A Military Made by War: Power, Politics, and Personality in the Making of the United States Military
Friot’s “Promoting Morale: Prisoner of War Legislation and the Problem of Surrender in the U.S. Military” interrogates the nature of discussions regarding prisoner of war policy, especially promotion of captured personnel, and what those conversations reveal about the significance of surrender to the strength, vigor, and patriotism of the American military.
Gates’ “Reducing Duplication and Overlap: The Process of Military Unification in the Second World War and After,” examines the impact of World War II on the American military system. Gates argues Congress recognized the impact of intra- and inter-service conflict on the ability of the nation to wage war, and as a result, military and civilian leadership worked in the postwar years to eliminate barriers and create a more unified armed service.
Packard’s “An Invaluable Partnership: The U.S. Marine Corps Unique Relationship with Congress, 1946-1979,” explores the ways the Marine Corps used its political connections to preserve its organization and heritage and maintain its identity as an independent service in the midst of increasing pressures to unify armed service branches in the wake of World War II and the intense political and military demands of the Vietnam War.
Each of these papers examines the relationship of civilians to their military members at various levels and scales of personal impact and political clout. Though many of the issues discussed at the Congressional level reflect anxiety over policy, command structure, and military preparedness, the contents of those debates reverberated among citizens and servicemembers alike. Each panelist uses Congress and the lessons of World War II as a springboard to investigate the ways Congress has shaped the American military and its standing in popular society.
This panel will appeal to a wide variety of scholars – military, political, cultural, and social historians, as well as those who study public policy, American government, and civil-military relations.