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The 6,000 Mile Screwdriver is Getting Longer: Washington's Strengthening Grip
STANFORD UNIV CA CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND COOPERATION
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U.S. theater commanders since at least the Civil War have complained of undue monitoring and interference from Washington during wartime. Civil-military theory aside on the prerogatives of elected leaders or the autonomy of field commanders, technological advances over the past couple of decades have created the conditions by which Washington can increasingly maintain closer contact with generals in the field. The same tools field commanders use to track their subordinates also are being used by their political masters. In particular, the secure video teleconference has become the tool of choice by which theater commanders are increasingly brought into the formal National Security Council NSC meetings at the Deputies and Principal Committee level as well as into full NSC meetings chaired by the President. Frequent policy interactions between decision-makers in Washington and their commanders in the field, even if buffered by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the combatant commands, will be the norm for any future conflicts or interventions. As such, Army senior commanders today should learn the lessons from the past 10 years and be prepared in future to provide frequent assessments ever more directly to the entire military and civilian chain of command.
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