Knowing When to Salute


Due to a strong “Can Do” spirit and a well-engrained, albeit simplistic, notion of civilian control over the military, senior military leaders are disinclined to publicly share their disagreement with emerging national security policy. Many senior officers mistakenly believe that there are no alternatives other than just silently executing, resigning, or retiring when confronted with bad policy formulation. There are, however, options available to senior uniformed leaders when confronted with policy formulation that they, in their professional opinion, believe is flawed. Depending on the degree to which the civilian authorities are receptive to military advice and the magnitude of the threat to national security involved in the policy, senior military leaders can choose among many alternatives to widen the policy debate.

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