Small Wars Journal

It's Time to Review the Civil-Military Dialogue

It's Time to Review the Civil-Military Dialogue by James M. Dubik – Association of the U.S. Army

The U.S. faces a complex strategic environment: ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the global war against al-Qaida and its ilk; a seething war in Syria; unrest in Libya and other parts of Africa; Russia-induced instability in Eastern Europe; a rising China and defiant Iran; an unrepentant North Korea still in control of its nuclear weapons; and worried allies.

The security environment at home is no less complex. A lot is at stake.

The administration might use a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of defense as an opportunity to review the procedures for its civil-military dialogue to ensure it is adequate to the environment the country faces.

Such a review might benefit from a close look at the two very different Iraq-related dialogues that took place during President George W. Bush’s administration. The first governed the period between 2003 and 2006; the second between late 2006 and 2008. The difference between the two highlights the importance of getting the dialogue “right enough,” thus increasing the probability that the final decision authority will use that authority well…

Read on.