In This Review

Military Readiness: Concepts, Choices, Consequences
Military Readiness: Concepts, Choices, Consequences
By Richard K. Betts
Brookings, 1995, 280 pp

Military readiness is obviously enough of a good thing to elicit more cant from policymakers than almost any other aspect of the military. This book offers a useful antidote and more. Betts, one of the foremost American students of things military, has written a superb study of military readiness in the United States, drawing primarily on the period from World War II to the present. In this as in other works, he demonstrates a mastery of historical literature, a keen awareness of the practical problems of policymaking, and a talent for devising conceptual frameworks. Most striking here is his awareness of the paradoxes and tradeoffs in readiness between preparedness for war today and a month from now, between readiness and size, between the demands of the moment and longer-term innovation and modernization. This work will be all the more useful coming as it does when Congress is concerned about declining readiness. Surely one of the most insightful books on military affairs this year.