Citizen soldiers no more?

| January 24, 2012 | 33 Comments

Paul Huard, a high school teacher, military father and former journalist, published a piece in The Oregonian this past weekend talking about the increasing disconnect between Americans and their professional military.

Sometime in February, I will quietly remove a small pennant that has been a fixture in my classroom for more than six years. It is a Blue Star service flag, the symbol of a son or daughter on active duty in the U.S. military and a tradition dating back to 1942 when the banner allowed mothers to show publicly a child was fighting as a soldier, Marine, sailor or airman. Each star represented one child, and many families had flags with multiple stars. Entire neighborhoods often had these flags in their windows during World War II, and people were proud to display them.

…experience and education have shown me that for better or for worse the American soldier and America’s wars are things that educated people need to understand for the sake of understanding and keeping American democracy.

…awareness is becoming harder and harder to find in a nation where few choose to serve. About 1 percent of the nation’s population is currently in uniform as either active duty or reserve such as the National Guard, and that number will dwindle as factors such as budget cuts and the inevitable drawdown because of the end of the Iraq War take effect. During World War II, about 12 percent of the population was in uniform.

Because of the hatred expressed by the counterculture during the’60s toward returning Vietnam vets or because society today lives like a nearly nine-year war had no impact on the lives of a majority of Americans, we owe the military a free lunch at every Applebee’s from coast to coast. Most of the young people I know in the military just wish the average American understood what the military does and why it does it. They are grateful for the meal, but they want their fellow citizens to understand what the military does, how it gets the job done, and what the military should (or should not) be asked to do.

When Matt enlisted, a few friends and acquaintances asked me how I felt about sacrificing my son. I replied by stating that I was not sacrificing my son, but that I was supporting his informed decision, a decision that he made as an adult. He had other options in life. He received excellent advice from two veterans: a grandfather who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and a grandfather who served in the U.S. Army during the Cold War. He knew exactly what he was doing.

The crux of Huard’s argument is that military service has disappeared from the common American experience, that military culture is no longer American culture. I happen to believe this is true and, like Huard, I find it to be a disturbing development. A culture apart from its military is not only more likely to fail to give its military the tools it needs for successfully defending the national interest, it more likely to misuse and ignorantly abuse, or allow the abuse, of its military.

The ancient, and very Western, tradition of the citizen solider is crucial to the heath of any Republic but the demands of both modern warfare and personal liberty require a force of professional volunteers. It’s a balancing act that we’re failing at. We’re returning to a system of military clans, separate in culture and social status from the general population. Most American families and their soft, spoiled and entitled children don’t even conceive of military service as an option much less an opportunity. Yet nearly everyone I’ve known in the military either has kids in or are themselves children of veterans.

Category: Military issues, Society

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  1. Chockblock says:

    The left believes that military service is for those too stupid for civilian life. I’ve heard professors, politicians and celebs say this.

    “Peace recruiters”, “Not your soldier”, commie propaganda aimed at killing recruiting. Army recruiters get pelted with bottles at a COLLEGE job fair (the throws get light sentences, except for their student loans, karama in action).

    The media portrays the US military as evil (X-files is a good example), stupid and evil (Marvel Comics) or corrupt (Avatar, that’s what it was really about).

    The left wanted a draft so bad, the all volunteer force never really got the butts in the streets (“Start resisting, stop enlisting”? Really? that the best you commies can do?).

    Science and Technology marched on. We don’t need massive armies anymore, we don’t need a draft. But the “disconnect” comes from a media and political class that treat the military like a junkyard dog. Stupid movie myths and half truths from the 60′s are passed off as fact in our national discourse. It’s a shame.

  2. AW1 Tim says:

    And that, more than anything else, is what happened to Rome.

    For centuries, service in the legions was limited to citizens. First they were similar to the American “Minute Men”, called up for service when Rome needed them. They served for a specified number of months, or a campaign, then returned home and hung up their swords and shields and returned to their farms or businesses.

