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What best explains how “Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything?”— the provocative title of a recent book by Professor Rosa Brooks of Georgetown Law. In this Essay, I turn to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) unique agency design as the vehicle to address this question. Specifically, I first describe and analyze the role that the 1947 National Security Act and 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act play in incentivizing organizational behavior within the DoD. These two Acts have broad implications for national security governance. Relatedly, I address the consequences of these two core national security laws, focusing on the rise of overseas combatant commands. Led by four-star military officers, these commands are increasingly participating in a wide variety of both military and non-military missions. Second, I turn to Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as a case study to highlight the rise of these combatant commands. Special operations forces now operate in over 70% of the world’s nations, and this percentage is only rising. And since President Trump was elected, the Commander in Chief has delegated even broader authorities to operational military commanders. This serves to reaffirm Professor Brooks’s prescient themes of “war everywhere” while raising additional concerns regarding the underlying health of civil-military relations.


Military law & governance, national security, warmaking, special forces, covert action, traditional military activities, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, National Security Council, NSC, Rosa Brooks, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything

Publication Title

Temple International Law & Comp. Law Journal

Publication Citation

32 Temple Int'l. & Comp. L. J. 69 (2018)