Announcing the Elihu Root Study on the Total Army


We are proud to announce The Elihu Root Study of the Total Army.

The U.S. Army finds itself at an inflection point. Fifteen years of war have yielded inconclusive results, and the American people have limited enthusiasm for new investments in blood and treasure. Yet the global security environment is one of growing complexity and danger, and the demand for an adaptive, agile military persists. The U.S. Army has a solemn responsibility to protect and defend the nation and the Constitution, and this requires critical assessment.

This report is an analysis of the Army conducted by the Carlisle Scholars Program at the U.S. Army War College. Recent studies of the Army have tended to fixate on the mismatch between the ends of national military strategy and the means available to execute it, epitomized by the 2011 Budget Control Act and the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. This approach to framing risk is a “short game” that has achieved limited results. This study recommends that the Army reframe its approach. We believe that Army leaders are missing a critical opportunity to use the forcing mechanism of resource constraints to make essential internal changes.

We advocate a “long game”: The Army should focus less on communicating the gap between means and ends, and focus more on closing the gap by innovating in ways. Barring a transformative national security event, the study assumes that means—the financial resources and numerical strength authorized for the Army by the Congress—are unlikely to increase over the next decade. Furthermore, the Army influences but does not control the ends to which it is employed by policy makers. The great challenge for the Army is therefore to remain ready to meet the enduring needs of the nation despite constraints that it cannot control. We focus on how the Army can help itself, analyzing the ways by which the Army organizes and prepares itself to meet the nation’s varied and unpredictable ends, using the means that it is given.

The Army has a tremendous opportunity for change. Military excellence requires continual, relentless self-assessment. Such scrutiny can be painful, but it is better to learn hard lessons without lethal consequences. In reforming the ways in which it organizes, leads, trains, develops, and equips its soldiers, the Army will better serve the strategic ends of the nation, and be a better steward of the resources that the American people provides to it. Since 1775, the Army has defended and preserved the nation. That it will always continue to do so is the guiding spirit of this study.

Read the study here.


Image: U.S Army, Sgt. Christopher R. Baker