    Later, Rome decided she needed a permanent military, and so the legion became a career, a calling. It was also a long & hard one, as enlistment was for a 25-year term. At the end, however, you got a pension and the Roman equivalent of “forty acres & a mule”. In fact one area of settlement for these veterans was so filled with them, that it’s name was taken from the Roman slang for it: Romania. But I digress.

    As Rome’s conquests expanded, the legions were insufficient to do all the work, so groups of non-citizens were formed, called Auxilia. These units were formed from men recruited from various areas, and usually from a single tribe, and often bore their name in their title, such as 3rd Cohort, Batavia, etc. These auxilia were trained and drilled like the legions, and armed and armoured in similar fashion. The recruits also had a 25-year enlistment, however, at the end of his service, the recruit would gain Roman citizenship. In some campaigns, the number of auxilia were equal to, or more numerous, then the legions.

    As time went by, it became harder to recruit men into the legions, and so non-citizens began to be accepted. By the end of the 3rd century AD, the number of “barbarians” in the legions often outnumbered the citizens.

    The legions also began a transition, and were formed into two separate groups. These were the Limitani, and the Comitatensis. The former were stationed along the border, while the latter remained in the center of the various provinces, as a mobile reserve. By the 4th century, most, if not all of the Limitani were made up of “barbarians” and their continued service in the border forts caused many to interact and marry local girls. Strong bonds formed and at the end of their service, a great many of these men stayed in the area where they had been stationed.

    By the fifth century, so much interaction had taken place that the borders began to fade, and local warlords began to reassert authority. People stopped thinking of themselves as Romans, and began placing their tribes, towns, counties, etc, ahead of Rome. The culture blended so much that it wasn’t Rome, even though the trappings were still in place.

    The Roman citizens lost interest in serving in their military and were happy to outsource the duty to foreigners. As such, they sight of who they were, and how they became strong. They were interested only in the personal state, and not in the country, and as a result they lost it all.

    We risk a very similar end if we continue to outsource our safety by refusing to serve, and by depending up such dangerous precedent as “United Nations” forces and controls. We should not have to depend upon allies, the UN, or non-citizens in our military to further our national interests and secure our liberties and freedom.

  3. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Very true. My grandfather served in WW I and we’ve been serving ever since. Army thru Korea, Marine Corps ever since. We’re looking at our 5th generation when my grand-nephew joins the Army in July. He says since his great great grandfather and great grandfather were in the Army, we need to continue the tradition. After high school a lot of my friends joined the military, it was a completely accepted option. After I did two years at Jr college, to join the military was considered a natural next step to get the GI Bill to finish school. When my son graduated in 1996 he was an odd ball. My grand-nephew is now a total freak! There is something totally wrong here.

  4. Sig says:

    Gah, just don’t read the comments there.

  5. NHSparky says:

    Most American families and their soft, spoiled and entitled children don’t even conceive of military service as an option much less an opportunity.

    I saw that in recruiting over a decade ago. Imagine what it would be like in blue state hell now.

    And while both my grandfathers served in WWII, nobody since save me has even considered it, much less actually served. I don’t see either of my kids serving, but that’s their choice. I know when they get close to enlistment age, I will mention it as an option, but by no means will I force them to go.

    Sadly, with what has gone on with the evisceration of benefits, etc., over the past several years, I would advise them to do a single hitch and then get out. It almost makes no sense to make the military a career anymore.

