Civil-Military Relations

This project seeks to characterize changes in the civil-military dynamic, understand how they may affect major areas of national security and foreign policy, and develop recommended courses of action for civilians and military professionals alike


Introducing Command Climate

On May 23, 2017, CSIS's International Security Program hosted an all-day conference on U.S. civil-military relations. To set the stage, senior fellow Alice Friend interviewed a few of the country's top scholars and practitioners.

Erin Simpson: Principals, Agents, and Civil-Military Relations

Dr. Erin Simpson discusses the perennial challenges of command and civilian control, her experiences in Afghanistan, and how much the armed forces should reflect society.

Marybeth Ulrich: Policy, Politics, and the Military Profession

Dr. Marybeth Ulrich of the U.S. Army War College discusses military advice and standards for military professionalism in policymaking.

The Civil-Military Bargain Is a Result of What We Ask the Military to Do

Dr. MacKubin Thomas Owens surveys the history of American civil-military bargains, and argues that we may be in the midst of a renegotiation. He also discusses how the way we think about using military force affects the civil-military dynamic.

America's Military? The Growing Gap between the Armed Forces and American Society

Dr. Michael Desch argues that we should think more about the social aftermath of the post-9/11 wars. Will military institutions respond to Iraq and Afghanistan by insulating themselves from civilian influence socially and operationally? Will non-veteran citizens learn about and connect meaningfully with their neighbors who served?

Richard Kohn: The Civil-Military Relationship is Situational

Dr. Richard Kohn, military historian and unofficial dean of the community of civil-military relations scholars, talks about the full range of civil-military issues today: the military’s relationship with American society, civilian elites’ responsibility to the armed forces, military politicization, and the risks when civilians cede control of the military.