Reinventing Government: The Case of the Department of Defense

By Mumford, Jay C. | Public Administration Review, March-April 1996 | Go to article overview

Reinventing Government: The Case of the Department of Defense


Mumford, Jay C., Public Administration Review


The Department of Defense (DoD), the largest of federal government bureaucracies in both numbers and budgets has undergone sustained organizational reform since the National Security Act of 1947 and the Key West decision of 1948 which resolved questions about military service roles and mission, brought into existence a separate Department of the Air Force, and began a system of an American Joint Staff and civilian Defense Secretary (Forrestal, 1949; Caraley, 1966). The most important recent development was the Goldwater-Nichols Reorganization Act of 1986 which elevated the war-fighting Commanders-in-Chief (CINC) to positions of prominence, placed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff into the command line, and restricted the military services to the recruiting, training, equipping, and providing forces to the CINCs as required by regional war plans (Hartmann & Wendzel, 1990).

The first major war to be fought using this new organizational structure and procedure was a clear success. But the Gulf War victory in 1991 masked the continuing trauma of massive downsizing, reduced budgets, and new responsibilities. In short, DoD was not allowed to savor that success and rest on its institutional laurels.

It is axiomatic to observe that the U.S. defense establishment is confronted with an unstable external environment. The peaceful demise of the Soviet empire, the spread of ethnic, religious, nationalist, and economic instability, the budget constraints flowing from deficits and debt, the general move to third-party provisions, and the erosion of alliance solidarity constitute but a partial list.

It is against this background that the Congress established the Commission on the Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces and charged it also with suggesting alterations necessary for the post-Cold War period and into the 21st century.

There is virtually no topic more sacroscant, more exquisitely sensitive, and more certain to cause bureaucratic conflict than to attempt to realign military service roles and missions - those broad and enduring purposes set by law and the tasks which flow from those purposes as assigned by the National Command Authority (i.e., the President and the Secretary of Defense).

The last decade is littered with learned, long, and largely ignored studies. But perhaps this commission would be different. It would be the first conducted during the Clinton presidency and would dovetail with the bottom-up review he used to justify even sharper defense cuts than those undertaken by his predecessors (USGAO, 1995). The expectations were understandably high that this commission would recommend real changes in roles and missions. Perhaps even a call for combining the Army and Marine Corps into a single entity for forced entry would be heard. Or perhaps DoD would meld its "four air forces" into one. Or, perhaps even a recommendation of a unitary system without separate military services would be forthcoming.

It was not to be. Those who hoped for major overhaul of roles and missions - and those who feared the same - were either disappointed or relieved. The commission identified no major new problem areas; decided that widely recognized problem areas were in fact nonexistent or grossly overestimated; and, essentially refused to take sides on most existing roles and missions disputes among the services.

But it would be wrong to conclude that the commission lacked innovation or that substantive change may not ensue from its work. There are at least three significant aspects of the commission's work:

* It is a clarion call for a continuation of the military reforms begun by the 1986 Reorganization Act. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his staff, and his powers in planning and procurement are all to be enhanced toward the goal of true unified military operations. Thus, jointness is to seep down from the warfighting level of the ClNCs into the heretofore relatively sovereign realms of the military services in procurement, training, and development of doctrine. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Reinventing Government: The Case of the Department of Defense
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.