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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) + Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process
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Product Details

  • Series: Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series (Book 79)
  • 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: 9 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683,492 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

4.6 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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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Levesque on March 18, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My rating is in the middle because the book should be required reading for anyone who wants to know how Goldwater-Nichols came about, however, at the same time, it is extremely biased in its delivery, analysis and conclusions. The author was appointed by Senators Nunn (D) and Goldwater (R) to be the senior reorganization staffer who, "led the team that helped congress 'get smart' on this complex but critically important subject." Because of Locher's involvement from the Act's beginning through to its approval, which gives him unique insight, he has a vested interest in presenting his justifications for the Act in a positive light. This is best seen in his portrayals of the principals involved; those who supported reform are heroes who were not afraid to stand up to the establishment and the institutionalized bureaucracy. Those who opposed Goldwater-Nichols were more interested in their own power and often presented emotional rather than factual or issues based arguments.

Unfortunately, the book was published in 2002, which means the work was done before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003; it would be interesting to see his analysis of the relationship between the SECDEF and the JCS now.

Bottom line: if you're interested in how Goldwater-Nichols evolved, buy the book; I did, and I have no regrets. But read it with a (big) grain of salt.
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By Jack Lechelt on November 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Fantastic case study of Congress in action. Without tooting his own horn too much, Locher presents a great first person account of how the Goldwater-Nichols Act (GNA) became law and made the US stronger. This amazing achievement occurred despite a bitter Navy, a stone-walling Secretary of Defense (Weinberger), and a non-committal President (Reagan). Due to a strong bi-partisan relationship between Senators Nunn and Goldwater (among many others in Congress), this needed piece of legislation became law. Locher tells the story from his perspective as a staffer for the Senate Armed Services Committee. So perhaps the House side is a little less than thorough. Locher also points out the negative aspects of all those who opposed GNA. Still, Locher is fairer than most people when they are fully committed to a seriously important change in law. Most interesting to me was reading how ineffective Weinberger was as SecDef. He was so unwilling to negotiate that he became largely irrelevant and he missed out on any number of opportunities to have a serious impact on GNA. Locher would probably be the first to say that GNA did not fix all of the problems with the military regarding cooperation in taking on serious missions, but GNA has certainly helped.
Along with Showdown at Gucci Gulch and The System, this is one of three great policy process case studies. Most importantly, it shows how Congress can have a strong influence on the military, foreign policy, and America's national security - even in areas that are normally considered to be the president's prerogative.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So far so good, I am half way into a really long book. Well written, with lots of interesting background and insights. He could have included more from the dissenter's view, it seems a bit one-sided for an academic endeavor.
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