The module addressed in this paper is American Civil-Military Relations that encompasses two lessons, C 161 -Civil Military Relations: Theory and History, and CHIC-The Military Profession and the Current Civil Military Relationship. The focus is on the theories of civil-military relations and military professionalism. The thesis of this paper is the necessity to sustain a balance and division of authority between the civilian component of our society and those officials elected to represent us, and that of the military and combatant commanders established to protect that very society.
Directly tied to this is the importance of maintaining military professionalism in the dynamic environment of civil-military relations now, and into the future. Civil- Military relations encompass the relationship of society and the armed forces, how they communicate, how they interact, and how they are regulated. We can reflect on the framing of our constitution, and the safeguards established by our founders. The framers created constitutional structures that provided two layers of civilian control of the military.
The first is the clear subordination f the military to civilian authority, and the second is the divided control of the military and security policy between the executive and legislative branches. The American Constitution assigns the President, the elected head of the civil government, the role of Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. However, it also reserves for the Congress the power to declare war and the power to raise and equip armed forces.
In addition, to ensure that military policy is continuously scrutinized and publicly debated, the Constitution prohibits the Congress from appropriating funds for the Army for any period anger than two years-I A dichotomy exists regarding limits placed on both the civilian and military leadership. There is the question of what constraints are placed on politicians, if or when they cross a line resulting in interference with the military, and hampering their ability to execute and win the war effort.
On the other side of the coin, there needs to be a system of checks and balances placed on the military so as not to allow a total takeover of the government by coup, making society subservient to the military leadership. In the view of Sun Txt, the decision to go to war must be a political decision, but that the general must be free to act autonomously once that decision is made. 2 A similar philosophy was held by General Douglas MacArthur who said, “Once war is forced upon us, there is no alternative but to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end.
War’s very object is victory-?not prolonged indecision. “3 The military by its nature is authoritarian. The focus demands obedience and discipline, placing individual needs and desires secondary to the accomplishment of the mission. The military system places emphasis on conformity and strict order with a hierarchy and organizational structure consisting off chain of command. The nature of the military is to wage war with the use of violence and coercion, and places primary emphasis on conducting operational and tactical missions to win our nations conflicts and preserve our security.
With a strong military led by charismatic individuals possessing strong leadership skills, there exists the possibility of a coup to overthrow any civilian authorities, unless kept in check by a strong democratic form of government. Historically, there are many instances around the world of countries ruled by political/military regimes, which resulted in the suppression and denial of individual rights and freedoms. These countries might imply they have a political system, but for all intent and purposes, the military and the political system are one in the same.
These include but are not limited to the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Nazi Germany. The challenge is how to keep the military in check and subservient to the political authority of a democratically oriented form of government, even the fact that the military possesses the ultimate power of force and coercion. The focus of a democratic form of society is that the citizens exercise direct participation in the government. The populace utilizes elections to select people to serve as their representative.
The citizenry must stay cognizant of world affairs, the implications of military intervention, the cost of the sacrifice in comparison to the projected result, and make their elected officials aware Of their position. The rule Of law must govern this process, and the general population must concur there is a fair method for inducting said elections. The people must believe that the elected officials will in turn utilize the military forces in a disciplined manner, with concern for the greater good of the nation.
At the onset of our current war on terrorism, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on 1 1 September 2001, we saw a clear unity and focus between the civilian population and the military mission. The common goal was to hold accountable those who attacked our country and killed our people. The consensus was doing whatever it takes, but gets the terrorists and holds them accountable. As the years progressed, and Americans began seeing the casualties of war mount, the country as a whole has become war weary. Many citizens raised questions about the cost of the war.
They question the financial cost, the cost Of lost lives of military personnel, and what exactly is our final objective. There were also growing concerns amongst the troops, and if you ask the war fighters, the rules of engagement placed particular challenges on the execution of tactical operations. No one wants to see civilian casualties or unnecessary carnage, but until you walk a mile in their shoes, many Laotians or average citizens do not fully comprehend the life and death decisions Soldiers must make, often times in a split second.
In some instances, it appears politicians are more concerned with the perception of events rather than reality. A number of senior military leaders who have since voiced concerns over the policies of the executive branch, have left service by their own choosing, with encouragement from others, or forced to retire. Retired Army Let. Gene. William G. “Jerry” Booking, who was with Delta Force and later Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under President George W. Bush, says it is worrying that four-star generals are being retired at the rate that has occurred under Obama. Over the past three years, it is unprecedented for the number of four-star generals to be relieved of duty, and not necessarily relieved for cause,” Booking said. 4 Senior military leaders sometimes find themselves in an awkward position regarding the policies of the administration, and their personal beliefs and views on the execution of the war effort. They must maintain neutrality, give an unvarnished opinion Of the military situation, while at the same time factor in the impact decisions eave on the military forces. They sometimes walk a fine line.
In the end, they must carry out the orders of the civilian authority. This is where the level of professionalism as a military leader comes into play. No matter how strongly they feel on their position, they must continually be aware of the separation of authority, and acknowledge the civilian leadership ultimately makes the decision on the use of military force. There are instances of senior military officials crossing the line and criticizing the civilian authority. There is no excuse for this type of behavior and only serves to undermine our system of checks and balances.
Senior military leaders must provide information and guidance based on their military expertise, but also take into account the political implications of their advice. In the environment of today, with easy access to media outlets in theatre and the fact we are fighting an unconventional war, military leaders are likely to be exposed to the media and must ensure consistent professionalism. Their actions can influence the course of events. Current tensions in Syria regarding efforts by the Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (SIS’S) to establish a caliphate are testing that balance between the American people, the government and the military. Given the varied opinions on how to deal with this threat, we will see how the will of the people might influence the political powers, who in turn utilize our military force. Civil-military relations greatly influence the future of our country, perhaps even our existence. In the end, it is the citizens of our country, who elect political leaders to represent their views, who in turn control the use of our military forces.