April 06, 2018

Policy Roundtable: Civil-Military Relations Now and Tomorrow

The Lack of Diverse Viewpoints on Trump’s National Security Team and its Long-Term Consequences

By Lauren Fish

President Donald Trump has been in office for over a year, and while many key staffers have departed and been replaced already, there are a few clear trends in his staffing decisions. First, the president has relied heavily on active-duty or retired military to fill crucial national security roles, going as far as to regularly refer to them as “my generals,” including when traveling abroad.110,111 Second, when staffing the Pentagon, he has tapped many defense industry executives to fill senior roles, against the preferences of the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain, who has threatened not to confirm them on at least two occasions, saying “we’ve had a couple, and that’s okay, but I don’t want [more of] them.”112,113 Perhaps most significantly, these selections have collectively been made to the exclusion of other, civilian, policy professionals. The Trump administration has not only eschewed individuals deemed insufficiently loyal during Trump’s campaign, but also those who, even privately, do not wholly endorse all of the administration’s policy predilections.114

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