Balkinization  

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Commander in Chief Threshold

Stephen Griffin

There was a story in the NYT today which repeated an argument Hillary Clinton has been making for awhile -- that only she and John McCain cross the "commander in chief threshold." This argument is meant to stress her experience and readiness for the presidency, but there is a shadow issue that few have noticed although it dogged the first Clinton presidency. That's the relationship between the officer corps and the Democratic party. So far I've noticed one story on this issue in the Washington Times which gave expression to the serious doubts the military has about both Democratic candidates. The conservative and Republican tendencies of the officer corps have been noted but I'm not advancing a Seven Days in May scenario and those tendencies are inherently no more worrisome that the liberal and Democratic tendencies of law professors. The issue is rather whether the gulf between most of the officer corps and Democrats has reached the point where alienation, lack of common ground, and mistrust would lead to unnecessary conflict, misunderstandings, and serious policy mistakes in a Clinton or Obama administration. Remember the opening months of the first Clinton administration -- gays in the military? That conflict featured the military brass drawing on their contacts in Congress to oppose an initiative featured in the presidential election.

Once the nomination is secure for Clinton or Obama, you can be sure we will hear more of the military's negative perspective on them. Regardless of which Democratic candidate you like, neither Senator Clinton or Obama can compete effectively with John McCain for the hearts and minds of our military leaders. There is little common ground partly because once again, Democrats have been indulging in their habit of avoiding issues the military cares about. Engaging with the military involves more than articulating a global strategy or endorsing/opposing this or that weapons system. It demands sustained attention to their point of view. That's something that for somewhat understandable historical reasons, contemporary Democrats have been loath to do. They may pay a price for this in the general election, but the real danger will rear up, as it did with Bill Clinton, in a new Democratic administration. Building bridges now with the serving officer corps (as opposed to retired endorsers) would cost little and pay dividends later.




Comments:

Nice post. One part of me wants to agree with you that any Democrat would have a hard time as Commander in Chief. But I am not sure how this rests with some counter-intuitive statistics I have seen that more Democrats in Congress are veterans than Republicans. I'm not sure if these statistics are still true, but it does make me wonder. Do we all just imagine Republicans to be more comfortable with the military than Democrats are? What is really going on in the mind and heart of a "chicken hawk"?

Even if we imagine that Republ;icans ar more comfortable with the military, however, the military may imagine this well. And this would seem to be a problem for any Democrat. But I get the sense that very few people are even thinking at all about what would command the respect of the military.

One thing is for sure. Someone who has no military background, is abrasive, divisive, and lacks the ability to inspire would make a rather awkward Commander in Chief. Clinton's tactic of stressing security seems sure to backfire if she gets the nomination. For someone without a military background, good listening skills, the ability to integrate advice and manage advisors, and the ability to comprehend and articulate the concerns of those diferent from himself would be in a much better position. I think Obama might surprise us as a Commander in Chief. But who knows.

That said, I have serious doubts as to whether the ability to command the allegiance of the military is all that important. It won't keep us out of the wrong wars. It won't have a significant effect over how we choose to wage the right wars. I tend to think grand strategy is far more important. This requires a comprehensive view, which the Democrats may have more of in this election.

Moreover, as a someone who leans toward utilitarianism, I tend to have a problem with how much we emphasize national security. This emphasis does not seem to be very conducive to increases in well being or decreases in suffering. Thanks again for the stimulting post, thou.

Theo Horesh
 

Correction: I just realized how absurd the end of my last comment appeared. It should read "This emphasis (on security) does not seem to be very conducive to GREAT increases in well being or GREAT decreases in suffering." Sorry for the double post
 

Assuming we have a democrat President next January, what are the chances that s/he will end the Iraq war, and when? Ike did this with the Korean conflict shortly after he took office in 1953. No one blamed Ike for the Korean conflict. Nixon/Ford ended the Vietnam war but only after Nixon's accelerations after he was installed in 1969 for some 6 years. Who blames Nixon for Vietnam? (He took the heat for Watergate instead.) Republicans have the ability to avoid blame for losing wars and conflicts. Has George W made it difficult for a democrat President to end the Iraq war without taking blame? Republican strateregy for this November's campaign is to make the Iraqi war the democrats' war or to blame democrats for surrendering, losing the war. It will be politics not principle that determines what happens.
 

