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The United States Armed Forces: One Military Force Combining Land, Sea, and Air Activities Research Paper


Research Question/Thesis

The adoption of the Goldwater-Nichols Act resulted in the idea that the US Armed Forces has a legal base to join their warfare planning and training activities.

In this context, it makes sense for the US to have one armed service providing unity of effort. It could benefit economically, administratively in a synchronized endeavor for defending the USA. Therefore, there is the following research question to be answered: why should the United States seriously consider being a united military force?


This research paper will utilize the scenario-thinking framework as the methodology for the subject. This framework will give an opportunity to preserve the strength of the military force, and to enhance its capabilities. The unification of the four Military Services will be beneficial for the USA, as it will contribute to the administrative and economic success.

To reveal the essence of this argument, one should deepen into the crucial points of this problem. The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force are like four separate wires of the US military force. However, if these wires work together, they will become undoubtedly stronger.

Thus, the claim for the present research paper is as follows: it is necessary to make a bold risk, and to look into combining the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy.

This claim has its own reasons: first, this powerful combination of joint forces will maintain and move the US into the future with a viable strong military force; second, the US economy is in a crisis, and poorly maintains four separate military services, investing budget money into research and development, personnel, and equipment.

There is the following evidence: currently, the US military force is cutting personnel to balance the budget; nevertheless, that goal is not related to the consideration of what current standards are required to complete missions. In addition, all the military services are budgeting for research and development funding, and high-tech equipment. At the same time, the research argument is based on an essential acknowledgement.

The personnel and leadership of each of the four US military services are against combining them owing to the historically fixed principles guided by pride, tradition, and heritage. Considering this, one may see that the response is evident in the following research statement. The united military forces will not erase the US history, but will improve its economy, as the budget will not be allocated to four separate military services.

Finally, the research argument has the warrant: the joint US military forces will improve economic and administrative systems of the country, and will make the country stronger in the face of a danger that threatens the nation’s welfare.

Problem Background and Significance

The Goldwater-Nichols Act was adopted in 1947; it recognized the Air Force as a service independent from the Army. However, the Act was also a way for the United States to deal with security challenges of that time, and allowed the president to receive information needed to make decisions about future threats.

Although there have been many changes needed in the Act, one should consider more changes related to combining the US military services. Economy is the catalyst warranting such reflection on a possible drastic change.

The United States economy is in crisis, and budget cuts for the military are not conducive to what the standards require for performing a particular job. In the early 90s of the previous century, the military cut 25,000 men and women from the military services in order to meet spending cut requirements.

In 2006, the military force shaped USAF personnel through cutting it to bring into accordance with 40,000 airmen. This is a reactive approach to the shrinking budget for national defense. In retrospect, these cuts affected the military negatively (Blechman 1993).

This research is significant because it will show a thought-out suggestion that will unify the services, and will recommend a way to budget for one service that would combine the four US military forces. The Canadian Forces went through a similar transformation by military restructuring, and proved the effectiveness of the united military forces that are able to work and respond jointly (Blechman 1993).

This bright example serves as a lesson to the US separate military services, and encourages the US Department of Defense to make corresponding changes. The research will also offer alternatives to combining the services with respect to unification of some of the duplicative efforts of the personnel on administrative and operational level, and procurement of compatible war-fighting equipment.


This research will be supported by a wide range of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources (including books, questionnaires, periodicals, scholarly journal articles, official documents, etc.) that reveal the concept of military unification, challenges for the US military services, Canadian Forces transition, etc.

The primary source for the research paper will come from a record of the unification of the Canadian Forces, the trials, and tribulations that could possibly contribute to a smooth transition to a United States Armed Forces.

Another reliable source is the Goldwater-Nichol Acts, specifically the Act of 1986 enforcing joint military operations, and streamlining the military chain of command. The selected primary, secondary, and tertiary sources are of great value for the present research paper because they greatly contribute to the in-depth understanding of the research problem (Blechman 1993).

Framework and Outline

The research paper will be based on the problem-solution framework as the work is focused on resolving the problem concerning the necessity of the united US military army forces. A thorough literature review will reflect the intellectual investigation aimed at interpreting, discovering, and revising knowledge available in the defined field of inquiry.

In addition, the content analysis focused on the crucial points relevant to the problem will help to answer and discuss the research question in details. However, the present research topic will utilize the scenario-thinking methodology as different scenarios of military unification will be described and discussed.

Firstly, the subsequent literature review will be focused on the necessity of reorganization of military services (namely, there will be mentioned the Canadian Forces unification). Secondly, the literature review will be focused on the Goldwater-Nichol Act. Thirdly, it will proceed to the need in US joint military activities, and mention what the US Constitution states concerning the military services.

The scenarios will be critically analyzed and ranked. This research will describe four possible ways of how the United States military could be structured in the 21st century. Furthermore, the research will describe the recommended structures, and the ways in which the economies could benefit from such unification efforts.

Eventually this research will be concluded with a recommendation of the scenario that needs to be considered and implemented by the US government; the chosen scenario will most likely have a positive impact on the US economic and administrative systems.

According to the research design, the literature review will give an in-depth understanding of the research problem. The review of the literature relating to the US military history, official documents, and current situation in the Military Services will contribute to the accomplishment of the research purpose.

At the same time, the literature review will create a powerful basis for the design of scenarios of military unification. The evaluation of the scenarios will help to choose the optimal one to be applied in the real-life US context. Conclusions will present the synthesized research findings based on analyzed literature related to the idea and aspects of the US military unification.

Annotated Bibliography

The present source is dedicated to the 21st century Air Force personnel, and the need for effective communication as the only way to successfully carry out the missions. The work provides with essential information about the peculiarities of Air Force activity, personnel work, environment, and workplace challenges.

The work suggests the idea that the development of communication and reading skills is an important strategic practice that prepares one to do challenging tasks, and overcome workplace problems. This source should be used in the paper because it has relation to the development of people engaged in the US forces.

The handbook was designed for the leadership of airmen engaged in Air Force activities. In the source, one may see how a person should take a command, maintain in what way he or she needs to be lead and developed, and other peculiarities of Air Force personnel’s professional life. As the research paper touches upon this military service, the value of this handbook cannot be underestimated.

The author of the book discussed the current and future state of the US military forces. Naturally, the problem of unification, US military interests, future needs and challenges are only some of the points addressed by the author.

The essence of unification and its debatable nature was revealed. In the context of the present paper, the source is valuable as it deals with the crucial points of the research, and contributes to the accomplishment of the purpose.

The author of the article was mostly focused not on positive effects of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, but on unintended ones.

The author addressed to the Constitution article concerning civilian control of the military, and ambiguous responsibilities of the Commander in Chief and those of Congress to explain the tensions between military leaders and civilian decision-makers that touch upon national security, civilian, and military control.

The unintended consequences of the Act needs to be revealed in the present paper as it relies on this public law that makes sense to this research.

The author gave the in-depth analysis of such joint activity concepts as combat concept, security concept, engagement concept, and relief and construction concept. In addition, in the source, one may see how these concepts can be applied in real-life joint capability areas.

The capstone concept perfectly fits the current complex, uncertain, and changeable environment. The source is valuable as it clarifies the essence of joint force operations that contribute to the US economic and social security and welfare.

The present source presents the author’s vision of the US joint forces, their activity, and their response to security challenges. The author’s purpose was to guide the development of the US Armed Forces including the Army, air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

The source is helpful in the context of the present research paper: it reveals the essence of joint force as an instrument of policy, the conditions of operating environment, the effectiveness of the US joint operations, the implication of the capstone concept, and other crucial points that contribute to the accomplishment of the research purpose.

The present academic research report is dedicated to the challenges faced by aging America in the future. The approach of scenario-based thinking gives an opportunity to address to the economic and social future problems, and find the key to solutions.

The report is interested in driving forces that lead to inevitable consequences; it is also focused on budget crunches and generational conflicts in future America. The report contributes to the development of the US strategic policy aimed at the country’s economy and society. It is valuable for this research paper as it underlines the need for fundamental policy changes as well.

The authors of the book were interested in ensuring coordinated multi-service operations through viable multi-services tactics, techniques, and procedures (the MTTP). The MTTP give foreign services an opportunity to successfully train for, plan, and carry out their joint mission.

The book underlines the essential role of the advisor team that teaches, coaches, and advises foreign forces (namely, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force.) supporting and assisting them in incidents of national significance, communications, liaising, etc.

The book proves the effectiveness of advisor teams in accomplishment of different tasks concerning national security, foreign politics, strategy planning aimed to defeat the enemy. Undoubtedly, the selected source is helpful for the present research paper.

Its value should not be underestimated as it reveals the nature of the advisor teams that may assist the US military forces in restructuring their services, and overall military transformation for the benefits o the US people. Finally, the book provides with real-life examples of advisor’s effective practical application, implied security strategies, and operations aimed to support and assist foreign forces (namely, the US forces).

According to the article, the Air Force officials will have to reduce spending (namely, overhead costs) in favor of national priorities. This effort will improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense. The Secretary of the Air Force claimed that they are going to redirect resources, and shape the force of the future.

However, the reduction in some spheres promise the growth in others. In this paper, the article will be of great value as it shows current changes in the Air Force, and outlines the framework for the future transformation.

The Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act is an essential public law of 1986 that legally recognized the necessity of the US military transformation.

