The Air Force Officer and the Constitution
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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The United States of America is the worlds most successful constitutional republic,1 and it boasts a military that has been subordinate to civilian control since before its inception. Upon taking command and leadership of the various militias comprising the army of independence on 16 June 1775, George Washington reported and was subordinate to the Continental Congress.2 Today, as then, officers commissioned by the President of the United States lead enlisted members in the military services. The oath of office, which officers swear or affirm upon being commissioned, binds them to support and defend the Constitution to include giving their lives and the lives of those under their command. It logically follows that a robust knowledge of the United States Constitution is the bedrock for commissioned officer service. This essay maps the line of responsibility from the Constitution through the oath to the officer and explains the implications of the oath as a contract. It then demonstrates the need for officers to be educated on the Constitution and explores the adequacy of the education commissioning candidates receive about the Republics founding document. Finally, it suggests the United States Air Force USAF establish a minimum standard mandatory Constitution curriculum across all officer commissioning sources with recommended curriculum topics for inclusion.