While the Constitution states that the president shall be commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, the position has no pre-qualifications. Nevertheless, the role of commander-in-chief is often invoked in speeches, at debates, and in political advertisements. But what makes a person qualified for this role? One measure of qualification — but certainly not the only one — is past military service. This should not weigh more than any other factor, if at all, but it nevertheless is relevant given that presidential candidates — especially nominees in the final months of the election — will need to find some way to prove their ability to command one of the world’s largest militaries.
As American voters enter the 2020 election, this report is worth revisiting, as are other warnings, including Kori Schake’s that endorsements by retired general and flag officers erode public trust in the military, encourage the military to see itself as a political actor, and make it harder for active-duty military leaders to do their jobs.
I found this article particularly fascinating as a history nerd, given our current sad state of political theater. The rest is worth the read…and I recommend bookmarking the site.