COMMITTING AMERICA’S BLOOD AND TREASURE, THE ART AND SCIENCE OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF WAR TIME DECISION MAKING
Johns Hopkins University
This study is about leadership and the tension between military and civilian leaders when deciding to commit to using military forces to war or conflict and how to best wage it to conclusion. Every decision matters. For the President of the United States, the National Security Council (NSC), and Department of Defense (DoD) leaders this is one of the greatest challenges they encounter because their decisions may mean life or death for Americans who swore solemn oaths to support and defend the Constitution as well as combatants in far flung places around the world. It looks at the critical use of force and wartime decision-making of the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) who work for the President. It analyzes the decision making of those who served in these positions after the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act (GWN) was enacted. It addresses how different sets of these senior DoD leaders confronted these critical decisions that posed significant challenges for national leaders and the unique problems of civil-military relations in wartime. It highlights that some were successful, others were not, and analyzes some of the factors that led to success, suboptimal outcomes, or failures. It concludes that the SECDEF and CJCS have an exceedingly difficult job in leading the largest bureaucracy in the U.S. government and advising Presidents who have broader responsibilities. It also outlines that the DoD as it currently operates is unsustainable and will likely continue to deliver suboptimal outcomes when military forces are used to achieve policy objectives without internal change and external national security apparatus adjustments.