Another Mainstream Media “opinion” piece about the military, it’s Time magazine with the mud now:
The U.S. military and American society are drifting apart. It’s tough inside the civilian world to discern the drift. But troops in all the military services sense it, smell it — and talk about it. So do their superiors. We have a professional military of volunteers that has been stoically at war for more than a decade. But as the wars have droned on, the troops waging them are increasingly an Army apart.
“There’s no challenge for the 99% of the American people who are not involved in the military,” says Army veteran Ron Capps, who served as an intelligence analyst in Afghanistan. “They don’t lose when soldiers die overseas, they’re not being forced to pay, for the wars, and there’s no sense among the vast population of what we’re engaged in.”
Part of the problem – surprise! – is Pentagon penny-pinching. Trying to save money, the Defense Department has been shutting bases down across much of the nation for the past generation, and concentrating them in military-friendly southern states. “Where [troops come from] gets more and more away from the general population,” ex-Guard chief Blum said. “What they do behind those gates is pretty much, `Who cares?’ to the general population, unless they make their living off of what goes on in there.”
An Army Apart: The Widening Military-Civilian Gap
by Mark Thompson, Time.com
About that penny pinching: during the Cold War the MSM accused all the services of wasting money. From $500 hammers and $700 toilet seats to weapons systems that “didn’t work”, the Pentagon was awash in fraud and abuse. The truth was more nuanced. There was fraud and wasteful spending, but when Desert Storm kicked off, those weapon systems did pretty good. Yes, even the Bradley.
Some bean counter in the Pentagon came up with the idea (due to Congressional and MSM pressure) to hire contractors. This was brewing long before George W. Bush came into office. COTS (commercial off the self) products were introduced because the media ridiculed military specs. After 9/11, any product that performs to “mil-spec” is highly valued now. While COTS has saved money in generators and supply, it wasn’t a cure all. The contractors gobbled up the money they were supposed to save. For garrison duties, yes having contractors do the plumbing, maintenance and other garrison duties freed up soldiers for war. (Fun Fact: on military bases, the Post Exchange, movie theater and daycare centers used to be staffed by soldiers, with an officer over them, since the early 90′s they are staffed by civilians).
As for wages and health care: “$57,400, and the annual total personnel-related cost per troop, including health care, is more than twice that: $121,600, according to a recent accounting by the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.”
Wow, where do I get that money? There were soldiers on food stamps in the 70′s and 80′s. Wanna go back to that Mr. Thompson? The health bennies and the morale welfare and recreation are payments for services rendered. Those contractors you love to hate came about BECAUSE most soldiers get 100k+ medical conditions over the course of 20 years in service.
Soldering is hard, hard work. Many soldiers have bad backs, bad knees. Contractors get paid according to the contact. Alas, health and hazards of a warzone make costs go up.
Technology marched on from the reference frames of most movies and tv shows. We don’t need to stack soldiers on the battle field anymore. We fight maneuver warfare, not positional (or attrition) warfare. When Centcom issued a press release that US forces were conducting “Air Assault” operations in Afghanistan, the left went nuts. They assumed it meant widespread bombing or some nonsense like that. Air Assault means that soldiers climb out of a helicopter and repel down a rope to enter a building (while getting shot at btw). So much for the “media” that is supposed to keep the public informed.
Mr. Thompson, the media hates the military. Your fellow journalists try and paint the military as scum. We’re poor, uneducated “children” who don’t have a choice (or are sadists who enjoy killing). That’s YOUR profession’s take on us.
I’ve met soldiers from poor backgrounds, some with families that are genuine old money and most who are average Americans. Generation X and the millennials have opted to drop out of world events. They don’t follow the news, don’t care and would rather play xbox and eat junk food than eat healthy and exercise. Most Americans that are the prime recruiting age are just too fat to join. There are many with criminal records. The military’s mission is to win wars, not rehab society’s rejects. That never worked.
It’s the “retired” and “former” service members who seem most “distressed”. Never the rank and file, never active duty at current posts. Fancy that. Their pensions won’t get cut. They won’t have to serve with drugged out and criminal draftees. They won’t get stuck with a slipshod military their vision will create.
The information about how the real military works is available on the web and at CONUS posts. Most posts are now open, you don’t need a pass to get in Mr. Thompson. I suggest you talk to those on active duty who volunteer, who live on and in the local economy. For us there is no drift.
I expect such ramblings from a blog but not Time magazine. Guess print really is dead.