Unified Command and Eisenhower
The concept of unified command has long been an idea within the military, and it has gone through many trials in order to have a firm grip on the organization. In the years surrounding the era of the Second World War, this concept evolved into a widely adopted theory because of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s efforts to make it great. The historical work, War by Land, Sea, and Air: Dwight Eisenhower and the Concept of Unified Command by David Jablonsky, targets Eisenhower’s involvement in the evolution of unified command in the military, where one commanding officer is in control of different organizations during one event. Jablonsky describes the extent Eisenhower gave to the idea and the effort that it took to work with it. From within the introduction, Jablonsky claims that Eisenhower was, “instrumental in developing this concept [of unified command]” 1 The author remained true to his promise and fully elaborated on Eisenhower’s complete role on each complex plot and miniscule details about his attempts to bring the three military powers under a unified command or a single purpose. He reveals General Eisenhower’s exploits with detailed accounts and examples of both achievements and failures made on the way as Eisenhower developed a plan used by today’s military. Jablonsky’s book ranges from before the Second World War to the end of Eisenhower’s presidential tern. Each of the four segments tells of thirty-fourth president’s actions as he reaches for the ultimate goal of Unified Command.
In the first two chapters of the work, Jablonsky describes the dwindling importance of the West Point College during long times of peace and how Eisenhower joined the school with a scarce amount of new entries. The author goes on to describe the deficient supplies and the growing lack of prominence. Then the work chronicles the problems that emerged from the sudden Spanish-American War, and how the unprepared leaders could not adapt to the problems that have suddenly appeared for them. Weapons, recruits, and volunteers dived into their plates any thought of unity had been pushed away from their other problems; “the new board remained structurally unable to resolve issues not amenable to compromise” 2 While the board leaders were trying to fix the mess due to negligence, the scarce amount of rivals gave Eisenhower opportunities to advance further in military rankings. He quickly became a captain and soon after became a colonel. Eisenhower at the time worked under infamous generals like Marshall and MacArthur and became close with the men. Jablonsky then tells of Eisenhower’s work in committees that were directly involved in the observation of applied unity and effort, where he observed military tactics during the First World War, and took note of mistakes and losses that could have been avoided if there was a unified command in place. Since then, Eisenhower has a new respect for the unified command and starts to see the necessity for the concept to have a bigger role within the military.
During the next four chapters of the work, Jablonsky describes Eisenhower’s efforts in uniting the different forces of the different countries in order to form a strong single alliance against one strong single enemy. Eisenhower promoted his unified command concept in order to have a better chance against the Axis powers. During the business of the America’s involvement in the Second World War, Eisenhower had nothing else on his mind other than the task of organizing the new alliance before they entered the battle. The work shows the American side trying to convince the British that unified command is important to the war effort. While Eisenhower was trying to incrementally get the British used to the idea of unity, their acceptance was too slow for General Marshall, who gave a broader assertion. Although both of the men made good arguments towards unified command, the British needed Winston Churchill, their prime minister, to decide on their actions. It did not help Eisenhower’s cause when the British viewed the American system as disorganized, making them even more reluctant to have their countrymen involved in such chaos. The Allied Nations then needed to decide on how to run the alliance. The nations soon reached an agreement during the Arcadia Conference, which created the term of the chiefs for the war. From this conference, “the Americans have got their way … and the war will be run from Washington.” 3 The agreement allowed the Combined Chiefs of the Allied Nations and Joint Chiefs of the US War Department to cooperate and run with the war effort. With the British by the side of the Americans, Eisenhower was closer to having unified command passed than before.
In the next segment, it is revealed that Eisenhower became a leading part of the Overlord plan, which involved the invasion of Normandy. He was still facing some opposition and reluctance from his British counterpart, Montgomery, who was in command of the British forces. Another plan, Dragoon, developed on the side, and although the British rejected the plan at first, the Chiefs of Staffs still passed and adopted the program- resulting in some animosity from the British. Despite these difficulties, Eisenhower managed to get his points through and became the commander of the unified force, “for there was no other commander on either side in World War II who had more multifaceted unified and combined command experiences.” 4 Eisenhower controlled the powers of land, sea, and air and was able to create a victory under his unified command. The notable example of his command was the invasion of Normandy where there was a tremendous amount of success. The invasion did not go exactly as planned, due to a storm that prevented the air forces to miss their marks, and amphibious assault resulted in a deadly battle. Due to the flaws of the event, it was seen that one person could not handle the power effectively. The concept still needed to be improved, but nevertheless, Eisenhower still saw unified command as important to the military. “There is no such thing as separate land, sea and air war.” 5 Throughout the war, Eisenhower succeeded in his attempts bring Unified Command into something greater than just a military theory. His assertions and examples that he presented during the war resulted in precedents that further developed the idea of unified command as important to the military.
