The U.S. Constitution gives primary control of the military to the nation’s civilian (nonmilitary) leaders. Congress controls the military budget. The president is the commander in chief of the armed forces, but only Congress can declare war.
Elected officials can ask military leaders for advice, but the president makes the final decisions in military matters, and Congress can appropriate or refuse to appropriate money for militaty operations.
Why is the system set up this way? The nation’s founders believed the military should carry out policy, not make policy. Policy should come from elected officials who reflect the will of the people.
Do you think civilian (nonmilitary) control of the military is an important part of U.S. democracy? Why or why not? What are the advantages to this system? Are there disadvantages?