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The Politicalization Of The Officer Corps Of The United States

The Politicalization Of The Officer Corps Of The United States


CSC 1995








Title: The Politicalization of the Officer Corps of the United States


Author: Robert A. Newton II, Major, U.S. Army


Research Question: Due to growing pressures from society and within, has the American

officer corps developed a sense of isolation and alienation from society? If so, what impact will

this rift have upon future civil-military relations within the United States?


Discussion: Unlike most major world powers, the United States has never faced a real threat of

a military coup. The English heritage of divided power and the colonial fear of a strong Executive

Branch ensured that our military remained small and politically neutral during our country's

development. This legacy produced a highly educated, professional officer corps which plays an

active role in a wide range of operations outside of normal military duties today.


In 1992, LtCol Dunlap wrote an article which discussed the conditions which could lead

to a coup within the U.S. In particular, he criticized many of the policies and trends which he

observed in the current military system which could produce the conditions necessary for a coup

to occur. He also expressed grave concern about the growing political activism of the officer

corps and the performance of non-traditional military missions.


I used a survey of selected officers attending courses at the Marine Corps Base Quantico

to evaluate LtCol Dunlap's thesis. Combined with an analysis of the theory which could explain

how such a shift in officer values could occur, I attempted to confirm his views. The results of my

survey indicate that LtCol Dunlap's position may have greater merit than one would believe at



Conclusion: Many of the conditions which LtCol Dunlap outlined exist within the officer

groups participating in my survey. A growing sense of political activism and isolation does exist.

The officers accept the fact that the military will perform more non-traditional functions. Thus,

they believe the military should play an active role in policy formulation. Many of the suggested

methods of strengthening the bonds between society and the military have little appeal to the

respondents. As a result, we must think of alternative methods to ensure that our officer corps

does not become an American Praetorian Guard.


Table Of Contents




Introduction 3


Historical Perspective 4


The Professional, Corporate Military 16


The Military Mindset 20


The Current View 26


The Survey and Results 31


Conclusions 44


Notes 49


Bibliography 52


Appendix A: Sample Survey 54


Appendix B: Survey Results 61






In his award-winning essay "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 20l2,"


Lieutenant Colonel Charles Dunlap explored a scenario which discussed the possible origins of a


military coup in our Nation's future.1 In his presentation, Colonel Dunlap discussed in depth the


various changes in policy and perceptions within civilian and military segments of the government


and society which led to this coup. The heart of the discussion focused on how these changes


provided the climate necessary for an ambitious officer to assume absolute power without any


resistance from the military or civilian sectors.


Dunlap cited several changes within the military which contributed to this climate. We can


break down these changes into structural and sociological elements. As an example of a structural


change which produced this coup, Dunlap cited the unification of the Nation's Armed Forces into


a single service. Colonel Dunlap believed this change would eliminate any possibility of opposition


or dissent to dictatorial leaders within the military. Another change he cited was the decision by


the civilian leadership to assign non-traditional tasks to the military (such as drug interdiction and


disaster relief). Dunlap believed this action increased the demand for a voice in policy formulation


by the leadership of the military.


Dunlap also discussed how sociological factors could contribute to a potential coup. For


example, he stated the military community will become isolated from society and alienated by the


inefficiency of the government. In addition, Colonel Dunlap believed the loss of diverse sources


for recruits will contribute to the development of a military caste. Instead of representing a cross


section of the country, the military will assume its own unique set of values. Due to this


transformation, Dunlap believed that the American military will assume the role of a Praetorian


Guard such as Rome experienced under Marius. Instead of defending national values, he believed


the military will consider itself the savior of the Nation's future in the time of a domestic crisis.


Instead of remaining politically neutral, Dunlap believed such a crisis will provide the means and


justification for the military to assume power.


Although an in-depth analysis of the factors cited by Colonel Dunlap would pose an


interesting challenge, I believe it is beyond the scope of this paper. Instead, I will focus upon


those factors cited by Dunlap which could produce this change in values within the military's


leadership. I will also attempt to determine if the officer corps has developed a new perspective on


civilian control of the military by analyzing two groups of United States Marine Corps' officers.


Considering the results of this analysis, I shall attempt to determine if a new perspective exists.


Further, I plan to use the results to outline a strategy which will assist in re-establishing civilian


control if a problem exists.


I shall use the following format to study this subject. First, I shall present a brief history of


civil-military relations in American history. Subsequently, I shall apply some of the theories on


civil-military relations to the United States. Following this discussion, I shall present the data and


results of my analysis on the two groups of Marine officers. Finally, I shall close with a discussion


of possible methods to reverse (or prevent) the development of the climate within the officer


corps which could lead to a military coup.




Historical Perspective


Dunlap's scenario requires a major change in the outlook of the Nation's military


leadership concerning political activism. Although military leaders have ventured into the political


arena on occasion, such actions have occurred only under extremely unusual conditions.2 In fact,


the United States occupies a unique position in the world. Unlike every other major industrial


country, our Nation's military leaders have never threatened the stability of the government.3,4


Why did the United States avoid this catastrophe? An analysis of American history in civil-military


relations will provide us with part of the answer.


A complete understanding of this subject requires us to start with a discussion of English


history in this area. Since British settlers and their progeny dominated our early government, it is


natural that their beliefs and perspectives would influence our Nation's values. Ever since the


revolt under Cromwell, British society distrusted military forces. British citizens associated


standing armies with the absolute power of the Crown. Unlike the rise of mass armies in other


nations, the British developed the concept of the militia to counter the power of the Crown.5


Instead of allowing the Crown to hold a monopoly upon the use of force, Parliament used the


militia as a counterbalance to the Crown's influence.


This idea of divided military power and authority followed the British colonists to North


America. Except in times of war, the colonists resisted strongly any attempt by the British Crown


to station regular troops within the colonies.6 Instead, the colonists preferred to rely upon the


militia for their collective defense. However, the militia continued to thrive even in areas where a


major security threat did not exist. This condition occurred because the colonist's duty to serve


within the militia became associated with the responsibilities of citizenship.7 In other words, this


duty became a right and part of the citizen's liberty.


In Britain, the militia guaranteed liberty by countering the power of the Crown. In the


Colonies, the situation was different. Since all citizens became members of the militia, it


represented a nation-in-arms. In general, the militia leaders also served as the leaders of the local


community.8 As stated by the Declaration of Rights of Virginia: "In all cases the military should


be under the strict subordination to and governed by civil power."9 Society fully accepted the


idea of the military serving society, but not the belief that the military should help rule society. As


a result, the militia did not pose a threat to the social nor political order of the community. In


addition, the self efficiency of the militia served as a deterrent to Crown political domination by


fulfilling a role analogous to the British militia. (In the colonies, the Royal Governors served as


the conduits for conveying the power of the Crown to the colonists.)


After the Revolution, a critical event occurred which colored civil-military relations for a


considerable time. As the Continental Army prepared to demobilize near Newburg, New York, a


conflict developed over compensation for the soldiers. After receiving the encouragement of


several supporters within the new Congress, several military officers threatened a revolt.


However, when General Washington learned of these activities, he quickly defused the effort. As


a result, the revolt did not occur and the Continental Army demobilized.10


In contrast, the Spanish and Portuguese heritage in Latin America produced a different


legacy for those regions. Since Spain and Portugal elected to administer these areas under joint


military and Catholic jurisdiction, a viable civil government structure did not develop. Instead, the


local populations came to believe military participation in political activities was normal. When


these countries obtained their freedom, a pattern of military interference in civilian affairs


followed. This problem still continues to affect many of the countries in this region.


