The Evolution of U.S. Military Policy from the Constitution to the Present, Volume III: Another World War and Cold War


Tracing the evolution of the U.S. Army throughout American history, the authors of this four-volume series show that there is no such thing as a “traditional” U.S. military policy. Rather, the laws that authorize, empower, and govern the U.S. armed forces emerged from long-standing debates and a series of legislative compromises between 1903 and 1940.

Volume III covers the period from 1940 to 1970 and examines how the Army, while retaining the basic legal underpinning established by 1940, evolved in light of the radically different security requirements associated with the nation’s emergence as a superpower and the need to maintain forces overseas and to rapidly respond in support of alliance commitments. The wars in Korea and Vietnam, and associated debates best to generate the required forces and how to balance military requirements with political concerns, led ultimately to the development of Total Force Policy: an effort to eliminate the need for conscription, except in special circumstances, and to further professionalize U.S. military forces.

This research was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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