I admire Prof. Dunlap for going to the heart of the matter and not dithering around the edges. He writes: "The complex process of leading servicemembers to wage war in the name of state is a task that requires equipping the chain of command with disciplinary power as thousands of years of military history demonstrates that the coercive effect of that authority is one element of what is necessary to get people to do what is ordinarily unthinkable: to kill other human beings (or be part of the process that does so). "
Note how strong this claim is--not that the personal unified authority helps with or adds to the coercive toolbox, but that it is necessary to it. This claim is the foundation of everything, but is it correct?
Prof. Dunlap fails to cite to or address the scholarship that has interrogated this precise question and has come to the opposite conclusion. See, e.g., Elizabeth L. Hillman, On Unity: A Commentary on Discipline, Justice, and Command in the U.S. Military: Maximizing Strengths and Minimizing Weaknesses in a Special Society, 50 New Eng. L. Rev. (2015): "History and social science can help us assess the claim that a command structure 'reinforced by the ability to impose punishment' is essential for a military unit to perform well under stress. Studies in those fields suggest that service members follow orders because of social and ethical norms more than command authority, that discipline is as much an internal practice than an external system of punishment, and that the chaos of a battlefield may actually be the environment in which individuals' behavior is least likely to be influenced by an authoritarian commander." (citing Mark J. Osiel, Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline, and the Law of War, 86 CALIF. L. REV. 939, 1026-27 & nn.343-44 (1998)).
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