July 11, 2023

A showdown with one senator over hundreds of generals and admirals is set to ripple through the US military

Source: Business Insider

Journalist: Christopher Woody

"It's perfectly appropriate for the for Congress to provide its oversight role in asking the civilian appointees — so service secretaries and other civilians in that chain of command — questions about policy, which are fundamentally part of the political system," Katherine Kuzminski, director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, told Insider on Monday.

"Uniformed military officers do not set policy. They're only responsible for carrying out policy as it's currently written, and so the hold that Tuberville has placed is kind of a gross violation of civil-military norms," Kuzminski said.

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Kuzminski told Insider that officers in acting roles right now have demonstrated good judgment over long careers and would take "decisive action" if needed but said "the real challenge is that it just adds a whole bunch of friction into the decision-making process on who needs to be cleared through and what authority individuals have."

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Not targeting officers over policies has become a norm of civil-military relations "because they don't set the policy. They only implement the policy," Kuzminski told Insider, adding that current situation could "put a really sour taste in the mouth of service members."

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There are other ways Congress could settle the policy. Kuzminski noted that both houses of Congress are working on their versions of the annual defense authorization bill and that senators were pushing to block the reimbursements, which would "un-do" the Pentagon's current policy, while Democrats in the House were working on enshrining the current policy into law.

"So one way or the other, Congress has the ability to change the law, but holding military leaders' nominations hostage is not exactly the way to go about actually changing the policy," Kuzminski said, echoing a sentiment shared by more than a few lawmakers.

Read the full story and more from Insider.

Authors

  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...