The Downsized Warrior

The Downsized Warrior

America's Army in Transition

by David H. McCormick

Published by: NYU Press

278 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9780814755846
  • Published: February 1998



Downsizing has become one of the defining phenomena of the post-Cold War era, a trend affecting few sectors of American life more than the armed forces. Between 1989 and 1996, the active duty Army was cut back by more than a third, from 770,000 soldiers to fewer than half a million. Additional cuts are virtually certain to follow.

How has the Army implemented this mandate to downsize? What common threads exist between past post-war cutbacks and today's redistribution of the "peace dividend"? How has downsizing affected the morale, devotion, and disposition of the Army's officers, whose commitment to the institution profoundly determines its effectiveness? Crucially, is it truly possible to institute the radical transformation that downsizing requires without affecting the Army's ability to fight and win future wars?

As David McCormick demonstrates in this authoritative volume, the Army's downsizing is a story of both failure and success. Unable to make a persuasive case for a larger force, the Army's leaders made dramatic reductions, particularly among the officer corps. Though executed with compassion and precision, these cuts have taken their toll, undermining morale and resulting in dangerous pathologies which threaten the Army at its core. While the downsizing of the Army is unique in that it was externally mandated, the Army's experience is instructive for all organizations--government, corporate, and nonprofit alike--faced with the need to streamline their operations.

Basing his conclusions on hundreds of in-depth interviews with officers across all ranks and senior civilian and military leaders, as well as exhaustive research with Pentagon documents, McCormick has given us a definitive portrait of today's U.S. Army in transition, one that will transform our thinking about both downsizing and the military.