With this Act, the US Department of Defense strengthened civilian authority, improved military advice, placed clear responsibilities on the commanders for the accomplishment of joint missions and operations. This official document provides a solid legal base for the research paper that partially builds on the sections of this act.

The article is dedicated to Paul Hallyer’s Unification Act of 1968. This Canadian Minister of Defense officially recognized the need for a new single coherent Canadian defense policy, and creation of the office of the Chief of the Defense Staff. The act aimed at Canadian unification of forces proves the evident need of unified functional commands, and overall military unification in the context of the modern warfare.

Canadian practice serves as a bright example in the research paper, as it shows the application of new management methods and increased efficiency in the defense policy. Undoubtedly, the experience can be partially adopted in the US ground.

The source reflects the guidance for conducting joint military multinational operations, and establishes the framework for the US forces’ participation in different missions. The publication shows how joint doctrine can be applied in a real life, so it is of practical value.

The present research paper needs the information about fundamentals of joint operations in the US practice, the essence of joint commands, functions, operations, and other relevant items that provide in-depth understanding to the research problem.

The authors of the book discussed and analyzed the Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, the related reforms in the US military forces aimed to mount efficient and effective joint operations among the military forces.

The book is focused on the implementation of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in the Department of Navy that led to unintended circumstances. Overall, this source should be used in the research paper as it is dedicated to the details of the acquisition process resulting from the Act that had a notable impact on the military reorganization.

The authors of this guide were interested in a powerful way of influencing, embracing, and strategic planning. They dedicated the work to the scenario thinking, its effectiveness, and role for private sector organizations.

In the context of the research paper, this source is indispensable as the scenario planning is one of the focus points of the work. this guide will provide with all necessary information concerning scenario planning and scenario thinking, their theoretical and practical aspects.

The author of the e-newspaper article informed about the shift of priorities for the Pentagon, US Congress and Defense Department. The Pentagon is going to invest into cyberspace security; for this reason, it shrinks military forces, and halts information technology upgrades. The information of the present article will help to outline the current state of the US politics in relation to military forces.

In this official report, one may see the consideration of the Committee on Armed Services concerning the amendment to the US Code about efficiency and effectiveness of the joint operations of the US forces. In addition, the amendment touches upon the necessity of establishing a Senior Strategy Advisory Board.

This repost greatly contributes to the legal base for the research paper, and informs valuable information concerning the US Department of Defense and joint military operations.

Literature Review

The Need for Transformation: Canadian Military Unification

The concept of military unification has attracted the US political leaders for a long time. Since the 40s of XX century, Congress made the efforts to unify the US Armed Force for the administrative and economic welfare.

Blechman (1993) noted that for some people (including political leaders and civilians), unification seems to be the only effective way to “strengthen the hand of executive branch civilians in controlling the military”, and improve the performance of all Armed Forces (Blechman 1993, 15).

At the same time, the adversaries of military unification believe that this process will decrease the authority of Congress, and complicate the US defense policy (Blechman 1993).

Nevertheless, if one examines the examples of successful unification of forces in Canadian experience, this process would seem reasonable and beneficial. In 1968, Pall Hellyer, the Minister of National Defense, unified Canadian Forces by merging Canadian Army, Canadian Navy, and Canadian Air Force into a united structure.

After World War II, “the need for a single coherent defense policy for Canada” was officially recognized (Gosselin 2008, para. 1).

Moreover, Hellyer realized that the warfare conditions and situations demand collective response and unified functional commands that make the commanders of different forces act together. He reorganized and restructured forces, and established chain of command in such a way that the unified structure conducted both domestic and international operations.

Three defensive services (Canadian Navy, Army, and Air Force) turned into the system of unified commands for the direction of operations and planning. All forces were grouped into a single command, and the new command structure was integrated.

Nevertheless, the unified chain of the Canadian Forces (CF) command: a command-centric imperative had to be reestablished to have an unambiguous and distinct chain of command. Chief of the Defense Staff applied the concept of joint task forces that became “the cornerstone of the CF Transformation” (Gosselin 2008, para. 10).

The transformation turned out constructive: the new command structure proved to be notably efficient and successful although it was far from perfect. However, Gosselin (2008) noted that

“The creation of Canada Command means that, for the first time in Canada, one unified chain of command exists for routine and contingency domestic operations, with each regional JTF commander being responsible for the employment of all CF assets assigned within his or her region” (Gosselin 2008, para. 11).

One cannot but agree that the Canadian experience can serve as a model for the US military transformation. The neighbor’s military transformation and the adoption of Canadian experience have kept the US government in suspense for many years.

After the World War II and Vietnam War, the process of unification was necessary but it proved to be extremely challenging for the US forces, taking into account the fact that the Army and Air Corps supported the idea, and the Navy with Marine Corps opposed it. National Security Act of 1947 reorganized the US armed Forces, and established the post of Secretary of Defense (Gosselin 2008).

