Balancing Dialogue: Understanding Influences on U.S. Civil Military Relations Within a Whole-of-Government Approach
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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Since the 911 terrorist attacks the United States has added to a significant national security apparatus to address gaps in intelligence and security agencies and better respond to a dynamic and increasingly complex international security environment. However, these changes did not necessarily result in better policy. As national security experts expressed dissatisfaction with the United States governments ability to develop comprehensive solutions, departments and agencies shifted focus toward a whole-of-government approach. While the military is just one institution among many in the national security establishment, much of the time it seems to dominate the solution. With subordination to civilian control a primary principle underlying beliefs about democratic governance, the concern about ensuring the military does what its political leaders ask of it is even more important as one considers an ever increasing capacity of the military to influence Executive Branch actions. Through the lens of civil-military relations, this paper seeks to understand the ways in which a whole-of-government approach might be influencing civil-military relations, potentially causing an unbalanced relationship where military influence undermines or even overrides civilian control. It proposes that changes in the international security environment, budget or policy goal orientations to national security, or the real-time information landscape without structural adjustments to national security institutions become underlying drivers of unbalanced civil-military relations. Using the case study of Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, the paper demonstrates how structural changes to national defense institutions sought to address changes in these variables and resulted in balanced civil-military relations. It then looks to todays environment to explain current civil-military relations and provide a few of the more prominent recommendations for reform existent in the public debate.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics