“Return to Sender? Analyzing the Senior Leader ‘Open Letter’ On Civilian Control of the Military” has been published by Harvard Law’s National Security Journal

In September 2022, eight former secretaries of defense and five former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed an open letter, To Support and Defend: Principles of Civilian Control and Best Practices of Civil-Military Relations (the “Letter”) which was published on a popular blog.  In response, I wrote an analysis, Return to Sender? Analyzing the Senior Leader ‘Open Letter’ On Civilian Control of the Military” and it’s just been published by Harvard Law School’s National Security Journal,.  (It’s available here.)

Why did I write this analysis?  With the experience and firepower behind it, the Letter has many virtues; however, the abbreviated work risks leaving its readers, particularly the general public and junior military personnel, with some misunderstandings– especially legal ones–that could prove problematic.  Return to Sender?” examines point by point each of the Letter’s sixteen “core principles or best practices” related to civil-military relations.

It concludes:If you want an overview of some of the key issues regarding civil-military relations and civilian control of the military, I invite you to look at the full essay.  Again. it can be found here.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the wonderful work done not just of my own super team of Research Assistants, but also that of the Journal’s terrific editorial team.  Of course, any mistakes, etc., are solely my responsibility.

Remember what we like to say on Lawfire®: gather the facts, examine the law, evaluate the arguments – and then decide for yourself!

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