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Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act

Enacted after more than 4 years of intense debate, the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986—named for its sponsors, Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) and Representative Bill Nichols (D-AL)—was intended to reorganize America’s armed forces to improve their interservice capabilities and eliminate inefficiencies, unify U.S. warfighting capabilities as a member of the allied and coalition forces, and harmonize Department of Defense (DOD) weapons and equipment acquisition and budgetary processes. This entry first examines the historical background out of which this legislation emerged and describes the seven main areas addressed by the act. It then discusses its most noteworthy provisions and their impact.

Background

To address perceived defects of World War II’s bifurcated command structure (one for the U.S. Army and the Army Air Forces, the other ...

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