Reforming the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Krogh, Peter F. (Peter Frederic)
Person InterviewedLind, William S.
Holloway, James L.
Examines the structure of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and proposed organizational reforms.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff symbolize the collective might and strategic acumen of the United States military. For many years, however, the Joint Chiefs also represented what many saw as the greatest weakness of the U.S. armed forces: inter-service rivalries. Until the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was essentially a first among equals -- each of the Joint Chiefs were independently responsible for advising the President and Secretary of Defense, in addition to their role as head of their respective service. The result of this system was at times inter-service competition, as the individual branches of the military vied for resources and authority. These counterproductive rivalries manifested themselves during the blundered 1980 mission to rescue Americans held hostage in Iran, and again during the 1983 invasion of Grenada. Recognizing the shortcomings of the current system, legislators on Capitol Hill pushed for an overhaul of the JCS. Proponents of reform called for strengthening the powers of the Chairman in order to create a unified command, streamline the military bureaucracy and ensure a more coherent defense strategy. Calls for reform were met with criticism from some defense experts, who worried that such changes would suppress the diversity of views inherent in the current JCS system. Does the current structure of the JCS merit reform, and what are the dangers of the proposed changes? In this episode, host Peter Krogh sits down with Admiral James Holloway, former Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the JCS, and William Lind, a Washington-based defense consultant, to examine the functioning of the JCS and proposed reforms.
North America; United States;
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