A History of U.S. Military Policy from the Constitution to the Present

A Path to Army Total Force Policy

by Gian Gentile

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Tracing the evolution of the U.S. Army throughout American history, the authors show that there is no such thing as a "traditional" U.S. military policy. Rather, the laws that authorize, empower, and govern the U.S. armed forces emerged from long-standing debates and a series of legislative compromises between 1903 and 1940. The authors document this in a series of four volumes, collected here in an easily searchable digital tool.

Volume I traces the history of U.S. military policy from the colonial era through the Spanish-American War; this period is critical for understanding the genesis of the basic structure of today's Army and the various factors that informed that structure. Volume II focuses on the major laws enacted in the early 20th century that changed the federal government's relationship with the National Guard, established what would become today's Army Reserve, and improved the Army's ability to expand and develop trained specialists. Volume III covers the period from 1940 to 1970 and the development of Total Force Policy. Volume IV covers the period from 1970 to 2015, from changes to U.S. military policy that resulted from the Vietnam War through years of persistent conflict following the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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This research was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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