U.S. Domestic and National Security Agendas: Into the Twenty-First Century

By Sam C. Sarkesian; John Mead Flanagin et al. | Go to book overview

II
Civil-Military Relations in the New Era

Sam C. Sarkesian and John Allen Williams

As the United States enters a new security era, it is faced with restructuring the military and positioning most of the U.S. Army in the continental United States. As a consequence, the U.S. military must rethink its strategic orientation and its force structure. In turn, there will be important consequences for civil-military relations. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the new security landscape, study the changes imposed on military professionalism, and analyze the impact on civil-military relations in the United States in the context of historical patterns.

It is important to recognize that military professionalism and civil-military relations are inextricable. Civil-military relations concerns the civil control of the military, which is affected by the military's view of society and the political system, the military professional ethos, and the legitimate role of civilian leaders in the control and supervision of the military. 1 A study of civilian control of the military cannot be solely from a civilian perspective.


HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

The fundamental principles governing the relationship between the military and American society were established during the American Revolution and the framing of the U.S. Constitution. The debate over standing armies centered on two alternatives: the complete abolition of standing armies or the combination of a small standing Army and the state militia. The founding fathers were eventually convicted that a small standing army was a necessary evil, and a small standing army augmented by a force of citizen-soldiers remained the general organization of the military system until the end of the Vietnam War, with periodic surges in the size of the military during wartime. Regardless of the ebbs and flows of civil-military relations in American history, the basic principles evolving from the Constitutional Conven

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