The military benefits from Congress in a variety of ways such as budget cuts, cutting back on military personnel and improving the benefits of military staff, but to mention a few. There are also drawbacks as a result of the Congress’s involvement with the military’s activities in general. In that, some procedures that must be authorized by the Congress may take time and this is not a good indicator when speed is required for a decision to be implemented by the military.
Each year, Congress has been faced with the task of passing at least two pieces of legislation so as to fund the military for the coming year. Firstly, as concerns the Defense Appropriations Act, whose purpose is to allocate money to the Defense Department; the second has to do with annual Defense Authorization Act, which outlines the way in which the military is supposed to spend the money it is allocated. This is a crucial function of the Congress towards the military.
A paper in 2007, addressed to congress, asserted that Congress has the power to define the scope and nature of the military conflict it has authorized, even when the restrictions are limiting the operations of the troops on the ground. Thus the military is affected by Congress in terms of restrictions made on the troop operations.
A former Justice Department official, John Yoo, stated that the main power of the Congress was in controlling the funding of the military and not on determining deployment or plans of the military forces. This he asserted, because according to him, certain military decisions are dependent on speed, secrecy and force as opposed to the fractured, slow and inflexibility in which decision-making of the Congress takes on.
In addition to provision of funds to carry out military activities, the Congress also gives power to carry out the same. In a general sense the Congress empowers the activities of the military as regards crises which requires mandate or authorization from the legal body of a nation. A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation and another. The Congress has the power to declare a state of emergency. Such military activities would otherwise be impossible to carry out in times of war declarations or other crises because of lack of legal authority.
The Congress has also played an important role in the provision of basic allowances to the military and these ranges from, house allowances, food, memorial travel, Tricare for reserve members and so forth. The Congress is also concerned with making adjustments to the allowances awarded to the military as is necessary. However, there are those provisions outlined that were not passed by Congress and they are such as early reserve retirement pay. Military retirement systems are revised by the Congress and any provisions on the same.
Another way in which the Congress benefits the military is by lobbying for extended benefits to military spouses. Such benefits include Education benefits for military spouses. Certain adjustments were made in 2011 regarding the Department of Defense. The defense officials reviewed all the education benefits and employment programs for the spouses of the soldiers. In line with this, a program referred to as My Career Advancement Accounts, a spouse education benefits program as result of such revisions cut off some of the military spouses from the Education program.
There are thus many ways in which Congress positively and negatively affects the military as discussed above. Most of the positive effects are felt by the group that dig deep to find more on the benefits.