Many institutions highlight improvements to the experience of veterans on campus, but significant gaps in institutional support for service members remain.
Latest in civil-military affairs
The final two months of 2018 have been a remarkably eventful period for observers of American civil-military relations—even for the Trump administration. In just the final two months of 2018, there was the pre-midterm election deployment of troops to the southwest border in response to the supposed “invasion” of the migrant caravan.
Editor’s Note: The relationship between soldiers and civilians is a fundamental question for any democracy. In the United States, the military has long been respected, but only recently has it been idolized—far more so than any other American institution today. Not surprisingly, politicians increasingly bring military officers into their administrations. Raphael Cohen of RAND finds that the civil-military gap is growing, in large part due to the shift toward an all-volunteer force and the decline in the percentage of Americans with military experience.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ terse and unequivocal disavowal on Wednesday of Trump’s Twitter declaration that the time for talk with North Korea had ended was greeted as just another Wednesday in the age of Trump. But Mattis’ relative outspokenness—and those of his civilian and uniformed colleagues—raises a broader question that, during any other period, would put a critical focus on the bedrock American principle of civil-military relations.
They shall have wars and pay for their presumption. —Shakespeare, Henry VI
Like many a new president before him, President Trump is opening his administration with bold—and sometimes contradictory—actions that have many wondering what to make of his relationships with his most senior admirals and generals. The cost of such uncertainty, as Shakespeare might suggest, could be unbearably high.
Over at War on the Rocks, I have a post explaining that a new statute will be needed in order for General Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense. It's been done once before, with George Marshall during the Truman Administration.
A review of Rosa Brooks' How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon (Simon and Schuster 2016).