The term civilian refers to anyone who is not a member of the armed forces. Unless they carry weapons openly, civilians are not considered combatants. But they do have rights and responsibilities pertaining to the laws of war. For example, a military chaplain attached to the belligerent party or a civilian serving in the neutral country are not considered civilians. The term civilian, as used in law, is derived from French and should be spelled with one “l”.
Civilian personnel often support military troops and participate in stabilization efforts around the world. While a civilian’s career in this field is typically rooted in law, management, or social science, it can bring unique perspectives to national security policymaking. Furthermore, civilians have a thorough understanding of social power and how to balance multiple interests. This makes them particularly suited for public offices. This article aims to clarify the role of civilians in the military and the ways in which civilians can effectively contribute to national security policy.
Civilian control is most effective when the military establishment is committed to maintaining political neutrality and avoiding interference in the legitimate process of government. Furthermore, civilian control requires that the military establishment identify itself as an embodiment of the nation and the people, and define itself into professionalism, unwavering loyalty to the system of government, and obedience to legal authority. The latter is especially important when war is at stake. It is therefore essential to ensure that civilians are not influenced by political or ethnic pressure.
The roles of civilians are often unclear. This is because the word “civilian” refers to specific individuals with specific roles in the military services, defense enterprise, and civilian institutions. The distinction between a civilian and a military officer is particularly important when evaluating the role of the armed forces. Nonetheless, the term is commonly used as a synonym. In addition to military roles, civilians also have various roles and responsibilities. The definition of a civilian is complex.
In a democracy, civilian control over the military is crucial for a free society. A democratic system bases its values, institutions, and practices on the popular will of its people. The military is prone to intervene in politics, and civilian leaders are more interested in internal order and security. However, in a democracy, military leadership is the most powerful force in the nation, and the military is more authoritarian than a democratic society. Moreover, a military’s decisions are hardly representative of the will of the people.
A strong sense of civilian control of the armed forces is a hallmark of a mature democracy. While military establishments are well-equipped and trained, they cannot exercise supremacy over civilian policies, which may be challenging for the government to control and reshape their institutions. It is essential for a democracies to test whether civilians can exercise ultimate control over military policy in their nations. The military is often sophisticated bureaucratic, and civilian leadership is often subject to question.