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The U.S. Army and Nation-Building: Explaining Divergence in Effective Military Innovation Open Access

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Since the World War II era, the United States Army has been heavily involved in nation-building. Although these represent the majority of the missions that were executed in the last sixty years, the army still primarily focuses on planning, organizing and training to fight conventional high intensity ground wars. Despite the Army's proclivity to avoid nation-building, the United States Army was able to innovate with respect to nation-building in Germany after World War II. Although several theoretical frameworks attempt to explain the presence of military innovation, none seem able to account for this unique circumstance in which the army innovated in the Germany case. This dissertation evaluates the effectiveness of the Army during nation-building. The primary case where the Army implemented several effective innovations was that of the Army in Germany in the World War II era. The Army demonstrated a lack of effective innovation in their most recent case of nation-building--Iraq. Two additional cases of nation-building are also examined in lesser depth: the U.S. Army in Korea from 1945-1948 and the Vietnam War. This study makes three central arguments about effective innovation with respect to nation-building. First of all, reformist military leaders are necessary to innovation as well as military effectiveness. Second, civil-military relations have a tremendous impact on military effectiveness. Trust in particular, is essential to effective innovation. Finally, although threat shapes the options available to civilian and military decision makers, it does not explain the presence or absence of innovation.

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