Thursday, January 2, 2020

Thoughts On The All Volunteer Military

In the first four years of the 1960s I was in college.

I also was part of a pretty good singing group.

The singing group was what I wanted to do, or at least try to do, for a career.

I had a lot of models, The Kingston Trio paramount among them.

That was how I wanted to spend my life and earn my living.

I have no idea, all things being neutral, if that would have happened; but all things weren’t neutral; there was Vietnam and its war.

That meant that I had a good chance of going to the jungle and carrying a gun around and – hopefully – shooting people before they shot me.

There was also the step on the mine and  get blown up thing.

And there were other – things – best left unspoken.

Suffice it to say, none of the spoken or unspoken alternatives to being an entertainer, or trying to be an entertainer, were very attractive.

So a prime objective in my life from the time I was 17 was to avoid having to be drafted.

The only sure fire avoidance mechanism in those days was attending college.

So I attended college, and graduated.

The problem was, Vietnam lasted longer than my college years;  Vietnam was still there breathing down my neck; there was no way that the RF Trio could actually try to be; so I qualified for USAF OTS, got a commission and went off to Air Force Land.

That meant, inevitably, that I would go to Vietnam, which I did, but I never had to carry a gun.

I regretted that aspect – not carrying a gun -  many times in my year in Vietnam; but I also never had to kill anybody; and that was good.

The upshot of all of that was that I was a passionate proponent of an all volunteer military.

My thought was that if you wanted to go fight wars you could; if that wasn’t your deal you didn’t have to.

Years went by.

I began to listen, hear and pay attention to what was happening in the military as an all volunteer force.

I have completely changed my opinion on the all volunteer force:

First it seems, in general, to attract a lot of people with no alternative other than prison or homelessness (obviously there are exceptions); the good part of that is it takes hapless members of our society and teaches many of  them some valuable stuff; the bad part is that the hapless don’t seem to stay in for full careers – careers  that would involve fairly generous retirement and medical benefits.

And, unfortunately, the things they learn in the military don’t seem to have use in civilian life; I guess that’s whay I see so many of them with cardboard hand printed signs asking for money.

Second, that generally hapless segment of our society that volunteer today are generally homogeneous; the crowd I was with were every color, stripe, economic background and every conceivable political viewpoint; we had to get along and get the job done; we had to be Americans; there couldn’t have been a “we” or a “they”.

And there wasn’t.

Third, and most important, when everybody’s kid is subject to being called up to carry a gun in the jungle, or in the desert, over time the political winds begin to blow contrary to capricious incursions into the affairs of other countries across the globe.

And a majority of those people’s kids can vote now.

So they can electorally shout down their fat assed seniors who occupy the halls of our government and are so quick to want to fight wars.

So a draft puts a form of blood commitment into sending our children off to war that a “con-the-kids-with-no- apparent-future-in-most-cases” volunteer military lacks.

As surprising as this may sound, all of that has been mere background material to my real point here.

This all volunteer military force of the – primarily – hapless, has created a situation where our military is being treated as if it were some sort of infinitely replenishable laundry powder; they go over; they come back; they go over; they come back; they get stored – briefly – in a laundry powder jug; and then they go over again.

It turns out that the first day or two of the first go-over frequently disrupts the life of a young human being for the rest of that being’s life.

Multiple overs have created a mass of zombies.

It seems to me that this situation is approaching critical mass.

Machines, when taxed beyond their limits, break; I guess we are in the process of discovering what humans do when similarly taxed.

The draft needs to be brought back.

Post haste.

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