Importance of Understanding Civil-Military Relations

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The Importance of Understanding
Civil-Military Relations
“Some folks are born made to wave the flag, Ooh, they’re red, white and blue… And when the band plays hail to the chief, Ooh, they point the cannon at you, lord… It aint me, it aint me, I aint no senators son, son… It aint me, it aint me; I aint no fortunate one, no… Some folks inherit star spangled eyes, Ooh, they send you down to war, lord… And when you ask them, how much should we give? Ooh, they only answer more! More! More! Yoh… It aint me, it aint me, I aint no military son, son. It aint me, it aint me; I aint no fortunate one, one…” -Fortunate Son”, Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969

The above lyrics are from the song “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival released on their album entitled, “Willy and the Poor Boys” in 1969. This song was popular during the Vietnam War and spoke out against the war. It was sung from the perspective of a man, who is not the son of a Senator, millionaire, or military leader thus he is not a "fortunate son". He, therefore, winds up being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War because he is not one of those “fortunate ones”. John Fogerty, a former member of the aforementioned band released another album containing two more war protest songs, "Long Dark Night" and "I Can't Take It No More” in 2007, both of which speak out against the Bush administration and the Iraq War. It is another example of misperceptions or distrust of our civilian and military leadership by the public. The global war on terror today continues to be hampered, in part, by the dysfunctional relationship between our military leaders and our civilian leaders and the misperceptions of the public. The political problems between the two have been around for centuries but have seemed to dramatically increase over recent years. Recent terrorist related events have highlighted the importance of civilian understanding and employment of military forces even more. Most people agree that the U.S. government did not recognize any serious threat to the U.S. until the terrorist attacks on 11 September, 2001. Only then did they decide to respond. This disconnect weakens our Nations ability to protect our interests. Our country must improve Civil-Military relations. This can be done by better educating the public about its military and, likewise, better educating military officers on the importance of Civil-Military relations. This is why I believe the ILE modules entitled Military Professionalism & Civil-Military Relations, and Civil-Military Relations in the Operational Environment will best prepare me for my duties as a Field Grade Officer over the next 10 years of my career. History shows examples of distrust of the military such as the placing of British soldiers in the colonies after the French and Indian War. British rule and the taxes imposed on the colonies influenced the Founding Fathers to maintain armies at minimal strength. [1] “Even during the Revolutionary War, ‘The Continental Congress supervised the Continental Army with irrational distrust.’”[2] Although most Americans believe having a strong military is important, Civilian leaders often make efforts to control or suppress the power and influence of our military leaders. Our current Civil-Military Relations are, to this day, still somewhat dysfunctional and under scrutiny. If you read some of today’s articles, lessons, and books on the subject of Civil-Military relations you will find there is a concurrence among most scholars that relations between the armed forces and the public have dropped to the lowest levels in U.S. history. “Scholars Gronke and Feaver note that this relationship reached a tipping-point in the 1990’s when it was strained beyond sustainable levels by the growing separation. They also point out that the public’s overwhelming support of the troops, as distinguished from U.S. military policy, is misleading”. [3] It seems that the public, including civilian...
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