Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has taken initial steps toward reasserting civilian control of the military, in a drive to energize a group that saw its power drain under the former president.
In his first weeks in office, the new secretary has installed a slate of well-respected national security professionals in his front office who are working to restore order to the Pentagon’s policymaking process. Those staffers are already making changes to ensure that civilian voices are included in policy meetings.
And in a careful message to America’s top brass in the Pentagon’s classified meeting room, “the Tank,” on Friday, Austin said he will rely heavily on those civilians while also stressing that the Joint Chiefs of Staff will still have a seat at the table.
This story is based on interviews with 10 current and former defense officials, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. Many expressed deep concern that Austin — himself a former general — might not push back forcefully enough against the military officers they say have in recent years exerted far too much power. Yet others, who acknowledge that Austin has much work ahead of him, say the new defense secretary is off to a good start.
“Austin is inheriting a civil-military balance inside the building with a joint staff that is perhaps more powerful than it should be,…read more…