CIVILIAN CONTROL OF THE MILITARY
By Kevin Healy, USAF (RET.)
Little Compton RI
Let’s face it, when most Americans wake up in the morning getting ready to face the rest of the day, they are not thinking about civilian control of the U.S. military. Civilian control of the military is so ingrained in America that virtually no one gives it a second thought. The framers of the Constitution on the other hand gave it a lot of thought. They wanted to make sure that the national leadership would be protected from a coup de tat by a strong military.
Article II, section 2 of the Constitution 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.”
All people who enter the armed forces must repeat the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, So help me God.”
What the framers did not envision was what was going to happen a couple of centuries down the road. In their wildest dreams or nightmares did they ever believe that the fledgling 13 Colonies would eventually emerge into the dominating world power that we are today. Their fears of a coup de tat would of course never be realized. Some of our great Presidents have come to elected office from the ranks of the military. Many of our national leaders are veterans of military service.
Unfortunately what has evolved in the military is not simply “civilian control” as was dictated by the Constitution, but rather a complete “domination” of the military by civilian employees of the Department of Defense. I cannot in my wildest imagination believe that the framers wanted civilian control of the day to day operation of the military facilities at virtually every level.
When I entered the Air Force in 1948 you seldom saw civilians on a military base. All you saw for the most part were people in uniform. If you visit a military facility today there are just as many, if not more civilians on the base as there are people in uniform. What has evolved is an un-uniformed branch of the military. The country now has a very large Un-armed Force along side of the Armed Forces. I say along side, but they are not equal.
The inequities are abundant… Civilians working alongside uniformed people are paid at a much higher level. With few exceptions, they will never be suddenly transferred and separated from their families. Civilians are not required to perform tactical and combat operations where they are in harms way. Civilian retirement and medical care programs are superior to their military co-workers. If this kind of treatment happened in Corporate America there would be law suites all over the place.
How about this for a deal breaker? Most Department of Defense civilian employees are represented by a National Labor Union. If a member of the uniformed forces protests working conditions or what ever, he or she will be standing in front of a Court Martial Board. Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do, and die.
I have been prompted to write about this situation for several reasons. The recent news stories about base closings have been all over the place. The so called “BRAC” activities dominate the news scene. I did a bit of number crunching on net gains and losses of personnel and came up with some rather interesting numbers.
If Congress agrees, and the President signs the legislation on base closings and realignment recommendations, the net loss of military slots is 10,900. On the other hand there is a net gain of 23,886 civilian slots. There is no doubt in my mind about who are “pulling the strings.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified today that the BRAC procedures as recommended would save the taxpayers 48.8 billions of dollars over the next twenty years. If you believe that I have some swampland out back that I would like to sell you. No one, even a smart guy like Mr. Rumsfeld has a clue about what the world is going to look like next year… never mind twenty years down the road.
This whole BRAC program is a political scam. I believe that this BRAC business started back during the Reagan administration. The idea was to create a commission that would evaluate the situation visa vie base closings and “recommend” to the Congress and the President who stayed on board, and who got the axe. This takes the heat off the politicians who can point to the BRAC committee, shifting the blame for lost jobs and the like away from themselves.
Ever since the end of World War II the military has been on a virtual roller coaster. There have been a series of downsizings and upsizings. It is like a game of musical chairs where they keep on changing the numbers of seats and players. Our national leadership refuses to learn from history. Following every conflict in modern history they have cut the military and closed bases, only to have to rebuild the forces and reopen bases when things like Korea, Viet Nam, The Baltic, the Middle East and the War on Terrorism erupt in their faces. And the “BRAC” goes on.
Meanwhile this constant “tweaking” of the military raises havoc in the communities where military facilities are located, disrupts the lives of many thousands of individuals and families and virtually destroys the economy in affected regions.
The Pentagon budget attack dogs rail on about the cost of medical care for veterans and retirees breaking the bank. Yet they are adding “civilians” to the payroll by the thousands with their higher cost of salaries and benefits.
Our boarders to the south and north go virtually undefended and we are committing billions of taxpayer dollars to provide free medical care for “illegal immigrants.” Will someone please pinch me; this must be just another “bad dream.”
Our founding fathers must be spinning in their graves. Their desire to have “civilian control” of the military has been turned into a great big Cash Cow for the civilian controlled Pentagon. The “uniformed branch” has become the “hired guns” of the government. Rolled out when the nation is up to its ass in alligators, and expected to be put on the shelf until the next time the (expletive) hits the fan.
You (the American people as the politicians like to call you) need to do something about this before we all go down the drain. You must contact your Congress and let them know how you want them to act. You must start electing people to national office who will demand a strong military force, that will defend our boarders and bring peace and freedom to all who cry out for liberty.