Based upon this event and their British heritage, the Founders of our Nation ensured a


single person could not control the military and monopolize the use of force. The Founding


Fathers codified this relationship in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In essence, the solution


incorporated a system of checks and balances with separation of powers to ensure effective


civilian control of the military existed. Under these provisions, the civilian leadership split the


control of the military in two ways. First, the federal government's Executive and Legislative


branches shared responsibility for controlling the military. This action prevented the military from


becoming affiliated too closely with any one civilian leader or political faction. In addition, the


Founding Fathers further split the power of the military by authorizing the establishment of state


militias. As a result, the Federal government lost its monopoly on the use of force. Thus, the


decision to use military force required the President to obtain the consent of multiple political




Not only did our leaders limit the political power of the standing military, but they ensured


that it could not gain additional power. First, the civilian leadership severely limited the size of the


standing force. More importantly, the civilian leadership limited the political power of the military


through the assignment of roles and missions. The civilian leadership assigned the primary tasks of


the country's defense to the militia. These missions included actions such as repelling invasions


and suppressing internal revolts.11 The leadership assigned the standing army tasks which would


fall into the category of nation-building by today's standard. The regular military was assigned


tasks such as charting the nation's interior; performing engineering projects; and establishing civil


order along the frontier. As a result, the government assigned all major tasks which could lead to


the development of a political power base to the politically responsive, state-controlled militia.12


As the country grew, so did the military. However, this growth occurred only in the face


of vehement political opposition. In reality, the militia (a short service, home defense force) could


not meet the needs of an imperial army oriented upon conquest. As the doctrine of Manifest


Destiny consumed the Nation, the civilian leadership required a force which could deploy for


extended periods of time in remote regions. The government could not use the militia in this


manner due to the strong political repercussions such use would generate. As a result, the


government elected to expand the Regular forces.13


However, the expansion of the Regular army did not increase its interaction with civilian


society. Due to the requirement to serve along the frontier, few people encountered soldiers in


their daily life. The military's composition separated the military from society socially as well.


Most enlisted soldiers came from the lower strata of society. Moreover, these professional


enlisted soldiers seldom had any family ties to the rest of society. Most of the officers came from


the upper classes. As a result, the majority of society did not know anybody within the regular


military and lacked any interaction with them.14


While the size of the standing military grew, so did the bureaucracy which supported it.


The structural requirements to raise, support, and administer a dispersed organization required the


political leaders to create large bureaucratic agencies to direct operations. The civilian leadership


quickly sought to curtail the political power of these organizations when they attempted to exert


their influence. The method the leadership elected to use was to incorporate these organizations in


the process of political patronage. As a result, even though these bureaus housed experts on


military operations, the people who had the power to establish policy had a political responsibility


to the President and other political patrons. Thus, policy direction and control remained firmly in


civilian hands.15


During periods of crisis, the United States expanded the size and power of the military.


However, this increase did not produce a corresponding increase in the political power of the


military. Rather, a rise in civilian power radically eclipsed this change. All three branches of


government exerted their influence to keep the military under firm control during these periods of


crisis. The Executive branch exerted control by reducing the political power of the regular forces


within the military.16 This action occurred as the government mobilized reserves and conscripts to


fill its needs for manpower. As the size of the military expanded, it lost its "regular" character and


narrow perspective. The result was a significant increase in the number of groups and individuals


who had an interest in military policy and who attempted to influence decisions.


The Legislative branch exerted its authority over the military in a variety of ways. The


Congress exerted this control through such routine functions as budget hearings and the


establishment of policy requirements. Most significantly, any crisis or significant failure led to a


number of investigations and hearings conducted by the Congress.17 As a result, numerous


General Officers found themselves to be the subject of investigations by Congress and forced to


defend their actions in public fora.


At the same time, the Judicial branch weighed in with its restrictions upon military power.


The federal court system stated that neither military expediency nor exigencies of war could


justify violations of the Nation's laws by military officers. If officers violated such laws, the


government would hold them accountable by the standards of civilian law.18


Even though a vast military expansion occurred during war, the military leadership did not


develop a strong constituency within society to protect its interests when the war ended. Strong


political patrons did not exist, except in limited policy areas. Few civilian industries and workers


depended upon military production. Instead of buying its armaments from industry, the


government produced the equipment itself. The military only bought common items from


industry.19 As a result, the military competed with civilian consumers for scarce items. When


conflicts over priorities developed, the military did not have the final word on policy. As a result,


few civilian patrons had a stake in the outcome of policy decisions affecting military policy.


After World War II, the most significant change within the military establishment since the


creation of the Army and the Navy occurred. This change was the National Security Act of 1947.


Most significantly, it established a new tier of civilian leadership over the military by creating the


Office of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, the Act established a formal method to include


military advice in policy formulation. This action occurred through the creation of the Joint Chiefs


of Staff. Further, the Act created several new agencies which could provide alternative views to


the military perspective. One such example was the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency to


act as the President's principle agency for intelligence issues. In addition, the Act authorized the


creation of the National Security Council.20 The intent of this action was to create a staff to


integrate the views of all agencies with concerns in the national security arena. This decision


recognized that national power rises not only from military power, but economic, diplomatic and


psychological sources as well.


The creation of the Joint Chiefs helped and hindered civilian control of the military at the


same time. The creation of this advisory role gave the military leadership a means to exert their


influence in policy formulation. As the military expanded to counter the "permanent" Soviet


threat, its leadership repeatedly attempted to influence policy through legislative and executive


channels to obtain greater autonomy. In turn, this tendency resulted in the military leadership


filling power vacuums when the civilian bureaucracy failed to act.21 An example was the Bay of


Pigs invasion.


On the other hand, the National Security Act did not create a single military service. In


addition, it did not appoint the Chairman as the military commander of the Nation's Armed


Forces. As a result, the Act limited the Joint Chiefs to a military advisory role.22 Since each


Service tended to view problems and issues differently, the President often received multiple


options from which he could initiate a policy. Even more importantly, the President did not have


an obligation to accept the advice provided. Thus, the President remained the sole commander of


the armed forces.


Another factor which we must consider is the limit on the advice the Joint Chiefs can


provide due to the role of military power in national security strategy. The ultimate limit on the


military's political power is whether its leadership can develop a long range, national military


strategy. Such a strategy serves as the mechanism for the military to defend its stake in policy


formulation and the allocation of resources with the President and Congress.23 However, the


formulation of this strategy is not within the control of the military leadership. Rather, military


strategy is heavily dependent on the Nation's foreign policy, national security policy, and


diplomacy. The development of contingency plans should assist the government in obtaining its


foreign policy objectives. Unfortunately, most recent Presidents have focused their energy on


domestic issues. As a result, the guidance needed to develop a coherent military strategy does not


exist. This lack of military strategy becomes a weapon in the hands of any member of the


government who wants to attack military resources or strategy.


A recent example concerns the current U.S. policy on Bosnia. The Administration has not


developed and implemented a consistent policy for this conflict. For example, the Administration


has reversed its position on the use of air strikes and ground troops in the past. As a result, this


lack of consistency has opened the door to numerous attacks on the Department and the President


over his ideas. It has even led to proposals from various politicians (such as removing the ban on


selling weapons to the Muslims) which required the Joint Chiefs to enter the fray and defeat the


proposal. In addition, this lack of consistency led to attacks on the Department by other Executive


Branch departments (such as the Department of State) which criticized DoD's lack of desire to


enter the war.


The advisory responsibility also hinders the Joint Chief political power in another way. As


the Nation's senior military officers, the President expects the Joint Chiefs to represent his views


before Congress and the American public. However, the latter groups expect the Joint Chiefs to


present their assessment of policy and not the President's beliefs. As a result, a serious conflict


and loss of credibility may occur for the military depending on their method of addressing this


problem. If the Joint Chiefs fail to defend the President's policies, they risk losing his support. If


they do not provide their true assessment of the situation to Congress and the public, they risk a


serious loss of confidence and they become ineffective as representatives of their Services. In turn,


this situation leads to an eventual loss of resources and influence over policy issues.


An example of this situation occurred during the Truman Administration. President


Truman relied upon the Joint Chiefs to provide credibility to his foreign policy. However, the


Senate became convinced that General Bradley and the Service Chiefs were not providing their


true assessment of issues on which they testified. As a result, it destroyed General Bradley's


political credibility. In fact, Senator Taft told General Bradley in one hearing that the Senator no


longer believed anything the General said.24


A new development after World War II was the rise of civilian patrons for the military.


Following World War II, the greatest concern of President Truman was to prevent the country


from slipping back into an economic depression.25 This concern required the United States to


maintain its current level of production and expand the foreign markets in which we sold our


goods. However, the rise of the Soviet Union threatened our ability in the latter area. As a result,


the United States elected to maintain a large, standing force in part to protect our market




Instead of equipping the force with government produced equipment, our leaders elected


to use civilian industries to fulfill the military's needs. In addition, using grants and other


mechanisms, the government transferred much of the responsibility for research and development


to civilian institutions. The civilian leadership hoped this decision would reduce the impact of


demobilization. Also, the President believed the research effort would foster the development of


new products which we could sell at home and abroad. The net result of this effort was the


development of a new constituency which could influence the political process on defense issues.


An entire defense industry rose to fill our expanding military needs. President Eisenhower became


so concerned about the growing influence of this new political group that he warned the Nation of


the possible consequences in one of his speeches.26 His speech on this subject generated the


phrase "the military-industrial complex" which became associated with the country's problems


during the Vietnam War.