Professor Griffin:

Regardless of which Democratic candidate you like, neither Senator Clinton or Obama can compete effectively with John McCain for the hearts and minds of our military leaders. There is little common ground partly because once again, Democrats have been indulging in their habit of avoiding issues the military cares about. Engaging with the military involves more than articulating a global strategy or endorsing/opposing this or that weapons system. It demands sustained attention to their point of view. That's something that for somewhat understandable historical reasons, contemporary Democrats have been loath to do. They may pay a price for this in the general election, but the real danger will rear up, as it did with Bill Clinton, in a new Democratic administration. Building bridges now with the serving officer corps (as opposed to retired endorsers) would cost little and pay dividends later.

You have touched upon something very important here which has disturbed this veteran for a long time now.

What separates the military from most Dems and not a few GOP is not whether the civilian leadership are military veterans. Most have not been since the WWII generation started passing from the scene. This is actually a return to the normal historical state of affairs.

It is true that dodging military service during Vietnam did not endear Mr. Clinton to the military, who view such actions as cowardice unworthy of their CiC. (I know that others of both parties did the same thing, but they were not CiC.) However, that is not really the larger problem between the military and most Dems and not a few GOP.

What separates the military from most Dems and not a few GOP is not partisan choices in weapons systems. For the most part, the GOP and Dems both built up the military during the Cold War and then drew it down afterwards.

What separates the military from most Dems and not a few GOP is not even whether to go to war. The military does not enjoy going to war and many of its officer corps are cautious bureaucrats who would rather inspect their men and weapons than to use and expend them in a war.

What separates the military from the most Dems and not a few GOP is a matter of respect. Since Vietnam, the Dem attitude towards the military has ranged from outright hostility to condescension. Here are but a few examples:

1) From John Kerry's testimony before the Senate falsely accusing his brothers in arms of war crimes and comparing them the Genghis Khan to Senator Durbin's comparison of our troops to Nazis and Soviets, the examples of Dems slandering our troops are legion. This is not exactly the recommended method to win friends and influence people in the military.

2) In an attempt to keep from losing votes ala George McGovern, most Dems have attempted to finesse their attacks by claiming that they support the soldiers, but attack their mission.

This is a good example of the cultural gulf between the Dem civilians and the military. From their first day in basic training, it is drilled into our soldiers that their entire purpose in life up to sacrificing their lives is to accomplish the missions assigned to them by the civilian leadership. To the military, you cannot separate the mission from the soldier.

Consequently, when the Dems claim that the war is a failure, they are accusing those who fought, bled and died fighting the war of failing. This is especially galling when the accusations of failure are false and do not reflect what the soldiers are seeing on the ground.

3) Adding a hefty dose of hypocrisy to these attacks is the example of Dem leaders in Congress and running for President who voted to send the troops to war and then withdrew that support out of political expediency with the troops in the field.

Here is another example of the cultural gulf between the Dems and the military. The troops are trained from day one that losing in a war is simply unthinkable. When the enemy makes things hard, you simply fight harder until you prevail.

Thus, soldiers often view as a betrayal Dem withdrawal of support when they are fighting and dying in the field on a mission which those same Dems sent them.

In the same vein, Dem efforts to run out of their party members like Joe Lieberman who stand by their war votes as if they were moral lepers does not exactly send a message of love and support to the military.

I despair that this gulf between our military and one of the nation's major political parties can be mended any time soon.

The 2008 election already appears to be lost. Both Obama and Clinton have taken the paths I discussed above and the CiC qualification issue raised by Clinton and which is the centerpiece of the McCain campaign will only harden this divide.

This political divide reflects a deeper cultural divide in the grass roots. Observe the responses to this post and other similar posts I have made here in the past. They are not exactly indicative of an imminent rapprochement.

Reuniting the Dems with the military will take far more than a PR campaign during this election. It will take a fundamental cultural shift of which I see no sign.
 

It is true that dodging military service during Vietnam did not endear Mr. Clinton to the military, who view such actions as cowardice unworthy of their CiC.

And yet it does not seem to be an issue that the current CiC managed to hide from Vietnam. Very Odd.
 

While the only action his sidekick has seen was when he shot a fellow hunter in the face. And yet he is not seen as a coward by scum like Baghdad. Very odd indeed.
 

SHAG FROM BROOKLINE SAYS:

"This political divide reflects a deeper cultural divide in the grass roots. Observe the responses to this post and other similar posts I have made here in the past. They are not exactly indicative of an imminent rapprochement."

I, too, take the opportunity to have all of my such past comments incorporated by reference. This will permit me to generate more bloggable hours and enjoy splendor in the grass roots.
 

If Baghdad Bart is representative of our military, we are in deep doodoo. Fortunately, I'm relatively certain that he is not.
 

Bart said: What separates the military from the most Dems and not a few GOP is a matter of respect.

As a veteran myself (20 years), I would note that respect is indeed an important aspect of the relationship between the CIC (and all of civilian society for that matter) and the military. And, the key to real respect is not a PR campaign as Bart notes. However, real respect is also not sending forces off to war based on lies and personal hubris. It is not, I suggest, respectful to the military to squander 4000 lives. That Bart is the ultimate disrespect.
 

Perhaps the biggest problem is that the military consumes far too large a share of our current budget. Any president needs to reduce the amount spent on the military or risk running the economy into the ground. Managing that process will be a challenge for anyone, particular one as ignorant of economics as John McCain confesses himself to be.
 

Political outreach to active duty officers strikes me as a something to consider more carefully. It suggests that a politicized military would be a good thing. Given the nature of interactions between active duty and retired, I would be hesitant to adopt the path recommended.
 

rin:

You bring up an important related issue of what duties civilians and the military owe one another after the civilian leadership sends its soldiers to war.

We both swore an oath to fight and defeat the nation's enemies when sent to war by the President and Congress pursuant to their constitutional powers, even at the risk of our own lives and well being. I did so in the Persian Gulf War and my brother has done so on two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The civilian leadership does not take a concurrent oath to support the military which they have sent to war so that they can achieve victory against the nation's enemies. However, I strongly suggest that they have a moral duty to do so, even if they originally opposed the war and lost the vote to go to war in Congress.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the civilian leadership sent its troops to a war which was unwise and wasteful. Once you have gone to war, that question is moot. The only question which remains once you have paid the blood deposit going to war is whether it is better to win or lose the unwise and wasteful war.

Unless you are facing the decimation of your military in a Pyrrhic victory, I would contend that losing a war is always more unwise and wasteful than winning one. Given that the United States military is currently unchallenged on the battlefield, we are not faced with the alternative of a Pyrrhic victory.
 

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the civilian leadership sent its troops to a war which was unwise and wasteful. Once you have gone to war, that question is moot.

The idea that you have to continue pissing away lives and money in a war that you have determined is pointless is one of the most idiotic things I have ever heard.
 

Given that the United States military is currently unchallenged on the battlefield

If we are unchallenged on the battlefield, why do we still have 150,000 troops over there?
 

Bart writes:
It is true that dodging military service during Vietnam did not endear Mr. Clinton to the military,

Didn't hurt "W" very much, interestingly.

I despair that this gulf between our military and one of the nation's major political parties can be mended any time soon.

Not if polarizing characters like yourself keep trotting about constantly politicking. Your description itself smacks of a false dichotomy. While it does look like many in service clearly swing in the direction of the GOP, Obama has enough support to render a picture of exclusivity rather blurry.