It was “unification without integration” that allocated roles and missions among the military services (Blechman 1993, 7). However, it did not make the reorganized system effective: powers of Secretary of Defense were limited, the services wanted to preserve their combat roles, and did not want to share powers.

Military unification of all forces under a single department attracted the government because it would fix problems caused by inter-service rivalry. The idea was formally realized, but it needed practical agreement.

Today, many people in the USA support the idea of military unification because the main role of forces is to act like a team to defend civilians (Blechman 1993). Nowadays, in the context of the global threat to national security, the need for transformation grows although several acts were signed to approximate to the new model of command.

Goldwater-Nichols Act

In 1982, the Committee on Armed Service approved the amendment to the US Code. The signed bill provided “for more efficient and effective operation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff”, and established “a Senior Strategy Advisory Board in the Department of Defense” (US House, 1).

The mentioned amendment was a major precondition for the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 that reorganized the Department of Defense, strengthened civilian authority, improved the military advice provided to the Secretary of Defense, the president, and the national Security Council.

In addition, the Act placed clear responsibilities on the commanders of the unified combatant commands for the accomplishment of assigned missions. Moreover, the Act increased attention to the strategic planning, and was aimed at other positive changes in the Department of Defense concerning management and administration (Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986).

Although organizational, operational, and fiscal pressures were inevitable, the necessary defense reforms followed the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, and military services’ worry about some of the effects of the Act strongly grew. According to some opinions, these effects are inimical to the effective and efficient support of the US military forces (Bourne 1998).

Some Navy officials were especially concerned with the implementation of the Act and unintended consequences of the reforms for the US Navy and Armed Forces. For them, “a growing divide between a military-run requirements process and a civilian-run acquisition process” was evident (Nemfakos et al. 2010, p. 1).

Nevertheless, the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 opened a new era in the US Department of Defense, implementing positive changes (namely, a single military chain of command, more effective interaction of services, and shared procurement) that proved to be successful (for example, in the Gulf War) (Nemfakos et al. 2010).

The Concept of Joint Military Force

Revealing the concept of joint military force in the US context, one may see the evident reason for military transformation and unification of forces. According to the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations (CCJO) that reflects the vision of joint forces from the perspective of the Department of Defense the implementation of joint force is beneficial for each of the Services:

Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. One may agree with the following point of view formed by this concept: “each Service possesses its own unique traditions and competencies, which contribute to the versatility, flexibility, and effectiveness of the joint force” (CCJO v3.0 2009, 3). Thus, the creation of joint military forces is reasonable and logic as they have numerous advantages for the country and its people.

According the capstone concept, only joint forces may act like a competitive team always ready to protect people and vital national interests. If the civilian personnel of the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps are unified in the joint forces, the country will maintain its wealth for a long time.

Unified joint forces are trained to respond to any disaster and crisis in an appropriate way, promoting peace, and alleviating human suffering. People engaged in joint military forces may defeat enemies who threaten national security. Joint forces strengthen and expand relationships with international partners that undoubtedly contribute to the maintenance of stable environment, and help to deter potential adversaries.

As the US Armed Forces are on the peak of their capabilities in XXI century, it is necessary to join its intelligence capabilities, as it will guarantee the success of all military operations. Joint forces will make the military power unsurpassed in the air and space, on the land and sea (CCJO v3.0 2009).

However, the CCJO is inseparably connected with the realization of such activity concepts as joint combat, security, engagement, and relief and reconstruction concepts. The joint combat concept suggests the following actions: acting like a single defeat mechanism, identification of enemies, fight for domain superiority (including cyberspace), minimization of damage, employment of controlled combat power, etc.

The concept of joint security has relation to multi-faceted security activities during conflicts, crises, or peacetime that follow the framework of prevention and de-escalation; in addition, it provides security-specific functions of regulation, intervention, and dissemination of information.

The joint engagement concept includes purpose-built, ad hoc coalitions and alliances, establishment of logical and overarching framework aimed to achievement of a common purpose (namely, reconciliation) through human resource coordination, cooperation, training, and special high-tech equipment (CCJO v3.0 2009).

Finally, the concept of relief and reconstruction can be realized though the following activities: provision and improvement of critical infrastructure and essential services, increase of communicating credibility, implementation of principles of neutrality, humanity, and impartiality (CCJO v1.0 2010).

The US Military Forces and Economy: Budget Issues

The connection between country’s military forces and economy is notably visible in budget. US military budget is an essential portion of the federal budget. Being allocated to the Department of Defense, the military budget goes to defense-related expenditures: training, salaries, health care of civilian and uniformed personnel, equipment and facilities, etc. However, Blechman (1993) noted the following evidence:

“the US Congressional Budget Office estimated that reducing force levels to 3,5000 warheads would save the United States an average of $16 billion (1993 dollars) each year for fifteen years” (Blechman 1993, 252).