  6. Leslie Knope says:

    Yes…………….Yes……………Yes…………..Yes……….Yes……..Yes……..Yes……..Yes…….Yes……Yes….
    Stop!!! Before things go to far I would like to point out that a republic does not need a large standing military membership. Nor should it have a budget that is even the world’s largest. But some kind of training should be widespread. To prevent the reocurring problems that you mentioned, like early withdrawl, that got me so excited in the first place.
    But every person should ask themselves. Is bad trainig better than no training? Then you should ask who do you want to be training your children on the fine arts of being a citizen soldier, looney Tom, liberal Leslie, libertarian Ron, opptomistic sound bite Chris, or conservative Khameni.
    You may screme that I just posted an unfair question. You would be screming for nothing. Khameni is a really really fine example of a conservative. US conservatives only object to him for purely make believe reasons. If the reasons that the US conservatives object to Khameni are real why do they not object to the Saudi Royal family? Is it because in Iran woman are allowed to drive?
    Is it really because Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon? If it is big crappie deal. What in the heck would Iran likely do with a nuclear weapon if they had one? Is there a shred of evidence that they would do anything other than absolutely nothing? Could Iran use a nuke on its own protestors? Could Iran use a newk to attack Israel? Really? It would kill so many Palestinians in Israel to kill some Jews there when they could kill so many Jews in Iran without risky a single Palestinian? How about a nuke against the Saudis? Maybe I should not have brought that up
    You think not? I think so.
    I think that the only way that the Íranians would sue a nuke against the Saudis is if I or someone else important in the US government wrote them a letter and encouraged them. I am actully thinking about doing that. I have gained a lot of experience filling in pits. It would give me some meaningful work to do for a chance.
    The next pit that I fill in I do not want to turn in to a park. I want to turn it in to a mass grave and fill it up with all of the world’s little Nazis. You know those people who do not question their orders no matter how stupid the orders are. Or those people who repeat the official story no matter how looney it is.
    Kiowa, I mean Pawnee, needs a biger budget for me to complete my master plan. Khahahahahahahaha.

  7. AW1 Tim says:

    Leslie>

    You really, really need to have your meds checked.

  8. ROS says:

    I second that. Morion carries.

  9. Doc Bailey says:

    Who opened the door and let the crazy in?

  10. Berk says:

    WTH is wrong at #7? I guess love the looney but hate the looniness? Troll or meds, tough call. AW1 Tim nice quick roll up of late Roman issues.
    We do have some of the same troubles, best part is some of the younger Joes I’ve had the pleasure to meet/train/measure up. Bless the heart of the ones who barely remember 9/11, and are willing to speculate that Micheal Moore’s “Farenheit 9/11″ is the unvarnished truth and he is a true patriot. /sarc off

  11. fm2176 says:

    I’ve traced my surname back to 1600′s ESVA, and have found possible relatives on War of 1812 musters. Given my family’s deep roots on the Eastern Shore of VA it is very likely that I am continuing a tradition brought from England nearly four hundred years ago. Unfortunately, even with resources like GHOTES it is hard to trace my family back more than a hundred years ago.

    Suffice to say, though, that my family as a tradition of serving. When my dad and even my older brother joined, it was the “thing to do” after high school. Shortly after arriving on recruiting duty, I was approached by a former Marine who served in the 80s. He started telling me about how he joined straight after graduation despite being a decent football player. Everybody joined the service as it was considered the “next great team to play for”.

    Now, even the third string waterboy thinks he’ll go on to college ball and the NFL.

  12. Country Singer says:

    Notice also that the left ties the same traits to Southerners, who disproportionately serve. And yes, it’s a family tradition for my clan as well, stretching at least as far back as Cowpens, and including all the major conflicts since then.

