Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations

Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations

by Jason K. Dempsey
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691142246

ISBN-13: 9780691142241

Pub. Date: 12/07/2009

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Conventional wisdom holds that the American military is overwhelmingly conservative and Republican, and extremely political. Our Army paints a more complex picture, demonstrating that while army officers are likely to be more conservative, rank-and-file soldiers hold political views that mirror those of the American public as a whole, and army personnel are

Overview

Conventional wisdom holds that the American military is overwhelmingly conservative and Republican, and extremely political. Our Army paints a more complex picture, demonstrating that while army officers are likely to be more conservative, rank-and-file soldiers hold political views that mirror those of the American public as a whole, and army personnel are less partisan and politically engaged than most civilians.

Assumptions about political attitudes in the U.S. Army are based largely on studies focusing on the senior ranks, yet these senior officers comprise only about 6 percent of America's fighting force. Jason Dempsey provides the first random-sample survey that also covers the social and political attitudes held by enlisted men and women in the army. Uniting these findings with those from another unique survey he conducted among cadets at the United States Military Academy on the eve of the 2004 presidential election, Dempsey offers the most detailed look yet at how service members of all ranks approach politics. He shows that many West Point cadets view political conservatism as part of being an officer, raising important questions about how the army indoctrinates officers politically. But Dempsey reveals that the rank-and-file army is not nearly as homogeneous as we think—or as politically active—and that political attitudes across the ranks are undergoing a substantial shift.

Our Army adds needed nuance to our understanding of a profession that seems increasingly distant from the average American.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691142241
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
12/07/2009
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

List of Tables xiii

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xvii

Chapter 1. Introduction 1

Citizenship and Service: A 2004 Survey of Army Personnel 5

The 2004 West Point Preelection Survey 7

Chapter 2. Soldiers and Politics 10

Historical Overview 10

From the Revolution to Civil War 10

Post-Civil War 13

Post-World War II 15

Post-Vietnam 20

After the Cold War 23

Implications for Civil-Military Relations 27

Chapter 3. An Overview of Army Demographics 34

The Army's Rank Structure 34

Gender, Race, and Ethnicity 35

Education and Income 38

Family and Region 40

The Virtual Army and Virtual Officer Corps 42

Chapter 4. Social and Political Attitudes 45

Reasons for Joining 45

Views of the Army 47

Use of Military Force 48

Defense and Foreign Policy Spending 52

The Economy and Domestic Spending 54

Social Issues 60

Attitudes toward Issues of Gender and Race 63

Trust and Efficacy in Government 65

Conclusion 68

Chapter 5. Conservatism 70

Self-Identification 70

Opting In and Opting Out? 82

Social and Economic Dimensions of Conservatism 85

Conclusion 92

Chapter 6. Party Affiliation in the Army 95

Deriving Party Affiliation 95

Generic Party Identification 98

Identification with the Republican and Democratic Parties 101

Determinants of Republican Identification 105

The Meaning of Party Affiliation in the Army 109

Soldier and Officer Differences 111

Military and Civilian Differences 111

Republican-Democratic Differences 115

Party Affiliation and Foreign Policy 119

Conclusion 124

Chapter 7. Political Participation 127

Voting 129

Displaying Support 131

Donating Money 131

Determinants of Political Activity 132

Mobility and Ease of Voting 137

Efficacy and Political Participation 139

Partisanship and Political Participation 140

Army Culture 144

Self-Selection Effect 146

Conclusion 149

Chapter 8. The Army's Next Generation 152

Existing Research on Cadets and Socialization 153

Self-Selection 154

The Limits of Socialization 155

Shaping Political Attitudes? 157

The 2004 Cadet Preelection Survey 160

Cadet Demographics 161

The Composition and Role of West Point Instructors 164

Ideology and Party Affiliation 165

Indoctrination or Self-Selection? 166

Demographics 167

Institutional Pressure? 169

Perceptions and Expectations 172

Conclusion 174

Chapter 9. Army Attitudes in 2004 and Beyond 177

Conventional Wisdom and the Reality of Army Attitudes 178

A Generational Shift 184

Chapter 10. The Way Forward 187

The Future of American Civil-Military Relations 187

Leveraging the Institution for Political Gain 191

Fulfilling Professional Obligations 191

Translating Service into Privilege 192

Lessons from the Army's Birthday 194

Update: The 2008 Election 197

Afterword 201

Thoughts on Sparta . . . 201

. . . and Babylon 203

Appendix A: Citizenship and Service: A 2004 Survey of Army Personnel 207

Survey Method 207

Survey Response 210

Survey Weighting 214

Survey Instrument: C&S Survey 215

Appendix B: The 2004 Cadet Preelection Survey 223

Survey Instrument: The 2004 Cadet Preelection Survey 224

Appendix C: Comparison Surveys 240

Appendix D: The Virtual Army and Virtual Officer Corps 243

Appendix E: Rules Governing Political Participation of Members of the Army 245

Appendix F: Adjutant General's Absentee Voting Message 247

Bibiliography 249

Index 259

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