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Interservice Competition and the Political Roles of the Armed Services*

  • Samuel P. Huntington (a1)

Extract

“Conventional wisdom” (to purloin a phrase from Galbraith) holds that interservice competition necessarily undermines economy, efficiency, and effective central control in the military establishment. The remedy is further unification, possibly even the merger of the services into a single uniform. The conventional wisdom also holds that political action by military groups necessarily threatens civilian control. The remedy is to “keep the military out of politics.” The pattern of American military politics and interservice rivalry since World War II, however, suggests that the conventional wisdom may err in its analysis of their results and falter in its prescription of remedies.

Service political controversy between the world wars had two distinguishing characteristics. First, on most issues, a military service, supported, perhaps, by a few satellite groups, struggled against civilian isolationists, pacifists, and economizers. The Navy and the shipbuilding industry fought a lonely battle with the dominant forces in both political parties over naval disarmament. The Army lost its fight for universal service after World War I, and throughout the Twenties clashed with educational, labor, and religious groups over ROTC and with other groups over industrial mobilization preparation. In the annual budget encounters the issue usually was clearly drawn between service supporters who stressed preparedness and their opponents who decried the necessity and the legitimacy of substantial military expenditures. To the extent that the services were in politics, they were involved in conflicts with civilian groups.

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*

This article is adapted from my contribution to the forthcoming volume Total War and Cold War, edited by Harry L. Coles, to be published by the Ohio State University Press. I am indebted to William T. R. Fox, Louis Morton, Robert E. Osgood, and David B. Truman for criticisms and suggestions.

Footnotes

References

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1 Hearings, War Department Publicity and Propaganda Relating to Universal Military Training, House Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 31, 38.

2 Millis, Walter (ed.), The Forrestal Diaries (New York, 1951), p. 388 .

3 See, e.g., Gen.Taylor, Maxwell D., The Uncertain Trumpet (New York, 1960), pp. 63–64, 74 .

4 McConaughy, J. L. Jr., “Congressmen and the Pentagon,” Fortune, Vol. 57 (04, 1958), p. 162 .

5 See, e.g., Congressman Mahon, , New York Times, 04 28, 1957, p. 1 .

6 Hearings, Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1958, Senate Armed Services Committee, 85th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 418. Admiral Radford used this point to urge statutory strengthening of the Secretary. Both the 1949 and 1953 reorganizations, however, had purported to establish his full authority over the Department.

7 See, e.g., Gen.Collins, J. L., “The War Department Spreads the News,” Military Review, Vol. 27 (09, 1947), p. 15 ; Lt. Cmdr. Howard, J. L., “The Navy and National Security,” U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 77 (07, 1951), p. 753 ; Col. Smith, T. M., “Air Force Information at the Grass Roots,” Air University Quarterly Review, Vol. 5 (Spring, 1952), p. 83 .

8 New York Times, 06 27, 1957, p. 8 , quoted in Cater, Douglas, The Fourth Branch of Government (Boston, 1959), pp. 1011 .

9 Lt. Gen.Rawlings, E. W., “Public Opinion and Air Force Dollars,” Army Information Digest, Vol. 8 (04, 1953), p. 58 ; The Big Look,” Air University Quarterly Review, Vol. 6 (Winter, 19531954), p. 133 .

10 Leach, W. Barton, “Obstacles to the Development of American Air Power,” Annals of the American Academy, Vol. 299 (05, 1955), pp. 7174 .

11 Approaches to Air-Age Education in American Schools and Communities,” Air University Quarterly Review, Vol. 8 (Summer, 1956), p. 116 .

12 For perceptive discussions of service PR activities, see Baldwin, Hanson W., “When the Big Guns Speak,” in Markel, Lester (ed.), Public Opinion and Foreign Policy (New York, 1949), pp. 97120 ; Fairfield, W. S., “PR for the Services—In Uniform and in Mufti,” The Reporter, Vol. 18 (05 15, 1958), pp. 2023 ; Janowitz, Morris, The Professional Soldier: A Social and Political Portrait (Glencoe, Ill., 1960), chap. 19; Lyons, Gene M., “PR and the Pentagon,” The New Leader, Vol. 43 (10 17, 1960), pp. 1012 .

13 Significantly, perhaps, the Marine Corps never subordinated public information to Intelligence. The Marines established a Publicity Office in 1925 and a full-blown Public Relations Section in 1933. Lindsay, Robert, This High Name: Public Relations and the United States Marine Corps (Madison, Wis., 1956), p. 46 .

14 Gen.Ridgway, M. B., “Army Troop and Public Relations,” Army Information Digest, Vol. 9 (08, 1954), p. 5 ; Gen. M. D. Taylor, “Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff,” Ibid., Vol. 12 (September, 1957), p. 61.

