January 12, 2017

Mattis raises issue of civilian control of American military

Guardian - “Mad Dog” Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in 2013, meaning he falls well short of having notched up the required seven years out of uniform before a member of the military can run the Pentagon – a requirement that underpins the subordination of the military to civilian control enshrined in the constitution. While none in Congress see a coup on the horizon, defense analysts have long warned of a gradual erosion of civilian control and depoliticization, chiefly around both parties’ increasing habit of signing up retired military support for their presidential candidates every four years.

That concern was sufficiently intense to prompt the Senate armed services committee, before which Mattis will testify on Thursday, to hold a separate hearing on Tuesday on civilian control. The top Democrat on the committee, Jack Reed, himself an army veteran, expressed alarm that confirming Mattis would set a precedent damaging “an essential tenet of our civil and military relations”.

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