Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years

What was that graffiti? The Marines are at war, America is at the mall. I may not have the wording exactly right and I certainly don't want to denigrate the other Services. Still, we can rephrase it, the military services of the United States of America are at war, America is at the mall is apt.

I don't know nearly as much as I should about this war, although I know more than most of civilian America, just because I read some MilBlogs. Trouble is, I filter this war through my war. In that I am much like the libs, they view everything through the prism of Viet Nam. I want to win, though.

The military of today is far different from my day. Although my Branch took very few draftees the draft was central. Many young men joined the Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy to avoid getting into the Army. Young men joined the Marine Corps because they did not want to fight next to unwilling conscripts and young men joined the Army because a three or four year enlistment would buy a slot in a school that would avoid the infantry. So the conscript mentality was pervasive, even among volunteers. After all, these were the days when a SGT. would go to a formation and say "I need three volunteers, you, you and you."

Today's military is far better educated than in my day. Today there are Sergeants with advanced degrees, the chances are very good that those who are saying that only the ignorant join the service do not have the education that those "ignorant GIs" have. In my day there were lots of Master Gunnery Sergeants who had only a GED high school equivalency. They did, however, have a massive vocabulary of ugly words. After all these years I still struggle to avoid those words.

We did not even think about women in the Service, there were some in the medical and clerical jobs but a guy in a line outfit could go months without seeing one close up. Our racial attitudes were far above those of the civilian world but I would imagine not near what they are today. I still recall my first day in boot camp when a Hispanic Sgt. started hollering about the nerve of this blank-blank-blank wet**** trying to join his Marine Corps, the black Sgt. screaming at that %@#& n*****, Sgt Cohen cursing that hebe, etc. By the end of boot camp were were not black, white or brown but green. This actually worked fairly well in line units, the racism was in the rear.

What I am trying to say is that I don't really understand this war. The Administration is doing a poor job of explaining it, the media lies, all I have to go on is the MilBlogs, not all are in favor of this fight. Still, I support it. I have only one thing I can go on, the reenlistment rates. The young men and women reenlist at more than the quota. One thing that has not changed since my day is the unwillingness to stay in a losing game. The troops say that what we are doing is worth their sacrifice. Since these men and women are betting their lives, the least I can do is back that bet.

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