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<long thread> Coming out of the @SAISHopkins civ-mil conference, there’s been good discussion about the civ-mil gap, but in reality there are MANY GAPS. Some are big & some aren’t; some matter & some don’t. They have different causes & there are different ways to bridge them. 1/
I can’t lay out all the evidence in a thread but I’ll introduce a preliminary typology of 9 gaps I’ve thought about: 1) Demographic, 2) Party, 3) Familiarity, 4) Culture, 5) Value, 6) Process, 7) Resource, 8) Sacrifice, 9) Confidence. & I’ll speculate about which matter most. 2/
The Demographic Gap. This gap has to do with how representative of society the mil is. In general, the mil is younger & more educated. More service members come from rural areas & the south & west. Men, Christians, & black people are overrepresented. 3/…
A number of factors that impact recruiting drive these gaps, esp: proximity to bases (active & reserve), econ opportunity, whether family members have served & the presence of demographically similar role models. The mil gets whiter & more male the higher you go up the ranks. 4/
In my view, the demographic gap primarily matters to the extent it limits available talent and manpower. But it also can have an impact on who bears the costs of mil service, who pays attention to mil policy, indirectly on pressure for legislative oversight, & the other gaps. 5/
The Party Gap. The mil, esp the officer corps, is more Republican than society. The prevalence of Republicans increases with rank and the mil has been growing more Republican since 9-11. But there are still a lot more Dems in the ranks that many assume. 6/…
We don’t fully know what drives the party gap but Dems (esp liberals) join at lower rates & leave at higher rates. The mil hasn’t gotten more conservative since the 70s but troops (esp officers) are now more likely to claim a party: polarization causes pressure to pick a side. 7/
As I’ve argued at @smallwars, partisanship in the ranks can have real impacts. It can lead to (unconscious) bias and hurt advice & expertise; it can create (undue) pressure against domestic parties who disagree; and it can undermine public trust. 8/…
Familiarity Gap. People have less contact w/ those in the mil. Only 0.86% of Americans serve in the mil & less than 9% are vets. According to @pewresearch in 2011, 61% of citizens have a family connection to the mil but it drops to 33% for ages 18-29. 9/…
As @AESchafer has shown in her @CNASdc report, family connections increase the likelihood of mil service, contributing to a more insular force over time. 10/…
And in @KoriSchake & Mattis’s book, Feaver, @lindsaypcohn, & I show that people w/ less mil contact won’t even guess when asked Qs about the mil. So less familiarity means less interest & oversight. 11/…
Culture Gap. Mil service involves immersion in mil culture. Service members wear different uniforms, use strange language & acronyms, endure basic training, have uncommon daily routines, enjoy access to govt healthcare/services, & share many experiences unique to mil service. 12/
Although the culture gap is emphasized in Hollywood portrayals, it is hard to quantify & it makes SMs seem more homogeneous than they are. It can matter for veterans’ reintegration, but it cuts both ways - making some transitions tough while also creating strong vet networks. 13/
Process Gap. People in the mil do things differently. They have doctrine, procedures, checklists, etc. that often are very rigid & routinized. At the policy level, @janinedavidson outlines civ & mil differences in this fantastic article. 14/…
The process gap can lead to friction, frustration, and lack of trust like @brooks_rosa discusses below & that can undermine effective policy making in real & serious ways. 15/…
Resource Gap. The military dwarfs other agencies in terms of manpower, infrastructure, resources, & capacity. The DOD budget is ~7 times the budget for State. When new missions arise that need to be done quickly and/or at scale, the military is often the easy button. 16/
The resource gap impacts policy making, directly & indirectly. It gives combatant commands leverage over Ambassadors/State & the Joint Staff leverage over OSD. At the same time, however, it can put the mil in positions to do “non-military” missions due to available capacity. 17/
In terms of budget fights on the Hill, a $1B cut/increase has a much more significant impact on what State can do than it does on what DOD can do, but defense dollars often have domestic constituents foreign aid/diplomacy don’t. The resource gap has huge civ-mil implications. 18/
Confidence Gap. The mil is the most trusted U.S. institution by far, esp compared to other govt organizations even tho we haven’t achieved wartime goals. Research by @dburbach:… & @m_robinson771:… show partisanship is a big part. 19/
High confidence comes from heroic Hollywood portrayals as @Doctrine_Man & Phil Walter discuss in the latest @DivergentOption podcast, but they also can promote tropes about damaged veterans. But we still don’t fully understand the causes of high conf. 20/
As Mara Karlin and @ahfdc discuss here, high confidence can turn into military worship that undermines civilian control & effective policy. It could even threaten democracy if people begin to look to the mil rather political leaders for leadership. 21/…
Sacrifice Gap. Having 1% of the population serve in a volunteer force is normal in U.S. history, but relying on a volunteer force during 2 decades of war is not. This obscures other forms of civ service & means the costs of war are born by a small %. 22/…
This gap can also lead to frustration, entitlement, & the belief that Americans aren’t invested in war on the military side. It can also contribute to deference & the “Thank You for Your Service” phenomenon @tyfys_podcast & @brikeilarcnn discuss here. 23/…
Values Gap. The last gap has to do with the belief the military is superior to civilian society in terms of its character & values. @KaurinShanks has an excellent discussion of this here:… 24
This gap leads to a sense of superiority on the mil side where civs can’t question the military. It creates the impression that good character only exists in the mil or vets are saviors (@PeterLucier:…) even though there are both good & bad in uniform. 25/
In my view, sorting out the different causes & consequences of these gaps is an important part of the post-CHAOS civ-mil homework @LorenRaeDeJ discussed in her excellent @WarOnTheRocks article here. 26/…
Sorry for the LONG thread. I’m going to write this up more formally as an article soon, but this is the best I could muster while I have pneumonia.

I’m curious what experiences you’ve had. What gaps are there & why are they important? What gaps are overblown? 27/
Mil & civs both bring different baggage to these discussions, but I firmly believe many gaps aren’t so big. They can be overcome by humility & by appreciating both mil & civilian service, in & out of government. 28/…
But some civil-military gaps have different causes & significant impacts that often are bigger than the gaps we talk about most. They won’t be fixed just by better more open conversation, though that won’t hurt. 29/
Note: I owe the genesis of my thinking on the gaps to this great research not @aaronbelkin & others published in @iusafs a few years ago, though my views extend & diverge from & theirs. 30/30…
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