In the 196Os, Congress took a new interest in military affairs. Due to the vast social


disorder which plagued the Nation, Congress sought new methods to help unity the country.


Since society was extremely critical of the professional military at the time, Congress exerted its


power to institute a series of reforms designed to promote equality and improve the military's


image. Although racial desegregation of the military began in the 1950s, Congress significantly


strengthened the provisions in the 1960s. Also, Congress passed statutes which required the full


integration of women into the military by disbanding the separate "women" organizations. Due to


the discipline of the military, Congress believed these changes could occur with little disruption


and no affect upon combat effectiveness. In addition, it was believed that successful


implementation could serve as an example for the rest of society.27 However, some resistance


occurred within the military each time Congress intervened. In many cases, military officers


considered these intrusions to be inappropriate due to their impact upon internal military affairs.


The next major change in the relationship between the military and civilian leadership was


the passage of the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986. Congress passed this Act because of the poor


performance of the United States' military during the Vietnam War and other actions in the early


1980s. However, the civilian leadership had realized for many years that inter-Service rivalry and


difficultiesexisted. As stated by President Eisenhower, "..each service is so utterly confident that it


alone can assure the nation's security that it feels justified in going before the Congress or the


public and urging fantastic programs."28 Thus, Congress had two primary objectives in mind when


it drafted Goldwater-Nichols. First, it wanted to increase the power of the civilian leaders over the


military bureaucracy. The second objective sought was to improve joint military operations by


increasing the power of the Combatant Commanders at the expense of the Military




The Act increased civilian authority in the following manner. First, the Act established the


Secretary of Defense as a member of the formal chain of command. In addition, the Act usurped


the political power of the individual Service chiefs by making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs the


sole military advisor to the President. Equally important, the Act allowed the Services to retain


responsibility for raising and equipping forces instead of creating a single authority for this


function. As a result, the Military Departments continued to divide their political influence by


arguing over scarce resources without having the opportunity to plead their case before the


President. As former Assistance Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb stated, "Even powerful


civilian leaders find it difficult to overrule unanimous military opinion. Without the existence of


separate services, military opinions would always be unanimous."30 This change reduced


significantly the number of disputes which reached the level of the President or Secretary of




Other recent trends could produce major problems for the maintenance of civilian control


as well. The first activity is the review of Roles and Missions by a Congressionally-appointed


commission. The results of this review could lead to the first clear indication of what activities


each Service should perform as part of the national defense. As a result, this Review could serve


as the basis for a new national military strategy and the justification for new resources or political




The other action is the proposal by the vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (ADM Owens)


to expand the power of the Joint Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC). Under current


policy, the primary role of the JROC is to provide a recommendation to the Secretary of Defense


on the relative priority of major acquisition programs for funding. The individual Military


Departments and the Secretary of Defense still have final authority in deciding which programs


are most important to them. However, Admiral Owens proposal would change this scenario.


Under his proposal, the JROC would determine the priority for the Services for all acquisition


efforts. Subsequently, the Secretary of Defense would ensure the Services fluid the various


acquisition programs according to JROC guidance. In effect, Admiral Owens would strip the


Services of their ability to determine what assets they need to fulfill their obligations to the


country.31 The implementation of this policy would be a major step towards the unification of the


military services. As such, this change should reduce the number of disputes between the Services


even more.




The Professional, Corporate Military


What is the significance of the previous discussion? In essence, I focused the summary on


two topics. The first topic concerned the various methods used by national leaders to control the


military establishment. The other topic concerned the transformation of the U.S. military from a


mass, citizen-soldier army into a corporate, professional military. Each of these areas influenced


the other and caused significant changes to occur.


Samuel Huntington reviewed the history of civil-military relations in the United States in


the early 1950s. Over the past few decades, he has continued to study this topic and has written


numerous articles on the subject. Based upon his review of American history, Huntington claims


four factors produced our current state of civil-military relations.32 First, he believed the rapid


incorporation of new technology and the growing uniqueness of military operations mandated the


need for experts in the field. Second, he believed the rise of the bureaucratic nation state provided


the military with a legitimate access to resources. Also, the establishment of the state provided the


formal mechanism for controlling policy within the military.


The third factor cited by Huntington concerned clientship. Our nation developed as a


community under a single authority and without a significant threat to our borders. Instead of


being able to seek protection within one political faction or the other, the military lacked a


political patron to protect it. To avoid interference with its internal affairs, the military leadership


sought to maintain strict, political neutrality. As a result, the military came to associate its


existence and purpose with the nation as a whole and not any political subset or faction.


The previous three factors combined with the fourth factor to allow our military leadership


to focus their concerns on the external threats to our Nation. The fourth factor in question is the


rise of democratic values. Huntington believed this factor was critical for the following reasons.


First of all, this idea did not recognize the legitimacy of totalitarian governments. Rather, only


governments which represented the citizens could be considered legitimate in the eyes of the


citizens. As a result, the citizens who became soldiers carried this belief with them into the


service. The result was that the military leadership came to believe the military's primary task was


to defend this right. In addition, the military leadership has strongly resisted any action which it


viewed as a threat to this responsibility. Since the United States has been blessed with a


government which has maintained its legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens, the military has been


free to concentrate upon external threats instead of worrying about domestic concerns.


Huntington believed the development of a professional military was the only requirement a


country needed to ensure its civilian leaders maintained control the military. He believed that as


long as the government gave the military leadership free reign to establish the internal conditions


which enhanced professionalism, the military establishment would be too busy to become involved


in domestic affairs. He called this process objective control of the military.33


Huntington argued that the most dangerous method of exerting civilian authority was a


process known as subjective control. Under this concept, the civilian leaders ensured the loyalty


of the military by giving them a stake in the government. This action occurred when the civilian


leaders gave the military a voice in policy formulation. Morris Janowitz is a strong advocate of


this method of controlling the military. Janowitz believes the incorporation of the military in the


policy formulation process will prevent the development of a military caste. Such a caste could


become isolated and alienated from society in times of crisis if society ignores or rejects its advice.


If the military has a stake in the policy, the leadership will expend greater effort to ensure the


policy works. Otherwise, the military becomes associated with a failed policy by default.34


If you examine the history of U.S. civil-military relations, you will observe instances where


our civilian leaders used both techniques to control our military. If you examine other countries,


you would also observe instances where both theories fail. As a result, other scholars produced


new theories to describe the ideal mechanism for controlling the military. However, regardless of


the theory proposed, most of the authors agree with Huntington concerning the factors which


produced our current pattern of civil-military relations.35 The most common proposals are hybrids


of the two previous theories. Typical of these theories are proposals by authors such as


Abrahamson and Perlmuter.


Under Abrahamson's theory, the military leadership will seek to establish greater


autonomy in any area for which it has responsibility. This desire reflects a U.S. tendency to grant


such authority to the military leadership when the issues concerned internal operational issues or


professional standards. This tendency also reflects the corporate professional nature of the officer


corps, which is similar to other professions in this desire. As a result, the desire to incorporate


military participation in activities which are outside of its normal duties will inevitably lead to


tension. The tension is the result of the military leadership seeking greater authority and the


civilian agencies resisting the challenge. How the civilian leadership resolves these conflicts will


determine whether a feeling of alienation develops within the military and the degree of civilian




Under Perlmuter's theory, the relationship between the military, the civilian leadership,


and society plays an equally important consideration in determining the role of the military in


policy development.37 In particular, the degree of support and legitimacy provided to the


government by the people will play a key role in determining the military's loyalty. Should the


legitimacy or efficiency of the government fail, Perlmuter believes military intervention could


occur if one key event happens. This event concerns the transfer of blame for the government's


failure to the military leadership.


Perlmuter believes this condition increases the probability of intervention for several


reasons. First of all, this condition may disrupt Huntington's concept of clientship. As the military


leadership observes the collapse of the government's legitimacy, it loses its connection to the


state. This connection fails because the military requires a legitimate government to guarantee


access to resources. As a result, the military leadership no longer views itself as the defender of


the nation's values. Rather, they see themselves portrayed as forces preventing the restoration of


legitimate authority within the country and fear a potential loss of resources.


Equally important, tasking the military to solve the government's problems or suppress


opposition increases the likelihood of intervention. If the civilian leadership tasks the military with


solving the problem, they are threatening the corporate and organizational integrity of the military.


Failure will reflect directly upon the reputation of the military. The military leadership will seek


greater authority and autonomy in these activities to prevent failure. When the civilian leaders fail


to grant these demands, the sense of isolation and alienation mentioned by Abrahamson will


develop. If the civilian leadership does not take some action to relieve the situation, the


probability of intervention increases exponentially. Perlmuter believes the same corporate


professionalism which reduces the probability of military involvement in domestic affairs under


stable regimes can act as a catalyst for involvement under unstable regimes. Although the military


has no independent reason to exist without a state, threats to the integrity and reputation of the


military profession can produce extreme actions under Perlmuter's theory.




The Military Mindset


The previous sections provided us with a summary of the conditions which produced our


current state of civil-military affairs in the eyes of noted experts. Before we can continue to our


analysis of specific groups of officers, one additional area requires discussion. This area is the


"mindset" of the officer corps. By no means should this subject imply a single, monolithic ethic


unites the entire officer corps. Divisions and differences of opinion exist within the officer corps


as within any, large corporate organization. Rather, this section concerns those individuals whose


rank or duty places them in a position where they can influence or alter the relationship between


the civilian leadership and the military. In other words, their assignments will require political


skills that the military structure does not require in other jobs. These individuals are or will


become the future leaders of their Services.


At the start of the Revolution, Samuel Adams stated, "Soldiers are apt to consider


themselves as a Body distinct from the rest of the Citizens."38 As we have seen, U.S. leaders have


kept the military isolated from society in a variety of ways except when compelling problems


arise. However, the military leadership has traditionally resisted any attempt to involve it in


domestic issues. As a result, a state of equilibrium has existed until recent times.


The most vivid example of the military crushing an internal effort to usurp civilian control


occurred a little over forty years ago. During the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur


publicly challenged the authority of President Truman. Without any hesitation, all of the Joint


Chiefs backed the President.39 This support occurred although the Joint Chiefs had lost significant


credibility in the eyes of most political leaders. The JCS damaged their reputation previously by


supporting Truman's policies before Congress despite the perception that they did not agree with


the policies. However, due to their unanimous support for the President, they eliminated any


support within the military or in the political environment for MacArthur. The decision by the


Joint Chiefs in this case is the epitome of the environment which characterizes the history of civil-


military relations in our country.


What factors in this case and others help us understand why the American military has


avoided direct political involvement? First and foremost, the officer corps' mindset rests upon the


principle of service to society. Few military officers join for the pay or job security!40 Generally,


the officer corps believes it provides a service which is vital to the country's survival. Not only


does the military defend society from external threats, but it protects society's values as well. As a


result, the officer corps has internalized the belief that the good of the Nation must outweigh the


interests of any member of the military. In the event of a conflict between loyalty to the Nation or


loyalty to a friend, the country must come first.


The second factor is the acceptance of divergent opinions. Due to the emphasis in combat


operations to analyze and consider multiple options, military leaders have learned to accept


divergent opinions within the ranks. Instead of developing a closed "social" club which has


characterized other nations' military establishments, the American military tends to accept a wider


range of values and beliefs than other professional officer corps.41 This condition developed


because of the recruiting system used by our officer corps. Our officer corps is open to all


members of society, provided they meet the initial qualification standards. Many people believe


this development is fairly recent. In reality, the United States has always maintained an open


officer corps. President Jefferson initiated the process by ensuing that the legislation establishing


West Point contained provisions authorizing any qualified individual to attend. Although President


Jefferson instituted this policy for purely partisan reasons, the net effect was to franchise the


officer corps and prevent it from identifying with any particular segment of society.42


Congress and the President have reinforced this belief multiple times since then. Not only


has the civilian leadership assured a range of opinion within the ranks via affirmative action


programs, but they have provided more subtle ways as well. For example, Congress has assured


the survival of Reserve Officers Training Corps and Officer's Candidate School as alternative


sources to military academy graduates. Although the military tends to attract individuals who are


conservative by nature43, the effort by the civilian leadership has assured that our military leaders


do not believe they are better than society. In addition, these actions ensure a single mindset does


not exist on every subject. As proof; all one has to do is observe one the Joint Chiefs' meetings in


the "Tank" on policy issues affecting resource allocation.


Another factor which has contributed to the unique mindset is the nature of the missions


the civilian leadership has assigned to the regular military. During the formative years of our


country, the civilian leadership deliberately assigned tasks to the Army and Navy which minimized


their involvement in political affairs. Instead of receiving the primary responsibility for building the


forces needed to repel external invasions or suppressing internal revolts, the regular forces


received responsibility for nation-building tasks and protecting commerce. The Nation's leaders


assigned the responsibility for the other tasks to the politically responsive, state-controlled militia.


This decision gave the armed forces the opportunity to remain small and avoid the political


interaction which would foster ties to a particular segment of society.


This trend continued through World War II. Even when one would expect the power of


the military to reach its political peak, the civilian leaders made a strenuous effort to limit the


areas where military authority reigned. For instance, consider the responsibility for mobilizing the


national economy. Primary policy making authority remained firmly in civilian hands. Whenever a


dispute arose between military requirements and requirements for civilian needs, a civilian


controlled War Board decided the issue. The control over the supply of military manpower


remained within civilian control as well. The civilian leaders limited the military leadership to the


identification of their requirements only. The actual control over the process of filling those needs


remained in civilian hands.44


The result of this process of limiting the influence of the military in political activities was


the development of a strong professional ethic within the military. The relative political isolation


and lack of political patrons encouraged the development of political neutrality within the officer


corps. In some operations, this neutrality has led to a naive assessment of the enemy (such as


Vietnam or Somalia). It has also hindered the military's ability to provide critical victories to the


political leadership. (Grant's and Sherman's operations in 1864 being a rare exception to this




However, this legacy has helped to prevent the contamination of the officer corps with


political cronyism. The very structure of society and the military reinforced this belief. The


process of socialization within the military achieves the best results when the leadership uses it to


reinforce beliefs and values which already exist within society. This result is due to the fact that


soldiers enter the Service with many more years of experience and habits as civilians. As a result,


they tend to have the same beliefs and prejudices as society. Since the dominant view within


society was that civilian control of the military is fundamental to our form of government, policies


and laws which reinforced this belief received general acceptance within the military.45 Attempts


to alter this relationship cause resistance within the ranks.


As the military came to accept and embrace this concept, the leadership used the system of


rewards and punishment to reinforce this value within the officer ranks. The officer promotion


system serves as a good example. Few politically active officers have risen to the upper echelons


of leadership (outside of Leonard Wood and Colin Powell). Most of the top leaders in the Army


and Navy have been officers who distinguished themselves in combat or as the commanders of


units throughout their careers. Reports from the various promotion boards clearly indicate that


operational assignments are critical to advancement.46 The system will not reward officers who


spend extensive amounts of time on high level staffs or other activities where they become


involved in the policy formulation process. The regulations governing the preparation of efficiency


or fitness reports strictly prohibit references to political or community activities.47 The results of


these processes tend to reinforce the beliefs most officers have concerning the role of the military


in society. As this reinforcement continues, it tends to increase the individual's commitment to the


organization. This commitment increases because the individual soldier believes his values and the


organization's values are one in the same.


Together, these various factors produced a professional, corporate military officer corps.


Due to the Nation's decision to keep the military leadership out of the political decision making


process, the officer corps had the opportunity to develop corporate expertise. The decision by the


civilian leadership to grant the military a relatively free hand over operational issues gave the


military the opportunity to refine this expertise by concentrating on the defense of the country


from external threats. Similarly, the decision to grant the military leadership great latitude in the


selection, promotion and retention of its members allowed the development of a group identity


within the officer ranks. Most importantly, these factors encouraged a sense of duty and


responsibility to the Nation within the officer ranks. By soliciting the views of the military on


critical operational issues, the civilian leadership has prevented the development of feelings of


alienation and isolation from developing within the ranks. The result of these factors is a military


whose loyalty to the Nation and its principles are without dispute and unswerving even in times of


extreme crisis.


The Current View


If Colonel Dunlap's prediction should come true, a fundamental change must occur within


the leadership of the military. Should such an event occur, it would be very surprising because this


decision would require the military to break with the traditions and values which its leaders have


supported through out its history. For an organization which is conservative by nature and


dominated by tradition, such a change should pose severe trauma for the members of the Bed


services. Even such charismatic leaders as Curtis LeMay and Douglas MacArthur could not


coerce the military to violate its principle of political neutrality. What factors could produce such


a change?