Unfortunately, the implementation of budget cuts and reduction in defense budget are inevitable processes for the US Armed Forces. Nevertheless, the US Department of Defense should adjust its spending and priorities to meet new threats of the changing world. Therefore, the need to pay more attention to special programs and training for staff is evident, and may being many benefits on the nationwide level.

The current discrepancy in declining military budget resulted from pressures caused by broader missions in the post-9/11 world, new requirements after wartime (namely, Iraq War and Operation Enduring Freedom), and dramatic increases in operating and personnel costs (Blechman 1993).

In the context of continuous global high-tech development, cyber security assumes greater importance because cyber space has become one of the main defensive domains for the US military forces. According to the recent news, the Department of defense needs to reduce spending in order to be able to fund cyber security, investing in modernization programs (Sternetein 2011).

Otherwise, the Pentagon will be forced to shrink military forces, and halt IT upgrades. The network security reforms for private work defense need to be implemented: they will provide with such network protection activities as scanning for viruses and applying bug patches.

The recommendations of some Department officials “urge expanding or extending existing tax credits for companies that invest in cyber technology rather than creating new tax credits” (Sternetein 2011, para. 5).

In addition, the federal government should take advantage from existing grant programs instead of new funds. However, cyber security insurance market should be studied to lessen the financial burden of the federal budget concerning the unexpected costs.

At the same time, the USA possesses many opportunities to fully prepare for new cyber threats or attacks, and to decrease their current vulnerability in the cyberspace area (Sternetein 2011).


Scenario I: the Unification of Administrative Requirements of the US Military Services

Using the advantages of scenario planning, one can foresee the realization of this scenario. According to the CCJO, to create effective joint forces, one should provide them with services interaction. In this context, it is necessary to establish administrative requirements for convenience of the unified forces (CCJO v1.0 2010).

The systematized knowledge about the aspects of the US Military Services contributes to the present scenario. Undoubtedly, authority distribution among commanders and subordinates will increase the administrative control over the joint forces (Joint Publication 3-0 2011).

Taking into account the peculiarities of the US Armed Forces environment, there are nine aspects needed to be taken into account in the process of unification of administrative requirements: force support, battle space awareness, force application, logistics, command and control, net-centric, protection, building partnership, and corporate management and support (Joint Publication 3-0 2011).

Each of these aspects or areas of the US Military Services are assigned to the corresponding subdivisions.

For example, force support is one of the administrative requirements created for the administrative convenience of the unified military forces. Force support embraces four essential categories: force management, force preparation, human capital management, and health readiness. Naturally, administrative power should be allocated in correspondence with the mentioned categories.

For example, the personnel engaged in health readiness consist of uniformed and civilian people that specialize in three main areas: force health protection, health service delivery, and health system support. Another example is battle space awareness that engages people specializing in electro-optical, geophysical, nuclear radiation and other scientific areas that have relation to battle spaces.

Human-based collection (observation, socio-cultural data, biometrics data, etc.) also contributes to battle space awareness; there are its own administrative requirements for this area as well.

The personnel from different subdivisions share the administrative authority, and follow their own administrative requirements concerning such aspects of battle space awareness as processing/exploitation; analysis, prediction and production; battle space awareness dissemination, and relay.

Scenario II: Total Unification of All US Military Services

According to the capstone concept, the idea of joint forces means total unification of all US Military Services (Air Force, the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps). Although the idea of total military unification may seem impossible for realization, the capstone concept provides with practical framework that can be applied to the US forces.

To understand how this scenario can be realized in a real life, it is necessary to view the unified military forces as a single effective instrument of policy because “the fundamental purpose of military power is to deter or wage war in support of national policy” (CCJO v3.0 2009, 9). Thus, the joint force is one of essential instruments of national policy that serves its interests, and contributes to the achievement of its purposes.

Total unification of all US Military Services means a single chain of command, diffusion of power and authority among the subdivisions subordinate to Department of Defense, and other essential aspects. Total unification is beneficial because it ensures identification and elimination of the problem (disaster, crisis, etc.) everywhere: on the land and sea, in the air, space, and even cyberspace.

Joint force should be engaged in joint operations that demand integration and adaptation of the mentioned activity concepts: combat, security, engagement, and relief and reconstruction. However, the joint operating environment characterized as uncertain, complex, changing, and conflicting includes not only military force, but also other elements.

For this reason, the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps should collaborate with different agencies to develop strategic partnerships. In general, the capstone concept suggests the following idea: being totally unified, the US Armed Forces use joint capabilities of the Military Services aimed to accomplish the tasks of any complexity (CCJO v3.0 2009).

