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Creating U.S. military strategy, policy

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Association of the United States Army AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare (ILW) has recently released a new publication.

"Strategy and Policy: Civilian and Military Leadership in the 21st Century" (National Security Watch, Jan. 18, 2013) reviews how the United States creates its security strategy and executes its security policy.

Civil control of America’s military is ingrained in the Constitution (statutory), and in strategic policy guidance (regulatory); what is a significant issue in the current environment is the relationship between civilian masters and military subordinates and the integral roles played by both in the decision-making process.

Decisions with operational effect are essentially civil–military decisions: campaigns, sequence, force size policies, mobilization policies, deployment policies, resources and others.

Where the civil-military relationship is open and candid, there is an increased likelihood that good policies will be enacted; the inverse is also true.

Shared national security responsibilities and strategic-level decision-making were envisioned from the birth of the Republic as a joint endeavor among the branches of government.

Precedent created by such incidents as George Washington’s quelling in 1783 of the Newburgh Conspiracy – in which disgruntled Army officers flirted with challenging the authority of the young Congress and made public policy demands with overt political overtones – reinforced the founders’ emerging philosophy and firmly entrenched the cultural and social understanding of the same.

Military personnel are first and foremost servants to the nation – the American idea.

Over time, the U.S. military has been shaped to accommodate the nature of modern war.

The United States makes war in joint fashion, employing the capabilities of all its armed services in strategic maneuver, and almost always as a leading member of an international coalition.

Such operations are highly complicated, but a system is in place to make sure that high-level military and political decisions are streamlined as much as possible.

When the U.S. Army secures a foreign state and drives an enemy regime out of power (as it did in Iraq in 2003), generals – and their subordinates – assume a great deal of temporary responsibility for local governance, local administration, delivery of aid, economic rebuilding and much more as critical components of their ultimate goal of restoring security.

The development of long-term security has become irreversibly intertwined among military and civilian professionals. Their successes – or failures – are similarly intertwined.

Fully functional strategic and operational policies require the strongest civil–military relationships.

Creating and executing security strategy and policy in modern times is a complex business. Getting it right requires the committed effort of the entire national security apparatus, a whole-of-government approach and a healthy civil-military relationship.

This and other ILW publications are available online at http://www.ausa.org/ilw and can also be obtained by calling (800) 336-4570, Ext. 4630, or by e-mailing a request to [email protected].