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Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon (Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series) Paperback – May 14, 2004


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Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon (Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series) + The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
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Product Details

  • Series: Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press; New edition edition (May 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585443980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585443987
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 5.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“. . . 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
(William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense)

About 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.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this book at the Army War College after hearing its author speak to the Army Strategy Conference on "Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power." I have posted 29 pages of notes at Earth Intelligence Network, with a page or two from Jim Locher's brilliant luncheon presentation.

Having spent the evening with this book, and with an understanding of what the Project on National Security Reform will be providing to the next President of the United States, I found the book totally inspiring, and most important for what it represents as proof that "Phase II" of national security reform is not just possible, but likely in 2009.

A few highlights:

1) The service chiefs fought this bitterly, to include lies and deceptions and fabricated studies.

2) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Jones, and later Crowe, get high praise for having the gumption to call for reform in the first case, and agree with reform in the second, but they were virtual outcasts for doing so.

3) Senator Sam Nunn will be back. As I look at the make-up of the Project, which also benefits from Newt Gingrich's brilliance and his mastery of history and House protocol, I have a very strong feeling that the follow-on to Goldwater-Nichols, a National Security Act of 2009, is not just viable, but undefeatable.

4) I've known Jim Locher as a thoughtful and courteous person for over a decade, and this book confirms my personal view that he is one of the most loyal, dedicated, intelligent, and responsible individuals we have, totally committed to public service in the purest sense of the word. The reviewer who demeans the author has no basis, in my view, for his negative judgement.
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By M. J. Harwood on January 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any military officer, from any nation in the world, should read this epic story. The lessons are legion. And just because 'the adventure' happens in the 1980s, the truth is that the same battles are being fought today, with the same examples of partisanship, tribalism and the seemingly default position of man 'not to cooperate with his fellow man'.

We need to change that paradigm and this book helps show you how.
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By Retired Reader on August 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an outstanding history of the four year process necessary to introduce meaningful reforms of the command structure into the U.S. Defense Establishment. The process involved courageous champions from the military services, equally courageous and bipartisan senators and congressman, and dedicated and knowledgeable legislative staffers. It is a story of persistence and dedication to the cause of reform in the U.S. Military.

In the wake of WWII the U.S. Congress passed the 1947 National Security Act. This act was meant to unify the U.S. Defense Establishment and enhance inter-service cooperation. Unfortunately, the military services, especially the U.S. Navy, pushed back hard and in the end were able to maintain their services autonomies within the newly created Defense Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). In the same way the so-called unified commands were unified in name only. And most seriously the command and control (C2) system under the Act was so convoluted that it contributed to the repeated breakdown of military C2 systems and tragically led to a lot of preventable U.S. military casualties.

Locher provides what appears to be an accurate and authentic history of the execution of a complex process to reform the command structure of the U.S. Military. He also notes that two military officers, General David Jones and Admiral William Crowe were willing to rise of above service parochialism to strongly support this process. But it is the late Senator Berry Goldwater and Senator Sam Nunn of the SASC who Locher singles out for specific praise. Both men put national security well ahead of partisan politics and joined with Representative Bill Nicholls to build a comprehensive reform bill.
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