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Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Citizen and the Citizen Military – What Lies Ahead?

Military pay raises are minimal, high profile overstuffed general officers and admirals are bad for morale (revolving door and pensions higher than career pay). What is the mix of technology and manpower required to fight today’s wars? How do we acquire, train and retain what we need? Reserves and National Guard involve long term multiple deployments with no assurance of a future for those who return.  We now have a chairman of the Armed Services Committee that wants to go to war with everyone:

The following are 3 perspectives from experts:

Can YOU answer the Citizen's Question at the end?

PERSPECTIVE 1 – From a Military Man

Mark Seip a senior Navy fellow at the Atlantic Council recently noted the cultural and conception gap that exists between America and it volunteer armed forces: 

“From the military side, many of us feel that we are unique to our generation in our calling; that we rose above the self-absorbed stereotype often associated with both Gen Xers and Millennials to protect our nation. We accept significant time away from our families, often subpar working conditions compared to our civilian counterparts, and average pay in relation to the skills we possess in order to wear the uniform. Moreover, as our nation’s warrior corps we assume a level of risk since time immemorial, that our occupation entails a distinct possibility of loss of life. Our service therefore requires a level of confidence and self-assurance to do our jobs and take the risks required.

Second, the widening gap is a function of exposure, both in numbers and in proximity. As Fallows points out, 2.5 million served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. To provide context, according to an NPR study 8.7 million served in some capacity in Vietnam. Furthermore, during Vietnam the majority of the generation at that time had fathers and mothers who served in some capacity either in WWII, Korea or both. Today, however, the actual number and/or the tangential family tie to the military is lower, reinforcing the distance between those in service and the rest of the nation.”

PERSPECTIVE 2 - From a Military Contractor

Eric Prince, the former CEO of Black Water continues to insist that private security employees working for the U.S. government in warzones should be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, instead of the civilian criminal justice system.

"It’s quite different for a jury that is 7,000 miles away from the warzone, looking at a split-second decision made seven years earlier in a warzone, minutes after a large car bomb goes off." Prince said he hopes the guards' convictions can be successfully appealed. "The last chapter is not written yet."

Although he quit the business, Prince still sees a future for the private security business.

 "The world is a much more dangerous place, there is more radicalism, more countries that are melting down or approaching that state." At the same time, the Pentagon is under growing pressure to cut spending and the cost of the all-volunteer force keeps rising, Prince said.

 "The U.S. military has mastered the most expensive way to wage war, with a heavy expensive footprint." Over the long run, the military might have to rely more on contractors, as it will become tougher to recruit service members. Prince cited recent statistics that 70 percent of the eligible population of prospective troops is unsuitable to serve in the military for various reasons such as obesity, lack of a high school education, drug use, criminal records or even excessive tattoos. In some cases, Prince said, it might make more sense to hire contractors.”

PERSPECTIVE 3 – From a Military Analyst


“The film “American Sniper” about legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle broke box office records this holiday season when the picture earned a million dollars in five days on only a handful of screens. It is time we grappled with America’s actual wars and their real-time, life and death consequences, once again with as much dedication as we line up to watch them play out on the big screen.

The military may be fighting a war. Or wars. But we, as a country, are not. In USA Today’s list of its most read articles of 2014, neither the war in Afghanistan nor the simmering fight in Iraq – to which U.S. troops are headed back – cleared the top 10. The same is true for Yahoo’s list of its most searched stories. No Iraq or Afghanistan in sight.

It is nearly inconceivable but somehow true that in the 2013 government shutdown, death benefits for the families of those killed in action fighting for the United States also shut off.”

 The Movies Vs. Real War

Citizen's question: Could or should we reinstate the draft?