If this scenario is realized, there will be numerous advantages for the US military system, the country, and its population. The main purpose of the CCJO lies in creation of greater versatility and adaptability across the force to cope with the operating environment of XXI century.

Some of the notable advantages are the following ones: versatile and balanced joint force; improved knowledge and capabilities for warfare, operations, and activities; renewed understanding of strategic deterrence, etc. (CCJO v3.0 2009).

Scenario III: Two Military Services – Army/Air Force & Navy/Marines

The unification of two military services, Navy/Marines and Army/Air Force, seems to be successful for several reasons. Firstly, Navy and Marine Services have often cooperated with each other; they strongly rely on one another, and have close links.

Army and Air Force have repeatedly provided mutual support (for example, the US Air Force provided tactical airlift for the Army), and were those military branches that supported the idea of unification, unlike Navy and Marine Corps (Blechman, 1993).

Secondly, the unification of these two forces is reasonable because the military branches share the same responsibilities (for example, military aviation is shared by the Army and Air Force in long-distanced operations; the Marine Corps are subordinate to the US Navy, and both of them are engaged in military operations on sea) (AU-2 Guidelines for Command, 2008).

The unified combatant commands of the US Army and the Air Force will bring benefits to the country and its people. The alliance of these two branches will provide the USA with exceptional air-land control.

The joint force will be engaged in joint tasks, missions, and operations in air and on land. In the 1940s, the Air Force was a component of the US Army; together, they were a powerful military force of the country after World War II.

Their short-term collaboration was effective and strategically beneficial for the country, but later, they separated, and became independent. However, this scenario offers the re-unification of the Air Forces and Army. The Air and Ground Corps may operate as the single organism aimed to defeat the enemy in two domains (Blechman, 1993).

The unification of the Navy and the Marine Corps promises to be effective from administrative, strategic, and practical point of view. These forces have achieved excellent performance in the same battle domain. Both of them are subordinate to the Department of Navy, which gives an opportunity to be engaged in flying, seaborne, and amphibious military operations.

Historically, they have unique relationships: mutually beneficial support and cooperation helped them to achieve best results in joint missions.

Together, these two forces opposed the unification because they “feared that an independent air force in a unified military department would usurp its control over sea-based aviation” (Blechman, 1993, p. 6). Nowadays, the Marine Corps and the Navy have the common training base, strategy, operation environment, and purposes.

Scenario IV: the Unification of Basic Training & Technical School

The US Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps should have the unified basic training and technical schools. According to the CCJO, jointed forces have the same purpose: to identify and eliminate the problem, protecting national interests and country’s population.

If the personnel of the four Military Services are trained together, they will view the US forces as a single organism with four arms aimed to defend the country and its population regardless of any challenges. In addition, one can note several basic training and technical school benefits resulting from the unification scenario.

Firstly, it will facilitate communication and understanding among the forces. Effective communication is believed a powerful tool for XXI century military forces. Training and learning together, people communicate and understand each other’s words and thoughts, exchange, and adopt invaluable professional experience.

Sharing information, ideas, and messages with others proves to be a helpful practice that will improve the quality of joint military operations. Unified training and learning structure encourages inter-service communication, support, teamwork, and leadership that are very essential for carrying out the orders (AFH 33-337 2004).

Secondly, this scenario is strategically beneficial because each military structure takes advantage of the common military techniques, tactics, procedures, and equipment that allow them to serve the national priorities. In addition, the Air Land Sea Application Center that specializes in advising foreign forces may help Military Services to direct their efforts and opportunities into a common action course.

The advisor team of the Center will help to increase credibility, remove mistrust, and misunderstanding among the forces through their engagement in the joint operations (Field Manual (FM) 3-07.10. 2009).

Results: Ranking of the Scenarios That Would Likely Have the Greatest Impact on the US Military

The four mentioned scenarios are likely to have a great impact on the US Military Services. However, it is necessary to rank each of them to understand to what measure they may influence administrative and economic welfare of the USA. Having evaluated the scenarios, one may rank them in the following manner:

  1. Scenario II: Total Unification of All US Military Services
  2. Scenario III: Two Military Services – Army/Air Force & Navy/Marines
  3. Scenario I: the Unification of Administrative Requirements of the US Military Services
  4. Scenario IV: the Unification of Basic Training & Technical School

The ranking takes into account economic and administrative convenience that will undoubtedly strengthen potential of the USA. The second and the third scenario occupy the highest positions in the ranking because they seem to be the most important scenarios applicable to the US military structure.

The second scenario (total unification) seems to be the most appropriate and suitable scenario for application as it embraces economic and administrative aspects of the military unification problem. The third scenario (unification of two Military Services) is also beneficial from economic and administrative points of view as it is based on systematization principle as well.

