REPLY #4 TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
(R) Well, I do agree with you, to start. I to serve and am coming to the end of service after 11 years. I had some good times, met some good friends, and seen a whole lot of things that I really would not have outside of the army.
(MB) I feel much the same way. Since I'm from a family farm outside a very small town in North Dakota, my service in the Army is about the only way I'd have ever been able to go the places and do the things I've been able to do. There are things in my life I'd do differently if I had the chance to do them over, but enlisting in the Army would not be one of them. That has been one of the best decisions I ever made.
(R) My main failing with the service is that it has gone down-hill since 1991. With the ' We're super-studs' after the 'Desert (you add your word)', the USA has felt the sharp sting of budget gouges, the social-reorginization from the current administration, and the loss of a lot of good guys/galls/whatever. I have stood along the sidelines and watch as the owners gut the team of the valueable owners and, for a lack of a better analigy, turned them into free-agents.
(MB) That has been a historical mistake that has been committed after the end of every war we've ever fought. Of course, every time that mistake has been made, we've paid for it by being seriously unprepared for the next war. The standard argument asks why we need a large, powerful military if we're not fighting anybody. The answer is easy if one realizes that the best military is one that is strong enough that potential adversaries are either unwilling to challenge it or will risk suffering a quick and devastating defeat if they do challenge it.
(R) Oddly, that is me now. With the training and experence I now have, I am finding that the buisness world is clawing over each other to get to us GI's.
(MB) That shouldn't be much of a surprise considering the quality of the average person fresh out of high school or college these days. Not only do Army vets get training and experience in real jobs, they learn leadership and discipline and are in decent physical shape, as well.
(R) My greatest fear is that the next ballon that goes up, who is gonna be left?
(MB) The people who make the body bags... :-(
(R) I had it told to me by my civilian boss (I work in a Army test center with civilians) that it is cheaper to buy a tank than to keep the crew. Shocked,I replied that who is gonna drive and shoot the camoflauged paper-weight? Him? He turned shocked.
(MB) That's the problem when the people who make the decisions are more concerned with bottom-line bean-counting than with realizing that the best equipment still needs good troops to put it to any good use.
(R) My point is that with all the spending on gee-wiz toys, paying for things 'not Army' (I was dumb-found to learn that there is roughly 3 civs to one tree-suiter currently on the army payroll...),
(MB) In the case of Army computer jobs, it seems that civilians are preferred to Army computer geeks (like me) since civilians will tend to be at the same unit for longer times than will the average service member. I've been denied the chance to work on several big projects since I wouldn't be at the unit throughout the lifetime of the project. Often, this means that a less-qualified civilian gets the job.
(R) ...and little though for the stuff we really need to do (like keep up the basics, like rifle marksmanship, CTT skills, and FTX's).
(MB) Certainly, the combat arms troops should have all the training they need to be at peak readiness. More effort expended in training means less blood expended in battle.
(R) Saddly, I am guilty for the above loss in the basics. There is no money in our command for this training (but money can be found for TDY to San Fran for a 10-day simposium for advanced therory and though).
(MB) Some of these symposiums have more to do with ticket-punching and brown-nosing than with anything to improve training or readiness.
(R) I have voiced my concerns for the troopers and their lack of training. The most training we do is PT in the morning. We do little basic soldier training, due to the fact that we don't all work together. actually, no two soldiers do. We work out of seperate offices. Yet, when all of them boloed on CTT, they were looking for heads to fill the basket. (Most of them failed land navigation,
function check on the m-16a1, and basic medical training).
(MB) I've been to the rifle range once in the past 12 years and common task training/testing has traditionally been little more than going through the motions in training and pencil-pushing the actual testing. In my case, however, this is not all bad since my jobs have always been those that are almost as far from the battlefield as you can get and infantry-type training often takes valuable time away from the everyday mission I perform. I approach the situation realistically. When somebody tries to justify some time-wasting "training" with the moldy old question that asks "what will happen if you end up in the front line?", I always reply, "If that happens, we'll be in serious trouble since all the real combat soldiers will already be dead".
(R) With this, and a few other burrs under my saddle, I made up my mind and am leaving. Talking with some of my friends finds that they are doing the same thing. I feel bad for the younger soldiers - they are loosing valuable experence and leadership from those who learned from some of the best.
(MB) The situation gets even worse when you factor in all of the programs that seek to draw down the total strength of the military by offering incentives for experienced service members to get out early. This tends to strip many of the best and brightest out of the military since they are the ones most likely to walk into high-paying civilian jobs.
(R) I hope that there will be some that do stay. This country needs them.
(MB) Since I have only three years left until my projected retirement in January 2002, the early-out programs hold little incentive for me. I'd have a hard time accepting one of them in any case since I greatly enjoy what I'm doing and hope to continue doing it for a while longer.
(R) How to fix the mess? Well, 1) we need to get back to basics - shooting, moving, and commo
(MB) Absolutely. We must all be experts at the respective jobs we have that are essential to our ability to win any war and win it quickly with a mimimum of casualties.
(R) 2) I REALLY think that the Army need to look at the Army Regulations. Some of them are so far out of date that I think that some supply SGT is STILL waiting at Valley Forge
(MB) Even more than that, the Army needs to learn that mindless adherence to outdated and/or nonsensical regulations is not "leadership".
(R) 3) it is amazing to see so many jobs filled by civilians that should be filled by GI's
(MB) The military supposedly saves budget money by reducing the number of service members. However, the jobs don't go away. You pay the average civilian considerably more to do that job than you pay to the service member who had previously done that job and are unlikely to get the same sense of duty.
(R) 4) you would think that as you gain more years/seniority in the service that you would gain some benifit other than a pay increase. It was my case - reup and go to Korea or get out. Sorry, my first child would be born about the time I left.
(MB) This is another side-effect of the reduction of the force. Supposedly, this is "for the good of the Army". I'm not sure how that works when it causes the Army to lose good people that would otherwise not be lost.
(R) 5) the army should do its origional mission - deter aggression against the US and protect its borders/people against hostile powers when diplomacy fails
(MB) The biggest problem with these "humanitarian missions" is that the rules of engagement all too often don't permit the troops on those missions to do what they've been trained to do. It's ridiculous when they're not even permitted to have live ammunition locked and loaded into their weapons.
(R) 6) if the Army is getting smaller, why is there one general for every 600-800 soldiers? Uh, isn't that a Batallion?
(MB) Didn't you know that the ticket-punch is mightier than the sword? *grin*
(R) 7) its nice to think that we'll look like stormtroopers on the future battlefield, but, are we ready to fight on one tommarow?
(MB) I think it's a given that we certainly wouldn't be able to duplicate our incredible Desert Storm feat. Check out this information (elsewhere on my site) to see just how much weaker we are now than we were in the early 90s.
(R) I guess I took up a bit of bandwith, so I close for now.
(MB) Thanks for your comments. It's always good to hear from a fellow service member who shares some of my concerns.