The Civil-Military Gap and Women in Combat: The Elite's Attitude Transformation, 1991-2013
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
Pagination or Media Count:
A fundamental concern in the debate about a civil-military gap in the United States is that the space between the values or attitudes of civilian society and the military may become so wide that it threatens civil-military cooperation and military effectiveness. This study sheds light on that concern by examining the attitudes of the civilian and military elite on women in combat, a social issue at the heart of the civil-military gap, as the US regrouped after the Gulf War then fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. The study reveals that by expanding women s roles in combat, the wars served as a proving ground which illustrated to the civilian and military elite that women s service had both society s acceptance and a positive impact on military effectiveness, thereby harmonizing their attitudes. Although debate on the issue was intense, it is evident the civilian and military elite engaged in frank dialogue on mutual interests to constructively reconcile their differences over time and agreed to favor military effectiveness over social values because national security was at stake. With social values residing at the heart of the civil-military gap, this study suggests that the civil-military gap is neither a chasm nor unbridgeable. The nature of the relations of the civilian and military elite suggests there is no immediate cause for concern.
- Military Forces and Organizations