A new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa contains reporting about several controversial actions by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in late 2000 and early 2021, regarding conversations with his Chinese counterparts, his discussion with senior military officers about following standard nuclear procedures (if need be), and reaching out to others like the CIA and NSA directors to remind them to watch everything closely. Were each of these reported actions proper for a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and why? And what about all of this coming out in books?
To talk through it all, David Priess sat down with an A-team on civil-military relations. Peter Feaver is a civil-military relations expert at Duke University and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. He served in National Security Council staff positions in both the Bill Clinton and the George W. Bush administrations. Kori Schake is the director of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute who has worked in the Joint Staff J5, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the National Security Council’s staff, as well as the State Department's policy planning staff during Bush 43’s administration. She has also researched and written extensively on civil-military relations. And Alex Vindman is Lawfare’s Pritzker Military Fellow and a visiting fellow at Perry World House. His government experience includes multiple U.S. Army assignments, time inside the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in the National Security Council staff.