The act's supporters felt that U.S. military operations since World War II had suffered from conflict and inadequate coordination among the services. They believed that individual service programs and priorities, rather than the needs of actual joint military operations—the ultimate purpose for which the armed forces were maintained—dominated DoD. Enough retired senior officers, former civilian DoD officials, and private analysts and commentators, as well as members of Congress, agreed with these views to make it possible for the act to be enacted over the objections of the uniformed military leadership.
The intensity of objection was much greater in the navy and Marine Corps, as had been the case for all disagreements about service unification since the end of World War II. In general, those who objected to the act felt that DoD operational and budgetary problems in the post–World War II era resulted from lack of political will, inadequate defense budgets, excessive civilian “micromanagement” of military operations and defense budgets, and the inevitable chaos and friction attendant on war or the operations of any large organization. They were also skeptical of “jointness,” believing that service‐unique assets and views needed to be nurtured, not submerged; and that increased requirements for joint and central organizations created unnecessary bureaucracy, subsuming service assets and doctrine into less than optimal joint doctrines or systems.
The act has been accepted by most officers and civilian analysts, but certain issues remain: Is the increased authority of the JCS chairman compatible with an appropriate degree of civilian control of the military, or does it threaten that control, as some—for example, military historians Richard Kohn and Russell F. Weigley—have charged? Has pressure for more joint operations added unnecessary layers of command and awkward “marriages of convenience” among the services, or has it been material in various military victories since 1989? (Many analysts regard the act as instrumental in ensuring the success of U.S. combat operations in Panama in 1989–90, and in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, although it proved no substitute for clear political guidance during the U.S. military operations in Somalia in 1992–94.) Is increased Joint Staff involvement in weapons system procurement a long‐overdue step toward effective management of DoD acquisition, or does it remove service‐unique perspectives where needed?
[See also Civil‐Military Relations; Civilian Control of the Military; Command and Control; Defense, Department of.]
Vincent Davis , Defense Reorganization and National Security, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 517 (September 1991), pp. 157–73.
Russell F. Weigley , The American Military and the Principle of Civilian Control from McClellan to Powell, Journal of Military History, 57, no. 5 (Special Issue, October 1993), pp. 27–58.
Edward N. Luttwak , Washington's Biggest Scandal, Commentary, 97, no. 5 (May 1994), pp. 29–33.
Richard H. Kohn , Out of Control: The Crisis in Civil‐Military Relations, The National Interest, no. 35 (Spring 1994), pp. 3–17.
Robert L. Goldich
"Goldwater‐Nichols Act." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/goldwater-nichols-act
"Goldwater‐Nichols Act." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/goldwater-nichols-act
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.