The Sources of Military Change: Culture, Politics, Technology

The Sources of Military Change: Culture, Politics, Technology

The Sources of Military Change: Culture, Politics, Technology

The Sources of Military Change: Culture, Politics, Technology

Synopsis

In varying circumstances, military organizations around the world are undergoing major restructuring. This book explores why, and how, militaries change.

Excerpt

In examining the U. S. armed forces between 1963 and 1988, it is difficult to account for shifting policies and institutional behaviors without acknowledging a broad range of factors including personalities, service cultures, political intervention, and social climate. Individuals attempted to define and control the environment in which they operated: they did not passively accept some clearly identified or even commonly understood external reality, nor were they simply pawns of unseen systemic forces; they shaped and interpreted events according to a range of preformed personal and institutional attitudes on which they acted. As personal and institutional views within the armed forces during this period became increasingly politicized, the services and U. S. military policies reflected more overtly civil domestic issues. By the end of the second Reagan administration, military innovation had become possible only if it somehow ignored or escaped the dominance of political and social discourse in which the services were constant players.

Many individuals and groups exploited the Vietnam War and contested its putative lessons afterward to serve a broad range of often contradictory and irreconcilable goals, frequently driven by political considerations. To the extent that military leaders during and immediately after the war saw the main cause for failure in Vietnam in civilian political interference, there was a tendency to stifle change and become more rigid in defense of doctrinal conventions. Only with a greater willingness to acknowledge more complex reasons for failure, including faults inside the services, did the U. S. armed forces start to restore conditions for change from within. Moreover, this shift occurred only after substantive changes in the political and social climate of the nation as a whole.

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