Is there evidence of regular, active public debate on issues of defence? If yes, does the government participate in this debate?
6a. Public debate
United States score: 100/100
Outside government, there is no or extremely limited public debate among academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate also addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, debate often addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, when debate occurs, it addresses high priority issues with intensity and in-depth discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate persists on high priority issues over a period of time, rather than being superficially addressed.
Outside of the government, there is sustained debate on issues of defence by a wide range of academic, CSO and media organisations with specialist knowledge of the defence sector. The conversation is regular and addresses issues of all levels of importance. Particularly since the inauguration of President Trump, the media, academic and CSO critique of defence policies has been prominent. Defence-specific media organisations include: DefenseOne, Military Times and War on the Rocks [1,2,3]. Academic organisations include: Brookings, Centre for Strategic & International Studies and Foreign Policy [4,5,6].
 DefenseOne. Accessed at: https://www.defenseone.com
 Military Times: Accessed at: https://www.militarytimes.com
 War on the Rocks. Accessed at: https://warontherocks.com
 Brookings. Accessed at: https://www.brookings.edu
 Center for Strategic & International Studies. Accessed at: https://www.csis.org
 Foreign Policy. Accessed at: https://foreignpolicy.com
6b. Government engagement in public discourse
United States score: 50/100
There is no government engagement in public discourse about defence issues or official communications contain no meaningful information.
Where communication does occur, it is likely to be one-way: officials may provide some information but may not answer public questions.
The government engages in discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings. However this does not happen regularly, or may exclude very important issues that the government chooses to avoid.
The government engages in regular discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings.
The government engages in regular debate with academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues in collaborative ways. The government co-organises discussions with independent think tanks or civil society organisations, or through joint media briefings.
The Department of Defense runs a public liasion programme, the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC), which is designed to share knowledge on national defence and the military . The conference is held annually. With regard to public engagement, Brookings, for example, hosted the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in June 2019, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in May 2019 and the Chief of Naval Operations in January 2019. This suggests that interaction by senior military leaders with academic institutions is commonplace .
Public communication by the Department of Defense, however, has been limited under the Trump administration. In March 2017, then Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis encouraged DoD personnel and employees to avoid disclosure of information  and this was followed by a freeze on public affairs by the US Air Force . This period was accompanied by a clampdown on public appearances by senior military leaders  and a period of almost a year without a televised Pentagon press briefing [6,7,8]. The news that the US was deploying a Navy carrier strike group to the Middle East in response to Iran, for example, was delivered to reporters via an email . The lack of public engagement by the DoD (and the administration in general) has been noted in the media [8,9]. In 2018, it was revealed that the Pentagon ordered a clampdown on public appearances by senior military leaders and senior civilian Trump administration appointees . Also in 2018, the US Air Force went through a retraining process with regard to public outreach, resulting in much higher clearance being needed for public communication . The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), an independent watchdog organisation that focusses on waste, corruption and abuses of power by the US government, put together a timeline documenting the changes to the Department of Defense (DoD) and national security policy that limited and undermined public access to information under Trump . The timeline starts with memos sent in 2017 from then Defense Secretary Mattis, the Chief of Naval Operations and a Pentagon spokesman, all warning staff against ‘over-sharing’. Whilst there have been efforts to reverse this, made by the susbsequent Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper , public engagement remained a challenge for the DoD during the Trump administration.
 JCOC. Accessed at: https://www.defense.gov/jcoc/
 Brookings. ‘Past Events’. Accessed at: https://www.brookings.edu/events/past/
 Mattis, J. 10 March 2017. ‘Memorandum for all Military Personnel and Department of Defense Employees: Our Responsibility to Safeguard our Nation’. Accessed 5 June 2020 at: https://fas.org/sgp/othergov/dod/mattis-protect.pdf
 Insinna, V. et al., Defense News. 12 March 2018. ‘US Air Force orders freeze on public outreach’. Accessed 5 June 2020 at: https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2018/03/13/air-force-orders-freeze-on-public-outreach/
 Baron, K., Defense One. 14 September 2018. ‘Pentagon Began Clampdown on Senior Leaders’ Public Speaking Months Ago, Memos Reveal’. Accessed at: https://www.defenseone.com/politics/2018/11/pentagon-speakers/152842/
 McCormick, A., Columbia Journalism Review. 31 May 2019. ‘Former DoD officials decry eroding media relations in the Pentagon’. Accessed at: https://www.cjr.org/politics/former-defense-department-officials-media-relations.php
 Kheel, R., The Hill. 31 May 2019. ‘Pentagon goes full year without on-camera briefing from top spokesperson’. Accessed at: https://thehill.com/policy/defense/446363-pentagon-reaches-one-year-without-on-camera-briefing-from-top-spokesperson
 Schwartz, J., Politico. 26 July 2018. ”We are fighting for information about war’: Pentagon curbs media access’. Accessed at: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/26/pentagon-media-access-restricted-743347
 Vesoulis, A., Time. 10 April 2019. ‘Donald Trump Inadvertently Killed the Pentagon Press Briefing. Here’s How That Hurts the Public’. Accessed at: https://time.com/5563998/pentagon-press-briefings-rare/  Paladino, J., Project on Government Oversight. 2019. ‘Defense Going Dark: A Timeline of Secrecy Increases at the Pentagon’. Accessed 5 June 2020 at: https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2019/12/defense-going-dark-a-timeline-of-secrecy-increases-at-the-pentagon/
 Esper, M. 26 July 2019. ‘Memorandum for Senior Military and Civilian Department of Defense Personnel: Further Public Engagement’. Accessed 5 June 2020 at: https://fas.org/sgp/othergov/dod/esper-public.pdf
Compare scores by country
Please view this page on a larger screen for the full stats.
|Country||6a. Public debate||6b. Government engagement in public discourse|
|Albania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Algeria||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Angola||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Argentina||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Armenia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Australia||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Azerbaijan||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Bahrain||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Bangladesh||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Belgium||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Botswana||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Brazil||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Burkina Faso||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Cameroon||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Canada||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Chile||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|China||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Colombia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Cote d'Ivoire||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Denmark||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Egypt||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Estonia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Finland||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|France||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Germany||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Ghana||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Greece||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Hungary||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|India||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Indonesia||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Iran||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Iraq||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Israel||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Italy||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Japan||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Jordan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kenya||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Kosovo||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kuwait||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Latvia||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Lebanon||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Lithuania||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Malaysia||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Mali||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Mexico||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Montenegro||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Morocco||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Myanmar||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Netherlands||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|New Zealand||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Niger||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Nigeria||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|North Macedonia||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Norway||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Oman||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Palestine||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Philippines||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Poland||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Portugal||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Qatar||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Russia||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Saudi Arabia||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Serbia||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Singapore||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|South Africa||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|South Korea||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|South Sudan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Spain||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Sudan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Sweden||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Switzerland||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Taiwan||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Tanzania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Thailand||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Tunisia||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Turkey||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Uganda||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Ukraine||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|United Arab Emirates||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|United Kingdom||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|United States||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Venezuela||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Zimbabwe||100 / 100||0 / 100|