Defense Reorganization and Change: Have the Services Embraced the New Joint Paradigm

This dissertation discusses the evolution of the United States military from the signing of the National Security Act of 1947 through the signing and execution of the Goldwater Nichols Act in 1986.  The thesis contends that the services followed organizational theory in their change, evolving from a single military service oriented posture to a joint posture due to the specific provisions Congress included in the defense legislation from 1947 to 1986.


This thesis offers that the United States military services are unable to overcome service parochialism, due to the influences of organizational culture, and move of their own volition towards jointness.  To overcome parochialism and move towards jointness the services require an external stimulant --  primarily congressional defense reform.  The author examines seven joint operations - World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iran Hostage Crisis, Grenada, Panama, and the Persian Gulf War - to determine the influence that defense reform has had on forcing the services towards jointness.  Joint planning; command, control, and communications (C3); and intelligence are measured for the services across the cases to determine if there has been a change towards or away from jointness and the influence that defense reform had on any noted change.

Congressional defense reform, from 1947 to 1986, did not have a measurable influence on any of these areas; however, the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 had far-reaching effects promoting jointness in planning and C3.  In the two joint cases after Goldwater-Nichols was enacted, Panama and the Persian Gulf, planning and C3 were significantly more joint than in earlier cases.  Defense reform did not, however, influence intelligence because it did not sufficiently address the issue of joint intelligence.  Intelligence was successful in Panama for exogenous reasons, but it was the greatest shortcoming of American arms in the Persian Gulf War.  The author concludes that service parochialism can only be overcome by an external stimulant and that the external stimulant must specifically address individual interservice problems to adequately force joint cooperations among the services.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Garland H. Williams
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Defense Reorganization and Change: Have the Services Embraced the New Joint Paradigm
University of Michigan microfilms
Date Published: 
Thursday, April 14, 1994
Place Published: 
Duke University
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