This political divide reflects a deeper cultural divide in the grass roots. Observe the responses to this post and other similar posts I have made here in the past. They are not exactly indicative of an imminent rapprochement.


I think your POV needs to be represented here, but in a genuine sense, not the polarized political stumping you're so frequently engaged in. You may see yourself as countering a bias seen here, but you're not. You're further discrediting what you see as your camp. Either that, or you're an elaborate social experiment by someone, since you so frequently spout things you know people will catch, in spite of at the same time appearing to be somewhat politically astute. I'm not sure which.

I see a cultural divide, but you get reproached here for the most part for fabricating material, making bigoted and fascist comments, and spinning like a top. Attributing your reprimands to a cultural divide is specious in that you can easily deflect any real responsibility for what you post here and preemptively discredit valid criticisms.
 

bit:

Mr. Bush served in the USAF national guard. While this hardly rises to the level of front line service as a grunt, my brother and several thousand others might take exception to their service as pilots in the USAF NG being the equivalent of draft dodging.
 

my brother and several thousand others might take exception to their service as pilots in the USAF NG being the equivalent of draft dodging.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:16 PM


Baghdad, during the Vietnam war the NG was a notorious hiding place for draft dodgers with connections, like young Dumbya. After the war it was decided that the Guard would play a more active role in future wars.

So, unless your brother flew combat during Vietnam in the Guard, his example is irrelevant.
 

bb:

The USAF traditionally keeps many of its pilots in the NG and the President usually deploys them to war to fill out the USAF as Mr. Bush has done with my brother's unit twice.

However, LBJ was attempting to keep the Vietnam War from impacting the home front by refusing to mobilize the NG and reserves as we had done in prior and future wars. This was a major political and strategic error as observed by Col. Harry Summers in his outstanding Vietnam critique "On Strategy." However, this was not the fault of Mr. Bush or his fellow pilots.

While I have earned the right through my Army service to tease my brother about his USAF service in good natured inter service ribbing, folks who have never served and would never consider serving in any capacity in the military like you and Mr. Clinton are hardly in a position to challenge Mr. Bush and my brother's service.

As I discussed above, I was confident that the responses to my lead post would illustrate my point of the disturbingly wide cultural divide between far too many Dems and those who serve this nation in its military.
 

folks who have never served and would never consider serving in any capacity in the military like you and Mr. Clinton are hardly in a position to challenge Mr. Bush and my brother's service.

Baghdad, what part of "things have changed since Vietnam" did you not understand? Your brother's service is irrelevant to whether Dumbya hid from service in Vietnam in the Guard. Well, at least when he bothered to show up....
 

I was confident that the responses to my lead post would illustrate my point of the disturbingly wide cultural divide between far too many Dems and those who serve this nation in its military.

While I was even more confident that your attempts to defend your idotic lead post would illustrate the disturbingly wide divide between yourself and reality.
 

I'm sorry, but I think it's a sorry situation when we are even discussing why a Presidential candidate should be concerned with the opinion of the military.

Based on my experience, in the military and working for a government contractor, where I had to rub up against officers and ex-officers for years, I assert that it would be extremely unwise to allow these people to have any influence in the political arena beyond their individual vote. There is simply too high a percentage of RWA followers in the military, where that personality type seems to be selected for.

The idea that military officers, by virtue of their training or experience, are more capable to handle political or diplomatic matters, even those dealing with the military, is simply ridiculous. The only advantage these individuals may have is that they will perhaps recognize better when another member of the military is blowing smoke, where a civilian, unversed the the way the military operates, might be fooled by the bluster.
 

Bart,

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the civilian leadership sent its troops to a war which was unwise and wasteful. Once you have gone to war, that question is moot. The only question which remains once you have paid the blood deposit going to war is whether it is better to win or lose the unwise and wasteful war.

This is what is known in economics as the Concord Fallacy. It is the assumption that if we invest enough money, we must keep investing more to save our original investment. But a bad investment is better abandoned now, when losses are small, than later when losses have only grown.

The same applies to war. A foolish, wasteful war is not in our national interest. Our actual strategic interest (say, in Vietnam) is often minimal. Throwing good money after bad is bad enough, being equally wasteful with lives is worse. I do not doubt you are right that soldiers will feel angry and betrayed if we abandon a war as not worth the sacrifice, but, quite simply, our leaders cannot base such decisions solely on soldiers' feelings.

Last July I asked you about WWI. England and France were clearly democratic, Germany and Austria were at least semi-democratic and had elective parliaments that approved the war. Did that make the moral obligation to continue fighting mutual? You answered that it did. Consider the implications. It would mean that in WWI both side "owed" it to their soldiers to keep feeding them into the meatgrinder, and that any attempt to stop the slaughter until one side collapsed from exhaustion would be a "betrayal" of the soldiers being slaughtered. Call me anti-military, but I find this appalling.

And, yes, I realize our situation in Iraq is different, but we are talking about the general principle here. I am simply pointing out where this general principle can lead.


I do not doubt that it is true that soldiers feel that "you cannot separate the soldier from the mission" or that "defeat is unthinkable," but, simply put, our leaders cannot base their policy entirely on soldiers' feelings.
 

c2h50h:

I would agree with you that the military are hardly the first folks you would consult with concerning domestic or political affairs.

However, when the bad guys come knocking, all hell is breaking loose and everyone is screaming for someone else to do something about it, a President and Congress would be well advised to heed the advice of the experts on waging and winning wars.

"Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

Attributed to George Orwell

 

el:

Given that the soldiers are making the real sacrifices, the President and Congress making no real sacrifices would do well to at least consult the soldiers as to whether they want their sacrifices to be in vain by surrendering a war.
 

If you screw over the troops by repeatedly sending them to war and then surrendering after they shed their blood, sooner or later the soldiers are going to tell you to take a hike the next time you call for their service.

When the cost is in blood, there really is no alternative to winning.
 

Bart writes:
Mr. Bush served in the USAF national guard. While this hardly rises to the level of front line service as a grunt, my brother and several thousand others might take exception to their service as pilots in the USAF NG being the equivalent of draft dodging.


And they'd be right to be angry. Especially given that "W" didn't show up between may 1972 and may 1973 ("not observed during period of report" according to William Harris, Lt Col 2MAY1973 - just one of a number of documents reporting him as "not there during rating period", or "not training with his unit of assignment")

He may very well have had meritorious reasons for not showing up. Not getting authorization to be absent to the point that immediate superiors couldn't rate him because he wasn't there often enough to be rated - I know what that was called when I was in.
 

Bart,

You need to work on your reading comprehension. Where did I say that the military (your "rough men", a pathetic, Kipling-eque characterization) should not be consulted on waging and winning wars?

The mistake would be to regard the military as expert in any other area. To give the military, and especially the officers thereof, as a class, any extra weight beyond their voting numbers in any area regarding politics or diplomacy is a dreadful -- and, may I add, un-American -- idea.

Let me also add that the idea that the military is somehow more worthy because of their sacrifice to participate in politics is, oddly enough, primarily attractive only to those in the military. This might make it suspect to a dispassionate observer.

Thanks in advance for sparing us your mindless militaristic platitudes and trying for reasoned arguments.
 

c2h50h said...

Bart, You need to work on your reading comprehension. Where did I say that the military (your "rough men", a pathetic, Kipling-eque characterization) should not be consulted on waging and winning wars?

You posted this just a couple hours ago...

The idea that military officers, by virtue of their training or experience, are more capable to handle political or diplomatic matters, even those dealing with the military, is simply ridiculous.

Perhaps you would like to withdraw this comment.
 

