Debate Magazine

Why Civilian Control of the Military?

Posted on the 25 April 2014 by Mikeb302000
I found this article while looking up Civilian Control of the Military.  It is found here:
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 2, 2001
Civilian control of the military is so ingrained in America that we hardly give it a second thought. Most Americans don't realize how special this relationship is and how it has contributed to the country.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution worked to ensure the military would be under civilian control. They did not want to emulate the European experience. The colonies had just fought a war for freedom from Britain. The king controlled the British military, and the framers had no interest in duplicating that system.
When they wrote the Constitution they separated the responsibilities for the military, placing the responsibilities firmly in civilian hands.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress shall have the power "to raise and support Armies …" and "to provide and maintain a Navy." In addition, Congress must provide for the state militias when they are called to federal service.
Article II, Section 2 states, "The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual Service of the United States."
Congress has the power to declare war and to make the rules for governing the military.
So the framers spread responsibilities for the military around. The president and Congress had to work together to use the military.
With the growth of political parties, an officer's political allegiance became important. President John Adams appointed Federalist officers to the military. As Jefferson's private secretary, Army Capt. Meriwether Lewis vetted the "Republican" (later Democratic) credentials of his fellow Army officers.
This reinforced the belief in the U.S. military that officers should not participate in politics. They should follow the orders of the president and the wishes of the Congress no matter who was in power. 
Military members swear "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States." One of the more successful aspects of that document is civilian control of the military.

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