  13. Anonymous says:

    We’re examining Roman Hisotry but lets also look at our own. One of the founding fathers biggest debates in the first years of our country was the foundation of a large Federal Military. Federalist, led by Alexander Hamilton, wanted a strong federally controled military. Republicans wanted to rely on the state milita’s. This debate has raged in our country since the begining. I think that enough history has shown us that we need to maintain a strong federal force, both ground and naval. But what is teh correct size? The smaller the force, the less of the populace that is going to be involved. As a recruiter from 02-05, i experienced first hand the anti-military bias that exsists in many high schools (I was in CT). It is generally accepted that the Military is for those who cannot get into college or those with “problems” that the military will solve for them. In order for us as a country to justify a large, robust force, we must have a reason. Does China, N. Korea, Iran, and any other dirt bag country justify a large presence. I recently watched the HBO mini series John Adams. In the series you can also see the debate about a federal military vs. a state milita (nowadays, it would be the NG). On one hand, i think we have shown over the last decade that the NG can be depended on to provide a capable force. But I also remember the days before 9-11 when due to lack of funding and experience, the NG was a shell of what it is today. If we downsize and say we’re goign to rely more on the NG, will the funding for training still be there, or will that be slowly cut without us even noticing. I know this is kind of touching on multiple issues, but i think they are part of the same problem. With a small volenteer force, the only people who are going to understand what the service is are going to be vets. They will encourage their children to join if they want. I met many parents who didn’t want their son to join, but understood why they were and would not interfear with their choice. As we shrink the military, we will also by default shrink the amount of vets in the general society. The military has always been the kicking dog of our government, an easy, politically safe, money tree. Someday, the Vets of Iraq and Afghanistan will be old, we will be the senior members of the VFW and AL. By then, if history holds, there will be another crop of young Vets that have served someplace else. I guess my point is, this is nothing new in American history. The percentage of Vets has always been small except during certin post conflict times in our history, post Civil War, WW II, ect… There have been many meathods which the miltary has attempted to keep some connection to Military service. The roots of ROTC and JROTC stem from efforts pre-WWI to provide some Military training without actually increasing the size, and therfore the budget, of the federal military. Our current situation is nothing new.

    I appologize for the randomness of the post, I’m the night Battle CPT in the TOC and things are slow, but the phone never stops ringing and I lose focus.

    SFC Blizzard

  14. Curt Kastens says:

    SFC Blizzard,
    I think that one of the strongest disincentives that disccourages people from considering military service is the widespread, incorrect or correct belief, that as a member of the military you are not serving your country but are merely a pawn of special intrest groups. The implication of that belief is that if you join the military you will end risking your life in a neeedless conflict and perhpas ending up taking life in an unjust conflict.
    If this disincentive were eliminated and college students were paid for taking ROTC courses I think that there would be more volunteers than would be needed.
    I would even suggest going further than just accepting the cream of the crop for reserve or even active duty. It would be kind of a standby reserve. The members would come in for one three day weekend per year. One this weekend they would be tested and updated on new developments in broad terms. Many of them would be offered to attend the officer basic course. Some of them would be offered to attend the officer advanced course. Perhaps even a few of them higher level training even though they have never served in a unit just to make the training that officers recieve more accessible to a larger percent of the popularion than what is actually needed to defend the country from foriegn threats but what is neccessary to maintain an informed citizenry.

  15. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    @15 Leslie Knope, as was the mantra of my time, “you signed on the line and raised your right hand”. If you don’t understand what enlisting entails, you shouldn’t do it. The oath of enlistment says, “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me”. It doesn’t say ‘if I choose to’ or ‘if I like it’ or ‘if I think it’s ok’, the key words are “I will obey”. if you’re worried about ‘special interest groups’ join a political party. If you want to serve your country, join the military or Marine Corps.

  16. Curt Kastens says:

    lawful

  17. Curt Kastens says:

    Yat Yas,
    I would never take that oath again if my life depended on it.
    It is a suckers oath. Is that a reason that many people think that when you join the military that you are just a prawn at some rich dudes supper?

  18. UpNorth says:

    Leslie @#6 sounds like Curt on his non-lucid days, which are every day.

  19. Curt Kastens says:

    Yes the oath is incompatible with a citizen miltary.
    Yes the oath is incompatible in NATO miltary court rulings.
    Yes the oath is incompatible with native American tradition.
    Yes the oath is compatible with a military desgined to maintain an empire. It is for a military that takes its traditions from old European empires not native American Republics like the Iroqois Conferderacy or the Souix or Cheyenne societies.

  20. AW1 Tim says:

    Pig Pen:

    You do realize that you were never relieved of your obligation from that oath? You may have been released from active duty at the end of your contracted enlistment, but that oath, once taken, is binding until specifically released from it. I don’t ever remember that happening to me or any other veteran I know.

