 1970s, by 1991 the Army became an organization whose professionalism was the source of admiration. Drawing on the relevant literature, the author seeks to explain this important case of military change. This paper makes four central arguments. First, leaders within military organizations are essential external developments most often have an indeterminate impact on military change. Second, military reform is about more than changing doctrine. To implement its doctrine, an organization must have appropriate training practices, personnel policies, organizations, equipment, and leader development programs. Third, the implementation of comprehensive change requires an organizational entity with broad authority able to craft, evaluate, and execute an integrated program of reforms. In the case of the U.S. Army in the 1970s and 1980s, this organization was the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command TRADOC. To an unprecedented degree, TRADOC was able to ensure that changes in personnel policies, organizations, doctrine, training practices, and equipment were integrated and mutually reinforcing. Finally, the process of developing, implementing, and institutionalizing complementary reforms can take several decades.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics