Military Decision-Making Processes

Case Studies Involving the Preparation, Commitment, Application and Withdrawal of Force

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About the Book

President Bill Clinton, speaking as might any commander-in-chief, on the eve of his decision to deploy ground troops to Bosnia in 1995, declared he had “no responsibility more grave than putting soldiers in harm’s way.” Such a statement suggests that a study of the decision-making process associated with the weighty matters of using force would be enlightening. Indeed, it is. The decision-making process is far from standardized nor is it simple.
While all individuals associated with important decisions about national security and the lives of America’s service members take their responsibilities seriously, the processes by which they reach their conclusions are varied and complicated. The book traces eight traditional and emerging theories or models of decision-making by first explaining the components of each model and then by analyzing its practical application through three case studies. Each chapter concludes with a discussion of the utility and explanatory power of the particular model.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Dougherty, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is the assistant commandant for leadership programs and an adjunct professor at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Kevin Dougherty
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 172
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7798-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0407-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Introduction 3

Chapter 1: The Rational Actor Model 7

Example 1: Truman’s Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb on Japan, 1945 7

Example 2: Reagan’s Decision to Bomb Libya, 1986 12

Example 3: Bush’s Decision to Halt Operation Desert Storm, 1991 16

Utility of the Rational Actor Model 18

Chapter 2: Prospect Theory 20

Example 1: Washington’s Decision to Attack Trenton, 1776 20

Example 2: Meade’s Decision Not to Pursue Lee After Gettysburg, 1863 23

Example 3: Clinton’s Decision to Withdraw from Somalia, 1993 28

Utility of the Prospect Theory 31

Chapter 3: Poliheuristic Theory 33

Example 1: Eisenhower’s Decision Not to Intervene in Hungary, 1956 34

Example 2: Kennedy’s Authorization of the Bay of Pigs, 1961 37

Example 3: Johnson’s Decision to De-escalate US Involvement in Vietnam, 1968 42

Utility of the Poliheuristic Theory 49

Chapter 4: The Bureaucratic Model 50

Example 1: The Confederate Departmental System’s Impact on the Vicksburg Campaign, 1862–1863 51

Example 2: The ­Army–Air Force Helicopter Rivalry, 1950s–1960s 54

Example 3: The Department of State and the Department of Defense and the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, 1982 60

Utility of the Bureaucratic Model 65

Chapter 5: The Organizational Process Model 66

Example 1: Strategic Formulation in the Vietnam War, 1960s–1970s 66

Example 2: The Decision to Abort the Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission, 1980 71

Example 3: The Federalization of the California Army National Guard During the Los Angeles Riot, 1992 75

Utility of the Organizational Process Model 80

Chapter 6: The Small Group Model 81

Example 1: The Blockade Board in the Civil War, 1861 81

Example 2: The Executive Committee During the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 87

Example 3: The Restricted Interagency Group in Developing a Strategy Toward Nicaragua, 1980s 91

Utility of the Small Group Model 96

Chapter 7: The Elite Theory 97

Example 1: The Influence of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Decision to Intervene in Haiti, 1993 and 1994 97

Example 2: The Role of the Media in the Decision to Intervene in Somalia, 1992 104

Example 3: The Agenda of Secretary of State Madeline Albright in the Decision to Intervene in Kosovo, 1999 109

Utility of the Elite Theory 114

Chapter 8: The Pluralist Model 115

Example 1: Conscription in the Confederate Army, 1861–1864 115

Example 2: The Reflagging of Kuwaiti Tankers in the Midst of the ­Iran-Iraq War, 1987–1988 122

Example 3: The Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia, 1995 129

Utility of the Pluralist Model 135

Epilogue 137

Chapter Notes 139

Bibliography 153

Index 161