Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon / Edition 1

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War is waged not only on battlefields. In the mid-1980s a high-stakes political struggle to redesign the relationships among the president, secretary of defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and warfighting commanders in the field resulted in the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. Author James R. Locher III played a key role in the congressional effort to repair a dysfunctional military whose interservice squabbling had cost American taxpayers billions of dollars and put the lives of thousands of servicemen and women at risk. Victory on this front helped make possible the military successes the United States has enjoyed since the passage of the bill and to prepare it for the challenges it must still face.Victory on the Potomac provides the first detailed history of how Congress unified the Pentagon and does so with the benefit of an insider's view. In a fast-paced account that reads like a novel, Locher follows the bill through congressional committee to final passage, making clear that the process is neither abstract nor automatic. His vivid descriptions bring to life the amazing cast of this real-life drama, from the straight-shooting chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Barry Goldwater, to the peevishly stubborn secretary of defense, Caspear Weinberger.Locher's analysis of political maneuvering and bureaucratic infighting will fascinate anyone who has an interest in how government works, and his understanding of the stakes in military reorganization will make clear why this legislative victory meant so much to American military capability.
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Editorial Reviews

William S. Cohen

“. . . a monumental Washington battle in prose that is both exciting for experts and informative for novices. . . . offers a unique historical lesson in rational decision making and civilian control of the military, and reminds us that the United States never pauses on the path to perfection.”--William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense
Edward C. Meyer
. . . provides superb insight into how the system works in the marble, stone, and cement battlefields of Washington . . . should make the participants of future battles within our defense establishment more knowledgeable about how the system works so they can be the masters of change--and not its victims.
— General (U.S. Army (Ret.), Proceedings
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Product Details

Meet the Author

James R. Locher III, a graduate of West Point and Harvard Business School began his career in Washington as an executive trainee in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has worked in the White House, the Pentagon, and the Senate. During the period covered by this book, he was a staff member for the Senate Committee on Armed Services. Since then, he has served as an assistant secretary of defense in the first Bush and the early Clinton administrations. Currently, he works as a consultant and lecturer on defense matters.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Acronyms
Prologue: Turf, Power, Service 3
Pt. 1 The Fog of Defense Organization
Ch. 1 The Rise of Service Supremacists 15
Ch. 2 Jones Breaks Ranks 33
Ch. 3 The House Fires the First Shot 59
Ch. 4 Texas Politics 82
Ch. 5 Unfinished Business 94
Ch. 6 Misfire in the Senate 113
Pt. 2 Drawing Battle Lines
Ch. 7 Beirut 141
Ch. 8 Scholars and Old Soldiers 164
Ch. 9 Nichols Runs Tower's Blockade 181
Ch. 10 Crowe Makes Waves 195
Ch. 11 Coldwater and Nunn Close Ranks 213
Ch. 12 Weinberger Stonewalls 234
Ch. 13 Naval Gunfire 252
Pt. 3 Marshaling Forces
Ch. 14 McFarlane Outflanks the Pentagon 277
Ch. 15 Trench Warfare 299
Ch. 16 Playing the Media Card 320
Ch. 17 Gathering of Eagles 333
Ch. 18 Expedition into Hostile Territory 346
Pt. 4 March to Victory
Ch. 19 Seizing the High Ground 357
Ch. 20 Transition to the Offensive 374
Ch. 21 The Packard Commission Reinforces 391
Ch. 22 The Decisive Battle 399
Ch. 23 Mopping-Up Operations 414
Ch. 24 The Commander in Chief Approves 429
Epilogue: Unified at Last 437
Notes 451
Index 507
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