A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 21
The Structure of Defense Decision Making
1. There have been different perceptions of the military, ranging from
brilliant to idiotic.
One view of the military holds it as a vital function of the federal
gov’t, operating under
, while another holds it
as a gigantic confused system that exposes innocent men and
women to unnecessary hazards to satisfy
According to the first view, everyone pays for protection
provided for everybody; after
World War II
, the U.S. grew a
large standing army because it recognized world threats.
The second view maintains that only the generals, admirals,
big corporations, and the members of Congress whose districts
get fat defense contracts are the only winners, and that the
military- industrial complex
, or the supposedly unified
political bloc consisting of the
industries that build military weapons, had too big of shares.
Citizens regularly desire to control the army (not the other way
around), and the
National Security Act of 1947
, which created the
Department of Defense
, headed by a secretary of defense who must
be a civilian, helped to ensure this want.
i. Under the secretary of defense are the secretaries of the
army, navy, and air force (also civilians), which basically
maintain the “housekeeping” functions of the various armed
The four branches of the armed services cannot merge, thus
preventing them from coming together and growing too
politically powerful, and the result is desired competition.
a. The navy and air force have argued over building aircraft
carriers and fighter jets.
Congress didn’t want the armed forces to be unified, but being
too autonomous was not good either, so in 1986, it passed the
Goldwater- Nichols Act
, which increased the powers of the
officers but left the 1947 structure pretty much intact, revised,
Joint Chiefs of Staff
is a committee of the uniformed heads of
the four military services (army, navy, air force, Marine Corps), a
chairman, and a nonvoting vice chairman, and while it has no