Monday, March 28, 2005

The Vounteer Army Is A Subculture of American Society

SMOKE AND MIRRORS. The Pentagon is at it again. Base closings. Talk about a sham. What happens is one pot of money is taken from one taxpayer's coffers and put in another. Nothing is truly saved. The false savings create a breakdown in a basic American values of AllServing.

The Presidio of San Francisco is a typical example. It was a thriving military post with a long history. Over the years, it was a beacon in an ocean of the Left Coast. It was closed in a long and arduous procedure, turned over to the National Park Service which in turn made it into the most expensive park in America . And, probably the least visited by mainstream Americans.

The Presidio of San Francisco is a fabulous place for San Francisco in particular. But, it's a long shot from "savings." And, there's a psychological thing with the Presidio and with most military installations that are closed. The military presence goes and the surrounding communities are deprived of a basic symbol of American democracy. The institution of the military disappears and they don't see anyin in Uniform. The civilian populace has no interactions with men and women serving their country. Consequently, the military becomes more of a subculture of the American society. Nobody thinks of this sad fact. Congress will close bases on the pretense of saving money. A SHAM!

Friday, March 18, 2005

AllServe Volunteer

I'm so excited about the possibility of you helping in the AllServe project. I want to tell you my ideas and see where we can go from there. Overall, what I think we have to do is identify if there's anyone else who is doing what we want to do. What I liked about your ideas was that they sounded exactly what I think: some sort of universal service would (1) unite the country (2) provide a sense of pride in what it means to be an American (3) give America's youth a sense of the shared experience (4) and most importantly, it would make our leaders more reluctant to send our sons and daughters to war.

I don't want to answer questions nobody is asking but basically feel that we need some sort of national organization. We might need to form a nonprofit for donations. Regardless, let's begin the dialogue. My thinking is that we have 300 million people in this country and there's got to be some of the Americans that care who would like to see this happen. There might be all kinds of groups to get united. I've thought that at some point, if we could enlist various groups, we have to apply political pressure. Right now, there is none. And, there's many philosophical reasons why not: the selling of the volunteer Army, so few Americans invested in any sort of national service, and lack of true vision and then the hassle of politics itself.

There might be many groups interested, hard sell as it might be: churches, Vets, peace groups, a monumental task. Let me know your thoughts or some ideas on how for us to proceed.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


GAY WARRIORS. And, I don't mean "happy." This is an issue that continues to surface and now is brought even more to the forefront with the critical shortage of troops. This is one of those almost unique American ideas; most armies don't even consider such an issue. However, the American style democracy is a pretty unique thing. Bill Clinton tried to deal with something like an "open" sexuality which didn't work. (And, I'm not talking Monica). We ended up with the "Don't Asked, Don't Tell" policy which didn't' please anybody.

It's estimated that at least 10,000 gay troops have been discharged. Among those are some with highly critical skills: percentage wise, this may sound small since we have well over 2 mil in uniform. The Economist, a mag I don't read very often had one of the best overall views of the problem that I've read. They said something like, "The reasons that we have such a Neanderthal policy toward gays is a mentality rooted in three tiers: (1) gay soldiers would hurt teamwork and morale. On the battlefield, soldiers do not fight for King and Country; they fight for each other--for love of their "band of bothers", as Shakespeare put it or Easy Company of TV fame. (2) Gays serving openly could actually be bad for recruitment. (3) An army reflects the mores of the societies from which they are drawn and America, it is said, is unwilling to allow its heroes to be gay."

This is all pretty iffy in a sense. I persoanlly have to come down on the side of gays serving. Afterall, there is a concept of pluralism that the military has always honored: the rights of the minority are not dwarfed by the majority. But, that having been said, it is tricky. Because of the Volunteer Army, we have a very conservative Officer and NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) core; any spin can be put on it but there's a reason that most of the military votes for the President and supports strongly our efforts at war. They have to believe in what they are doing. It is in their psyche. And, you can take this to the bank: Officers and senior NCOs are a bunch of conservatives, often ultra conservatives. End of discussion.

Although The Economist claims that attitudes are changing and discharges are actually down, my belief is that this may be true moreso because of the shortages that exists and the "stretched thin" mentality than attitudes softening. The war fighters are a bunch of macho, kill types that must exist to have a competent military. War is No Day At The Beach even if the media often acts like it is. Combat soldiers are trained to kill and there's no dressing that concept up with PC type pronouncements. If we had an AllServe military, I have no doubt that the idea of gays serving would be no issue. And, this is probably true with support units but not so with elite Special Operations troops who are just a millisecond shy of being militiamen.

I personally think that there are many minefields in this social issue. In the present military, we all are better off with a "closet" mentality as relates to gay soldiers. Soldiers aren't stupid and they know who their gay breathren are and most don't give it a thought but don't want to talk about it.