Accession Number:

ADA591756

Title:

The Pit and the Pendulum: Civil-military Relations in an Age of Austerity

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:

ARMY WAR COLLEGE CARLISLE BARRACKS PA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2013-05-01

Pagination or Media Count:

6.0

Abstract:

In Edgar Allan Poes short story The Pit and the Pendulum, an unnamed protagonist avoids a fatal fall only to find himself in deadly danger from a swinging blade. Todays senior military leaders are in similar straits, though its not their lives at risk but rather the American peoples trust in their armed forces. The pit is the prospect that the U.S. military might be ill-prepared when the call comes to ward off enemies, foreign or domestic. Twice in memory this has happened todays military leaders are haunted by the Vietnam War and the Sept. 11 attacks. The pendulum is the prospect that Congress inability to pass defense budgets will hamstring the militarys ability to act effectively when need arises. In the past four years, lawmakers have managed only continuing resolutions through this year, at least, there is the further complication of sequestration. Senior military leaders are hard-pressed to sustain a force that can safeguard U.S. security interests. In January, this dilemma brought the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a rare act letters to key lawmakers, signed by all seven members, decrying across-the-board cuts to defense legislated by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. It is not my intent to argue for defenses share of the federal budget or to provide an economic analysis of the cuts effect, but rather to offer observations on an often overlooked and underexamined aspect of civil-military relations. In an era when a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff argues that the countrys biggest strategic problem is the national debt, where does duty lie for the militarys top officers

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE