Killing the All Volunteer Force

Posted: Jan 24, 2007 12:00 AM
Killing the All Volunteer Force

I suppose I come from what’s left of America’s warrior class. Not the noblesse oblige style warrior that dominated the officer corps from the Civil War to World War II, but a working class stock of martial warrior who serves for a sense of individual purpose, and who coincidentally comes from a line of previous warriors.

I was raised in the martial culture, and was drawn to its machinations, as many boys are. As I grew, I came to understand the necessities behind the ceremony and discipline, and I began to feel the heartbeat behind its martial rhythms. I was attracted to the rigors of the military and the sense honor that comes with service. It was my attraction to the elemental foundations of martial service that put me on my career path.

My grandfather served as a Sergeant in World War I with the AEF. He was (reportedly) a tough, feisty Scots-Irish man who earned his citizenship for his service with the artillery corps. He was scarred by mustard attacks, and died before I was old enough to speak, his lungs no longer capable of supplying him oxygen. His service (along will hundreds of thousands of other Americans) shortened the war, and helped save the lives of thousands of more Europeans on both sides, and should be noted as the heroic endeavor that it was. I wear his well-worn and smoothed “Past Commander” American Legion ring on special occasions.

My father served as a pilot in the Marine Corps for thirteen years. He quit college to enter the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. He graduated, re-trained into fleet aircraft and was shipped to Korea. He eventually flew missions into Vietnam as well, but left the service in 1966 when he failed selection to Major. He served because it was part of his persona…he “fit” the military. His service restored South Korea’s borders and extended American policy in Southeast Asia. I wear his well-worn Marine Corps ring, the one that served as his wedding band, on special occasions as well.

I took my first oath of office in 1974 as a Midshipman at Tulane University. It was a course that was neither chosen for me, nor pushed upon me. It was a choice made from a deep seated respect for the martial lifestyle, and from a sense that this country provided the entirety of my immigrant genealogy with opportunities that Ireland and Holland could not have, and that some measure of payment was required. This is a debt that is not settled simply by one generation, but it is a debt more akin to a type of generational mortgage. A debt that should be continually worked off, generation to generation, in return for the opportunity and prosperity this country has offered, and provided.

It makes sense to sacrifice for a greater cause. Truly, generations of Americans have sacrificed again and again in order to improve this nation, and to defend its democratic principles. We have all reaped the benefits of those sacrifices, and we have all been graced with the opportunities that come with democracy, freedom and capitalism. It makes sense to sustain those efforts, and to sustain our founding principles.

But, for how long will it make sense to those like my family to sacrifice when their efforts are being squandered by the political machinations of 535 elected office holders scrambling for another two to six years on the public dole? By 535 self-serving windbags that have turned the Congress of the United States into a franchise of the Waffle House?

This is the question that Hugh Hewitt actually posed when he posted this essay by another retired serviceman. Another, who like me, has selflessly executed the national will via legal and congressionally sponsored military action. And, who like me, is becoming sickened by the maneuverings of a self-serving political class that uses the military and its members as vote getting props when the wind is blowing one direction, then mercilessly rakes them over the coals, when the wind blows in a different direction.

This is not a national security issue, this is an unemployment issue…the potential unemployment of 535 political weather vanes. And their continued politicizing of serious national security issues is going to wring the will out of the last remnants of our serious warrior class. A class of American that willingly and capably provides for its defense.

But this is also a class of American that is not stupid or naïve. They know they will never own Jon Carey’s twenty-five mansions, or get off on manslaughter charges because their brother was President. They know that it will be a generation or more still, before their heirs are millionaires and enter the privileged class. And they know that the best chances for their heirs to realize that vision, is to defend this country when it, and its values, are under attack. They are proud of their defense of this nation, and are not ashamed to say so. And they have shown that they are willing to do something about it…physically.

They will sacrifice all that they have in order to see that promise fulfilled to another generation. At the very least they sacrifice precious moments of their lives to their country. And at the most, they sacrifice the entirety of their lives for this country. Neither of these selfless acts should be manipulated by 535 ego-maniacs that fear diminished status far more than most of our servicemen fear getting a bullet between the running lights.

Congressional Republicans are squandering the support of this warrior class, and it will not be easily retrieved. Ronald Reagan was able to revive its spirit, because it was predominately squandered by the Democrats in the Vietnam era (The Nightingale’s Song by Robert Timberg is a good reference here). When Republicans diminish the efforts of our warrior class, the volunteer and enthusiastic effort that is the hallmark of our services today will have to be replaced by the Rangle draft, and our military will be incrementally less capable, and less reliable. The end of the republic will then be nigh.

For when the jobs of 535 politicians become more important than defending this nation and our word around the world, then we are doomed to collapse.

In the meantime, I think I’ll discourage my nephews from entering the service. And the rest of the warrior class should withhold its volunteer services until the chuckleheads in Congress can come to take the world, and its many difficult issues seriously, an not politically. We should hide our families, and time the birth of our children, as Pelosi suggests, so that we never have to support the defense of this nation, nor take any personal risks in its defense. We should take our chances with a draft lottery rather than volunteering for the services. And we should stand idly by as 535 politikers sell this nation’s future short for fifteen more minutes of fame and celebrity.

We’ll do that, but don’t come to my house asking for guns and ammo when the enemy is at the gates. And please, don’t ask me to come to the defense of your home…it won’t be happening.