15 McConaughy, loc. cit., p. 166.

16 Rappaport, Armin, “The Navy League of the United States,” South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 53 (04, 1954), pp. 203212 . On the “backstop” association in general, see Janowitz, op. cit., pp. 383–87, and Hearings, Employment of Retired Military and Civilian Personnel by Defense Industries, House Armed Services Committee, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 390476 .

17 Story, Charles D., “The Formulation of Army Reserve Forces Policy: Its Setting Amidst Pressure Group Activity” (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Oklahoma, 1958), p. 257 .

18 Secretary of the Army, Army, Vol. 7 (December, 1956), p. 79 .

19 Rappaport, loc. cit., p. 208. See the rather strained efforts of the Air Force Association leaders to differentiate their viewpoint from that of the Air Force, Hearings, Employment of Retired Military and Civilian Personnel, p. 407.

20 Cong. Record, Vol. 104 (05 1, 1958), p. A4026 ; Army-Navy-Air Force Journal, Vol. 95 (07 5, 1958), p. 1312 ; New York Times, December 29, 1956, p. 2 ; Hearings, National Defense Program—Unification and Strategy, House Armed Services Committee, 81st Cong., 1st Sess., p. 70 ; Army, Vol. 7 (December, 1956), p. 79 .

21 Collins, loc. cit., pp. 11–12.

22 Lt. Col. Cleary, T. J., “Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army,” Army Information Digest, Vol. 7 (11, 1952), pp. 1318 ; Hearings, Employment of Retired Military and Civilian Personnel, p. 439; New York Times, 04 13, 1958, p. 12 ; New York Herald Tribune, 04 15, 1958, p. 9 .

23 Maj. Gen. Cantwell, James F., Chief of Staff, New York National Guard, 07 23, 1957, quoted in Story, op. cit., pp. 210–11.

24 See, e.g., Major Gen.Bres, E. S., “The ORC, Too, Can Tell the Army's Story,” Army Information Digest, Vol. 1 (10, 1946), pp. 35 ; Representatives of National Security,” Infantry Journal, Vol. 59 (07, 1946), pp. 5455 ; Col. S. Legree, “We Must Get Together,” Ibid., Vol. 60 (May, 1947), pp. 25–29.

25 Quoted in Fairneld, loc. cit., p. 22.

26 Hearings, Employment of Retired Military and Civilian Personnel, pp. 570 ff., 739–44, 752, 910–11.

27 Lt. Gen.Gavin, James M., War and Peace in the Space Age (New York, 1958), pp. 256–57.

28 Hearings, Inquiry into Satellite and Missile Programs, Senate Armed Services Committee, 85th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 615 .

29 Fairfield, loc. cit., p. 23.

30 Hearings, Satellite and Missile Programs, p. 959.

31 Quoted in Fairfield, loc. cit., p. 21.

32 Ibid., p. 23.

33 See Simon, Herbert A., Smithburg, Donald W., Thompson, Victor A., Public Administration (New York, 1950), pp. 543–44.

34 “Military officers, perhaps more than members of other professions, are accustomed to thinking of their duties in terms of specific missions…. The mission concept is common to all command and staff duties and functions. It is one of the constants of our profession.” Department of the Army, The Role of the Army (Pamphlet 21–70, 06 29, 1955), pp. 34 .

35 See, e.g., the nineteen-page Air Force Manual 1–2, United States Air Force Basic Doctrine, and the sixty-five-page A Guide to Army Philosophy (Pamphlet 20–1, January 22, 1958).

36 Quoted in Hearings, The National Security Act of 1947, House Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 506; National Security Act of 1947, H. Rept. 961, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 12–14.

37 Hearings, Unification and Strategy, p. 52.

38 Forces on the Ground,” Time, Vol. 73 (05 11, 1959), p. 23 .

39 Hammond, Paul Y., “Super-Carriers and B-36 Bombers: Appropriations, Strategy, and Politics” (Twentieth Century Fund Project on Civil-Military Relations; mimeo.), p. 59 .

40 Lucas, Jim G., Washington Daily News, 07 29, 1959 , quoted in Hearings, Employment of Retired Military and Civilian Personnel, p. 473.

41 Ross, Edward A., The Principles of Sociology, (New York, 1920), p. 165 . See also Coser, Lewis A., The Functions of Social Conflict (Glencoe, Ill., 1956), pp. 7681 .

42 Brucker, W. M., “A Year of Progress,” Army Information Digest, Vol. 12 (02, 1957), p. 2 .

* This article is adapted from my contribution to the forthcoming volume Total War and Cold War, edited by Harry L. Coles, to be published by the Ohio State University Press. I am indebted to William T. R. Fox, Louis Morton, Robert E. Osgood, and David B. Truman for criticisms and suggestions.

Interservice Competition and the Political Roles of the Armed Services*

  • Samuel P. Huntington (a1)

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