The United States has never grappled with the degree of civil-military dysfunction that many other nations have faced. The threat of a military coup has never been a significant concern. Yet civil-military friction is intrinsic in the compromise between the nation’s republican nature, which insists on civilian control and military subordination, and the existence of a standing federal military force.
This reflection examines the relationship between Special Forces and general forces. Special Forces operate quickly and with great secrecy. Unlike general forces, the element of secrecy keeps Special Forces out of public debate. Recognizing the strength of Special Forces, how should we wage war with transparency?
Even though there is almost no data to crunch from the Trump campaign, it’s time to examine what a Trump defense program might look like because he appears to be the presumptive Republican nominee. As one might expect, Trump has broken all the policy conventions in describing a defense program in the same way he has broken all the political rules to achieve his primary victories so far. He is causing huge discomfort in the Republican national security community.
The perceived need for reform is in the interagency coordination process has increased over the years. Yet, the way forward is complicated by a constitutional fault line. This piece assesses challenges in the interagency process, the national security staff, and a possible way forward for improvement.
In a major speech this week, Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made specific proposals for national security. It may be that after months of expansive rhetoric about rebuilding America’s defenses and getting tough with foreign threats, candidates finally feel the need to be specific.
Here’s a thought experiment. What if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders becomes president? What would a Sanders defense program look like? Yes, yes, a near win in Iowa does not a presidential nominee make. Even though he’ll probably win in his neighboring state of New Hampshire, there is a long slog to the convention. Then there is the matter of the general election. But it is worth looking at what he might mean for defense.
All the Republicans support increased spending for defense and establishing a more robust defense posture. There’s lots of talk about rebuilding defenses, reversing budget cuts and having “the most powerful military on the planet” — but there are precious few specifics. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina has been most specific about her proposals and gets a gold star for that.