Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Civil-Military Relations

Civil-Military Relations


There is no crisis in American civil-military relations if crisis means the kind of collision between civil and military authority that would breed a coup d’état or other manifestation of a breakdown of civilian control of the military, such as systematic and open disobedience of orders. But, to a remarkable degree, members of the Defense Task Force agreed that deep and pervasive difficulties plague American civil-military relations, that these problems merit attention and exploration, and that dramatic and possibly painful actions are required to resurrect the relationship between the armed forces and civil society that the Founders envisioned and that makes sense for a twenty-first-century democracy. The three core problems discussed at length were the politicization of the military, the growing divide between civil society and those who wear the uniform, and the centralization of military power in the Joint Staff and in the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).