Applying new institutionalism to the National Guard Empowerment Act.
Kim, Suzanne M.
Bruneau, Thomas C.
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This thesis examines the actors and their interests behind the "National Guard Empowerment Act," initiated by Congress in 2006 to enhance Guard influence in Department of Defense (DoD) budget and strategy decisions concerning homeland defense and civil support. Despite the Guard's primary role as the military's first responder to domestic terrorist events and natural disasters, as a component of the Air Force and Army it has typically been at a disadvantage in the competition for resources. Senate and House sponsors initiated Empowerment Act legislation to strengthen the Guard's "bureaucratic muscle" in Pentagon budget debates to ensure domestic missions are given higher consideration and priority. Employing concepts from "new institutionalism," specifically the principal-agent frameworks developed by Peter Feaver and Deborah Avant, it can be argued that Congressional efforts to pass the Empowerment Act are not motivated solely by national security considerations, but also electoral incentives and to foster interservice rivalry as a monitoring mechanism on DoD decision-making. Finally, by giving the National Guard more autonomy in managing core domestic roles, the Empowerment Act may have long-term implications for "Total Force" integration, suggesting it is necessary to reconceptualize these longstanding policies.
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