    I still believe that Robert Heinlein got it right with a two-tiered society where only those with military service may hold elected office, be employed in a government job, or vote. Otherwise, everyone is equal under the law.

  21. NHSparky says:

    And Lucy (or Curt, or Pig Pen, or whatever the fuck we’re dealing with here) comes in and talks out it’s ass.

    Another party heard from.

    Yes, Heinlein was a socialist early in life, but after having served had somewhat of an awakening–IOW, he saw how the world REALLY worked, and changed his views accordingly.

    Would that our little liberal friends have the ability to do the same.

  22. Curt Kastens says:

    Yes when I took that oath I really meant that I will pick and
    choose what orders I obey and which ones I will not. If the Army didnt like it they were free to throw me in to prison and through away the key. At that time I did not have a wife or children so I could afford to be very stubborn.
    This oath is also incompatible with every single western religous tradition. No Jewish, Christian, or Islamic or Buddhist, or secular western philosophy, except Catholic, and Anglican and Calvanist inspired religions, a few other minor Christian sects, Shias, and Stalinist require a soldier to believe that he/she must carry out an action because his society through the elected representives and the chain of command asked him to do it.
    Hmmm, I guess that all of those groups must have something in common that I have not thought about before? Could they be right? Could they know something that the Unitarian Universalist and the plains indians and the German Supream Court do not know? Could it be that there is an ultimate authority which is both ethial and lawful and although we may disagree we have to bury our diaagreement and do what we are told? Do UUs and those of the liberal Jewish sects and Protestant denominations just not see the obvious?

  23. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Pig Pen, I totally respect your point of view. I happen to look at it a little differently but that’s what makes this America. I served during the Cold War and didn’t have to endure combat so my perspective might be different than yours. I just know when I was handed orders sending me some place, they were always signed by a Col Somebody, USMC. the “how’s” and “why’s” didn’t matter, I was given legal orders and went. As a Marine I was doing my duty. Pollyanna-ish? Yeah, maybe but when you’re old school, you’re old school.

  24. Curt Kastens says:

    Say I just heard from Lucy. She said that someone is posting our thoughts as the thoughts of a Curt Kastens. Some one must think that they are real funny.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Are we really having an argument about the oath of enlistment?

    The oath is completely in keeping with good order and discipline. Yes you have a duty to obey the orders of the President and the officers appointed over you. I’m guessing you have never served in combat. I don’t have time to ask people to do things, i don’t have the luxuery of asking for a vote, I issue orders to accomplish the mission and save the lives of my men. I recieve orders from my superiors the same. The Army isn’t the boyscouts. May my orders cost them their lives, maybe, may orders from my superiors cost me mine own, maybe, but as we say, don’t put on the stripes if your not willing to accept the resposibility that goes along with them. You act as if illelgal orders are given everyday, in 20 years I have never recieved one, in combat or in garrison. Would i have the moral courage to stand up to a superior if I ever was, i would hope so, God knows i gotten into enough “heated” discusions with superiors over lesser orders.

    As far as us being pawns, your seriously misguided. When I was on recruiting, I often had weird conversations with people about the war. I finally came down to this. Being a Soldier is like being a Fire Fighter, we don’t choose the fire, we don’t choose which fire to fight, we just mount up and roll when the bell sounds. Would you call a fire fighter foolish? We depend on the American people to define what and who we are fighting. Our Government answers to the American people, or at least it should. So in reality, the reasons we’re in any conflict fall on your shoulders, the American Citizen. Don’t like who, where, or why we’re fighting….well, don’t send me there.

    (and I know I can’t spell, I can’t get spell check to work on thsi dumb computer)

    SFC Blizzard

  26. Chockblock says:

    Once again someone gets it in the head the the military is just “pawns”. Are cops just pawns of their city councils/mayors? Firefighters? Are airline pilots pawns of the airlines?

    Yeah. Tools are tools. That’s why it’s called “lawful” orders.