I believe I can reduce the various causes for the change discussed in Dunlap's article to


two categories. The first category is the decline of the warrior spirit. Instead of maintaining the


freedom to concentrate upon the defense of the Nation, the military will receive responsibility for


a wide variety of new tasks which do not fall in the area of defense issues. Civilian agencies


perform most of these tasks right now. However, due to inefficiency and incompetence, the


civilian leadership and society no longer have confidence in their ability to handle the tasks.


Examples include such operations as disaster relief and drug interdiction. To restore some


legitimacy to the government's efforts in these areas, the civilian leaders have assigned the


responsibility for fixing the problems to the military.


This change in mission and responsibility affects the military in several ways. First, the


change in mission associates the military with problems which have been beyond the ability of the


government to solve in the past. The civilian leadership only turned to the military to address


these issues in a hope of restoring legitimacy to the effort. Associating the military with these


failing efforts directly affects the corporate identity of the officer corps. This situation is vexing to


military leaders because they believe society will blame new failures on them.


As a result, the military leadership will seek to expand its authority to decide policy issues


in these areas to prevent further tarnishing of its reputation. Whereas the civilian leadership has


granted significant authority to formulate policy over operational military issues, the civilian


leadership has resisted attempts by the military to increase their authority over these new areas.48


Instead, they placed the military in a supporting role to the civilian agency which has primary


responsibility for the task. The result of this decision is a growing sense of isolation and alienation


within the military, as it believes the civilian leadership ignores its views and opinions in these




The second factor behind Colonel Dunlap's thesis is the growing isolation of the military


from society. Just at the time when society demands an increased role for the military in domestic


affairs, the restructuring of the military reduces the interactions between the rank and file of the


military and society. Due to Reductions In Force, Selective Early Retirement, and other personnel


actions, the senior leadership of the military has changed significantly. Even more significantly,


fewer sources of new officers exist due to the reduction in Reserve Officer's Training Corps and


Officer Candidate School programs. As a result, the diversity in backgrounds and perspectives are


rapidly changing as the military reduces its size.49


Other activities reinforce this trend towards isolation as well. For example, the closure of


numerous military bases significantly reduces the regions of the country where soldiers live among


the other members of society. This action has a secondary effect of forcing military retirees and


other people who rely on the military bases for essential services to concentrate in fewer areas as


well. Combined with the fact that no draft or other form of national service exists, we see a


pattern developing where few members of society understand the social order of the military or


know anybody who can help them understand the peculiarities of military service.


Further, these changes produced a new gap between the values of society and the military.


Instead of accepting and reflecting the values of society, the military leadership has resorted to


public forums to present its views on issues with which they disagree. The clearest example of this


trend is the recent discussion of the sexual orientation policy in the press. This issue caused an


extensive number of active duty officers to enter the public debate on the topic. Even more


disturbing was the continuation of the debate after the President issued his final decision on the


subject. If this situation is more than an isolated event, it could serve as an indicator that


Dunlap's premise is correct. In other words, societal and structural changes produce a sense of


isolation and alienation from the greater society.


Outside of isolated events, are there any other mechanisms we can use to help us confirm


or refute Colonel Dunlap's thesis? Moreover, can any of these mechanisms give us a clue as to


what actions the military or civilian leadership should take to prevent this future scenario from


developing? The ideal mechanism would be an in-depth study of the entire officer corps.


However, this thesis cannot conduct such a demanding survey.


Instead, the mechanism I shall use is the comparison of two selected groups of officers. I


selected members of the United States Marine Corps to serve as the basis of my survey. I selected


the marines primarily because the Marine Corps is the most conservative and tradition bound


Service within the U.S. military.50 In addition, the Marine Corps is the smallest Service. The latter


aspect tends to enhance the groups cohesion, loyalty, and sense of common purpose. As a result,


trends discovered here could indicate problems exist in the other Services as well.


I split my survey into two sample groups. Both groups are students in residence at the


Marine Corps Base Quantico. The first subgroup consists of officers attending the Command and


Staff College. The Marine Corps considers officers for attendance at this course after they have


been selected for promotion to the grade of Major. As a result, the officers attending this course


have at least ten years of experience within the military.


More significantly, the officers attending this course will become the future leaders of the


Marine Corps. A central board screens and selects officers to attend the resident Command and


Staff course. In general, this action limits the pool of officers to the top forty percent of their


respective year groups. As a result, selection for this course is a recognition of the officer's


potential for service at higher levels of responsibility.


This group of students offers another advantage as well. Not only do marines attend this


course, but so does a small percentage of officers from other Services. As a result, a control


group exists within this sample. Comparing the results between these two elements could assist


with our analysis.


The second major subgroup used in this study are students attending the Officer Basic


Course. According to Marine Corps policy, all officers attend this course upon entry to the Corps


regardless of branch of service. As a result, one can expect a cross section of backgrounds and


perspectives in this class. Even more important, this group offers us a glimpse of the types of


individuals who are entering the Corps at this time. In addition, this group gives us the


opportunity to sample their views before extensive socialization within the Corps has happened.


In general, what questions did I want this survey to answer? I centered my efforts on


questions which could provide indicators of Colonel Dunlap's two primary concerns. Thus, my


initial questions concerned demographic issues. I hope to use the results of this information to see


if any trends in the demographics of the two officer groups support his contention of growing


isolation of the military from society. In particular, should the values of society and the officer


corps be identical? If so, does the officer corps resent efforts to influence its value system to


ensure such similarity?


The second objective is an assessment of the impact of the new missions the civilian


leadership has assigned to the military. In particular, I am concerned with issues such as the


assessed impact of these changes on our combat readiness; whether officers believe these missions


are the military's responsibility; and whether we should accept new missions in these areas.


Closely related to these questions is the issue of the effect of this responsibility upon the officer


corps. Do officers believe these missions improve our ties to society or pose a threat to our long


term relations. In addition, I hope to determine if the officers participating in this survey believe


the military leadership should have a greater role in policy development.


I believe the answers to such questions can serve as the basis for assessing Colonel


Dunlap's concerns. Even more importantly, I believe the trends I will identity could serve as the


basis for proposing changes to existing policy to prevent unfavorable trends from continuing.


Moreover, the results may encourage additional studies of this nature across the Armed Forces.





The Survey and the Results


I administered the survey (enclosed at Annex A, tabulated results enclosed at Annex B) to


a total population of 203 officers attending courses of instruction at the Marine Corps Base


Quantico. Of this population, 150 officers returned a survey form to me. Unfortunately, I had to


eliminate 6 of the response forms. I did not use these 6 responses because the officers had not


answered all of the questions or their responses showed a lack of consistency in their answers


(such as responding with a single answer to every question).


Of the remaining respondents, forty of the officers attended the introductory Basic School


for newly commissioned officers. The other participants attended the Command and Staff College.


of this latter group, 71 of the officers were Marines. The remaining officers (33 total) were


members of the sister Services or other federal agencies.


I compiled demographic information on the respondents to identify indicators of the


causes of possible discrepancies in the results among the three groups. In the case of the Basic


School students, I compiled the following information on the group. The average participant was


under 25 years of age (75%) and had served on active duty for less than 3 years (95%). In fact,


most of these students had served on active duty for less than 6 months. The majority of the


respondents had gained their commission through the Officer Candidate School (55%). Of those


officers who indicated that they joined the service because of a contractual obligation, all of them


indicated that they would join again even if they did not have this obligation. Almost one-quarter


(22.5%) come from families which included career military members. All of the respondents had


completed their Bachelor's degree and 5% had completed graduate degrees. A total of 35


respondents (87.5%) identified themselves as Caucasians.


In terms of experience and military service, none of the respondents had served on the


staff at the National Command Authority (Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, etc.)


level. Neither did they have any direct experience in civil disturbance and law enforcement


operations. Five of the respondents (12.5%) did have combat experience and three of the officers


had participated in disaster relief operations.


In the case of the Marine officers attending the Command and Staff College (CSC), a


different profile emerges. Unlike the Basic School which trains new officers, CSC is a course of


instruction for field grade officers. As a result, the average officer in this group was 38 years old.


In addition, all of the officers in this group had completed at least ten years of service. The


majority of these officers were close to the fifteenth year of service to the country. At least 19 of


the officers had completed their graduate degree at the time of the survey and all had their


Bachelors degree. In addition, 61 of the officers identified themselves as Caucasians.


In terms of experience, this group of respondents showed a greater range of activities than


the Basic School students. Almost 10% of the respondents (6) had served on a staff at the NCA


level. Moreover, 37 of the officers had combat experience and 19 officers had participated in


disaster relief operations. Yet, only one officer had participated in law enforcement operations.