From the tenth chapter to the end, Jablonsky describes Eisenhower’s activities after the war, from working under President Truman to becoming the President himself. “What he did was bring the power and prestige of his name and reputation.” 6 Before his years as president, Eisenhower worked as the head of NATO and debated over his ideals with the European representatives. Eisenhower took a leave from the military during Truman’s term to explore Europe to examine the damage done to the continent. When he returned, Eisenhower entered the political world and became the President. He then used his term in order to advance unified command even further though the government. During his term, however, Eisenhower also faced an uncooperative navy. The problem between the President and the navy was due to “a lack of commitment to full unity of command in Washington.” 7 The navy did not agree to the concepts of unity and appeared prefer that each faction fights its own battles. President Eisenhower again stressed the ideals of unity, that if America united her forces, then she will become even stronger. Eisenhower then continued his efforts in his new field of power, passing new trials and debating on how the concept of Unified Command would help accomplish greater achievements for the nation. To the end, Jablonsky describes Eisenhower’s fervent belief of unified command and its benefits.
The ultimate goal of the book was to establish Dwight Eisenhower’s role in the evolution of Unified Command. Jablonsky recounted Eisenhower’s actions and determination concerning unified command and how the President advanced it during the mid-twentieth century. Supported by historical accounts such as his command over D-Day and a well versed vocabulary, the thesis is aptly reinforced and explained. The text referenced Eisenhower and the concept of unity and used a fair amount of military jargon, speaking with mission terms like Overlord, Anvil, and Dragoon that required prior knowledge. Jablonsky used examples of how it could work out like it did with the Overlord, and where there was resistance, like with the British and the Navy. Eisenhower went through great lengths to get the concept passed and because of that, “He had, in effect, created the organization for unified command that the Combined Chiefs of Staff had denied him in a formal directive.” 8 Eisenhower did a great amount for unified command. The thirty-fourth president fully adopted the role of unified command’s father and fully evolved the theory into what it is today. Now, the concept is commonly used within the military. The idea that Eisenhower became enamored with, believed it would be America’s advantage when fully realized, grew into what it is because of what he did, despite opposition, to make the nation realize his vision.
David Jablonsky is impressively intelligent. He has written many books about the “European history and international relations” 9 like U.S. National Security: Beyond the Cold War, and Time's Cycle and National Military Strategy: The Case for Continuity in a Time of Change. Jablonsky is close to military history because he has been retired from the army, ranked infantry colonel, and he is a professor in the U.S. Army War College as their Professor of National Security Affairs. Jablonsky is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Kansas University, and Boston University. Due to his background in the military, the author tends to look more on Eisenhower’s achievements and continually described his determination with unified command. He still acknowledges the downsides and failures that Eisenhower faces along his way, albeit to a lesser degree. His work tends to be fact based and his educational career would make assure that he can look at both sides of an argument. The way he looks at the events has a minuscule amount bias and spins and accurate picture of Eisenhower.
War by Land, Sea, and Air is a fairly recent book, written in 2010. Jablonsky bases his works on events that take place in the early to mid-twentieth century. The years after the war were filled with secrecy and paranoia, due to Red Scares and the oncoming Cold War with the Soviet Nation. There would not be much information available for using during that period as there would be currently. The work is filled with specific commentary laced details like, “Eisenhower’s focus on defense reorganization became more intense on 3 November,” 10 which would only be available today. Something else that would also affect Jablonsky’s writing could be recent wars and battles that have occurred recently would also lead him to write the book to reflect on how and why the military uses tactics like unified command in warfare. He could have been influenced by his military experience and his teaching subject to want to record how the past led to ideas in the present. Despite his work being about events in the past, War by Land, Sea, and Air is greatly affected by the present as well.
