The Council of Generals is the governing body of the Baltic Union. Although the exact number of Generals on the council have varied over time, traditionally that number has been set to 12. As specified in the Articles, there must be three generals of each arm of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Tier Three militia) representing each of the three Baltic nations on the council. The exact number is not strictly set - in times of need it is possible to appoint additional members for their expertise in solving a particular crisis, and in other times, the Council may operate understrength if a member has died or retired and no suitable replacement has yet been found.
Service on the Council typically represents the pinnacle of a Baltic officer's career. Although the formal service term of a councilor is 10 years, due to age limits for active service and the typical age at which senior officers attain the rank of General and become eligible to sit on the Council, councilors typically only serve for a term of roughly 5 years before retiring.
The Council of Generals isn't so much an implementation of stratocracy as a natural evolution of the decentralized Colonel-era government of the Baltic States. During Rule of the Colonels, little existed in the way of a centralized authority, the nascent Baltic Union being little more than a collection of allied communities governed by the Colonels essentially as their personal fiefdoms. Fortunately the Colonels believed in more enlightened forms of governance than effectively restoring feudalism (as often happened in other places in the post-War world), recognizing the need for a more centralized government if the Baltic Union was to become anything more than a loose alliance of small city-states. Consequently, as the Colonels gathered and drafted the Articles of the Union, it was determined that a ruling body outranking the Governor-Colonels of safe-zones would be necessary.
To ensure that no member nation or arm of the military was under-represented, it was determined that each of the three Union's nations would be represented by three general-tier officers, each from a different arm of the military. Promotion to a general rank did not automatically entail membership of the council - the Council was to be an elected body, with prospective members chosen from a pool of the Union's generals. The first few Councils consisted of few actual generals, the Colonels chosen by the people to serve on them being granted an honorary General rank. As a new generation of officers was trained and rose in rank, the standards became stricter and nowadays only proper Generals are accepted on the council, exceptions being only rarely made in times of emergencies.
Since few men attain the rank of full General before the age of 60, and the Union's maximum military age is 65, the typical service term of a council member is around 5 years, which is also the standard service term set by the Articles. Although some generals have managed to serve on the council for as long as 15 years, as there is no limit to how many terms one can serve on the Council as long as they are below retirement age, it is rare for a general to be elected to the council more than once.
Councilors are elected from the pool of generals by officers ranking Major and above - the ones holding administrative offices and political authority. Each vote is meant to represent the political will of the entire body of citizens under the given officer's authority. Although the junior officers and the rank-and-file citizens have no direct say over who their leaders cast their votes for, senior officers in administrative offices usually make a point of knowing the opinions of their subjects and vote accordingly - if only because few have the courage, confidence and audacity to openly defy a universally-armed populace. Popular mutinies, while rare, tend to be spectacularly violent in Baltic Union, and no officer in a political office would ever want to deal with one. Even if suppressed successfuly, the simple fact of there having been a mutiny in the first place would cast one's leadership and competence in very unfavourable light, likely ending one's career for good - being notoriously steadfast and patient, Balts would not take up arms against their lawful superiors absent a very good cause.
Members of the Council operate much the same way ministers of a civilian government would operate. Although they are formally still active servicemen, generals elected to the Council must relinquish their commands upon ascension, so that they can fully focus on their political duties. Like civil ministers, each Council member oversees a particular field of governance (i.e., finance, healthcare, education, etc.) In order to make informed and competent decisions, each Councilor-General recruits a team of advisors qualified in his sphere of responsibility. Indeed, it is often these advisors which include civilian experts who shape the policies then brought in effect by their Councilor-General.
The Council is also responsible for choosing a Supreme Commander of the Union, colloquially known as High Marshal. The High Marshal serves as the Union's head of state for a single term of 10 years (or more usually until retirement age). In peacetime, his functions are mostly representative, such as receiving foreign dignitaries and going on state visits abroad. The High Marshal also arbitrates disputes of the Council, his voice being decisive in cases where Councilors cannot reach consensus. The High Marshal does not have the authority to issue legal bills, but may block or veto those issued by the Council if he feels they will not serve the best interests of the nation. In times of war or national emergency, however, the High Marshal assumes dictatorial power over the nation, the only decision beyond his authority being surrender to an enemy (which requires unanimous consent of the High Marshal and all Council members). Because much of their everyday work revolves around handling legal matters, it is common for veteran Legal Officers to be appointed High Marshals. Former Tier One officers are also favoured because of their tried and proven leadership skills and ability to work effectively with limited resources under extreme pressure.
Traditionally, no active officer of Tier One may hold a position on the Council, or any other kind of political office. This is a safeguard against potential coups, as Tier One units are known to be very tight-knit and more loyal to their commanders personally than to the government, any Tier One officer in a government office likely having the unquestioning loyalty of a number of the most dangerous men in the Union (and arguably, the world). It also serves to prevent a conflict of interest, since Tier One commandos stand outside the regular chain of command, being subordinate directly to the Council (and in wartime, the High Marshal).