The Public Interest

Defense organization and military strategy

Samuel P. Huntington

Spring 1984

THE U.S. Department of Defense is not as well organized as it should be to provide effective deterrence in peacetime or to achieve military success in wartime. That is the conclusion of almost all the participants----other than Navy admirals and Marine Corps generals—in the national debate on defense organization that occurred in 1982 and 1983. That debate was kicked off by critiques of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from two people who presumably could speak with authority: General David Jones, USAF, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and General Edward C. Meyer, USA, Chief of Staff of the Army. Their public criticism focused attention on defects in American defense organization about which officials, scholars, and study groups had expressed concern for years. The Jones-Meyer broadsides brought these concerns out in the open and stimulated the most widespread discussion of defense organization issues in over two decades.  Hearings before House and Senate Armed Services committees led to the drafting in Congress of a bill mandating certain relatively modest changes in the structure of the Joint Chiefs. This bill met some of the criticisms, but its passage, if that occurs, clearly will end neither all the critical weaknesses in U.S. defense organization nor the debate over what should be done about them.

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