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Authored by LTC Michael S. Bell.
In order to better understand the character and enduring attributes of the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and inform future Defense reform initiatives in the post 9/11 era, the author traces the Chairman's evolving role since the inception of the position during World War II through the Goldwater-Nichols reforms of the 1980s. Although Defense reformers often focus on more efficient business and budgeting practices, his narrative compels greater consideration of the value of apolitical military advice, civilian direction of policy, and legislative oversight on the military instrument of power. The position of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supported by a dedicated Joint Staff, remains relevant and crucial in a security environment where technology is extending the capabilities and reach of both state and nonstate actors. Arguably, the need to transcend a single service, capability, or regional perspective is even more essential today than it was when Congress formulated Goldwater-Nichols almost 20 years ago.