Recent tensions in US civil-military relations point to a potential sea-change in the way US military officers interact with the public political space. This study considers that relationship with three linked papers. It considers the partisanship of officers, using a novel survey of 471 US Army officers and cadets to determine the political inclinations and activity of that group as well as to assess the willingness of officers to use force internationally. It uses a separate, nationally representative, survey experiment to weigh the influence of military conditions on public opinion regarding the use of force in international crises. The study finds that officers are, in fact, highly influential in US politics, but remain unlikely to use that influence. It finds that officers remain true to their professional ethics both externally by refraining from political action and internally by developing politically moderate views. It also finds that service as an officer has a moderating effect on an individual's willingness to use force, so that initial selection effects which make the officer population initially more hawkish are moderated over time. It finally reinforces the potential political impact of officers by showing that the conditions they establish internationally have a significant impact on the way the public views the use of force during international crises. Through these three findings, this work makes a contribution to the civil-military relations sub-field, specifically that work considering the civil-military relations gap and provides confidence in the military institution.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Spolizino, Thomas, "Military Political Influence: How Military Leaders Interact with the Public Political Space" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 564.
Restricted to the UCF community until 5-15-2026; it will then be open access.