The first and the fourth scenarios are not so essential in comparison with the other two. Owing to the main weakness of the first scenario (emphasis on administrative aspect without economic considerations), it is placed on the third place in the rank. Finally, the fourth scenario is guided only by administrative convenience to the prejudice of economic balance.

Discussion of Results: Selection of the Two Highest Ranking Scenarios that Would Best Serve the Future US Military Forces

The two highest-ranking scenarios are the following ones: “Total Unification of All US Military Services”, and “Two Military Services – Army/Air Force & Navy/Marines”. These scenarios would best serve the future US Military Forces as they imply economic and administrative balance. The following three points are the sound arguments that prove the effectiveness of the chosen scenarios.

Both scenarios aim to realize the idea of the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986

One of the key purposes of the Act was to “improve the management and administration of the Department of Defense” (Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, stat. 992). Powerful administration enhances the effectiveness of the Department that relies on joint efforts of the military forces.

Following these scenarios, the Secretary of Defense establishes and supervises the execution of policies, procedures, and principles related to organizational and administrative matters concerning the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. In addition, the single military chain of command makes the personnel of the forces to share its own authorities and responsibilities.

The unification of Military Services contributes to the efficient, effective, and economical allocation of financial resources. Moreover, excellent performance of budgetary and fiscal functions, capital property accounting, and statistical and economic reporting of the Department of Defense create economic balance of the unified US forces.

The scenarios enhance military teamwork and defense unification

As it was mentioned, unified unique opportunities of each of the Military Services may turn the US forces into the most powerful military unit of the future. It is one of the main ideas in the capstone concept: productive and effective teamwork for the benefit of the nation. The ability to act in different battle domains (land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace) is one of the main privileges of the unified forces.

The opportunity to respond professionally to any problem threatening national interests will enable the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps to easily face complex and changing conditions of the joint operating environment, and overcome challenges with the help of inter-service interaction, cooperation, and communication (CCJO v3.0 2009).

The scenarios contribute to the US economic welfare

According to the CCJO, joint engagement activities will help to meet the economic need of the affected communities, and enhance economic interaction with the federal government (CCJO v3.0 2009). However, the economic contribution to the national economy is visible in the current military economic policy relating to budget reduction.

For example, to meet future needs, the Air Forces are implementing the positive changes: balancing fiscal responsibility with the investment in nation’s defense and personnel, reduction of overhead costs, and redirection of financial resources for the benefit of the growing areas (restructured workforce shaping, support to Airmen families, etc.) (Gettle 2011).

Recommendations: the Application of the Selected Scenario Aimed at the Military Unification

For the reason that total unification of Military Services seems to be too idealistic and hard to be applied in real life, the Scenario III is chosen: “Two Military Services – Army/Air Force & Navy/Marines”.

Using the advantages of practical scenario thinking, one may see that this scenario can be applied to the US military context. “What If” principle gives an opportunity to project the situation, and to imagine what will be if the US government approves the chosen scenario (Scearce et al. 2004).

The Department of Defense needs to be divided into two main subdivisions responsible for their own Military Service (the Army and Air Force; the Navy and Marines Force). The personnel of each force are subordinate to its own Chief Commander responsible for the military force.

The Army and Air Force should consist of Ground and Air Corps, while the Navy and Marines Force – of Naval and Marines Corps. Each of the military service will perform the tasks related to their domain (land, air, sea, etc.), but will pursue the common purpose that meets the national interests of the USA through such military activities as combat, security, engagement, and relief and reconstruction activities (CCJO v1.0 2010).

The two joint forces will be able to cope with future challenges of the country they face in an uncertain, changing, and complex environment (Challenges of an Aging America: a Scenario-Based Glimpse at the Future 2009).

The mentioned CCJO may contribute to the application of this scenario. Mainly, the chosen jointed forces (the Army and Air Force, and the Navy and Marines Force) will be aimed to overcome national security challenges (for example, defend the homeland). Each of the Military Services will have its own specialists, uniformed and civilian members, and other personnel representatives.

The forces will perfectly fit into joint operating environment as the scenario takes the close relationships between the two branches involved in the unified force into account. Their teamwork, common equipment, tactic, techniques, and procedures will make their operational work mobile and responsive, and will facilitate the activities aimed to alleviation of problems and defense of national interests (CCJO v3.0 2009).


Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, one can make the following conclusions. According to the literature review, the Goldwater-Nichols Act suggested the legal base for unified Military Services to combine their warfare planning and training activities.

Although it makes sense for the USA to have a single armed service providing unity of effort, the scenario of creating two unified Military Services seems to be more reasonable and practical, taking into account the tensions between Army/Air Force and Navy/Marines.

The military unification of the two forces could benefit the country economically and administratively. The US government should seriously consider the idea of creation of two unified military forces.

