Friday, December 09, 2016

Goldwater-Nichols Act

Melvin Goodman in Trump’s Reliance on the Military Consortium News 12/06/2016 mentions an important piece of legislation that doesn't get a lot of attention. But should get more:

Over the past several decades, the officer corps has actively opposed the service of African-Americans, women and gays in their ranks. Anyone familiar with the military can testify to the “Republicanization” of the officer corps.

The often-ignored Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986 enhanced the political and military role of regional commanders-in-chief (CINCs) and marginalized the Department of State and the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense. The CINCs have become more influential than U.S. ambassadors, who actually represent the interests of the President, and various assistant secretaries of state responsible for sensitive Third World areas.

The act created a more powerful Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and made the chairman of the JCS the key military advisor to the president. During Desert Storm in 1991, the chairman often ignored the Secretary of Defense and personally briefed the President on war plans. It is noteworthy that the act passed the Senate without genuine debate and not even one vote of opposition.
I discussed that act and ways it defines military-civilian relations 10 years ago in Civilian-military relations 11/04/2016.

I cited there an essay/short story called The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 by Lt. Col. Charles Dunlap, Jr Parameters (US Army War College) Winter 1992-93. He prefaces it with this:

The letter that follows takes us on a darkly imagined excursion into the future. A military coup has taken place in the United States-the year is 2012--and General Thomas E.T. Brutus, Commander-in-Chief of the Unified Armed Forces of the United States, now occupies the White House as permanent Military Plenipotentiary. His position has been ratified by a national referendum, though scattered disorders still prevail and arrests for acts of sedition are underway. A senior retired officer of the Unified Armed Forces, known here simply as Prisoner 222305759, is one of those arrested, having been convicted by court-martial for opposing the coup. Prior to his execution, he is able to smuggle out of prison a letter to an old War College classmate discussing the "Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012." In it, he argues that the coup was the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992. These trends were the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses, the monolithic unification of the armed forces, and the insularity of the military community. His letter survives and is here presented verbatim.

It goes without saying (I hope) that the coup scenario above is purely a literary device intended to dramatize my concern over certain contemporary developments affecting the armedforces, and is emphatically not a prediction.

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