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The US Tradition Of Civilian Control Of The Military Started Here
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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.
The day after that, June 17, the Congress drafted his commission. That document states, in part, his obligation “punctually to observe such orders and directions, from time to time, as you shall receive from this, or a future Congress of these United Colonies, or a committee of the Congress.”
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.
The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.
The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.
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An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.
A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.
Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.
Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.
After 70 years, service members are finally filing medical malpractice claims against the US military
Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.
Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.
It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.
Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.
A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.
Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.
With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.