Reforming Military Command Arrangements: The Case of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force

  • March 01, 2011
  • Mr Henrik Bliddal

Our national security system turns our overall capabilities into active assets, protects us against the threats of an anarchic international system and makes it possible to exploit its opportunities. Today, however, the system is arguably in dire need of reform. Much remains in the dark about how the organizations that safeguard our national security are reformed because international circumstances change. The author examines a crucial historical case of military reform: the establishment of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF)—the direct predecessor of Central Command. He discusses how the U.S. military adapted to the emerging security challenges in the Persian Gulf in the late 1970s by recasting military command arrangements. The RDJTF was one of the components of President Carter’s Persian Gulf Security Framework, which marked a critical strategic reorientation towards the region as a vital battleground in the global competition with the Soviet Union. The author also suggests how national security reforms can be understood more generally. In this way, he lays out some of today’s challenges that we must face in effectively restructuring our security and defense establishment. Especially in these times of fiscal restraint, a better grasp of institutional reform is very much needed. Based upon original interviews with key civilians and military officers as well as extensive archival research, including the analysis of material only recently declassified, this monograph is the most complete account of the establishment of the RDJTF thus far.