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Blumenthal: Civilian Control of the Military is a Bedrock Principle of Our Democracy

After their virtual meeting, Blumenthal is “heartened and encouraged” by Secretary-designate Austin’s commitment to this core constitutional principle

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) shared his longstanding belief in the core constitutional principle of civilian control of the military.

Blumenthal raised this issue during his discussion yesterday with President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Defense, General Lloyd Austin. Because General Austin retired from military service less than seven years ago, his nomination will require an exception to waive the “cooling off period” for recently retired military officers for the Secretary of Defense.

Although Blumenthal has stated that he will vote against a waiver, reiterating today “I believe strongly that it is a matter of principle,” he commended Austin for his shared his commitment to ensuring that civilian voices are elevated within the Pentagon.

“I have immense respect and admiration for General Austin. I told him so just yesterday when I met with him,” Blumenthal said during today’s hearing. “For me, it is a matter of principle, it’s not personal. And in fact, in our very serious and substantive discussion, General Austin indicated his profound and deep respect for that principle.”

“He actually alluded to specific ways that the principle of civilian control could be strengthened if he is confirmed: for example, taking back some of the power that has devolved to the Chiefs of Staff, taking back the pen essentially from them in certain key areas; and also greater transparency with Congress and the public, specifically with our committee, more regular reporting.”

“I am heartened and encouraged by his suggestion that there are ways that civilian control can be strengthened.”