War by Land, Sea, and Air was reviewed by two noteworthy publications. One was from Presidential Studies Quarterly by Harvey M. Sapolsky of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the other review was by Joel I. Holwitt of the Navy from the U.S. Naval Proceedings. Sapolsky was like the other reviews in the journal, summing up the work. “David Jablonsky… describes Eisenhower’s strongly held views about the management of defense.” 11 The professor lists the plot, summarizing the key points and ideas. The review is relatively short, but has all of the key points that Jablonsky created in the book. Holwitt from the navy wrote a more critical review on the work than the MIT professor. “Jablonsky demonstrates that Eisenhower was the driving force behind reforming the military into the ‘joint’ force that fight’s today’s conflicts.” 12 Holwitt, a Ph.D. graduate from Ohio State, thoroughly praises Jablonsky’s book and gives some constructive criticism on some specific points in the book, such as a what-if question on one of Jablonsky’s key points. The review, nevertheless, was quite positive and the writer suggested others who are interested in military history to read it.
Jablonsky filled his work with descriptive accounts of military events complete with the complex ideas the can befuddled the uninformed. The author describes Eisenhower as a man obsessed with the concept of unified command and will go through extreme lengths to advance it. Jablonsky gives a vivid account of Eisenhower’s determination, and it is an intriguing record of Eisenhower’s unrelenting push for a theoretical concept that he saw vital to the nation’s interests, however, his work is not for the average reader with no clue about the military terms and history used in it. Even if a reader does not know much about the thirty-fourth president, he or she could read and be awed, or greatly confused, at the man’s dedication and determination as he constantly advocated the concept of unity within the military. Jablonsky’s main point is clear as he speaks of Eisenhower and how, “In his military and civilian career, he observed and personally led the gradual evolution of his unified command concept.” 13 The work reflects Eisenhower determination and showed the man’s adventure with the concept as he practically raised it to work. Jablonsky gave a realistic description of the thirty-fourth president’s determination and portrayed him well.
The 1940’s were a critical moment in history. America did not have a unified military until the Second World War. The navy, military, and air force were separated and deteriorating before the warfare had even begun. There was no cooperation and when they did joint maneuvers there was constant bickering. All of this was “adding to the picture of the army’s incompetence was the age.” 14 The army was old in its weaponry yet young in mentality. Then the military quickly became revived with the Spanish-American War brought back its prominence to the country. Jablonsky saw Eisenhower’s significance in turning over the old and engrained mentalities that each segment could survive fine on their own, a though process that would not last in today’s vicious world. Jablonsky acknowledge Eisenhower’s role in that moment in history, chronicling Eisenhower’s campaign for a seemingly worthless idea of fighting together as one against a common enemy to the nation. No matter how far Eisenhower pushed his idea; there was usually a problem there to block his path that he managed to get past. “Eisenhower was often caught in the middle of opposing positions, usually delivered by Churchill and Marshall, on issues at the highest level of political-military affairs.” 15 During the war, the unified command concept was proved to be important in the creation of a second front and created a turning point in the war, despite setbacks like the Air mishap in Normandy and some opposition from chiefs and navy. Jablonsky asserts that the thirty-fourth president greatly affected the direction that history has taken because of the idea of unity. Unity creates a great force that is smooth, dependable and can be a powerful force to reckon with. Using Eisenhower’s determination as an example, Jablonsky shows that Eisenhower was essential in passing the theory which America adopted to fight her wars. Unified command became something that can bring together the forces of land, sea, and air to create a great force that can withstand any attack.
Past all of the extra events recorded in the book, in the end Jablonsky focuses on one idea. Eisenhower was a great man who raised a valuable idea for this new age, resulting in a powerful national military that can use all of its resources to its fullest extent.
1. Jablonsky, David. War by Land, Sea, and Air: Dwight Eisenhower and the Concept of Unified Command. New Haven [Conn.: Yale UP, 2010. Print. 4.
2. Jablonsky, David. 14.
3. Jablonsky, David. 46.
4. Jablonsky, David. 136.
5. Jablonsky, David. 138.
6. Jablonsky, David. 197.
7. Jablonsky, David. 179.
8. Jablonsky, David. 93.
9. "Strategic Studies Institute." Dr. David Jablonsky -. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 June 2013.
10. Jablonsky, David. 264.
11. Sapolsky, Harvey M. "Book Reviews." Presidential Studies Quarterly 41.1 (2011): 206-07.
12. Print. Holwitt, Joel. "War by Land, Sea, and Air: Dwight Eisenhower and the Concept of Unified Command." U.S Naval Institute Proceedings 136.11 (n.d.): 65. Print
13. Jablonsky, David. 326.
14. Jablonsky, David. 9.
15. Jablonsky, David. 137.