Reforms in professional military education

The United States

Authored by: Thomas C. Bruneau

The Routledge Handbook of Civil–Military Relations

Print publication date:  September  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415782739
eBook ISBN: 9780203105276
Adobe ISBN: 9781136253218


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In this chapter I argue that the challenge in the United States is not democratic civilian control, but rather effectiveness. In the first part of the chapter I will show that control is not an issue in the US, with the exception of the possible beliefs of a few academics. Effectiveness, however, is an issue, and the last major successful reform effort to increase military effectiveness was the Goldwater–Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 (G—N). In addition to very seriously transforming the command structures to increase combat effectiveness, G—N also led to substantial changes in professional military education (PME) resulting in Joint PME or JPME. It should be noted that the context of G—N was the Cold War. Between G—N and 2008 there were 21 attempts to reform the national security system. 1 None so far has been successful, and the current major effort, the Project on National Security Reform, faces major hurdles. 2 The experience of the US in achieving jointness, which came out of G—N, is relevant for other countries that are also seeking to reform their PME. In my opinion, the successful experience in reforming PME is the only relevant example from the US that other countries may benefit from since this country is so huge and unique. There are at least five reasons for my opinion.

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