"Civil-military relations describe the interactions among the people of a state, the institutions of that state, and the military of the state. At the institutional level, there are 'two hands on the sword.' The civil hand determines when to draw it from the scabbard and thence guides it in its use. This is the dominant hand of policy, the purpose for which the sword exists in the first place. The military's hand sharpens the sword for use and wields it in combat. From the time of the Revolution to the present, U.S. civil-military relations essentially have constituted a bargain among the aforementioned parties--the people, the civil government, and the military establishment--concerning the allocation of prerogatives and responsibilities between the government and the military, in answer to five questions: Who controls the military instrument? What is the appropriate level of military influence on society? What is the role of the military? What pattern of civil-military relations best ensures military success? Who serves?"
Naval War College: http://www.usnwc.edu
Naval War College Review (Spring 2012), v.65 no.2, p.67-87