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Civil-Military Gap


Directed by Peter Feaver and Richard Kohn with the financial support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Civil-Military Gap Project worked on the premise that the military and civilian cultures were drifting apart—perhaps dangerously so—in the United States. The goal was to ascertain the nature of the gap, find out what factors contributed to that gap, and assess whether or not the gap had serious implications for public policy. To gain deeper insights into these questions, TISS surveyed three major populations. Two focused on civilian public opinion and one on military opinion (officers and pre-commissioned officers).

The project involved faculty and graduate students from Duke, UNC, the University of Maryland, the University of Kentucky, the University of Wisconsin, Duquesne, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Temple, UCLA, Loyola Chicago, SUNY Albany, Florida International, and the University of Chicago. The project’s findings first appeared in a special edition of Armed Forces and Society in the winter of 2000. They later appeared in a number of articles and in two books, Soldiers and Civilians: The Civil-Military Gap and American National Security by Peter Feaver and Richard Kohn (MIT, 2001) and Choosing Your Battles by Peter Feaver and Christopher Gelpi (Princeton, 2004).

Together, Feaver and Kohn conducted over sixty briefings and the project received widespread press coverage in major national outlets. The research conducted as part of the TISS civ-mil study continues to be influential and widely cited in the field.