The American people have been proud of the U.S. Army for a long time, because it was able to protect them from the numerous international threats. Nowadays a large number of people are involved in the activity of the army. There are “1.1 million soldiers in the ranks and more than 400,000 civilians and contracted employees”. However there are critics that think that there is a very deep crisis in the civil-military relationship that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Particularly, the army has become strategically and militarily ineffective, and it is not neutral anymore. In order to improve the situation, the mass media should pay more attention to the U.S. army. Secondly, the representatives of the civil society should have the right to examine the military practices and policies more actively. Finally, the military industrial complex must be subordinated and must not be as powerful as nowadays.
“Three-quarters of 1 percent (Americans), served in Iraq or Afghanistan at any point in the post-9/11 years, many of them more than once”. The Americans seem to support the soldiers, but they know very little about the military operations. Several decades ago the media coverage was very different. There was a large number of the positive and negative news from the battlefields. Nowadays, the mistakes made by the U.S. Army go unnoticed and the competence of the U.S. Army is not put under the question. The press failed to influence the development of the military forces in the USA due to its “self-censorship, lack of military experience and ideological bias”. The free press could fulfill an important goal – by means of the journalist investigations and close monitoring of the military activity the U.S. Army could become more responsible and accountable just as any other public organization and institution in the USA.
Not only the media, but also the civil society should play a more active role in putting pressure on the military. Nowadays, the people and the military seem to be very far from each other. There is little public debate about the army and for the democratic country it is dangerous to let the army develop independently in the “autopilot” regime. The isolation of the military “disrupts the process of learning from the defeats”. Now the USA can easily get involved in the military conflicts around the world instead of focusing on the long-term effectiveness. There is no accountability for the negative results of the military operations and partly this is a problem of the politicians and civil activists who prefer not to notice the mistakes made by the military. For example, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan lasted too long, because “the U.S. military forgot its Sun Tzu in that it did not know the enemy or itself”. As the result, the U.S. military faced the dual failure. Nevertheless, the civil society and the press failed to raise the issue of low effectiveness of the army. On the contrary, after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 the public criticism was extremely high and “the military itself recognized its own failings, and a whole generation of reformers looked to understand and change the culture”.
Thirdly, in order to overcome the existing crisis, the military industrial complex should be reformed. Nowadays, instead of changing the approaches to managing the army, the military ask for more money and consequently the cost of defense is increasing. If to make the inflation adjustment, in 2015 the USA spent “about 50 percent more on the military than its average through the Cold War and Vietnam War”. In addition, too many congressmen rely on the military budget, because the military enterprises are located in their congressional districts. Therefore, the U.S. Army requires many resources every year and “strong and entrenched interests tenaciously resist change”. It seems that the military have learnt how to lobby their interests neglecting the interests of the society.
In conclusion, in order to address the gaps which were formed in the civilian-military relationship, various stakeholders need to reconsider their approaches to dealing with each other. For instance, the press should pay much more attention to the failures of the military and draw attention of the public to the military issues that define the national defense instead of glorification of the military. The public should also become more critical in relation to the military as it happened after the Vietnam War. The international threat has not been reduced and this means that the strategic and military effectiveness of the U.S. Army has been extremely low in the past 15 years. Finally, the politicians should initiate the reorganization of the military industrial complex instead of securing political dividends from the gigantic military expenses. If these steps are taken, the military will become neutral and accountable and the civilian-military partnership will be much more effective.
Fallows J. “The Tragedy of the American Military”. The Atlantic. January/February
2015 Edition. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/01/the-tragedy-
of-the-american-military/383516/ (Accessed 11 January 2016)
Foster G. “The Silent Crisis”. Armed Forces Journal. (1 August 2007).
http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/the-silent-crisis/ (Accessed 11 January 2016)
Koistinen, P. “Military Industrial Complex”. Dictionary of American History. (2003).
12 January 2016)
McCurry, K. “Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan
Wars”. Military Review. March-April 2015.
https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-409236056/why-we-lost-a-general-s-inside-account-of-the-iraq. (Accessed 12 January 2016)
U.S. Army. U.S. Army Facts. (20 October 2011). http://www.army.mil/article/66277/
US_Army_Facts____/ (Accessed 11 January 2016)