THE STRAW GIANT: Triumph and Failure: America's Armed Forces by Arthur Hadley

THE STRAW GIANT: Triumph and Failure: America's Armed Forces

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An insightful examination of the military that delves into the many problems, inefficiencies, and foibles that normally are shielded by the bravado of our leaders. Hadley, a former Pentagon correspondent for Newsweek, and author of seven books, including The Nation's Safety and Arms Control, is outspoken in his disapproval of such institutions as the Joint Chiefs of Staff (which, he says, commands absolutely nobody and wields nothing but advisory power). Such embarrassments as the April, 1980, attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages are seen as direct outgrowths of some of the built-in problems of our military. Among these are: 1) The Great Divorce--that is, the separation of the military from the other financial, business, political, and intellectual elites of America; 2) Inter- and Intra-service rivalry; 3) flawed organization, mainly the problem of the Joint Chiefs and the Joint Staff (whose 400 members usually put their careers in jeopardy by joining the Staff, since they have to make decisions often detrimental to their own service); 4) matters of readiness and supply vs. combat needs; 5) personnel mismanagement; and 6) overcontrol. Hadley's answers to these problems include his advice to the military to stop transferring people every two years, widening the role of women as a means to solving the limited manpower problem, and implementation of the Jones Plan (strengthening the role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, creating a Deputy Chairman, increasing the Joint Staff above its present 400 and making their promotions at the behest of the Chairman). Hadley's criticisms are well-taken. America's victories in the two world wars each came after Europe had exhausted itself for several years. In our more equal tests (Korea and Vietnam), we didn't fare so well. Hadley offers some reasons and some ways to improve our military posture in future conflicts. A useful perspective on why what costs America so much doesn't always work very well.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1986
Publisher: Random House