[LMB] Military and Society OT:

Bart Kemper bkemper at bigdogz.com
Sun, 03 Feb 2002 14:36:24 -0600

Dave Snyder wrote:

 > I do my level best to try and keep discourse civil.  I support my 
generalizations with evidence, and I attribute that evidence where 
 > I respond to the text (i.e., what is written), not the 
interpreted text
 > (i.e., what I thought was written or was implied).  I even try to 
stay on
 > topic, but my inclination as both a scholar and an educator is to 
 > ignorance, misperception, misinformation, and disinformation 
wherever I see
 > it.  I got back on the list because some said they missed me. 
And I missed
 > the list.  But frankly, if the discourse on the list over the 
past week is
 > at all representative of the level of discussion of the list 
these days, I'm
 > outta here.  I've got too many other demands on my time to spend 
it this
 > way.
 > --Dave Snyder

Well, neither one of us seems to be able to keep apple and oranges 
in the right bag, especially in the view of the other.  I thought 
the issue at hand was how "the US military is becoming disconnected 
from mainstream US society"...yet now my discussion about where we 
were from 1941-1974 was "an aberrant period."  OK...so if that is 
not the baseline society from which the military is becoming 
disconnected from, I am VERY confused.  If the periods prior to WWII 
is the issue at hand, well, that was a very different society *and* 
a very different military.  We weren't a superpower and our military 
was very different by design and in purpose.  Further, there was 
substantial predjudices against women, blacks, indians, "foreigners" 
(non-anglos), asians, jews, catholics, etc. etc. etc. in which there 
were not level playing fields for all US residents across the 
board....I would agree that in the very small USA pre- 1900 the 
movers and shakers (military and civilian) tended to be more in tune 
with each other....they were of similar background, education, 
attitudes, etc. I don't agree they were "connected" to society as a 
whole if you chose to include entire population.

My data on the knowledge of the Newburgh Conspiracy was discounted, 
despite it being taught in pre-commissioning (West Point, which now 
produced around 40% or more of the Army officer corps...plus I know 
it comes up at VMI, Citadel, LSU, and A&M, to name some of the 
programs I have knowledge, and probably other programs), plus 
stating it being part of the Officer Basic Course (which does 
account for 100% of the Army officers--the core material is 
presented in all branches) as well as CAS3 (which does account for 
100% of the majors and above, as it is a prerequisite for promotion 
from captain.)    I will not disagree that the lessons internalized 
might be one different from the one you or some others think is 

There have always been the few officers in any era that stood up and 
sounded off, regardless of how correct they were in doing so. The 
military has *ALWAYS* held it was their job to advise the president, 
etc. on what to do and disagree as needed....but would march when 
ordered too. In fact, it is taught one of the senior military 
leadership's greatest periods of failure was the "being a team 
player" under McNamara.

Citing Oliver North is someone who came up from the draft army, 
incidentally, and one who got out of serving in the line relatively 
quickly in favor of being in politics and policy in DC.  I am one of 
the first generations coming up in a US military of only volunteers. 
  Stating officers weren't drafted is a bit of slight of hand.  In 
WWII, Korea, and Vietnam draftees were made into officers through 
OCS and direct appointments, not always completely voluntary. 
Pilots, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other specialists WERE 
drafted as officers in WWII, Korea, and part of Vietnam.  ROTC was 
*mandatory* for males at landgrant universities, as was the 2 years 
of active service upon graduation.  The only way to avoid ROTC was 
the same way of avoiding the draft--medical, seminary, gay, etc.

In regards to 'the military seeing itself as holding values to in 
general society', guilty.  This was a finding by a civilian 
commission as part of a quadrennial review and was one of the 
problems with basic entry soldiers--the values that were once 
assumed to be at least understood, if not valued, were not.  There 
was a continuous problem with people coming in with a "me first", 
"nothing is my fault", "sue the other guy", "society/you owe me", 
etc. attitudes. All of us "old folks" were insulted when the Army 
issued out the Value Card, defining; Loyalty, Duty, Respect, 
Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.  As 
distasteful as the cards were to be forced down our throats, it 
seems to have helped educate those who didn't see these values 
growing up, not even from sports heroes or hollywood heroes.

Incidentally, military members *are* barred from membership or 
supporting legally existing groups such as the Nazis, Black 
Panthers, various Aryan groups, those supporting eco-terrorism, etc. 
regardless of whether it is offduty or in uniform.  In this respect, 
the military states there is no "off duty" or "out of uniform" and 
that support, membership, or involvement with these groups are 
contrary to Army values.  A US citizen may have the right to be a 
member, but not a serving member of the military, active or reserve. 
  Similarly, our rights to free speech is restricted as well as the 
fact we're not legally allowed to badmouth our civilian bosses nor 
officers above us (fair game to badmouth NCO's behind their 
back)....this is black letter law in UCMJ, but granted it is not 
enforced unless egregious in violation.

I apologize for misinterpreting the several cites of a few key Army 
leaders who declined to even register to vote as being held up as 
'good example.'  It the context of the post, it appeared it was 
being offered as something from the old days that was "good." I will 
not apologize for taking exception to the statements of the military 
become "politicized", as it is on par with being in violation of our 
oaths and connotes activities that are specifically illegal by 
serving members of the active duty. (Reservists may be political and 
even hold office, but on a case by case basis....some have had to 
resign their commissions in order to take elected or appointed 
posts.)  The evidence offered to support that opinion has been less 
than compelling and by far is the exception, not the rule. 
Similarly, the comments about "inferior education" appears specious, 
since individuals from the same program also were superlative 
members of the military. Therefore it seems that those committing 
the various war crimes, which happens in EVERY war back to Roman 
times and beyond, are doing so through their own actions and 
decisions.  The test is whether the military establishment supports 
those actions, as was done in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Soviet 
Union, or were they held up as wrong-doers and punished.

I fully support the public being suspicious of the military as well 
as the government as a whole.  I'm proud of our nation's distrust of 
standing armies as it forces the military to work to be worthy of 
the trust and support it needs to be the representation of the 
American will.  However, I disagree with the gap between the values 
in the US military and its civilian populace a result of a shift in 
the military as much as it is a shift in civilian values.  The 
values it takes to be in the military (or firefighter, cop, etc.) is 
job-related and while comes under the label of "tradition", it is 
not blind adherence to the past as much as it is recognition of 
"what it means to be this."  Our military was damaged (some, not 
greatly) in a recent administration when, forex, an Army 
undersecretary stated the problem with the Army it is "too male 
oriented, with emphasis on achievement, dominating the opponents, 
and competition," and steps such as the infamous "stress cards" were 
put into place to "fix" the problem.  It may have achieved the goal 
of that group, but it did not enhance the Army's ability to do its 
job in peace or war.  Therefore, while I do not deny there is a 
growing gap between the military and civilian populace and that it 
should be monitored to ensure the military stays true to their oaths 
and allegiances, we are still your neighbors, and the sons and 
daughters of your neighbors.  We still answer to the people back 
home as individuals just as our leaders answer to our civilian 

At this point I suppose its best to agree to disagree. Not everyone 
thinks well of the military, either in general or in regards to 
specific current realities. For that matter there is dissension 
within the ranks as well, as there always has been.