Analysis / Reform

National Security Reform: What Happened in Congress?

Assessing Defense Reform Series

Photo of Sec. Carter and Gen. Dunford courtesy of DOD:



On December 23, 2016, President Obama signed the long-awaited National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2017. The act makes more changes to national security organizations and processes than any legislation since the landmark Goldwater–Nichols act of 1986. The national security community has been watching this legislation closely, not only because of the large changes expected to occur, but also because of the interplay between the Senate and the House. Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had taken an aggressive posture on reform, while the House’s approach was viewed as more measured.

This paper looks at the NDAA outcome issue-by-issue to see what it means for a new administration. It focuses on changes to structure and process, following up the original Goldwater-Nichols changes.
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Mark Cancian and defense360, "National Security Reform: What Happened in Congress?," Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 10, 2017, last modified January 10, 2017,