In other ways, the Marines of this group were very similar to the respondents from the


Basic School. For example, the majority (55%) of the participating officers earned their


commission via Officer Candidate School. Further, less than 10% of the respondents earned their


commission from one of the Service academies. Although the ratio of officers who came from


military families was slightly higher (38%), it was not significantly different from the Basic School


participants. Yet, the number of officers who would not have joined the Service had they not had


a contractual obligation was significantly higher (25%) than the Basic School students.


However, a greater demographic difference existed between the Marine officers of both


groups and the officers of the sister Services attending CSC. For example, the officers in this


group tended to be younger and have a wider variety of experiences than the Marine counterparts


at CSC. Almost fifty percent (45%) of the officers had combat experience. Moreover, thirty


percent of the officers had experience in disaster relief operations and twenty-seven percent had


served on a staff at the NCA level. Further, more than half of these officers (19) had completed


their graduate degree at the time of the survey. Yet, only one officer had experience in law


enforcement operations.


In terms of similarities, several factors in this group's profile matched the other two


groups. Ninety percent of this group considered themselves to be Caucasians. In addition, the


number of respondents from military families was similar (24%) to the results of the other two


groups. Also, we see a similarity in the source of the officers' commissions, with the percentage


of OCS and Academy graduates reflecting the profiles of the other two groups (52% and 15%,




With this information as a backdrop, we will proceed to a discussion of the actual issues


addressed by the survey. As I indicated in the previous sections, the probabilities of greater


military influence and participation in policy formulation and political activity will depend upon a


change occurring within the officer corps. Due to the strong tradition of political neutrality by the


officer corps, such a change would require a fundamental shift in the beliefs of the military about


the viability and credibility of the country's government. In effect, the officer corps must believe


the Nation's viability is at risk.


Based upon Colonel Dunlap's premise concerning the potential causes of a military coup


within the United States, I divided my results into seven areas for assessment. The first question I


addressed concerned the political orientation of the respondents. As expected, all three groups


indicated they were conservatives on most political and social issues. The percentage of


respondents which placed themselves in this category ranged from a low of 50% in the Basic


School (TBS) to a high of 69% among the Marines attending the Command and Staff College


(CSC/M). The only other category to receive more than one vote was the "middle" category. In


both cases, these results reflected similar values to the Bachman survey of officers two decades




This political and social orientation of the respondents raises the second topic for


consideration. This topic concerns the level of congruence between society and the military officer


corps. In other words, does the military reflect the values and beliefs of the society which


produced it? If we stopped our analysis at the political orientation of the military and society, we


would see a clear distinction already. Rarely has our society identified more than 30% of its


members as conservatives. However, by itself this distinction should not concern us. Rather, we


should concern ourselves with the question of whether the officer corps believes its values and


beliefs are better than similar elements within society as a whole.


The survey results indicated some areas where the participating officers thought they


differed from society's views on issues. One example concerns the military justice system


compared with civil system. Respondents from all three groups indicated a clear preference for the


military system over the civilian system. They believed the military system would give them the


best chance to correct any wrong they might suffer (TBS 75%, CSC/M 81%, CSC/O 80%). The


participating officers did not possess the same degree of confidence in the civilian system with less


than half the respondents believing this system would treat them as well (TBS 48%, CSC/M 44%,


CSC/O 55%).


I obtained similar results on the issue of discrimination in the military and civilian society.


By wide margins (TBS 56%, CSC/M 76%, CSC/O 67%), the officers believed the military system


would protect minorities and women from discrimination. As a result, they did not believe


affirmative action programs should exist within the military (TBS 87%, CSC/M 85%, CSC/O


76%). Although the respondents did not believe such programs should exist in civilian society, the


officers did not share the same level of confidence that society would protect minorities as well


(TBS 80%, CSC/M 69%, CSC/O 64%).


An issue of concern to me was the officers' responses to questions concerning the values


of the military and society. For example, one of my questions asked the respondents if the values


espoused by the military come closer to the values discussed in the country's founding documents


than those values accepted by the rest of society. A clear majority (TBS 81%, CSC/M 64%,


CSC/O 42% (plurality)) endorsed this proposition.


Two other questions reflected similar feelings by the participating officers. These


questions pertained to the manner in which the military and society view problems. First of all, the


respondents believed that society does not view the country's problems in the same manner as the


military (TBS 61%, CSC/M 72%, CSC/O 60%). Similarly, the participating officers stated they


did not believe that society has the same priorities for the problems that they do (TBS 75%,


CSC/M 76%, CSC/O 69%). Perhaps the most disturbing statistic in the survey concerned the


officers' perceptions of the trend in these areas. As in the previous questions, the officers of all


three groups indicated a gap existed between the values of the military and society. Moreover,


they stated the passage of time will increase the gap between these two groups (TBS 60%,


CSC/M 51%, CSC/O 42% (plurality)).


I believe these results indicate the potential for a serious problem in civil-military relations


for the United States. In particular, I believe these results indicate a growing alienation of the


officer corps from society. Instead of viewing themselves as the representatives of society, the


participating officers believe they are a unique element within society. This trend existed in all


three groups, even the officers in the Basic Course who had limited time on active duty. As a


result, one of the indicators of potential problems highlighted by Colonel Dunlap does exist within


this survey population.


The third issue which I addressed concerns political activism and the military. I wanted to


assess the degree of support which existed for the participation of military leaders in political


activity and policy formulation. As discussed earlier, a professional military will seek a greater


role in policy formulation as society tasks them to perform non-traditional duties. This need


reflects the military's desire to protect its corporate identity and reputation within society. Colonel


Dunlap indicated this desire was a critical step in the process which could lead to a coup within


the United States. I wanted to determine if this desire existed within my sample population.


The results of my survey in this area had positive and negative results. On the positive


side, the survey results indicated the participants did not want to play an active role in policy


formulation. Rather, the respondents would leave this responsibility with the Nation's civilian


leadership. For example, only 6 of the 144 respondents believed the probability of a military coup


within the United States was higher today than it was twenty-five years ago. Although several


officers included negative comments about the civilian government on their response sheets, none


expressed any desire to eliminate the civilian government and assume military rule. The comments


they included expressed the belief that if the public would elect the right people then the


government would work. As a result, the respondents still have faith in the political system.


Similarly, the majority of the officers did not believe active duty military personnel should


participate in political activity. Less than one-third of the respondents believed the restrictions on


political activities by active duty personnel violated their rights as citizens (TBS 31%, CSC/M


28%, CSC/O 24%). Rather, the respondents believed these restrictions ensured the political


neutrality of the military and prevented political appointments from contaminating the promotion


system (TBS 58%, CSC/M 65%, CSC/O 62%).


The respondents extended their support for restrictions on political activity by the military


to the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The majority of the participating officers did not


believe the senior leadership should debate policy issues in public fora such as the mass media.


Rather, the respondents believed the Joint Chief should limit their discussions of issues to only


those topics which the President or the Secretary of Defense has not decided (TBS 53%, CSC/M


59%, CSC/O 73%). Only 21 of the officers participating in the survey believed military leaders


should use press leaks or similar techniques to disrupt policy decisions with which they disagreed.


In addition, the participants recognized the desirability of having people with different


political views within their organizations (TBS 43%, CSC/M 41%, CSC/O 53%). However, when


I asked the participants to discuss the role of civilian policy makers in operational issues, a


distinction between the Basic School students and Command and Staff College students


developed. The majority (53%) of the Basic School students did not believe the civilian leadership


should play a role in operational issues. However, the CSC students recognized a valid right and


need for civilian participation in operational decisions. A clear majority in both groups (CSC/M


66%, CSC/O 63%) recognized this role. The most likely explanation for this discrepancy is the


recent exposure of the CSC students to strategic and operational policy formulation in their


curriculum. As a result, the officers recent exposure to this instruction may have modified their


views on the relationship of war to policy.


On the negative side, the respondents believed the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff


should play a role in policy formulation. A significant majority in each group (TBS 73%, CSC/M


88%, CSC/O 79%) believed the Chic have an obligation to voice their concerns on military


policy issues to Congress, the media, or the public. Less than fifty percent of the participants


(TBS 40%, CSC/M 43%, CSC/O 42%) believed the discussion of policy decisions in public fora


by active duty officers was inappropriate. Moreover, none of the groups believed the military


should force an officer to resign if he or she contests a policy decision in a public forum (TBS


43%, CSC/M 40%, CSC/O 45%). In addition, they did not believe retired officers should face any


restrictions to their political activities even if they use their former rank as part of their argument


(TBS 53%, CSC/M 75%, CSC/O 72%).


