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Reflections on Civil-Military Relations: Crises, Comparisons, and Paradoxes

February 11, 2020 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Watch the 2020 conference here

Listen to the  featured podcast here

The conference facilitated an organic and respectful dialogue on military service, the military experience, and the civil-military divide. The conference objectives:

  • Educate the audience on the history of civil-military relations, particularly the legacies of leadership, cultural change, and policy shifts during wartime; 
  • Present various dimensions of current civil-military relations debates; 
  • Engage the audience on questions of who serves, who is expected to serve, and who should serve in U.S. defense and national security, to include debates on the concepts of national service and the ethos of service; and 
  • Continue to raise questions of leadership, ethics, and morals within military and civilian command, and national service more broadly. 


Panels addressed current crises and paradoxes in civil-military relations, civil-military relations beyond the United States and U.S. alliances, and the future of national service. The conference also featured a performance of an excerpt of Sophocles’ Ajax by Theater of War Productions and a town hall discussion on the ethics of decision-making in war and the challenges of command and leadership. 



What We’ve Inherited: Crises in Civil-Military Relations – Remarks 

Speaker: Mara Karlin (SAIS) 


What We’ve Inherited: Crises in Civil-Military Relations – Discussion 

Speakers: Peter Feaver (Duke), Mara Karlin (SAIS), Caitlin Talmadge (Georgetown), Alice Friend 

Moderator: Paula Thornhill (SAIS) 


Civil-Military Relations Beyond the United States 

Speakers: Risa Brooks (Marquette), Sameer Lalwani (Stimson), Eric Heginbotham (MIT), Daniel Marston (SAIS) 


The Future of National Service 

Speakers: Jason Dempsey (CNAS), Heidi Urben (USA), Jud Crane (NCMNPS) 

Moderator: Aaron Mehta (Defense News) 


Managing the Paradoxes of American Civil-Military Relations 

Speaker: Peter Feaver (Duke) 


February 11, 2020
8:00 am - 5:00 pm