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<Thread> Whether or not Sec Mattis was the last “adult in the room,” his resignation has created a historic opportunity for the Pres & Congress to shape the Pentagon’s future leadership. In 2019, they’ll choose a new SecDef, 5/7 new Joint Chiefs, & several new Combatant CDRs. 1/
As research by @ProfSaunders and others shows, presidential advisors are always political. While it is a little different for military advisors, my dissertation shows that Presidents & Senators usually try to politicize military appointments, too. 2/
Although some commentators reported surprise that Pres Trump allegedly ignored Sec Mattis’s recommendation when he announced Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley as his nominee to be the next CJCS, presidents have almost always tried to handpick their own military advisors. 3/
Sec Defs typically rely on a service rotation for their CJCS recs. Since the Air Force has been out of the position longest, for example, it was “next in line.” But when presidents have a friendly Congress, they typically buck service rotation and pick their preferred choice. 4/
Presidents have only ignored the service rotation twice when the opposition party controlled the Senate, but they have ignored it 7 times when their party controlled the Senate. If confirmed, GEN Milley would be the 8th example so this is nothing new. 5/
JFK pulled Maxwell Taylor out of retirement, Reagan picked Bill Crowe because of his briefing skills, Bush 41 selected Colin Powell despite his lack of a traditional pedigree, & Bill Clinton chose John Shalikashvili because of his views on Bosnia & cocktail party banter. 6/
Quant data tells a similar story. When presidents co-partisans controlled the Senate, they were much more likely to appoint mil advisors who shared their partisan inclinations, especially for the JCS & COCOMs. (GOFO party based on post-retirement campaign contributions.) 7/
(Side note: This effect was notably large for Democratic presidents, likely because the pool of available senior officers skews heavily republican as @Jason_K_Dempsey & others have shown. There was a clear asymmetry in the evidence I examined) 8/…
Often, this was the result of pre-nomination negotiations between the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee such as when SEN Carl Levin killed Gen (ret) Peter Pace’s re-nomination or when SEN McCain allegedly vetoed Gen (ret) Mark Welsh & ADM (ret) Sandy Winnefeld. 9/
Since Pres Trump isn’t ideologically in step with trad GOP national security leaders, the consequences of SEN McCain’s death & GOP retention of the Senate are key. New SASC Chair, SEN Jim Inhofe appears likely to align more closely with the President, giving him more leeway. 10/
Along with Mattis’s resignation, GEN Milley’s nomination will set off a cascade that will shape the senior ranks of the U.S. military for the next decade. 11/
In 2019, the Pres will nominate a new SecDef, CJCS, Vice CJCS, Chief of Naval Operations, Army Chief of Staff, & Commandant of the Marine Corps. He’ll also nominate several combatant commanders AND he’ll fill all the vacancies created when these leaders leave current jobs. 12/
And the officers placed in those new vacancies will largely form the pool of officers available when this cycle hits again in 2023 so their impact will be lasting. 13/
These leaders will shape the internal running of the DoD and of their own services & combatant commands, having a big impact on budgets, personnel policy, operations, use of force decisions and far more. And, in general, they’ll be less likely to constrain the President. 14/
They will shape options, provide advice, & implement policies. And, as @kyledropp, Peter Feaver & I have shown, these officers will also shape elite preferences & public opinion on the use of military force as well as on broader mil & defense policy. 15/…
While Sec Mattis & @KoriSchake may have written the book on post-9/11 civ-mil relations, Pres Trump, the Senate & the mil leaders they choose will write the next chapter. So, buckle up, bc 2019 won’t be any less exciting for U.S. civ-mil than 2018 was. 16/…
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