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In response to the September 2022 open letter, “To Support and Defend: Principles of Civilian Control and Best Practices of Civil-Military Relations,” by eight former secretaries of defense and five former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this Article adds a piece to the unsettled puzzle of civil-military relations. The Letter attempts to detail “core principles or best practices” (CP/BP) regarding civil-military relations, and in response, this Article comments on and clarifies these well-intended efforts. This Article sequentially dissects each CP/BP in today’s context of hyper-politicization, partisanship, technology, and more. Where necessary, the Article explains how the law may impact the CP/BPs and identifies areas of potential misunderstandings. In sum, this Article aims to put together the puzzle pieces of legal nuances, practical applications, and societal norms found throughout civil-military relations.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Civil-military relations, Civil supremacy over the military, Armed Forces