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Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Civilian’s View of the Military

One must begin with the ultimate task one can be called upon to do in the armed services.  Under the extreme stress of conflict with one’s life on the line, one must be willing at a moment’s notice to die; willing to die for others; if an officer, willing to send others to their deaths; and, of course; willing to kill.  Considering these essentials it is necessary to instill beforehand the appropriateness and necessity of the action and a behavior that has become almost reflexive under conditions of incessant hazard.  I say “almost” because the specific situation will always require judgment.  The ability to make good snap judgments under pressure and the reflexive willingness to carry them out is called for.  This goes for all, not just the officers.  The withering nature of boot camp where the recruit is constantly under physical and psychological attack is designed not only to hone one to follow orders, but to paradoxically elicit an inner strength when all self-dignity has been stripped away.  One’s survivor instinct is tapped.  There is a new dignity based on “I can do this…I have done this…I have survived this” coupled with a primordial will to win.  Viewed from civilian life, there appear to be way too many rules and restrictions in the military and unnecessary recruit debasement.  This judgment made from civilian safety, security, and tranquility has questionable value.

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