Editor's Shelf


From Parameters, Winter 1997-98, pp. 145-46.


Among the more noteworthy recent arrivals is an elegant text commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense 1947-1997, Organization and Leaders was prepared in the Historical Office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense by the Historian, Alfred Goldberg and a colleague, Roger R. Trask. The 189 pages of text, photos, and appendices provide a comprehensive review of the people and issues that have shaped our defense establishment since the end of World War II.

The text is in two parts. The account of organizational evolution moves from one key decision to the next, starting with the National Security Act of 1947 and touching periods--The McNamara Years--and events--The Goldwater-Nichols Act--that help to define the processes of change with which the book concerns itself. The second part contains brief biographical sketches of the Secretaries of Defense from Forrestal to Cohen as well as an account of the significant events of their service as Secretary. Obviously one cannot separate events from leaders, and the authors manage the balance with finesse throughout the text.

The final part of the book, in addition to notes for the chronological discussion, contains 42 pages of appendices, including the text of the 1947 National Security Act itself and a wide variety of data about people and budgets during the half-century. But be aware that it's a birthday gift, not a critical analysis of policies. One must look elsewhere to learn about the share of the defense budget now allocated to "purple" activities or of anomalies that exist between the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act and the Goldwater-Nichols Act.

Two recent products in the Occasional Papers Series sponsored by the US Air Force Academy's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) are worth noting. Neither will necessarily contribute to the making of a warrior, but both can be of value to anyone interested in broadening his or her professional base. Nonlethal Weapons: Terms and References, edited by Dr. Robert J. Bunker, is evenly divided between descriptions of the weapons and concepts related to their use, and hundreds of bibliographical sources. Dr. Bunker and his colleagues have provided a valuable source book for anyone seeking to learn more about the development, application, and management of nonlethal weapons.

The second, Environmental Federalism and U.S. Military Installations: A Framework for Compliance, could be useful to any officer or senior noncommissioned officer, regardless of service, assigned to any post, camp, or station in the United States. Dr. James M. Smith, a retired Air Force officer, describes the challenges of complying with environmental regulations: "Environmental policy today is incremental . . . fragmented . . . and federal (with national, state, and local governments sharing responsibilities for environmental standards and enforcement)." While it will not tell a reader how to comply with regulations, this pamphlet can at least describe how various states perceive their missions in enforcing environmental policy and provide some sense of assurance when analyzing conditions on one's own patch of turf. For more information, visit the INSS home page at http://www.usafa.af.mil/inss.

The Strategic Studies Institute at the Army War College has recently published a collection of essays edited by Dr. Thomas-Durell Young, Command in NATO After the Cold War: Alliance, National, and Multinational Considerations, that touches many of the contemporary challenges confronting the Alliance. Notable among them are the ability of the Alliance to conduct Article V missions with smaller and reorganized forces; commitments to peace support operations ("non-Article V" missions), and the creation of multinational formations. And because multinational formations require the surrender of a greater degree of national sovereignty than do national formations operating in the Alliance, the editor contends that there is a sense of urgency about "a redefinition of our collective understanding of command." Each of the 11 essays in the collection seeks to do just that from various national and Alliance perspectives. Readers can find this document and others on the Institute's home page at http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usassi/.

Two other books deserve attention; both are oversized reference works that may be more appropriately consulted in a library rather than purchased. The Naval Historical Center recently released United States Naval Aviation: 1910-1995, an encyclopedic volume of facts and photographs covering the history of the naval air arm. The straightforward chronological arrangement of the material is supplemented by no less than 34 appendices (more than half the content of the volume) covering just about any imaginable aspect of the subject.

One learns from a 5 December 1917 entry of a "policy regarding helicopter development" established by the War and Navy Departments, and from 5 January 1928, of the award of the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Schilt, USMC, for repeated aerial evacuations under fire of wounded personnel from an isolated village in Nicaragua. Most of the detail will interest specialists, but material prior to 1960 could appeal to generalists in all the services. A related volume, A Heritage of Wings: An Illustrated History of Naval Aviation, is forthcoming from the Naval Institute Press.

The third edition of The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace-keeping was recently published by the United Nations. With over 800 pages of text (more than twice the length of the 1985 version), one should expect refinements of old material as well as discussions of more recent operations. It is useful to note that 28 of the 41 operations described in this edition occurred subsequent to 1985, and that 23 of them started during or after 1991.

An appendix of "facts and figures" provides summaries of each operation (in chronological order by its start date) with relevant data on personnel, costs, and sources of support. The long-running Cyprus operation, for example, has elicited "voluntary contributions" from the United States of more than $230 million, while the observer mission in Liberia has led to more than $22 million in US voluntary contributions to the trust fund established for the implementation of the Cotonou Agreement. Those interested in learning more about UN peace operations can access the UN home page at http://www.un.org. -- JJM


For details on publishers and prices of books mentioned, call Parameters at 717-245-4943 or email: usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil.


Reviewed 24 November 1997. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil