Few subjects have as little glitter as the history of organizational wiring diagrams. Yet this slender monograph, produced by the professional historians of the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells an important tale. Much as close scrutiny of a skeleton tells a shrewd scientist about the physique and evolution of a gigantic beast, the history of formal military organization can tell much about a great power's armed forces, conception of national security, and, in the case of the United States, growth to global dominance. The unified command plan describes the relationship of the operational commands of the United States, the organizations that wield military power. Embedded in the dry details of bureaucratic wrangling are many vital stories, among them the rise of joint organizations, the expansion of American military interests over the entire globe, and the centralization of authority in the person of the chairman of the joint chiefs. Hardly a dazzling read, but a worthwhile one.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.
More Reviews on Military, Scientific, and Technological From This Issue