January 12, 2017

Duckworth: Eroding Civilian Leadership of Our Armed Forces Is a Dangerous Precedent


WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a combat Veteran who served 23 years in the Reserve Forces, issued the following statement after voting against a measure that further erodes the legal requirements set in place to ensure civilian leadership of-and superiority over-our nation's military:

"One of the foundational principles of our country-a principle I've risked my life to defend-is civilian control of the military. As a combat Veteran, I am disappointed that the legal requirements enshrining this principle in law were reduced in 2007 without any Congressional debate, and I am frustrated that this Congress is once again on a hasty warpath toward further eroding civilian leadership over our military."

"General Mattis is a distinguished and experienced warfighter and my concerns over this waiver are not focused on his qualifications, but the principle of civilian control of the military is bigger than any one person. The original 10 year waiting period, roughly half a typical military career, wisely intended to prevent the type of conflicts that arise when recently-retired military commanders oversee leaders in the ranks that they have personal relationships with. In addition to the precedent this sets, I am concerned that the waiver the Senate passed today does not specifically identify General Mattis."

"I had the pleasure of meeting with the General this week and was impressed both with our meeting and with the carefully-considered and nuanced positions he stated during his confirmation hearing on some of the most pressing national security issues we face. His understanding of upholding long-standing treaties, the importance of working with allies and his commitment to working closely with Congress are reassuring. General Mattis also knows as well as I do the true costs of war and the awesome responsibility of taking care of the women and men we send into danger. He understands we must look after those who return from combat with wounds of war-whether they are visible like mine, or invisible but just as deserving of care and treatment. While we disagree on some policies, I am confident we can work together to protect our troops and keep our nation secure if he is confirmed."