The U.S. military overcame inter-service friction to become the world’s best at joint operations in large part because Congress imposed legislation upon a Defense Department that could not or would not overcome the challenges on its own. Today, lawmakers should consider similar steps to help the military better grapple with and integrate rapidly changing technology.
Passed in 1986 after a contentious political fight and over DoD opposition, the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act established unity of command through the combatant commanders. It also reserved half of joint duty assignments in grades above O-3 for joint-qualified officers — that is, those who have completed a program through a Joint Professional Military Education school and two years of joint assignments. The results speak for themselves: across the services, joint experience and education has for decades been a requirement for advancement to…