Broad goals for Foreign Policy are decided by what is known as the "Council of Borealis." This Council is made up of the head of government of every member nation as well as the president of the Confederacy itself. Quarterly, these leaders cast votes deciding which direction the Confederacy should go with its foreign policy. It is up to the executor to carry out these foreign policy goals. The Tenth Lactean Congress has the right to overturn these policy goals if there is less than a 2/3 majority in the Council's votes.
External Military Alliances
Member states of the Confederacy have the power to declare war without the Confederacy approving. They also have the power to create their own alliances without Confederate approval. This has lead to a complex web of occasionally contradictory alliances involving large numbers of nations across the local universe. When a confederate member-state is the target of an attack, then it is considered an attack on every member-state.
The Federal Lactean Military is usually a fairly small force, compared to other militaries, consisting of under one quadrillion soldiers during peace-time. This military is made mostly of tributes from member-states, but only operates under the direct orders of the Confederacy itself. Most military operations are left up to member-nations during peace-time, with little interference coming from the Confederacy itself apart from ship classification and safety standards. During times of war, the Confederate Military can call upon a vast reserve of over 100 sextillion individuals licensed to operate military equipment. Any citizen in any member-state, associate or otherwise, can join the reserves. The Confederacy has the right to declare war without involving its member nations just as they have the right to declare war without involving it.
Official Military alliances exist with the Commonwealth of United Economic Nations and there are numerous non-aggression and collaboration pacts with polities such as the Neo-Terran Intergalactic Hegemony and the Fusion of Crowns. There are also several treaties with some of The Lewis Nations that are mostly just treaties that allow the Confederacy to borrow ships and pay for them later.
As a Confederation, the Confederate Military operates under treaties rather than simply as one entity. As such, the Confederate Government often negotiates with member-states the same way it negotiates treaties with other nations. The United Federation of Star Systems and Sagittarium tribute the majority of Federal Military assets (at 31% and 30% respectively). Associate-states are usually exempt from having to tribute military assets, however, the Confederacy has a fairly large number of units hailing from the Entente.
Following the War of the Ancients, various laws were passed requiring nations to severely increase military spending. Before this point, many nations simply relied on the larger ones for military protection. The war changed this dramatically. Two percent of the GDP of each nation is currently required to be spent on defense purposes. Recent developments regarding The Exhumation has motivated several nations to immediately increase spending on their militaries, including spending more on research of new technologies.