I believe these results could indicate potential long term problems for the Nation's


military. Although the majority of the officers did not believe the military should play an active


role in political decisions, a significant minority did believe such activity was appropriate. Further,


they strongly believed the senior military leaders must play a role in such decisions. As discussed


in Colonel Dunlap's article, this acquiescence of the officer corps to a growing accumulation of


political power by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is one of the primary facilitators of the


coup. (The other factor being the weakness of the Executive and Legislative Branches.) If such a


move by a future Chairman had the public support of numerous retired General Officers, I can


easily imagine a scenario where Colonel Dunlap's thesis becomes fact.


Let us turn our attention to the next issue of concern. This topic is the impact of policy


decisions upon the military and how the officers interpret the consequences of these decisions.


Perhaps one of the more contentious issues concerns Operations Other Than War (OOTW). The


military community jumps many different types of activities and operations into this category.


Depending upon the Service, these activities may include humanitarian assistance operations, drug


interdiction, or peace enforcement operations as possible examples.


Surprisingly, the majority of all officers participating in the survey believed the military


should perform these tasks. However, the three groups differed greatly in their acceptance of


these missions. The majority of the Marines believed the Services should perform these tasks. In


the case of the Basic School students, more than 63% of the respondents believed the military had


a role to play in these activities. The CSC Marines only had 28% of their members voice negative


concerns about such operations. However, they only had 40% of their members believe the


military should perform these tasks. Surprisingly, the officers of the other Services at CSC voiced


strong opposition to such operations. More than 63% of these officers did not believe the military


should play a role in such operations.


Three possible explanations for this difference exist. First, the Marines may have a


different view of these activities due to the incorporation of such contingencies into their Marine


Expeditionary Unit deployment plans. The other possible explanation is the members of other


Services have more experience performing such operations. As a result, their participation in such


actions and operations may lead these officers to a different estimate of their worth. The final


possibility is that such operations fall within the bounds of the "small wars" mentality upon which


the modern Marine Corps developed in this century. As a result, this type of operation appeals to


those Marines who joined because of the Corps' emphasis upon tradition.


Similar results occurred on the issue of which units should perform these missions.


Whereas the Marines believed the Reserves should not perform these missions exclusively, the


majority of the respondents from the other Services did believe the Reserves should do these


missions. When I asked the participants if such operations helped justify the Services' budgets,


only 28% of TBS students and 30% of sister Service students disagreed. However, 51% of the


Marine CSC students disagreed with this assessment.


The most likely explanation for this difference is the Marines recent experience in the


Supplemental Budget Authorization. This Bill, designed to reimburse the Services for recent


humanitarian operations, actually removes money from other accounts to pay a portion of the


costs associated with these operations. As discussed by several speakers at CSC, the Marines paid


a particularly high percentage of this cost. As a result, this information might have influenced the


participants' views.


By ratios of more than two-thirds, the participants supported the position that many of the


tasks performed under Operations Other Than War do improve the military's reputation and


support within society. However, by similar ratios, the respondents stated such operations do not


improve the morale of the unit nor strengthen the ties of the military with society. Yet the officers


razed the military's role in these operations will increase in the future. Pluralities in each group


stated the inefficiency of the civilian government and the military's recognized ability to adapt to


difficult tasks will force the President to use the military more often in these areas. However, a


plurality in each group does not believe such operations will hinder combat effectiveness.


Although the participants believed military participation in OOTW activities must grow,


they did not possess a strong desire to participate as an organization. Even though they believed


military organizations are the most competent organizations within the government (TBS 51%,


CSC/M 59%, CSC/O 33%), they did not want the military to take the lead in OOTW activities. A


large percentage of each group believed the President should attempt to fix the agencies which


have responsibility for these activities before he or she turns to the military (TBS 51%, CSC/M


63%, CSC/O 69%). Even more important, a large number of officers do not believe any agency in


the government can solve these problems (TBS 30%, CSC/M 31%, CSC/O 33%).


This issue does raise new concerns because we see a possible indicator which Colonel


Dunlap discussed in his article. This issue is the growing role of the military in OOTW. Colonel


Dunlap believed such operations caused a severe impact on combat effectiveness. In addition, he


believed such operations gave the military the opportunity to enter the domestic policy


formulation arena. Since many of these tasks are extremely difficult to perform well, the military


has a high probability of failing or being ineffective. To improve its probability of success, the


military leadership seeks greater authority over these areas. If the civilian government cannot or


will not grant this authority, the probability of the military feeling frustrated and alienated grows


considerably. Thus, the corporate reputation and identity of the officer corps is at risk in this


environment. Together, these areas give the military leadership the incentives they needed to


usurp the government in a time of crisis.


The survey results tend to support his thesis in this area. We see a recognition by the


officers that their role in OOTW win probably increase in the future. Although they do not seek


such operations, they believe the military will attempt to do these tasks because the rest of the


government cannot do them. They even realize that their efforts may be in vain because the


problems may not have solutions. However, by agreeing to do such tasks, the military risks its


professional reputation by attempting to solve the problem. This risk is inherent in a government


which requires a "quick fix", to all problems because of the short tenure of the decision makers.52


If the military leadership does not have any greater success than civilian agencies, the reputation


of the military will suffer. In light of the effort to cut the Federal budget, such failure could result


in new attacks on the military's access to resources. The combined effects of these circumstances


are the ones which Dunlap and Perlmuter addressed. These concerns are the attacks on the


military a corporate identity which threaten its professional values. As a result, the potential for


military intervention in politics increases dramatically.


How can our society ensure that our military does not become isolated politically and


socially? Many people believe OOTW would strengthen the ties of the military to society.


However, the results of this survey indicated the officers do not believe it improved the bonds. As


a result, are there any other options available to strengthen our ties? The other common proposals


include the use of National Service (Draft) or making the military reflect the composition of


society via social engineering. Examples of the latter activity include the recent policy on sexual


orientation and Affirmative Action programs.


Considering the results of the survey, neither idea has much support within the officer


corps. The majority of the respondents did not believe the civilian leadership should attempt to


mold the military through social policies. While the TBS students split on this issue, the CSC


officers had firm majorities (CSC/M 62%, CSC/O 54%) opposing such policies. Surprisingly,


similar results occurred even if the President promised the proposed program would not hinder


combat effectiveness or morale. Only the TBS students agreed to support such a policy. The other


groups did not support such programs even under these conditions.


On the issue of National Service, similar results occurred. Although I expected strong


support for the Draft among the participants, such support did not exist. The majority of the


respondents did not believe we should have a Draft just to ensure everybody has an obligation to


serve the Nation. Also, they recognized the fact that the military and government do not have a


method to use all of the labor provided should such service become universal. Further, the


respondents believed such a proposal would harm civil-military relations and widen the gulf


between the military and society.


As a result, neither of the proposals to bring the military closer to society has much


support among the survey population. Thus, the military leadership may have to turn to a review


of its recruitment and retention policies to address this issue. In particular, we may need to


actively recruit among the population which has traditionally shunned military service. Such


actions, combined with inducements, may provide the military with a broader spectrum of people


within its ranks. Such a broad cross section may become critical as the military reduces its size. In


particular, Dunlap believes this narrowing of views combined with the unification of the military


services could lead to a "group-think" mentality. Without any mavericks to oppose their actions,


Dunlap's General Officers assumed power without any opposition. To ensure a similar future


does not await us, we need a base of officers who are not afraid to oppose such activity. Such a


base will only exist if the military believes they are the defenders of society and not a separate


society of their own.








The results of the survey should give the reader some degree of discomfort. The


respondents spanned the spectrum from recently commissioned lieutenants to field grade officers


with more than twenty years of service. However, the degree of agreement between the officers


on most issues showed a high degree of correlation. I expected to see a wider divergence due to


the vastly different backgrounds of the participants. As a result, I must conclude that many of the


opinions expressed by the officers on this survey existed when they entered the Service. Except


for marginal changes, socialization within the military did not seem to have much impact.


The second issue of concern was the value system of the military. I have grave concerns


over the respondents' belief that the military's values are different or better than society's values.


More importantly, the officers polled in this survey believe the differences in values will increase


over time. Although the military encourages an image of elitism, such a belief in this area could


produce the Praetorian Guard mentality I discussed earlier. Instead of associating with the defense


of society's values, a Praetorian Guard will impose and defend fundamental values it believes


society needs.


