Tell Me About the Good Old Days

Maybe because of 9/11. Maybe because I’m getting older and sounding more like my Dad. Maybe because the military in which I grew up is not the military I see.  Or maybe I worry about those who protect us and wonder if they are they being served.

I once had a boss that asked, “When are you going to treat me like a Wing Commander?” I simply said, “When you start behaving like one.” Believe me, I’m not alone as others, to whom I can attest, have basically said the same. But this is not about me. Many more officers senior than I have stood up and said to the then-President, your policies are not working (I’m being polite here).

But does the current crop of generals and admirals kowtow to the whims of the Executive Branch rather than have primary responsibility to those they lead? Is an elevation in rank more important than conscience, integrity? Who threw their stars on the President’s desk after the Afghanistan debacle? No one.

We are seeing flag officers bow low to the current culture climate. We are seeing the Commander-in-Chief wage war on his military. I wish the military stuck to killing people and breaking things. It is not, and was never meant to, transform the culture. Nor build nations based upon political hubris. I wish for the military I knew, when the mission was clear and was fulfilled to the best of your ability. Now I’m not sure about the former.

Senator Tuberville stands strong against DoD willfully ignoring the law. But if they can disregard the law without consequence, what next can they disregard? The military is now at the lowest level of trust and confidence in 25 years. The same military I served for 25 years. My father 30. And the many who served that now lie in Arlington’s bosom and elsewhere both here and abroad.

In 1961, President Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial complex.”  He warned about feeling, “…that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.” That caution about institutional militarization is perhaps not overlooked but rather often ignored with the rise of autonomous machines. He also said, “A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment.” A a military man, he knew the value of readiness and combat capability. And using technology to complement rather than replace the men and women that would be called upon to respond. But through the politics of culture are we watching this “vital element” be diminished to a less than effective deterrent?

I would guess that even he would be astonished at what the military has become. Veterans I’m sure are astonished. Recruitment and retention now suffer due to the emphasis being placed on the wrong syllable. Forty years ago, after General LeMay was given his annual briefing at HQ/Strategic Air Command, on his way out he looked at the light blue K-car waiting for him, shook his head, turned around and said to the then-CINC, “You even f**ked that up too.” What would he say today?

So those that choose to serve I salute you. But I would not recommend serving simply because the government decision makers, who have never served, as well as some senior leaders, seemingly do not have your back. The former is often a given. The latter I never thought I’d see.

And in other news, a recent poll indicated that 48% of people under 30 think we should send troops to Ukraine. Really? Not only don’t they understand the ramifications of that action but I wonder why they are not then racing to enlist. Or is the mantra of the younger generation, thee but not me? The youth of today are the adults of tomorrow. Will we be in good hands? I hope so but it will take someone with astonishing will to turn the Ship of State. I hope they appear quickly for there is no where else the world can go if the course we are on is maintained. Are we seeing another 9/11? This time from within?

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1 thought on “Tell Me About the Good Old Days”

  1. One thing I always like about Ike, when he was a general and POTUS, he would be briefed by someone on this or that operation. At the end, Ike would ask the same question. “And then what?”

    He would insure everything was throught through, and more importantly, necessary. He didn’t approve the Bay of Pigs because he was rather uneasy with what the CIA was planning. JFK did, and it was the example of an inexperienced executive making a bad decision .

    I miss Ike…and Rawhide.

    Man, compared to this idiot, I miss Bubba. Hell, I miss Jimmy.

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