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The Modern American Military: Dædalus Examines Challenges Facing an Institution in Transition


Press Release

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The connection between citizenship and service in the military, a bedrock principle for the nation’s founders, has weakened significantly with the advent of the all-volunteer force, according to several contributors to a new volume of Dædalus on the Modern American Military.

“Today’s American military is at once increasingly prominent as an instrument of national policy and increasingly detached from and poorly understood by the civilian society in whose name it is asked to fight,” writes Stanford University historian David M. Kennedy, guest editor of the new issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry notes in a foreword to the volume that less than 1 percent of Americans have a family member serving in active duty and barely one in five members of Congress has ever served in the military. As a result, Perry suggests, the American people and their elected representatives are less engaged with the U.S. military than at any time this past century.

In more than a dozen essays, contributors from a range of disciplines examine the implications of the military’s changing relationship to civil society, as well as issues such as the evolution of U.S. strategic doctrine, the demographic makeup of the all-volunteer force, advances in weapons technology, the increasing use of private contractors for tasks once performed by uniformed service members, portrayals of the military in popular culture, the question of women in combat roles, and the psychological toll of modern combat.

In addition to the foreword by Perry and introduction by Kennedy, the volume includes:
  • The Counterrevolution in Strategic Affairs” by Lawrence Freedman (King’s College London)
  • “The U.S. Armed Forces’ View of War” by Brian McAllister Linn (Texas A&M University)
  • “Weapons: The Growth and Spread of the Precision-Strike Regime” by Thomas G. Mahnken (U.S. Naval War College; Johns Hopkins University; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning)
  • “American Military Culture from Colony to Empire” by Robert L. Goldich (formerly of the Congressional Research Service)
  • “Manning and Financing the Twenty-First Century All-Volunteer Force” by Lawrence J. Korb (Center for American Progress) and David R. Segal (University of Maryland)
  • “Military Contractors and the American Way of War” by Deborah D. Avant (University of California, Irvine) and Renée de Nevers (Syracuse University)
  • “Filming War” by Jay M. Winter (Yale University)
  • “The Future of Conscription: Some Comparative Reflections” by James J. Sheehan (Stanford University)
  • “Whose Army?” by Andrew J. Bacevich (Boston University)
  • “The Military-Industrial Complex” by Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. (Duke University School of
  • Law; former Deputy Judge Advocate General, U.S. Air Force)
  • “Defending America in Mixed Company: Gender in the U.S. Armed Forces” by Martha E. McSally (George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies; U.S. Air Force Colonel, ret.)
  • “Military Law” by Eugene R. Fidell (Yale Law School)
  • “Casualties” by Jonathan Shay (formerly of the Boston Department of Veterans Affairs)
“The modern American military is one of the key institutions of democracy, yet it is not well understood by the academic community or the broader general public,” noted American Academy President Leslie Cohen Berlowitz. This issue of Dædalus gives expert insight into today’s military and highlights many of the crucial issues and challenges that the military faces.”

To order a copy of this volume or to subscribe to Dædalus visit:

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world.


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