Brent Scowcroft Center Nonresident Senior Fellows for Military Affairs and National Security Policy Dave Barno and Nora Bensahel write for War on the Rocks on the damaging effects of the divide between military personnel and civilians:
A retired Navy officer recently told us a story that happened twenty years ago in New Jersey, when he was introduced to several very successful businessmen at an elite golf course outside his base. When a friend introduced him by his rank as “Commander,” one of these well-to-do members looked deeply confused and said, “Commander? What the heck is that?”
Today, after fourteen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Navy commander is more likely to be recognized by his or her rank when introduced in public. But as those two wars evolve into smaller conflicts, the military is coming home once more, drawing back into its often isolated and tightly guarded bases. The yawning civil–military divide that was so evident to our Navy friend in the 1990s has every chance of returning and widening — with even more damaging effects on the US military and the nation as a whole.