April 19, 2017

Keeping Up Civ-Mil Relations

By Loren DeJonge Schulman and Mara Karlin

James Mattis was sworn in as secretary of defense in what is arguably one of the more fraught periods in civil-military relations in decades.

While civilian control in the United States is based on a solid foundation of history, doctrine, and tradition, civil-military relationships are above all human. And that means they are vulnerable to unrealistic or unmet expectations and perceptions. Simply put, tension invariably infuses these relationships — it’s merely a question of how much and in which way. As such, this relationship should expect strains, some demanding mitigation.

Nearly two decades of (inconclusive) war, serious lapses in the quality of support to our veterans, and a destabilizing budget roller coaster have been some of the major stressors. These are bracketed by a growing disconnect between those who serve, the civilian population, and emerging political factors. A particularly tumultuous election with unprecedented veteran and general officer partisan participation did not stop or mitigate threats of purges of general officers by the Trump campaign. Despite such anti-military rhetoric, Trump eventually faced suspicion that his cabinet was overly militarized and went to bat in support of a waiver for Mattis’s own confirmation. These events, along with an expected, but nonetheless toxic, increase in friction between military and civilian staffs at the Pentagon set the stage for Mattis’ arrival at the River Entrance a few short months ago.

Read the full article at War on the Rocks.

  • Commentary
    • The American Interest
    • November 8, 2019
    The Enduring Relevance of Reagan’s Westminster Speech

    Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of three essays, commissioned by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, examining the legacy of Reagan’s Westmin...

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Podcast
    • November 8, 2019
    Friday Roundtable

    On the Roundtable episode of the Defense & Aerospace Podcast, Robert F. Hale joins Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget analysis and the Aerospace Security Project at...

    By Robert F. Hale

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • November 7, 2019
    National Security Is Made of People

    For several years, members of Congress and senior defense officials have worried, dramatically and out loud, about the state of military readiness, devoting bipartisan harangu...

    By Loren DeJonge Schulman

  • Reports
    • October 25, 2019
    Small Satellites in the Emerging Space Environment

    Steven Kosiak assesses the advantages and risks of widespread networks of smaller satellites versus consolidated networks of larger satellites....

    By Steven Kosiak

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia