Category Archives: Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day, 2015, Contemplating Modern Warfare

I am not a hawk, but not an absolute dove either. I do agree with the strategy of more flexible American armed forces that can be quickly deployed and pulled back (although egress seems far more difficult to achieve than ingress seems to be). Even as we express our gratitude to our well-trained and dedicated defenders on another Veteran’s Day – this one in 2015 – we have seen our leaders contemplating and implementing changes in the way we wage war. Obviously there are advantages to consider and disadvantages to consider as we explore these new configurations for the deployment of troops and the size of the forces we deploy. I have no expertise in war beyond spending a lot of time asking questions of the I Ching, reading Carlos Castaneda’s, The Teachings of Don Juan: The Yaqui Way to Knowledge, and reading the Rome novels of Colleen McCullough so my discussion is offered from a civilian point of view for what it is worth. But we are a Democracy, of the people, by the people, and for the people, so I think the people are expected to chime in from time to time. Hopefully those with some experience in these matters will find our suggestions useful once in a while.

Advantages

  • Flexibility matches the kind of pop-up violence and hot spots we face these days
  • Soldiers will not have to serve so many tours in a row because we will not have a huge force concentrated in one spot over a prolonged period of time.
  • Soldiers can gain military prowess but can also find time to develop skills useful in civilian life.
  • We can hopefully avoid the enormous cost in life and limb that accompanies full-on combat.

Disadvantages

  • In order to stay strong among the nations of our world we will have to maintain high readiness levels which is more difficult as the eventual goal seems more distant.
  • It will be hard not to keep cutting our military budget because it will be easy to lose sight of the true deterrence value of a battle-ready military.
  • We will need to be flexible enough to use a large force when necessary, a small force when possible, and develop great skill at assessing the needs of any particular situation.
  • We will need to think ahead to what we will do when everyone has drones, satellites, and perhaps even nukes.
  • We will need to be careful because complacency breeds contempt. Exposés, such as those I watched on The Rachel Maddow Show, reveal that the troops who guard our nuclear missiles prove that discipline erodes when a military duty begins to seem like an empty formality.

Of course, all bets are off if we are attacked by aliens. (Is all levity off-limits on Veteran’s Day?)

We love our Armed Forces and we thank you all so much for protecting America, but we sure would like to see you find ways to fight and still come home, intact, to your lives and your families.

By Nancy Brisson

Rewarding Our Soldiers

Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.Image via Wikipedia
Today is Veteran’s Day and it is the day, if we forget on other days, that we thank our soldiers for keeping America and Americans safe. This year, sadly, just prior to Veteran’s Day we learn that soldiers’ remains were found in a landfill. The ashes were recovered and buried at sea, but the facts about how this happened point to problems at Dover Air Force Base that are not worthy of a great nation.
If you do much reading about the Roman Empire then you know that the Romans had the most efficient military organization in ancient times. It relied on thousands of foot soldiers and organized strategies for turning individual soldiers into fighting machines by forming phalanxes or squares of soldiers who functioned together as a unit and had huge effectiveness against disorganized hoards of barbarians and even against some nations with their own fighting forces. Rome was supposed to reward and retire its soldiers at the end of a campaign. Often soldiers were given plots of land or what would today amount to a pension. However, there were many times, apparently, when Rome was short of funds and sort of shafted their veterans until times improved and they could, perhaps, make amends with belated rewards.
It looks like armies have not changed that much over time. Our soldiers are not given land when they retire, but there are rules for awarding our soldiers rewards for serving their country and there are pensions. Just like Rome, though, rewards are dependent on the financial health of the country when the soldier is ready to muster out of the service and rewards are not always meted out consistently or fairly. When times get tough the rewards may get smaller even though the service to the country was just as great. We do have a fair number of Congress people and citizens who try to watch over our vets and make sure they receive appropriate rewards and this helps. We can all also point to a number of sad cases of vets who are not getting the assistance they need, although we recognize that the soldier’s own mental state may be making it difficult to provide the necessary help.
Veteran’s Day is a good day to try to rededicate ourselves to making sure that our veterans know how much we appreciate them. Many of us would make terrible soldiers and we are so grateful that skilled and trained men and women are protecting American interests throughout the world. Now we just have to redouble our efforts to make sure they are rewarded for their service and that we don’t allow rewards to vary with the fortunes of economics.
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