According to the CCJO, the joint forces (the Army and Air Force, and the Navy and Marines Force) that subordinate to the Department of Defense will have numerous advantages (CCJO v1.0 2010). Firstly, they will operate together as a single team, and maximize their mutually beneficial results. The common administrative requirements will undoubtedly facilitate their activities.

The presence of the single chain of military command, Chief Commanders, and effective personnel which share responsibilities and authorities in each of the Military Services will contribute to administrative success. Secondly, joint operating environment will be based on the following building blocks that positively affect the country and its population: combat, security, engagement, and relief and reconstruction.

The activities included in the mentioned blocks embrace essential practices of the forces during wars or peacetime: defeating armed enemies; protecting of population, resources, and territory; cooperation and collaboration with allies and different specialized agencies; provision of essential services during natural disasters or civil disorder, etc.

Full control of the domain (land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace) will give an opportunity to identify and eliminate the problem before the country or population face danger and insecurity. Thirdly, the unified two Military Services will contribute to economic welfare.

Reasonable fiscal, financial, and budgetary operations, reduction of costs, and allocation of material resources and investment into growing areas (for example, cyber security, and special social programs) will contribute to the economic success of the country, and will shorten unnecessary costs.

In general, the US unified Army and Air Force, and the Navy and Marines Force is the idea that should be realized by the US government. Taking into account the historical interactions and close relationship between the two joint forces, it is reasonable to unify them.

Joint forces are joint opportunities, minds, military skills, knowledge, and other assets that can make the future US military unit unconquerable and the most powerful defensive force in the world. The two joint forces will serve the national interests, and will take care of the US population. Intelligent administration and economic policy will contribute to the overall nation’s welfare.

At the same time, the forces are likely to strengthen their international relationships, and find strategic alliance that will help them to defeat all enemies that threaten national security.

The US unified Army and Air Force, and the Navy and Marines Force will embody the idea of the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, and will approximate the military mechanism to the accessible ideal. These unified forces will become the symbol of the national security, confidence in the future, and will provide effective support to social, economic, and administrative life of the USA.


AFH 33-337. The Tongue and Quill: Communication is an essential tool for the twenty-first century Air Force.1 August 2004.

AU-2 Guidelines for Command. Maxwell, AL: Air University Press, 2008.

Blechman, Barry M. The American Military in the Twenty-First Century. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 1993.

Bourne, Christopher M. “Unintended Consequences of the Goldwater-Nichols Act”. Joint Force Quarterly (Spring 1998): 99-108.

Capstone Concept for Joint Operations Activity Concepts Version 1.0 (CCJO v1.0). Distribution Statement. 8 November 2010.

Capstone Concept for Joint Operations Version 3.0 (CCJO v3.0). Distribution Statement. 15 January 2009.

Challenges of an Aging America: a Scenario-Based Glimpse at the Future. Air Command and Staff College Research Report, 2009.

Field Manual (FM) 3-07.10. Advising multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for advising foreign Forces. Final draft, September 2009.

Gettle, Mitch. Air Force Building the Future Force. 12 October 2011.

Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. Public Law 99-443. 99th Cong., 1 October 1986.

Gosselin, Daniel. Hallyer’s Ghosts: Unification of the Canadian Forces is 40 Years Old – Part Two. 01 March 2009. Web.

Joint Publication 3-0. Joint Operations. 11 August 2011.

Nemfakos, Charles, Irv Blickstein, McCarthy, Aine, and Jerry Solinger. The Perfect Storm: the Goldwater-Nichols Act and Its Effect on Navy Acquisition. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2010.

Scearce, Diana, Katherine Fulton, and the Global Business Network Community. What If? The Art of Scenario thinking for Nonprofits. Berkeley: Berkeley Electronic Press,2004.

Sternetein, Aliya. “Departing Pentagon Official Warns Against Cutting Cybersecurity Funding”. Nextgov, 10 May 2011.

US House. Full Committee on Armed Services consideration. 97th Cong., 2nd sess. 1982. H. R. 6954.

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Rose, Braelynn. "The United States Armed Forces: One Military Force Combining Land, Sea, and Air Activities." IvyPanda, 31 May 2019,

1. Braelynn Rose. "The United States Armed Forces: One Military Force Combining Land, Sea, and Air Activities." IvyPanda (blog), May 31, 2019.


Rose, Braelynn. "The United States Armed Forces: One Military Force Combining Land, Sea, and Air Activities." IvyPanda (blog), May 31, 2019.


Rose, Braelynn. 2019. "The United States Armed Forces: One Military Force Combining Land, Sea, and Air Activities." IvyPanda (blog), May 31, 2019.


Rose, B. (2019) 'The United States Armed Forces: One Military Force Combining Land, Sea, and Air Activities'. IvyPanda, 31 May.

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