Saturday, August 19, 2006

So it has come down to this?

I just came across this article about the advanced age of some of the new recruits going into the United States Army. Congress recently increased the maximum initial enlistment age from 35 to 42. Read the article to see some of the new recruits we are getting.

Before I go on, I want to emphasize that in no way do I wish to dump upon these enlistees. They obviously love their country enough that they are willing to put their aged bodies to the test in basic training, and by joining the Army, they are saying that they are willing to die for this country. God bless them for that. Here comes the "but": Just because you want to join the military doesn't necessarily qualify you to be in the military. The job of the military is very simple. As Rush Limbaugh always says, it is to kill people and break things. Doing these tasks takes a lot of strength and endurance. In war, there is no such thing as second place; you either win or you lose. That means you have to enlist the strongest, most agile, and most brave soldiers you can manage. Is the United States doing that if we are reduced to enlisting 41 year-old grandmothers? Read this snippet from the article about this well-meaning but inadequate soldier going through basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina:
As [Margie Black] took a break from learning how to handle her M-16 rifle, the former corrections officer said her major challenge in the first three weeks of training was climbing and rappelling the 50-foot "Victory Tower."

Black is afraid of heights.

"I cried all the way up and all the way down, but my drill sergeant talked to me the whole time and got me through it," she said with a smile.
I went through basic training at Fort Jackson in 1993. I climbed and rappelled down the Victory Tower. I don't remember crying all the way up and all the way down, and I certainly do NOT remember any of my drill sergeants "talking to me the whole time and getting me through it", unless you count "Chanman! You had best hurry the fuck up!" as talking to me the whole time and getting me through it. Private Black, if the sight of the Victory Tower makes you burst into tears, I have to ask what you will do when you have to climb that cliff or steep hill in order to rescue your fellow soldier or take out that gun emplacement. You won't have a drill sergeant assigned to you to get you through it.

I don't mean to put all my derision on 41 year-old Private Black. She only enlisted because she was allowed to. I reserve the bulk of my ire for the morons in the U.S. Congress who authorized this rule change. I also blame President Bush for fighting another Vietnamesque quagmire where our soldiers are forced to fight with their limbs hogtied lest we offend anyone. When you have rules of engagement like that, of course you are not going to meet your enlistment goals. You are also not doing the enlistment quota any favors when you take the word of a bunch of Iraqi terrorists that one of their own was murdered by some U.S. Marines, and then take said Marines and throw them in the Brig for months without a trial, as is currently happening at Camp Pendleton. Again, not a situation that would make me want to stay in the military, let alone enlist in the first place.

It is so tempting to use the military as a social engineering laboratory, because you have such a captive audience. But when you start fiddling with the military and its ability to accomplish its mission, which is to defend this country, you put the survival of our nation at risk. I hope our clueless politicians get a clue before it is too late.

Good Day to You, Sir


Miroslav said...

hm. I am by no means a military expert... but it strikes me that a 42yr old grandmother could serve the country as an active member of the military in other ways than field combat, no?

How often does the chef see combat, for instance? And don't they still have to go through all the rigamoroll(sp?) of basic training and all that?


With that said, I see your point. Soon enough we will be allowing disabled people the 'opportunity' to serve their country for the sake of equal rights. Give 'em a gun and wheel 'em on out to the fighting fields.

Chanman said...

It is a long-standing expectation in the Army and especially the Marines that every soldier be prepared for combat, because you never know what will happen in war. Just ask that transportation unit in Nasariyah, Iraq that got into a shootout with Iraqi Fedayeen. That was the incident that gave us the Jessica Lynch story. Another female soldier actually died in that firefight, and yet another (besides Lynch) was taken prisoner. In the military, one can never say that he or she will not see combat; no job is immune. I realize that chances for soldiers in some jobs to see combat are remote, but again, can we take that chance?

Anonymous said...

Excuse the non-sequitor, please. We had met on this street corner not that long ago- alas, I can't make it this weekend, but I trust you'll pass this information on to people who can use it, please

(They seems shocked last time to have opposition- we should keep it up)

Please join us at 16th & Broadway, in Sacramento, this Saturday, August 26th, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm, to make the following demands for peace in the Middle East:

1) that Israel immediately release all of the democratically elected Palestinian representatives that the Israeli military has kidnapped from Palestinian territory and is now holding in Israeli prisons;
2) that all Israeli military personnel immediately get out of Gaza and Lebanon, and that Israel stop its policy of aggression in both regions;
3) that U.S. representatives stop their blanket support for Israel and recognize that peace in the Middle East means a free Palestine that includes the right of return; and
4) that all U.S. military personnel immediately get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Folks, there is a real danger right now, because the U.S. and Israel are headed down a path of EXPANSION, not reduction, of their collaborative military goals in the Middle East. It's quite clear that they now have their sights on Iran. If we don't start pushing back harder right now, we could very easily soon find ourselves demanding an end to World War III. Seriously.

While our demonstrations alone certainly won't solve these problems, they are a very important part of the effort. They not only create a forum for networking, but they also draw public attention to the issues and convey messages generally withheld from corporate news broadcasts. On the other hand, sometimes our messages from the demos do get local media coverage; and when that happens, we have a rare opportunity to expose some truths to people who usually get distorted news.

So please forward this to others and come out to 16th & Broadway this Saturday, and bring your friends, banners, flags, signs, art and instruments!