    We live in a republic and the civilians control the military. True those of us in uniform get treated like junkyard dogs at worst. Furniture at best. But we chose a profession of arms.

    I’m on orders to SOuth Korea. Don’t wanna go but hey…Korea! And I’m defending a democracy. Am I a tool pig pen?

    Selfless service. Religious orders, Indian tribes, the girl.boy scouts. It’s not just the military.

    Many people these days are too selfish. Why did the anti-war movement explode in the 60′s? The Draft. White middle class butts were at risk of leaving college and going to Vietnam. No draft in Desert Storm and OIF. No massive anti-war movement. The OWS generation bitches about student loans but with no draft the world can see what bitches they are.

    Like I said, the media and the left (I repeat myself) sold the meme that armies are evil and military service is for chumps. We bought it, from comic books to movies. And we now have a generation too fat and too lazy to enlist (look it up! It’s sad AND scary).

    Military service is not against any religion or tribe (in fact I’ve met many Native Americans in the service, choke on that Pig Pen). Is SSG Bringshimback a tool? (tell that to his face, I wanna see him use his level 3 MACP :D )

  27. Curt Kastens says:

    Yes, for hudreds of years uniformed soldiers have been told it is not their job to question their mission. To do so will lead to a break down of order and discipline.
    I say that if mature people serve in the military order and discipline will not break down. If mature people are in the military and order and discipline do break down it is probably a good thing.
    I mentioned the Catholic Religion as one that teaches that soldiers are not allowed to disobey orders from legitimate authority. But One thing that I did not mention is that havng been raised a Catholc and having known more Cotholics than I can count, in my experience the overwhelming number of Catholics that I have known operate on the principle of,
    if the rule makes sense follow it, if it does not pay no attention to it, and do not speak about it.
    What this means to me is that in the end one must pick and choose what orders to follow and what orders not to follow.
    Of course I can not deny that the punishment that you will reciece from those more powerful than you if you do not follow their orders would certianly be a consideration in ones calculations.
    Many religous traditions promise that you will be rewarded in the long term for making a short term sacrifice. These traditions emphaise that one life time is but a drop in the bucket compared to an eternity or the long road to Nirvana.
    But if a person thinks that all of these traditions are just methods of social control it would be pretty stupid to piss off ones bosses or the mob. So I honestly can not give a good answer as to why someone who does not believe in these
    grossly flawed traditions should piss off thier bosses or the mob. It would be anti scientific. When something is proven as anti scientific, especially to leftists, it gets mocked and ridiculed.
    Sincerely,
    Lücy van Pelt,
    PS I wrote that this was from Curt Kastens becasue I figure that someone would change the name to Curt Kastens anyways so why try to fight it when I have no weapons to fight it anyways. But you should know that it is really me.

  28. Curt Kastens says:

    I would like to dedicate this post to Thomas Paine who has a birthday on January 29th.
    Should a person in a Republican Army be punished for disobeying an order? Yes. Should that stop someone from disobeying an order that they think for any reason is a bad order? I think it depends on the situation.
    Many months ago a read a story about a US sniper that killed an Iraqi milkman who was approaching US soldiers. Several days before there had been a suicide bomber attack on a US position by an Iraqi dressed as a milkman.
    So let us take this as an example of what could happen in the future. A “suspcious looking milkman is reported to be approaching US positoins in Kuwait. Tensions are high as the US has been bombing Iranian military installations daily.
    As of yet there has been no ground fighting but the Iranians have vowed to retaliate. The US unit knows that a milkman comes by this area at this time everyday but the CO can see with his binoculars that this is a different dude. He is getting to close to a US position and the CO orders a sniper to kill him. The sniper has accidently read some of the things that I have written and takes the decision seriously too. He refuses to kill the sniper even though he is putting hsi fellow soldiers at greater risk with each second that he delays.
    So afterwards the CO charges tha shiper with refusing to obey a lawful order, derilictiojn of duty, and maybe some other things to becasue he was really pissed that this sniper placed his fellow soldiers at greater risk.
    Now I really have my doubts that there is a single sniper in the US military that would do such a thing. After all the whole point of US military training is to turn people in to human robots.
    But if it were me, and I did not have a wife and family to consider, I would say I did not kill him because there was not suffeicent evidence to me to indicate that he had hostile intent. I know that in making that decision that I placed my fellow soldiers at greater risk. I make no appoligies for that. We are told mission first and people always. How does that translate in to human life in an abstract sense. Are we supposed to accept no risk to ourselves and subject others, even the enemy population to high risk just so that we can be safe?
    After I said that the CO the !SG the LT the Platton Sergeant would all be really pissed at me, for what they thought were good reasons of their own. Then I guess that I woild accept my punishment but I would remain unrepentant. They are incapabable of acting outside of thier training. I have additional training. In his example as someone who would have gone through sniper school I would have had all of the training that the Army or Marine Corp wanted me to have. But outside of theat environment I would have reecieved additional training that conflicted with my military training. Of course the CO and the !SG could have also recieved additional training outside of the military that supported thier military decision in this instance. There are not necceissarily any bad guys in this example. Just
    difficult circumstances.
    Things would be a whole lot easier on you though if you would just admit that my training is better than your training:)

