Former top Pentagon officials warn of "extreme strain" on civilian-military relations
The U.S. is experiencing an "exceptionally challenging" environment for the relationship between military and civilian parts of society, a large group of former Pentagon leaders warned in an open letter published Tuesday.
Why it matters: The letter, which cited political polarization and other social changes, was signed by eight former defense secretaries and five former Joint Chiefs chairmen from both Republican and Democratic administrations.
- Among the signatories were two of former President Trump's defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark Esper.
- The letter was published Tuesday by War on the Rocks.
The big picture: The former officials said challenges stem from social disruptions sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, political polarization and the end of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "without all the goals satisfactorily accomplished."
- The U.S. also faces "more daunting competition" from other countries in the future, the letter warned.
- While the letter does not pinpoint blame on either political party, it notes that the 2020 election was the "first election in over a century when the peaceful transfer of political power was disrupted and in doubt."
- The letter then recaps the "core principles and best practices" of governing civilian-military relations, such as civilian control of the military.
What they're saying: "Many of the factors that shape civil-military relations have undergone extreme strain in recent years."
- "Looking ahead, all of these factors could well get worse before they get better."