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The United States’ military is continuously impacted by several factors. Some of these factors include the political parties that are in majority at the time, the beliefs of the current President of the United States, the various world leaders in charge, the ever changing and advancing technology, and the ideas and beliefs that are pushed in the media as well as the response of the American people. The strongest fears often push the military into action as can be seen clearly throughout history as well as the news today. The Cold War was impacted tremendously by the views of the leaders after the Second World War as well as the fears of the administration in charge both in America as well as the Soviet Union. The constant struggle to be the most powerful military in the world often shapes the military of the United States of America as well. This paper will discuss the impacts on the US military’s mission and structure as a result of the decrees and doctrines during the Cold War as well as the impacts of technological advances.
The central idea behind many of the decrees and doctrines during the Cold War was the curve of communism and protecting the American people. The biggest concern among the U.S. policymakers was the idea that the Soviet military’s capabilities would surpass that of the United States. The intentions of the Soviet Union were unknown and scary to not only the policy makers and President at that time, but also to the American people in general. Rather than openly communicating with potential threats, the American policy makers chose to pass Acts and policies that would advance the military and the nation’s weaponry instead. This, in turn, boosted the amount of money spent on the military. As time went on and the Cold War developed and intensified, the government of the US authorized more spending on various military hardware as well as other defense-related programs. Funds were appropriated in many defense areas, including the nuclear weapons stockpile, testing of nuclear weaponry, missile systems both offensive and defensive, naval rearmament, intelligence, command and control, and covert action (Merrill, 2006).
During the Cold War, many policies came to pass. The root of these policies were to curtail the perceived threat of communism in the eyes of the Administration and the public as well as the fear of being surpassed by a greater military. Essentially, the administration pushed for the military to grow at an exponential rate in man power, technology, and ability. The Central Intelligence Agency was also born to provide added security through the National Security Act of 1947. The United States was essentially attempting to buy the best security system possible in all means at all costs during this time. Through the push within the various policies passed and doctrines adopted and pushed on not only the military and American people, but also on the allies of the United States, the military was forced to move into a new era. With the rapid growing militaries not only within the United States, but also in the Soviet Union, the threat to people worldwide grew. The threat of nuclear warfare was terrifying to many, as was the threat of communism to the American people and the threat of capitalism to the Eastern European and Soviet Union people.
The United States of American and the Soviet Union were essentially in a race to build the bigger and better nuclear weaponry to threaten one another with. The military was pressured through various acts and decrees to build the best weaponry at the fastest rate and have a superior intelligence agency to guard against any and all enemies. The New Look Policy moved more money into nuclear weapons development. This plan was widely known as the “Massive Retaliation”. Again, the military was essentially being played like a puppet based on the policies and the administration in place. Based on the doctrines and decrees of the Eisenhower administration, the military was forced into a race for the greatest number of weapons. The Kennedy Administration that came next did away with the New Look Policy and moved into the “Flexible Response Policy” partly because of the great fear the “Massive Retaliation” policy ensued.
The “Flexible Response” was based on the idea that the United States should have options other than threatening nuclear warfare in response to any threat perceived whether they be big or small. This was still largely based on the perceived threat of communism and communist areas of the world. The American people were supportive of the “Flexible Response”, as the threat of total annihilation of the world’s population seemed to reduce with this policy. The methods of attack in this new policy included diplomatic, political measures, economic measures, and military. As a result, the military had to readjust and react accordingly once again. They still, however, had to continue building nuclear weaponry.
The rapid growing technological advances in communications, intelligence, surveillance, and weaponry as well as other categories have forever affected the US military. With every new doctrine and decree throughout history, came change and advancement of the US military. The same is true with advancement in technology. The continuous struggle to be the biggest and the best has triggered technological advancement, much as technological advancement has triggered change and growth within the military. The two are directly related and have been for many years. Fear has often been the predecessor of growth within the military as well. Some may argue that the fear has been unfounded, but others will argue that it is best to be safe rather than sorry.
A President’s prior military experience as well as the political party they are associated with has historically influence the advancement of the military as well as the military’s budget in various fields as well (Science, 2014). There are many sources of influence on the military of the United States. Many policies and acts are military centered. Even when acts do not focus primarily on the military, they sometimes inadvertently affect the military as well by reducing or increasing the budget in various sectors. Whenever a new budget is passed within the current administration in power, the military is affected. Whenever a new technology is developed, the military is affected. The continuous push for the American military to be the best will never end, and as such, the continuous pressure for growth and advancement will never cease. The acts of other countries around the globe also affect the military in that based on these acts, the administration usually matches or attempts to surpass other countries through the military. The need for protection of the American people will never cease, nor will the need for the military. The structure of the military may change by small degrees, but the leader will always be the “commander in chief”, which is the President. Dependent on the current focus of the Administration in power, the various branches of military may shift and restructure, but the overall mission to protect against all enemies will continue regardless of administration, decrees, doctrines, or technology.
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