  29. Curt Kastens says:

    I just want to add that as a world phamous psychologist I can understand that any if any normal person were in the position of the sniper in the above example, they would under that kind of pressure, if they were having doubts about whether or not to pull the trigger would try to convince themselves very quiicly that they did not have any doubts. I think that one trick their mind might play on them is to say that the CO has info that is unavailable to me and therefore I should defer to his decsion.
    What is the role that the subconscience would play in this example? Only after the fact the CO might think to himself.
    I just had a feeling the guy was hostile at the time. When I think back on it I remember that he did this that or the other thing. Now I have to ask you would an innocent person do that? The sniper could also have thought afterwerds, the guy did this that or the other thing, would a guilty person have done that? Hindsight might be 20-20 but both people are in the example forced to make their decision with out the benifit of hindsight.
    I recongnize an implication in this example. The implication is that at the decisive moment both people are forced by circumstances to have faith in their complete training, to include that which was recieved outside of the military, and thier interpreation of reality at that moment.
    I am a person of little faith. This is a good example of why. One of the people in this exmaple is going to be let down by thier training and their interpretation of reality.
    They can not both be right. Well perhsps that can be fudged a little. Maybe the Milkman was not a bomber but making observations of US positions and giving that info to someone so that they could plan a better attack on US positions.
    In any case life forces us to have faith in our own judgement even if that faith is misplaced. If I do not think that the training that I got was the best I would have searched somewhere else for better training. But we can never really know for sure. I guess that this is why I consider life a sick joke. The Gods should be really beaten for makinng me and others go through this.

  30. Lslie, Lucy, Linus and Curt says:

    I would like to dedicate this post to the 38 Lakota men who were executed in Mankato Minnesota 150 years ago this year. If they were to rise from the grave they would not even be given an appolgy. They would be label as terrorists sent to Guantanamo and hung again.

    As I fixed my breakfast this morning I thought to myself. I think that I did a pretty good job showing how stupid the oath of enistment is. But maybe I couild also make a good case for why it should not be eliminated. Maybe this is another one of those situations like the one faced by the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. If you do not fight you are going to die. If you do fight you are going to die.
    I do not see the oath of enlistment in those terms right now. I am saying that I reserve the right to change my mind if I hear some good counter arguements.

  31. Paul Huard says:

    I am flattered that my humble efforts have prompted so much discussion. My thanks to the bloggers for posting my opinion piece. I hope it helps readers understand why we need the social connection with the men and women who defend us.

  32. stout beer says:

    I personally think that the Department of the Army and the Department of the Navy should pay this website for permission to use the debate found on this page in classes at West Point and Annapolis. Of course I am not sure that such insitutions would want to give their students as much information as students who attend more rigorous colleges like Carleton College or Augsburg College.

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