Conference focuses on civ-mil relations

Last month, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) hosted an all-day conference focused on relations between the military and the civilian world. “Command Climate: The State of U.S. Civil-Military Relations” took place on May 23, with panelists representing the Department of Defense (DoD) and other U.S. government entities discussing different aspects of civil-military relations.

The first panel focused on the role of the military in policy making. Panelists discussed DoD’s role in whole-of-government planning and strategizing, emphasizing the importance of civ-mil cooperation to achieve the best possible outcomes in U.S. operations.

Dr. Kori Schake, Research Fellow, Stanford University, touched on breakdowns in communication and cooperation between civilian and military operators, saying that differences in agency and department cultures can impede adaptiveness, while Dr. Janine Davidson, former Undersecretary of the Navy, pointed out that these problems are sometimes the result of civilian agencies being tasked with missions they have no training for.

In his remarks, Admiral William Gortney, U.S. Navy (ret.), stressed that DoD must not be perceived to be “in charge.” Instead, Gortney said DoD’s role was to provide support to other agencies and departments involved. Major General Richard Clarke, Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff, J-5, expressed similar views, saying that while military’s part of the overall mission is “easy, measurable, quantifiable,” the focus should not be on the military at the expense of the civilian agencies.

The two other panels focused on the military’s role in politics and their relationship with the public.

For more information about this conference, please follow the links below.
Command Climate: The State of U.S. Civil-Military Relations, Center for Strategic & International Studies
Command Climate: U.S. Civil-Military Relations – Any Role for Congress?, ORANS

Major General Richard Clarke, Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff, J-5, speaks on The Military and Policymaking panel during the Command Climate conference on May 23, 2017.

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