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Congress and Civil-Military Relations

Congress and Civil-Military Relations

Colton C. Campbell
David P. Auerswald
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Congress and Civil-Military Relations
    Book Description:

    While the president is the commander in chief, the US Congress plays a critical and underappreciated role in civil-military relations-the relationship between the armed forces and the civilian leadership that commands it. This unique book edited by Colton C. Campbell and David P. Auerswald will help readers better understand the role of Congress in military affairs and national and international security policy. Contributors include the most experienced scholars in the field as well as practitioners and innovative new voices, all delving into the ways Congress attempts to direct the military.This book explores four tools in particular that play a key role in congressional action: the selection of military officers, delegation of authority to the military, oversight of the military branches, and the establishment of incentives-both positive and negative-to encourage appropriate military behavior. The contributors explore the obstacles and pressures faced by legislators including the necessity of balancing national concerns and local interests, partisan and intraparty differences, budgetary constraints, the military's traditional resistance to change, and an ongoing lack of foreign policy consensus at the national level. Yet, despite the considerable barriers, Congress influences policy on everything from closing bases to drone warfare to acquisitions.A groundbreaking study,Congress and Civil-Military Relationspoints the way forward in analyzing an overlooked yet fundamental government relationship.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-181-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction Congress and Civil-Military Relations
    (pp. 1-14)
    David P. Auerswald and Colton C. Campbell

    Congress plays a significant and underappreciated role in American civil-military relations. Over the past few years it has taken significant steps to change cultural and organizational behavior in the military. Congress has overturned the military ban of gays serving openly and has had a say in lifting the combat exclusion for military women. It has imposed significant budget cuts through the sequestration process, forcing the Department of Defense (DOD) to reexamine military strategy, personnel numbers, and weapon purchases. And most recently, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have proposed legislation to take the decision for prosecuting sexual assault cases...


    • 2 Presidential and Congressional Relations An Evolution of Military Appointments
      (pp. 17-35)
      Mitchel A. Sollenberger

      The subject and title of this book,Congress and Civil-Military Relations, offers an interesting and useful framework for studying military appointments. The actual process for making military appointments involves both civil and military actors at several points. However, the two most dominant institutions involved in the military appointment process are the presidency and Congress. They—above all others—have the most influence and control over the personnel who embody the armed forces of the United States. That is not by accident, as the Constitution provides for a system of checks and balances where the president and Congress are given the...

    • 3 A Safety Valve The Truman Committee’s Oversight during World War II
      (pp. 36-52)
      Katherine Scott

      Since the first congressional investigation in 1792 when the House of Representatives inquired into the failed military campaign of Gen. Arthur St. Clair, members of Congress have understood wartime oversight to be a constitutional prerogative of the legislative branch. Yet congressional investigations of civil-military relations during times of war have at times been criticized as partisan efforts to dictate war policy to the commander in chief. The Senate’s Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, led by Democratic senator Harry Truman of Missouri during World War II, remains the most successful wartime congressional investigation. Truman and his colleagues firmly...

    • 4 The Political, Policy, and Oversight Roles of Congressional Defense Commissions
      (pp. 53-70)
      Jordan Tama

      One of the most unappreciated ways in which members of Congress have sought to influence military policy in recent decades is through the creation of ad hoc advisory commissions.¹ From the beginning of the Ronald Reagan administration in January 1981 to the end of the George W. Bush administration in January 2009, Congress established at least twenty-three temporary, independent commissions in the area of defense policy or military affairs.² The mandates of these commissions spanned a wide array of defense issues, from broad examinations of military roles and missions to more tailored probes of specific issues, including nuclear weapons policy,...

    • 5 Congress and “Its” Military Delegating to the Reserve Component
      (pp. 71-87)
      John Griswold

      At first glance, the US military’s armed services appear monolithic. Most civilians cannot tell whether a soldier, sailor, airman, marine, or coastguardsman is a member of that service’s active component or the reserve component by looking at his or her uniform. It may also appear that members of Congress behave the same way. Lawmakers typically take positions that demonstrate their support and respect for service members, veterans, and their families regardless of the component. When Congress is executing its constitutional role—“to raise and support Armies” and “to provide and maintain a Navy”—legislators have come to man, train, and...

    • 6 Legislating “Military Entitlements” A Challenge to the Congressional Abdication Thesis
      (pp. 88-110)
      Alexis Lasselle Ross

      Since the 1990s, military pay and benefits have experienced several aspects of expansion. Such policy changes have contributed to significant growth in military personnel costs per service member. If left unchecked, this cost growth could induce one of three outcomes. One possibility is that the overall defense budget could expand to accommodate increasing costs, which is unlikely. Alternatively, if the defense budget and the size of the military remain constant while compensation continues its current budget trajectory, personnel costs could consume the entire defense budget by the year 2039.¹ This scenario is also unlikely. Under a third possibility, policymakers could...


    • 7 Defense and the Two Congresses Parochialism Balance
      (pp. 113-126)
      Chuck Cushman

      There have always been two Congresses—one that focuses on national policymaking and one that serves local, constituency interests.¹ Defense policy, though, emerged during the Cold War as a bit of a special case: The defense policy consensus that led to the creation of a powerful Department of Defense (DOD) and a global strategy of containment protected defense policy from being overrun by local interests. Until the Cold War ended in 1991, even the most constituency-minded members of Congress wrapped their efforts to support local interests in the language of strategy.

      In parallel with the emergence of the Cold War...

    • 8 Congress and New Ways of War
      (pp. 127-147)
      Charles A. Stevenson

      Congress is a necessary partner with the US military in developing new ways of war because it must approve the development of new capabilities, create military institutions, fund operations, and agree to the promotion of senior leaders. The Constitution gives Congress broad powers not only to build and equip the armed forces but also to micromanage them. The empowering phrases are “To raise and support Armies,” “To provide and maintain a Navy,” and “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”

      Throughout the nineteenth century, Congress worked directly with army and navy leaders to...

    • 9 Closing Guantánamo A Presidential Commitment Unfulfilled
      (pp. 148-165)
      Louis Fisher

      After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the George W. Bush administration brought almost eight hundred suspects from around the world to the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba. The administration claimed authority to hold these individuals indefinitely without charging them of a crime and giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their innocence. It was well known that many were captured without any evidence of being linked to terrorist operations against the United States. Instead, American forces accepted judgments from members of the Northern Alliance (Tajiks, Uzbeks, and others) who had been fighting the Taliban in a civil war....

    • 10 Congress and Civil-Military Relations in Latin America and the Caribbean Human Rights as a Vehicle
      (pp. 166-192)
      Frank O. Mora and Michelle Munroe

      Since the early 1970s, Congress has shown a consistent yet relatively low level of engagement on US foreign policy making regarding security and civilmilitary relations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Between the end of World War II and the early 1970s, congressional-executive interaction on US military programs was nonconflictive: Congress largely deferred to the president on most matters related to security relations and the military in Latin America and the Caribbean as the national security preoccupation with containing communism took precedence over concerns regarding militarism and threats to civilian governments and human rights. In fact, prior to 1973 Congress...

  8. 11 Conclusion The Future of Congressional-Military Relations
    (pp. 193-208)
    David P. Auerswald and Colton C. Campbell

    We conclude this volume with general thoughts and observations on the future congressional role in military policy drawn from the preceding chapters. This is a unique time for civil-military relations. The changing of the guard in the House over the past decade, the election of more women (especially to the Senate) and other minority groups, fewer and fewer lawmakers with direct military experience, and the election of more polarized members from both sides of the political aisle has brought to the fore new policy priorities and altered the distribution of influence on Capitol Hill. Moreover, the nation faces increasing budgetary...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 209-212)
  10. Index
    (pp. 213-223)