The strain of a prolonged conflict has led some military officers to believe they’re better than the society they’re serving, warns Owens. The lack of trust between the civilian leadership and the military has its most detrimental effect on strategy making and military effectiveness. Success in today’s conflicts requires healthy civil-military relations. The good news is the new military tandem in place in the aftermath of Gen. McChrystal’s sacking–commander of US Central Command Gen. Mattis and Afghanistan commander Gen. Petraeus–understands the importance of professionalism and trust in fostering healthy civil-military relations.
Owens is professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College in Newport, RI, and editor of the journal Orbis.