The American military has undergone a lot of changes since the Second World War. These changes have essentially brought about significant structural changes in the running of the institution, but a significant portion of it has been evidenced in policy operations because issues are no longer based on ideological passions or exogenous effects but on important nationalistic issues (Chapman, 2009, p. 6).
There are probably very few institutions in the world that are undergoing the same type of institutional self-examination as the US army (Chapman, 2009, p. 6).
The US army has essentially undergone changes after the Second World War because it has been primarily defined by the changing threats on the American population and interests globally. Initially, the institution had been prepared to deal with the threat posed by certain dictators (such as Hitler) on the security of the nation, but as time went by, the army has been dealing with the potential threat of a nuclear arms proliferation in the former Soviet Union and indeed the world over.
To minimize the threat posed by the former Soviet Union and other countries (in the accumulation of military arsenal), the US army has taken the role of a mediator to ease tensions existing between America and other nations.
Such mediation roles have been evidenced in forums such as the United Nations (UN), NATO and such like organizations or unions. Initially, America had taken a proactive role of engaging in world conflicts, such as the Second World War, but its role significantly changed to include the maintenance of peace in countries considered strategic for the realization of world peace (Chapman, 2009, p. 6).
With such goals in mind, it has become a first hand priority for the US army to try and quell humanitarian concerns across the globe and establish peace; as can be evidenced in the Kosovo invasion where the army invaded Yugoslavia to ease the humanitarian situation in the province.
However, in the 21st century, the US army has been more concerned with other objectives, but closely related to issues regarding world peace. Specifically, the army has been primarily concerned with eliminating the threat of terrorism in the world and because of these concerns; the army has been proactively engaged in most terrorism wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Taliban areas where the institution has been trying to eliminate terrorist networks and minimize the threat on state security.
Because of these reasons, the army has build networks and bases in other countries; something which was not common with past military organizations (Chapman, 2009, p. 6). For example, the war on Iraq was a combined force by the British and American forces. Due to new emerging threats, the intelligence system of the army has been further strengthened and the army has become more modern to deal with the increasingly changing threat of terrorism; which is especially perpetrated through Information technology.
Through the advancement period after the Second World War, the US military has also increased in numbers and is now more well equipped than it was ever before to tackle modern national threats.
The army has been able to modernize its equipments including jet fighters, naval warships, tankers and the likes but more training has also been undertaken on new and existing personnel to tackle new threats and operate ultramodern equipment. In the same context, a lot of military training has been done on existing personnel to better orient them with technological developments which are regarded essential for the institution’s relevance in the 21st century.
There are some major appalling differences between the American and British army which can be seen through the wars they have fought together or against each other. For starters, unlike the American army, the British army is more negotiation friendly (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 51). Reports have been cited across the spectrum; of American soldiers adopting a “rigid” stand when engaged in military combats alongside the British army (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 51).
The anti-negotiation sentiments have even infiltrated into the military ranks and therefore the military commanders have a strong sense of control over their subjects. Some observers have noted that this strong anti-negotiation stand comes about because of the superiority of the American army when compared to other military institutions across the globe (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 51). One unnamed British commander who experienced such US army sentiments in the Iraq war says:
“We managed to get on better…with our European partners and at times with the Arabs than with the Americans. Europeans chat to each other, whereas dialogue is alien to the US military… dealing with them corporately is akin to dealing with a group of Martians” (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 52).
From these assertions, it is therefore correct to say that the US military adopts an anti- negotiation stand when dealing with its partners and is more bureaucratic than the British army is.
With regards to training and recruitment, the British military is seen to be better prepared than the American military, in aspects such as soldiering skills and recruitment baselines, because for one to become a British military personnel, he/she does not have to be British because the institution leaves it open to all commonwealth members to join the army (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 51).
The British soldering skills are also ranked as one of the best in the world but their relative progression in technology is seen to lag behind the American’s (Martell, 2010, p. 259). Finally, when analyzed in terms of dynamics and discrimination, the British army is often observed to fair on much better than the US army. In fact, the British army is regarded as friendlier to other races than the US army because they are better at heart than the US (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 51).
For instance some cosmopolitan regiments like the Royal Regiments of the Fusiliers encompasses a number of people from divergent backgrounds, thereby forcing the members to treat their colleagues better, like in pastoral care, and the likes; however, such treatment is rarely observed in the US military (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 51).
The US and Russian armies have found themselves in compromising positions of war, especially in the cold war era, which if it were left unregulated, would probably have led to the first all-nuclear blown out conflict.
The Russian military is termed as one of the best militaries in the world and it is relatively better equipped with military arsenal than the US. In fact, some observers point out the fact that even if the US and its NATO allies were to fight the Russians, they would lose the war because Russia probably has more than double the number of nuclear weapons the US and its NATO allies combined posses (Gerace, 2004, p. 121).
The military history of both countries (the US and Russia) is quite brutal but little is known of Russia’s strength because most of its operations have been kept secret and this explains the relative “respect” both military institutions have of each other. Even though some quarters claim that the US is much stronger in technological development, the Russian military as an institution has a stronger sense of command and its strong communist sentiments has infiltrated into its operations to give it more stability (Gerace, 2004, p. 121).
However, in terms of institutional strength, both military institutions seem to be on the same level because the US, for example, has better adopted technology than the Russians have, but the Russians are better equipped quantitatively. For example, it is said that the Russian forces has the world’s largest air forces and the second largest navy (Gerace, 2004, p. 121).
The US military affects individuals in many ways. However, the biggest influence is evidenced in the change of attitude of most of its military personnel, especially when they retire and have to fit back into the society. Many at times, ex military men have been seen to be more emotionally abusive than other people because of the effect of endless years of military training on their psychological development.
For example, official statistics expose a partner violence prevalence rate among military men at between 8% and 10.5%, with most of the cases reported among married couples who often beat abuse or even kill their spouses (Diamant, 1993, p. 84).
Another common area that the military as an institution affects individuals is the exposition of its members to increased risks of injury and death. Often, many military personnel have been forcefully retired from the armed forces after suffering severe injuries which often inhibits their performance of the army and so they have to be integrated back into the civilian population. Some of the most severe forms of this injury lead to amputations during treatment and many of such victims have to spend the rest of their lives in psychological trauma, in addition to coping with a change in livelihood and lifestyle.
This not only has an effect on the victims but also family and friends who probably depend on such people for their sustenance. Some of the worst cases have seen a loss of livelihood and successful or unsuccessful suicide attempts; despite the fact that the army tries to take care of its ex. military men and war veterans through long-term financial compensation, health insurance and the likes.
However, on the positive side, the US army as an institution has some positive effects to individuals because it teaches them basic life skills like survival in worst humanitarian situations through the inculcation of the will to persevere. This kind of perseverance among military men and women can therefore not be compared to ordinary citizens’ because it is obviously higher, thereby increasing their chances of living a longer life.
At the same time, the military teaches its people to apply basic survival skills, even in the general community where they come from, to cope better with hard situations if they are ever faced with such. For example, some wings of the military are specialized in vehicle maintenance, water treatment and other life skills which can be applied even in the civilian world. This therefore means that most military men find their services of use not only in the war set up but also in the civilian setting.
In close relation, the military instills a sense of discipline to its members which enables them to be much more organized than ordinary people are. Discipline here should be analyzed in a dynamic way because it spills over into basic spheres of life like financial management, use of daily time, exercise, indulgence into drugs, personal grooming and the likes. These skills are important even after military life and it enables such people to have a deeper sense of well being than ordinary people.
These factors withstanding, the US army as an institutions can be minimally changed to avoid the negative effects it has on individuals because some of the positive or negative effects are either necessary or unavoidable.
However, more can still be done in minimizing the negative effects of military training and combat experiences of ex. military men and civilian members (who are also dependant on such people); especially when situations of death, injury, trauma and such like eventualities are witnesses through mandatory counseling of both family members and military personnel, or through an increase in financial compensation to the family members of those affected.
Comprehensively, the army should look into the welfare of its existing and retired service men and women, not only in their life at the institution but also in their lives out of the institution.
The working of the US military can be further explained through the institutional theory because it defines the resilient aspects of institutional workings and considers the process by which structures, including schemas, rules, norms and routines become part of the social system, defining how the institution works. In addition, the theory outlines how these facets of institutional development are usually created and diffused to become the norms of the institution (Warburton, 1999, p. 157).
The institutional theory outlines that institutions often conform to laid down belief systems, rules and norms in the organizational environment, so that they can obtain legitimacy in the eyes of their peers. This fact can be used to explain the bureaucratic form of the US military as was analyzed when comparing it to the British military.
This is true because in conventional military organizations, the chain of command is usually respected by all military personnel, starting from the commander in chief (who is usually the president), down to the unit commanders. This type of system is usually replicated across many military institutions to better streamline the functions of the institution and to better fulfill its objectives.
Also, since the US army is operating in a very diverse institutional environment, the institutional theory outlines that the dynamism is bound to create a lot of pressure to the institution and in turn, it is bound to experience significant influences in its competitive strategies (Alexandrou, 2001, p. 51).
Because of this reason, the US army has been seen to develop technologically and build stronger and more efficient equipments to effectively carry out its mandate of protecting and serving the citizens. This is also the reason why the US army is seen to be one of the most technologically developed across the globe because there is an increased pressure to remain competitive in the face of changing military balances and changing world threats.
From the analysis of the institutional theory we also deduce the fact that in light of competitive pressures, various institutions adopt divergent strategies to react to these changes, and in this context, we see how the US army has revolved to increase its military numbers and improve on its training methods. This explains the training and increase of military numbers since the Second World War because there has been an increased need to have more military strength in the face of increasingly dangerous enemies.
The difference can also be seen on how other military institutions across the globe have reacted to the changing institutional environments; for example, the Indian and Pakistan military forces have been developing deadlier weapons (nuclear weapons) while other forces have dedicated more of their time strengthening their naval forces, like the Russian army, but the US has invested more resources by increasing its military spending to improve the level of technological utility in its war tact.
In the past few decades, the level of interconnectivity of social, economic and technological forces has tremendously increased, to shift institutional paradigms to new levels of engagement. In this regard, the US army has changed its strategies because, the security threats it seeks to eliminate have also changed in the same way (Kugler, 2010, p. 21).
Also, in this regard, the US military has changed the way it employs force when engaged in wars. Most importantly, it is crucial to note that globalization has reduced the utilization of force in solving international conflicts and the US army has acknowledged this fact by seeking new ways of engagement. This is true because globalization has redefined the core competencies of the armed forces by redefining the institution’s core missions and objectives.
In the past, the core mission of the armed forces had been to protect American citizens and interests from any external attack or influence but due to global forces, the mandate of the US army is broader, comprehensive and indeed more subtle than previously thought (Warburton, 1999, p. 157). For example, in the wider union of the NATO allies, the US army has an obligation, under NATO to support its NATO allies in military combat whenever they are faced with national threats on security.
At the same time, the military under certain world bodies such as the UN has a duty to maintain peace across the globe, for example by assisting in humanitarian efforts or even acting as a mediator between warring factions in international conflicts. In this regard, the roles of the US army have been more holistic and now stretch beyond American interests.
The US army has also had to critically think of the impact of using military power on opponents by considering the impact of globalization on such conflicts. Since globalization has intertwined the interests of various nations across the globe, it has become increasingly difficult to autonomously make decisions regarding military actions on other nations because third party interests are to be considered (Warburton, 1999, p. 157).
For example, The US army cannot make a unilateral decision to carry out military attacks on a country like Lebanon because that decision has to go through the UN Security Council and approved by other nations before it makes such a move.
However, chances of other nations approving military engagement are often minimal and this explains why the use of military force has been reduced with the advent of globalization.
In this regard, the US army has had to contend with a more inclusive decision making process because it has to consider the interests of other nations in carrying out military actions; if for example, the US wants to carry out aerial strikes on Iran, for example, it would have to consider any other relevant interests like Japanese interests or investments in the nation, Chinese investments and the likes.
It is therefore very difficult for the US military as an institution to enjoy the same kind of autonomy it used to enjoy before globalization took effect. This therefore means that the US army has to be more flexible and pro-dialogue with other nations before it carries out any military actions.
Alexandrou, A. (2001). Human Resource Management in the British Armed Forces: Investing In The Future. London: Routledge.
Chapman, B. (2009). Military Doctrine: A Reference Handbook. New York: ABC-CLIO.
Diamant, L. (1993). Homosexual Issues in the Workplace. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Gerace, M. P. (2004). Military Power, Conflict, and Trade. London: Routledge.
Kugler, S. (2010). Challenges of the Global Century: Report of the Project on Globalization and National Security. New York: DIANE Publishing.
Martell, L. (2010). The Sociology of Globalization. New York: Polity.
Warburton, N. (1999). Philosophy: The Basics. London: Routledge.