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A retired Army lieutenant general once said to me that there is no Constitutional provision for civilian control of the military, except in that the president, a civilian, is the commander-in-chief.
So where does civilian control come from? Is it more custom than anything else? And is it just the executive’s right?
If so, is Congress just butting in by controlling the money the military gets?
No, in fact. I noticed this the other day whilst doing some research. Congressional control of the military was explicitly part of the creation of the U.S. Army. On June 15, 1775, the 2nd Continental Congress chose George Washington to command the new Army. The next day he accepted.
In other words, formal, explicit civilian control of the military not only predates the Constitution, it predates by more than a year the Declaration of Independence, and began with the selection of the first soldier in the Army. (I can’t believe I didn’t know this.)
On reflection, I think Washington may have been the most Clausewitzian of all American generals. Yes, before he was a president, he was a general. But before he was a general, he was a minor politician for 15 years, first in the Virginia House of Burgesses and then as a delegate to the 1st and 2nd Continental Congresses. He understood in his bones the nexus between politics and military operations.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.