The Civil-Military Gap in the United States
Does It Exist, Why, and Does It Matter?
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What is the potential for a divergence in views among civilian and military elites (sometimes referred to as the civil-military gap) to undermine military effectiveness? The authors propose a five-stage analytical framework that encompasses the main areas where a civil-military gap might have an impact. Using an existing survey-based dataset (prepared and administered by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies) to inform this framework, they find a variety of differences among the military and civilian respondents. However, most of those differences disappeared when the authors focused on the attitudes that are pertinent to civilian control of the military and military effectiveness. The major exception to this pattern related to such military personnel policies as women in combat, the military’s policies with regard to sexual harassment, and whether gays should serve in the military. In contrast, most of the other measures of military effectiveness appear to be influenced more by views of the military threat facing the country and views of foreign policy — where all military officers and civilians share similar perspectives. Overall, concerns about a civil-military gap and possible erosion of the principle of civilian control of the military appear to be overstated.
Table of Contents
Toward a Framework for Thinking About Civil-Military Relations and Military Effectiveness
The TISS Data
How Do the Military and Civilians Differ?
Military and Civilian Perspectives
Conclusions and Observations on Future U.S. Civil-Military Relations
Civilian and Military Elites