Civil-Military Relations

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Civil-military relations can be influenced at all levels in the military. As a field grade officer, my decision making process must take civil-military relations into account if I am to cast a positive light onto this relationship. Civil-military relations extends much deeper than simply how the civilian population views the military. While progressing through the modules, readings and additional research, it has become apparent that many issues dwell just below the surface. All throughout history, many leaders both civilian and military have chosen to ignore these issues, ignore this gap between the civil society and the military organization. Stephen Wrage stated in a White House study, “the record of civil-military relations since World War II has been in most respects a record of deterioration.” There are those in history that have acknowledged the problem, but have very different views on ‘fixing’ the problem. GEN George C. Marshall is quoted in 1943 instructing one of his subordinates: “We are completing devoted; we are a member of a priesthood, really, the sole purpose of which is to defend the republic.” This quote illustrated the lengths to which military officers in the 1940s would go to in order to remain politically neutral. This theme has followed the officers in the military all through history and continues today. Today’s field grade officers are expected to be more mindful of the civilian impacts of military operations, still many believe that we are just here to ‘defend the republic’ and nothing more. Stephen Wrage and history goes on to explain that GEN MacArthur was blatant in his political endeavors and when he was challenged before Congress for failing to defer properly to the civilian political authorities he turned to the Constitution and country stating; “I find in existence a new and heretofore unknown and dangerous concept that the members of the armed services owe primary allegiance to those who temporarily exercise the author...
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