Congress and Civil-Military Relations

Colton C. Campbell and David P. Auerswald, Editors

"Delivers a helpful overview of the evolution of congressional influence in the armed forces."
+ Add to Cart Preorder


Request Print Exam Copy

Request Digital Exam Copy

While the president is the commander in chief, the US Congress plays a critical and underappreciated role in civil-military relations—the relationship between the armed forces and the civilian leadership that commands it. This unique book edited by Colton C. Campbell and David P. Auerswald will help readers better understand the role of Congress in military affairs and national and international security policy. Contributors include the most experienced scholars in the field as well as practitioners and innovative new voices, all delving into the ways Congress attempts to direct the military.

This book explores four tools in particular that play a key role in congressional action: the selection of military officers, delegation of authority to the military, oversight of the military branches, and the establishment of incentives—both positive and negative—to encourage appropriate military behavior. The contributors explore the obstacles and pressures faced by legislators including the necessity of balancing national concerns and local interests, partisan and intraparty differences, budgetary constraints, the military's traditional resistance to change, and an ongoing lack of foreign policy consensus at the national level. Yet, despite the considerable barriers, Congress influences policy on everything from closing bases to drone warfare to acquisitions.

A groundbreaking study, Congress and Civil-Military Relations points the way forward in analyzing an overlooked yet fundamental government relationship.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Congress and Civil-Military Relations
David P. Auerswald and Colton C. Campbell

Part One: Congressional Tools and Civil-Military Relations
2. Presidential and Congressional Relations: An Evolution of Military Appointments
Mitchel A. Sollenberger
3. A Safety Valve: The Truman’s Committee Oversight during World War II
Katherine Scott
4. The Political, Policy, and Oversight Roles of Congressional Defense Commissions
Jordan Tama
5. Congress and "Their Military": Delegating to the Reserve Components
John Griswold
6. Legislating “Military Entitlements”: A Challenge to the Congressional Abdication Thesis
Alexis Lasselle Ross

Part Two: Parochial Versus National Interests
7. Defense and the Two Congresses: Changes in the Policy—Parochialism Balance
Chuck Cushman
8. Congress and New Ways of War
Charles A. Stevenson
9. Closing Guantanamo: A Presidential Commitment Unfulfilled
Louis Fisher
10.Congress and Civil-Military Relations in Latin America and the Caribbean: Human Rights as a Vehicle
Frank O. Mora and Michelle Munroe
11. Conclusion: The Future of Civil-Military Relations
David P. Auerswald and Colton C. Campbell

List of Contributors


"An excellent, comprehensive study of the relationship between Congress and the US military and, in the process, the powers of the legislative branch in foreign affairs. It is impressive to experience the breadth of topics covered as a collection of well qualified scholars examine historical and contemporary issues in a detailed manner without being so reliant on jargon that only a policy wonk would understand the material. The most important contribution of the book is the topic itself—scholars and the general public tend to place such an emphasis on the president’s role as commander-in-chief that congressional powers to regulate the military are mostly an afterthought or a footnote rather than the essential constitutional authority they are."—Choice

"Delivers a helpful overview of the evolution of congressional influence in the armed forces."—MCU Journal

"Colton C. Campbell and David P. Auerswald have organized an impressive collection of essays that gives timely and lively perspectives on the important topic of contemporary congressional and civil-military relations. They combine multiple perspectives that feature accessible original academic research that will help students, scholars, and political practitioners understand relations between Congress and the military establishment."—James Thurber, director and Distinguished Professor, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University

"This edited volume is a thoughtful and significant study of a hugely important, but under-covered, topic: Congress and the military. The book merits the widest possible readership because its chapters, such as those on the evolution of military appointments or the role of congressional defense commissions, are filled with compelling analyses by acknowledged scholars in the field. This work of scholarship should be a must-read for people who are affiliated with Congress and the military, as well as students and citizens keen on learning about the Congress-military relationship: how and why it works as it does. There is no doubt that this book is a valuable achievement sure to promote a better understanding of two complex institutions and their interactions."—Walter Oleszek, American University

"This timely volume provides a valuable perspective on a subject often neglected and poorly understood by the defense community and the public. Significantly, these essays suggest how changes in congressional thinking and behavior have grown in influence on national defense—both to strengthen, and to weaken, the nation’s security."—Richard Kohn, Professor Emeritus of History and Peace, War, and Defense, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and former Chief of Air Force History for the USAF


David P. Auerswald Colton C. Campbell Charles Cushman Louis Fisher John Griswold Frank Mora Michelle Munroe Alexis L. Ross Katherine Scott Mitchel Sollenberger Charles Stevenson Jordan Tama

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Colton C. Campbell is a professor of national security strategy at the National War College, National Defense University. His books include the co-edited volume Congress and the Politics of National Security.

David P. Auerswald is a professor of strategy and policy at the National War College. His books include the coauthored NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone.

240 pp., 6 x 9
5 b&w photos, 1 figure, 4 tables
ISBN: 978-1-62616-185-6
Mar 2015

240 pp., 6 x 9
5 b&w photos, 1 figure, 4 tables
ISBN: 978-1-62616-180-1
Mar 2015

240 pp.
5 b&w photos, 1 figure, 4 tables
ISBN: 978-1-62616-181-8
Mar 2015

Related Titles