Scholars at Stanford’s Hoover Institution examine public attitudes toward military

warriors_and_citizens_3d_500Is there a disconnect between the American public and the military? And if so, what does it mean for people in the military and members of the general public?

A new Hoover Press book, Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military, addresses this issue and its societal consequences.

KORI SCHAKE, a Hoover Institution research fellow, and JAMES MATTIS, a visiting fellow at Hoover and former U.S. Marine commander of the U.S. Central Command, are co-editors of Warriors and Citizens, which analyzes survey data on public attitudes about military issues since 1998.

Schake and Mattis note that less than one half of one percent of the American public currently serve in the U.S. military. Meanwhile, those who do serve are deployed at higher rates than ever seen before. The authors ask, what does it mean to have a military at war when the great majority of American society is largely uninvolved and unaffected?

“Public support for the military continues to be high, yet the public’s knowledge of military issues is extremely low 40 years into having an all-volunteer force,” said Schake.

The book is a collection of articles by 16 different writers, including Schake and Mattis, on America’s evolving civil-military relationship. This bond is mostly healthy, the co-editors say, but concerns abound about the effects of the public-military disconnect on numerous levels, such as the public’s tolerance for military policies that differ from the norms of civilian society.

The book includes recommendations for boosting the public-military relationship, including the need to avoid the “politicization of the military” by political and veteran groups.

And both Schake and Mattis caution against policy changes that reduce the strength of the U.S. military.

“With national security priorities constantly evolving, complacency about military requirements could lead to terrible outcomes for our country,” Mattis said.