Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green
Yesterday, during a conversation with my son, the conversation turned as it does so often to the military. I had seen an article a day or so earlier from someone who suggested we do away with our military academies. According to the author of the article, the academies are not filled with the best and the brightest. They no longer prepare our officers for the rigors of command. What they are, he alleges, are drains on the tax dollar and underproductive. You see, as far as this person is concerned, the military does well at training but not at education.
Now, I’ll admit, I don’t particularly like the admission process for the service academies. If you or your family doesn’t have political clout, it becomes extremely difficult to gain admittance, no matter what your academic record or military career goals. Each year, a number of appointments go unfilled because the politicians simply don’t use their allotted numbers. Worse, many of the politicians don’t let those students applying for one of their allotted slots know if they have made the final cut for consideration or not.
In short, the application process is flawed.
But what really got to me about the article is that the author of it, who happens to be an instructor at the Naval Academy (but not, if I remember correctly, a member of the military). Worse, his whole emphasis was that it is up to the Republicans to change the system since they are the ones who are so worried about our tax dollars. The Republicans are to reach across the aisle and take care of this horrible problem. The Republicans will be at fault if they do nothing and we keep spending tax dollars on the academies.
Funny, did the academies become a problem only after the Republicans regained the majority of Congress or is this sour grapes? My bet is on sour grapes.
Or maybe it has something to do with the Moon or the water or something else. After all, not long before reading that article (which appeared in Salon and that, in itself, say a lot) I heard a commentary about another article concerning the service academies. This other article apparently condemned the academies because they – gasp – made their cadets do late night exercises and pushed them hard, not only physically but in their studies. They interrupted the sleep of the cadets at times to run surprise exercises. They didn’t give the cadets as much free time as students at “real” colleges” got.
In short, the academies were mean and didn’t let their cadets get a good night’s sleep every night.
My first thought upon hearing this was a long and loud “WTF?!?” Then I found myself wondering if the person so upset that cadets might be awakened in the middle of the night to go on a run or something similar had the same concerns about fraternities and the pranks they pull on their pledges. But fraternities are allowed to do this, I guess, because they are social organizations and booze.
My son’s reaction, much like mine, was quick and explosive. My son, who is currently serving in the military, is not a graduate of one of the service academies. In fact, he is one of those who tried to get in but we didn’t have the political clout and, worse, one of our senators was notorious for not using all of her appointments – and she failed to do so the year my son applied. No, my son is a proud Texas Aggie and member of the Corps of Cadets. The Corps that has trained up more flag rank officers than any other college except the service academies.
With all their faults, the service academies do serve a purpose. They help forge the officers that will lead our military. Part of that process is throwing things at the cadets that they aren’t expecting. Wars aren’t fought on an 8 to 5 schedule. The enemy doesn’t give you a schedule of their movements and plans, making sure you have time to respond. So why should we not make sure those we want to command the troops that will respond to the threat of enemy action are able to adapt to any situation?
Despite the Salon author’s contention that ROTC programs can give a future officer everything he or she needs to be an effective officer, that’s simply not the case. There is a reason why graduates from the service academies, and colleges like Texas A&M where organizations like the Corps of Cadets exist, produce more senior officers than any other programs. Members of the A&M Corps of Cadets are immersed in the military lifestyle and mindset just as students at the military academies are. They live and breathe that sort of life or they get out. So, unless you are going to make sure more colleges put together successful programs like TAMU, the dissolution of the military academies as anything more than short term training programs will be detrimental not only to the military but to this country as well.
All that said, change does need to come to both the service academies and to the military as a whole. Admission to the academies needs to put less emphasis on political clout and more an ability and the desire to make the military more than a one hitch commitment. The military needs to police itself better and it needs to be given the freedom to actually accomplish the missions put to it. If we enter into a firefight or a war, we need to go in with the attitude that we are going to win it, not just hold the line or push back the enemy while we train someone else to take over.
In other words, we let the military do what it does best. We don’t tie our commanders’ hands because war might get messy. It is war. People die, whether we like it or not. There will be collateral damage, especially when the enemy has no qualms about hiding in the middle of civilian neighborhoods.
Instead of tearing down the military academies, we need to tear down the artificial sensibilities that the SJW crowd has imposed on the conduct of war. There was a time when the world respected our military and knew that if the commander-in-chief mobilized our forces, butts were about to be kicked. That is no longer the case. The enemy knows we won’t be swift with reprisals and we sure won’t come in and finish the fight. What the SJWs refuse to admit is that, as long as this is the mindset, more people will die, innocents will die because we aren’t there to protect them.
And, no, those innocents won’t all be citizens of other countries. Don’t believe me? Look at the number of Americans who have died or been kidnapped who are non-military but who have been taken by our enemy simply because they are American.
And because the enemy knows we won’t do a damned thing about it.
As a mother with a son in the military, it scares the crap out of me to think we might one day be in a war where my son could be in danger. Then the realist in me realizes he already is simply by being American. He doesn’t have to be in the military to be in danger from those who hate our country. But, because he is in the military, he is at least trying to do something to keep our country safe. That’s more than a lot of folks can say.
Yes, I’m pissy this morning. I’m tired of seeing our politicians bow their heads and stick their tails between their legs when it comes to people who want to see our country fall. I’m sick of seeing Washington do nothing when our countrymen are murdered by ISIS and their ilk. I’m sick of seeing our leaders insult countries that are our allies by not supporting them in their time of need. (BTW, where was our president yesterday? Was he watching football or playing golf instead of being in Paris? If he couldn’t go, why didn’t the VP or Secretary of State? If the heads of Germany, Israel, even the Palestinian states could be there to show their solidarity with France, why couldn’t we have someone there, someone more than an ambassador?)
The answer to our problems isn’t to do away with the military academies. Yes, we need to cut federal spending but cutting military budgets and doing away with the service academies is not the answer. Instead of advocating further neutering our military, perhaps the Salon author ought to remember the words of John F. Kennedy when he said:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
In other words, reform is needed not at the service academy level but at the social services level where we are now seeing generations of families on welfare. Service to the country can take many forms. It isn’t limited to the military but, in my opinion at least, that is a pretty damned good place to start.