July 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Wills Thesis: Navy and Marine Corps Opposition to the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986

Ohio University graduate History student Steven Wills published his master’s thesis on “Navy and Marine Corps Opposition to the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986” on OhioLINK.

The Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986 was the most comprehensive defense reorganization legislation in a generation. It has governed the way the United States has organized, planned, and conducted military operations for the last twenty five years. It passed the Senate and House of Representatives with margins of victory reserved for birthday and holiday resolutions. It is praised throughout the U.S. defense establishment as a universal good. Despite this, it engendered a strong opposition movement organized primarily by Navy Secretary John F. Lehman but also included members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prominent Senators and Congressman, and President Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger. This essay will examine the forty year background of defense reform movements leading to the Goldwater Nichols Act, the fight from 1982 to 1986 by supporters and opponents of the proposed legislation and its twenty-five year legacy that may not be as positive as the claims made by the Department of Defense suggest.

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