A classic example of this situation happened in Chile almost twenty years ago. The Chilean


military was a very professional organization. The majority of the officer corps came from the


middle class. When the society elected a communist President, the military broke from society.


The officer corps believed this change threatened the basic principles upon which the society


rested. As a result, the military seized power and assassinated the country's elected President.


Could such a situation arise within the United States? Nobody can predict the future. At


the time of the coup, Chile was one of the most stable countries in South America. However, this


example demonstrates the clear danger of what can happen if the officer corps does not believe


society has the same values as they do. Under these circumstances, the officer corps has a much


easier time justifying its actions.


In line with the previous issue is the third area of concern to me. This area concerns the


extremely strong opposition which exists to any effort to use the military as a tool of social action.


Since World War II, the civilian leadership has used the military often to introduce policies needed


to bind society closer together. These policies ranged from the Draft; to racial integration, to the


integration of women. In almost every case, subsequent reviews by independent auditors have


praised the military leadership for their outstanding accomplishments in these areas. By almost


every standard of evaluation, the U.S. military is a leader in the country and the world in


integration efforts.


Despite this history of success, the degree of opposition to these policies among the


respondents was surprisingly high. I was very surprised by the degree of opposition to these


policies. Several of the respondents included detailed statements explaining their opposition to


such policies and their extreme dislike for them as well. Some individuals would charge that the


military is reflecting the values of society in this area. As demonstrated by a recent Washington


Post survey, less than 25% of the adult population believes such policies should exist.53 However,


I believe the military has served a key role in unifying our country through such policies in the


past. I believe many key policy makers realize this fact as well. So when the civilian leadership


attempts to implement more controversial proposals (such as a relaxed sexual orientation policy),


I am afraid such actions may further alienate the military from society.


My fourth area of concern addressed the issue of the military performing Operations Other


Than War. Due to a variety of factors, the officers in this survey seemed resigned to a growing


role of the military in such operations. In particular, they believe the military's role in domestic


affairs will expand. As discussed by Dunlap, this growing role in domestic affairs brings an


additional problem as well. This problem is the growing role of military leaders in domestic policy


issues. I believe this trend is very dangerous. In particular, I believe it could lead to a major


problem in the promotion system. More importantly, it could lead to the political contamination of


the General Officer ranks and are return to the incompetence which marked similar forays in the


past (such as the Civil War). In addition, such political contamination might make the military


leadership more receptive to tasks such as the suppression of the political opposition. The classic


examples of how the military can assume such a role includes Napoleon's role in the French


Revolution and the junta which controlled Brazil for several years.


The final issue of concern to me is the one which will tell us how to reverse these trends.


Unfortunately, I do not have the answers to these problems. I may not consider the concepts


which I developed before I administered my survey as viable due to the strong opposition which


exists within my sample population. As a result, I will close with two radical ideas which might


serve as the basis for exploration by other individuals in subsequent studies.


Many people believe the focus of effort should rest on attempts to help society identify


with the military. I disagree with this belief. Instead, I would expend my efforts to integrate the


military into society. I believe the critical issue in future civil-military relations is whether the


military rejects the values of society and becomes a society within itself. If this condition persists,


I believed Dunlap's thesis will become fact.


The two proposals I developed are simple. First, I would discontinue military housing and


the Base Exchange system within the Continental United States. Instead, I would offer two


alternatives to shelter our soldiers. One alternative is a variation of the current Basic Allowance


for Quarters concept. Such a system could mirror the current Rent-Plus system in Europe. The


alternative is to build housing throughout the local community. Instead of using DoD personnel to


maintain the house, the government will hold the individual soldier responsible. If the soldier


abuses the house, he or she will pay the government when they leave. On the other hand, if the


soldier improves the house, the government will pay them. Either way, these actions will force the


military back into society and increase their involvement in local affairs.


My second proposal is a change in the source of the officer corps. Through inducements


or other means, the senior leadership should attempt to recruit officers from a wider range of


backgrounds. We might need to revise our policies on the use of Reserve forces to allow them to


play a greater role in main stream, military politics. For certain organizations, we might want to


consider the use of qualified civilians as commanders. We should encourage the exchange of


officers with other federal agencies. Similar to Goldwater-Nichols provisions on the selection


requirement of joint experience for General Officers, we may want to impose a similar


requirement that mandates such inter-departmental service as well. Either way, the thrust of this


argument is to increase the perspectives within the military establishment to prevent the "group-


think" mentality which Dunlap warns us about in his article.


In conclusion, I believe the results of this survey support some of the concerns expressed


by Colonel Dunlap. However, I do not believe the conditions are as bad as implied by his article.


In fact, I believe some of his concerns lack any justification. However, the indicators do show us


that something must occur to bring the military and society closer together. Unfortunately, most


of the common proposals in the press have little appeal among the officers. As a result, one of the


tasks our future leaders must tackle is the method by which we can bind the military to society


once again.






1 LTC Charles J. Dunlap, JR. (USAF), "The Origins of the American Military Coup Of 2012," Parameters,

no.2 (Winter 1992-93): 2.


2 Allen R. Millet, The American Political System and Civilian Control of the Military, (Columbus, OH:

The Mershon Center of Ohio State University, 1979), 101.


3 Stephen Ambrose, The Military and American Society, (New York: Free Press, 1972), 7.


4 Although the military has never conducted nor attempted to conduct a coup within the United States,

three major civil-military conflicts did occur. As I will discuss later on, Washington suppressed one proposed

attempt at the end of the Revolutionary War at Newburgh, New York. The other conflict which I discussed is the

conflict between MacArthur and Truman. The third conflict concerned the raids by Andrew Jackson into Florida in

pursuit of Indians attacking U.S. citizens during the Monroe Administration.


5 Millet, 113.


6 Millet, 115.


7 J. N. Wolfe and others, The Armed Services and Society, (Chicago, Edinburgh University Press, 1969), 9.


8 Ambrose, 23.


9 J. Ronald Fox, The Defense Management Challenge: Weapons Acquisition, (Boston: Harvard Business

School Press, 1988), 107.


10 The Annals of America, (Chicago: Encyclopedia of Britanica, 1976), 608-9.


11 Wolfe, 12.


12 Millet, 14.


13 Wolfe, 15.


14 Wolfe, 22.


15 Millet, 35.


16 Millet, 33.


17 Millet, 25.


18 Millet, 29.


19 Millet, 36.


20 Robert Previdi, Civilian Control Verses Military Rule, (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1988), 25-30.


21 Millet, 45.


22 Previdi, 25-30.


23 Previdi, 25-30.


24 Ambrose, 120-122.


25 Ambrose, 116-119.


26 Ambrose, 125-127.


27 Wolfe, 25-30.


28 Fox, 115.


29 Previdi, 110-115.


30 Previdi, 95.


31 Joint Chiefs of Staff message to U.S. Atlantic Command, subject: "Joint Requirements Oversight Council

(JROC) Expanded Role," 042200Z, April 1994.


32 Andrew J. Goodpaster and Samuel Huntington, Civil-Military Relations, (Washington, DC: American

Enterprise Institute, 1977), 48-55.


33 Amos Perlmutter, The Military and Politics in Modern Times, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,

1977), 33-34.


34 Perlmutter, 30-35.


35 Perlmutter, 30-35.


36 Perlmutter, 30-35.


37 Perlmutter, 34 -35.


38 Fox, 308.


39 American Caesar, 375.


40 Jerald Bachman, John D. Blair, and David R. Segal, The All Volunteer Force, (Ann Arbor, MI:

University Of Michigan Press, 1977), 106-120.


41 Wolf, 27-30.


42 Gary D. Ryan and Timothy K. Nennigor, Soldiers and Civilians, (Washington, DC: National Archives

Trust, 1987), 15-23.


43 Bachman, 120.


44 Millet, 45-50.


45 Bachman, 130-140.


46 "Extracts from the Officer Personnel Management Directorate Update," The Army Acquisition Corps

Playbook (Alexandria, VA: U.S. Total Army Personnel Command (TAPC-OPB-E), 18 Aug 1994), Appendix C.


47 Officer Evaluation Guide, 8th Edition, (Alexandria, VA: U.S. Total Army Personnel Command (TAPC-

OPB-ES), Aug 1991), 5.


48 Millet, 55-60.


49 U.S. Total Army Personnel Command, Appendix C.


50 Bachman, 106-110.


51 Bachman, 235.


52 Fox, 112.


53 Richard Morris and Sharon Warden, "Americans Vent Anger at Affirmative Action," The Washington

Post, March 24, 1995, Sec. A1.





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