A new program of grants to individuals for research in the history of American military policy will be initiated by the Council in the autumn of 1954, on the basis of plans developed by the Committee on Civil-Military Relations Research.1The members of the committee are William T. R. Fox, Columbia University (chairman); Gordon A. Craig, Princeton University; John P. Miller, Yale University; and Harold Stein, Twentieth Century Fund; staff, Bryce Wood. Funds for the program have been provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The grants will be available to historians and other social scientists for research, including the preparation of monographs, on aspects of the broad field described in the present statement concerning the interests of the committee.“This appointment by the Council was the result of widening recognition of the new relationships that have developed in this field since World War II and of the importance of studying them in historical perspective.”
The committee was appointed in June 1952 for the purpose of defining areas needing research and of encouraging and assisting social scientists engaged in studying significant problems in civil-military relations. This appointment by the Council was the result of widening recognition of the new relationships that have developed in this field since World War II and of the importance of studying them in historical perspective. The early discussions by the committee took account of the fact that for the first time in its history the United States faced a situation in which it would long be required to maintain a state of high mobilization and to support a large military establishment. It was assumed that this situation would pose grave problems of public policy, if only because military considerations and military influence inevitably would play a greater part in all aspects of policymaking than ever before in a country that traditionally has been inclined to fear military encroachments into the policy sphere.
The main task of the Council’s committee was thus to help to identify some problems deriving from the admitted necessity for maintaining a peacetime military establishment of unprecedented size, to suggest ways in which such problems might be defined for research, to identify scholars who were qualified and ready to work on them, and to assist them to obtain financial aid if necessary. This was a large and perhaps overly ambitious task; and the committee undertook its planning in full consciousness of that fact.
Its efforts began on a very modest scale, with an initial stocktaking in the form of preparation of an annotated bibliography on the general area of civil-military relations between 1940 and 1952. This bibliography has just been published.2Civil-Military Relations: An Annotated Bibliography, 1940–1952 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1954). No comparable listing of books, articles, and government reports issued during those years exists. It is hoped that the bibliography will be helpful to scholars who are already working in the field of civil-military affairs, and may even induce a few more to enter it.
With the preparation of the bibliography, the committee undertook a survey of work in progress throughout the country, the results of which have been published in an article by the chairman of the committee.3William T. R. Fox, “Civil-Military Relations Research,” World Politics, January 1954: 278–288. The survey revealed that—apart from the official Army and Navy projects on the history of the services in World War II—systematic research in the field of civil-military relations was under way at four main centers:
For the Twentieth Century Fund Harold Stein is directing a three-year program located at Princeton University. A series of case studies in civil-military relations is planned, together with a study of the development of new governmental institutions concerned with national security policy.
At Dartmouth College John W. Masland and Laurence I. Radway are investigating the education of military officers who have participated, or may be expected to participate, in the formulation of national policies. Emphasis is being placed primarily on identifying the skills and attitudes that appear to contribute to the efficiency of such officers and the extent to which a cultivation of such skills is recognized in military education and training programs, or in the selection of officers for policy positions.
At the University of Michigan Morris Janowitz has been planning a program of comparative studies of changing patterns of civil-military relations in various Western countries. The focus will be on the professional soldier as such—his social characteristics, ideology, and motivations and his place in the political power structure of his own country. This is a long-time project, which is expected to proceed on the basis of informal cooperation among interested scholars.
Finally, at the Columbia University Institute of War and Peace Studies there are underway an analysis of the role of Congress in military policy and a study by William T. R. Fox on “Civilian and Military Perspectives on National Security Policy”—an investigation of the characteristics of those civilians and soldiers whose activities have to be related to each other at policymaking levels.“In particular, however, the survey revealed that remarkably little work was being done in some fields which are important in the context of modern concerns.”
Aside from these projects, the committee’s survey indicated that a great part of the work which could be described as even remotely connected with civil-military relations was either technical in nature (studies of military doctrine, for instance, or of military justice) or tendentious rather than scholarly. In particular, however, the survey revealed that remarkably little work was being done in some fields which are important in the context of modern concerns. During the past year the committee has given special attention to examining research possibilities in relation to such gaps in present knowledge.
One of these gaps is the important subject of the military policy of the United States. This the committee has defined as the flow of decisions at top levels of the political community regarding the size and composition of the armed forces and the methods and circumstances of the application of military strength. Military policy, in other words, is made up of decisions about a nation’s security position, the kinds of armed forces appropriate to that position, the occasions for sending the armed forces into action, and the limits to which they will be employed. The development of procedures and the functioning of organizations for the planning and making of relevant decisions form significant aspects of military policy as a whole. The history of military policy is, in the view of the committee, distinct from both diplomatic history and the history of military operations, although all three branches of history are closely connected. A nation’s military policy presumably has a close relationship to its foreign policy, its economic policy, and the attitudes of its people toward the raising and employment of military force. It would seem logical that studies of civil-military problems in contemporary society would gain from a knowledge of what that relationship has been in the past—that it would, in short, be helpful to be able to consult a good history of United States military policy. Yet not only does no such history exist, but at present no one seems to be working on one.
The committee considered the reasons for this lack of interest and activity, in two conferences with historians of military affairs. The consensus of the participants was that no comprehensive history of military policy could yet be produced because of the startling lack of knowledge about this aspect of our past. It was pointed out that there is little available information on such divergent but important topics as:
(1) The way in which purely military considerations influenced foreign policy, or vice versa, for any period before the outbreak of World War II;
(2) The factors determining the use of the Navy in peacetime during the greater part of the nineteenth century;
(3) The relationship between the militia system and the standing Army at various periods;
(4) The limitations imposed by economic factors and fiscal policy on military policy.
It was concluded that, before anything like a comprehensive history could be written, the completion of basic monographic research was necessary, and suggestions were made concerning the way in which this might be encouraged.
The committee was sufficiently impressed by these considerations to recommend to the Council that it seek a sum of $75,000 for the purpose of stimulating research in the history of American military policy. Favorable action by the Council and subsequently by the Carnegie Corporation of New York has permitted the committee to develop the program of grants that is now being announced.“The Council will offer grants for research in the history of American military policy to historians and other social scientists possessing the doctoral degree or its equivalent.”
The Council will offer grants for research in the history of American military policy to historians and other social scientists possessing the doctoral degree or its equivalent. Candidates for the awards may submit plans for studies dealing with military policy in any period of American history from 1750 to 1939, except for the period of the Civil War. In addition, proposals may have as their subjects the development of the influence of economic or technological or other factors on military policy over several periods. Also, proposals for studies in European history that have relevance to the history of American military policy will be considered.
Awards may be made for studies requiring a relatively short time for completion, or for projects requiring a substantial period of time. No definite limits with regard to time or amount of support have been established. One form of grant, for example, would enable a scholar, who could make the necessary arrangements with his institution, to teach half time for a period of from one to perhaps three years and to devote half time to research. Other arrangements might be made for different circumstances and periods of time. Grants may be made for specific expenses of research, and also to cover all or a portion of the salary of a research worker for a limited period, but not for publication costs.
Individuals wishing to apply are invited to send a statement of their research proposals, educational qualifications, and research experience to Bryce Wood, Staff, Committee on Civil-Military Relations Research, Social Science Research Council, 726 Jackson Place, NW, Washington 6, DC, not later than October 31, 1954.
Gordon A. Craig (1913–2005) was the J. E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Humanities at Stanford University where he taught history from 1961 to 1979. Before joining Stanford’s history department, he taught at Princeton University (1950–1961). Craig specialized in German and diplomatic history, writing and editing multiple volumes on the subject. He served on the Council’s board of directors from 1953–1955, as well as a member of the Committee on Civil-Military Relations Research (1952–1956).
Bryce Wood (1909–1986), a political scientist, was a professor at Swarthmore College from 1941 to 1951, when he joined the SSRC as a staff member. He retired in 1973 and served on various programs throughout his more than 20 years of work at the Council.
This essay originally appeared in Items Vol. 8, No. 2 in June of 1954. Visit our archives to view the original as it first appeared in the print editions of Items.