"...are calling for deep personnel cuts to the Army, Navy, and Air Force in order to pay for new high-tech weaponry and missile defenses that are cornerstones of (the president's) plan to 'transform the military.'"
This quote was from a piece in the Washington Post. From August 8. In 2001.
Look at that date again. What happened 33 days later? September 11th.
The problem with all this passing of the buck (both literally and figuratively) is that it never really stops. There is never one person who says, "Oh, yeah. That's mine." The buck just keeps getting passed around over and over.
This nation has this ongoing habit of forgetting the value of a national defense, and an international police force. We don't just work for this nation, we protect every nation who needs us.
It goes like this: a conflict arises; we engage and go to war. We deplete our defense resources, literally bleed our military dry and bring them home. We threaten to take everything they have left in the name of a better military because somehow they didn't JUST do their job. Then, we get into another war.
And, the cycle repeats.
I was born into the military. I don't know of another way of life. I don't know what it means to live in a family where service is unfamiliar, unwanted, undesired. I have never had a man in my life who didn't wear a uniform of this nation by volunteering to do so. At a time when drafting was common, my father volunteered for not one, but TWO tours in Vietnam. My uncle, my grandfathers, my great grandfathers, my brothers, my husband. Have all served this nation.
So, I don't much care who did what. I don't care if Clinton made it rough for Bush, or Bush caused this or that for Obama. I just don't care. What I care about is the fact that not a single person seems able or even willing to step up and say, "We cannot live as a solvent nation, ready to defend ourselves and the OTHER nations we protect, without an always ready, all-volunteer military."
We've been at war for over 12 years. Seemingly, the last of our troops will be brought home soon from Afghanistan. We are on the brink of complete and total fracture with Congress and the Secretary of Defense targeting a war-weary military every time Congress is in session. We've served our time as agreed, and yet, we've got bills to pay. Some would like those costs taken out of the military hide. Most (hopefully) see that as morally, if not legally, wrong and tantamount to breach of faith and promise.
Which it is.
But, it doesn't stop them from coming after us after we've already done our part.
As things begin to "heat up" in Ukraine and Russia, one must wonder, as the words from the article in TWP linger, are we on repeat? Has our nation become so complacent that we are willing to, even for a second, suggest that we are untouchable? Have we forgotten how we all felt on 9/12? Have we let go of the horror we all experienced, the shock, the unbelievability that the leading world power had been attacked -- not once, but FOUR TIMES in one day?
We were caught idle. We were caught too busy haggling in our tiny offices in DC, arguing about the cost of the commissary versus the cost of the Strike Fighter. We were too terribly distracted with who was right and who was left to notice that a gradual infiltration of our nation had taken place beneath our noses. We were far too important and full of ourselves to believe for even the slightest of moments that an organized group would DARE step into our den. And, then they did.
And, yet apparently, here we are again, less than 13 years later, having the same exact discussions, about the same exact weapons, about the same exact part of the government.
We haven't learned a damn thing. Nothin. Not a single noteworthy thing has been learned. These conversations might as well be on repeat for all the good they are doing. So, the next time you read:
"With money tight, force cuts and infrastructure reductions through base closings have become critical elements of the administration's broader strategy to transform the military. The goal is to create a stealthier, more rapidly deployable force better suited to fight future battles."
You might remember this:
The last time we got stuck in that loop? Was a month before the worst terrorist attack on this nation's soil. Ever.
And, then ask yourself if you're willing to go to war? Are you willing to put your life on the line for a nation whose leaders are grateful when the camera is rolling, but are meeting behind closed doors to slash the promises they've made to you, figuring out a way to get out of the deal they made? Are you willing to be called INTO a military that no longer has willing participants but people who are yanked out of their civilian lives, with their civilian children, forced to learn to be in combat?
It's not as simple as "Are you willing to be drafted?" There is no need for a draft. Not yet anyway. Just a need to be honorable and honest with those who ARE volunteering to serve.
As the roads leading home are lined with bodies of our dead, the limbs of our wounded, as we get closer to home the road becomes even darker. Because it is lined with the broken promises of those who committed to a war they couldn't afford. It is lined with lies and betrayals of the highest magnitude because they betray our families. The families who were put through the darkest of hells for 12 years. Families who gave more than was ever expected or anticipated because they were willing.
I don't think they're willing anymore. Are you?