Garrisoning Is Major Cause Behind Civil-Military Divide, Think Tank Authors Say
Defense Communities 360
November 11, 2013
One step the military should consider to break down the civil-military divide is locating its installations closer to urban areas and reducing the extent to which its bases are self-contained cities, according to a commentary in the Washington Post.
While rural settings allow the military vast spaces to train, geographic isolation limits interaction between service members and society at large, say authors Philip Carter and David Barno, senior fellows at the Center for a New American Security.
“City-dwellers, including the nation’s political and business elites, may rarely see service members in uniform,” they state.
Another factor reinforcing the divide is that installations generally are a self-contained world that provides most everything personnel and their families need, including housing, shopping, child care, schools, sports leagues and other leisure activities.
“The military’s self-imposed isolation doesn’t encourage civilian understanding, and it makes it difficult for veterans and their families to navigate the outside world,” the authors say.
Carter and Barno, a retired Army lieutenant general, recommend rezoning bases to allow outsiders access and interaction to on-post services.
“Most bases already separate their family housing areas from critical functions, so it may be possible to make changes that would shrink the psychological and physical divide between service members and civilians,” they state.
Bridging the military and civilian worlds would not only provide a greater understanding of the military by society, but it also would lower the hurdles faced by service members when they resume their civilian lives, the piece argues.