If you screw over the troops by repeatedly sending them to war and then surrendering after they shed their blood, sooner or later the soldiers are going to tell you to take a hike the next time you call for their service.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:44 PM


So morons like you will fight without question in a pointless war, but you'll get upset if you're removed from said pointless war?
 

... a President and Congress would be well advised to heed the advice of the experts on waging and winning wars.

Sure. As long as one makes sure to leave out the "purported" and "self-described" from the qualifications there.

Then we have this eedjitcy....

"You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie" encomiums are hardly assurance of quality.

Cheers,
 

When the cost is in blood, there really is no alternative to winning.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:44 PM


We seemed to survive losing in Vietnam ok.
 

Bart,

You think "political or diplomatic matters, even those dealing with the military" meant issues of waging or winning wars?

No, I don't think I'll retract the statement, and I think I'll instead reiterate that you should try reading for content. The meaning was clear.

I suppose you could plead that von Clausewitz' interpretation of diplomacy supports your position, but then, he was a warmonger too.
 

Mr. Bush served in the USAF national guard. While this hardly rises to the level of front line service as a grunt, my brother and several thousand others might take exception to their service as pilots in the USAF NG being the equivalent of draft dodging.

Bart, your original claim was not that you felt Bush hadn't dodged service, but that military people in general didn't feel that way the way they did with Clinton.

That broader claim is quite doubtful. I do realize that many partisan Republicans excuse or ignore or downplay the claimed shortcomings in Bush's service record, but there are plenty of military people I have heard who don't buy Bush's excuses and view him as a draft dodger. Indeed, some view him as worse, because he volunteered to serve in the Guard and then went (in their view) AWOL.

I do realize Republicans have responses to these contentions, but my point is not about the correctness of these responses, but simply that your original claim that military people don't view Bush as a draft dodger was overbroad. Some don't, but some do.
 

Sorry Dilan, but in Baghdad Bart's world the troops are 100% behind the Decider in Chief.
 

dilan said...

BD: Mr. Bush served in the USAF national guard. While this hardly rises to the level of front line service as a grunt, my brother and several thousand others might take exception to their service as pilots in the USAF NG being the equivalent of draft dodging.

Bart, your original claim was not that you felt Bush hadn't dodged service, but that military people in general didn't feel that way the way they did with Clinton.

That broader claim is quite doubtful. I do realize that many partisan Republicans excuse or ignore or downplay the claimed shortcomings in Bush's service record, but there are plenty of military people I have heard who don't buy Bush's excuses and view him as a draft dodger. Indeed, some view him as worse, because he volunteered to serve in the Guard and then went (in their view) AWOL.


Ummm, I think you are taking my observation that the military thought Clinton was a draft dodger and assuming that I think that the military believes that Mr. Bush was not a draft dodger. I did not say that.

Mr. Bush was essentially a REMF (rear echelon mother f___er) and not a very conscientious one at that.

I do not equate serving as a REMF as the equivalent of draft dodging by seeking deferments from any military service at all.

Others in the military with dimmer views of REMFs may have a different view.
 

Modern apologists for what George Bush did rather than actually serve overlook the fact that the times were profoundly different then.

The common threat that overhung everyone eligible for the draft produced a desperation that just doesn't exist today. To have a person use their relatives to obtain a cushy stateside billet infuriated me at the time, and it still rankles after all these years.

I have more respect for people who went to Canada or to jail rather than be drafted.

And then there was the year AWOL, after getting the billet. That sealed the deal, as far as I am concerned.
 

I think that the majority of people who slag President Bush for his AFNG service have a poor understanding of the dangers and difficulties involved in the military aviation environment. REMF or not, becoming ANY kind of military pilot requires a far greater outlay of commitment and dedication than the 'draft dodgers' people are comparing Bush too. However, this is largely inconsequential.

I feel the reason Sen. Obama and Clinton are going to face difficulty with the military hinges on the fact that they don't really understand or care about supporting the military. Take Sen. Obama's comment that he would reduce or eliminate spending on the development of future weapon systems. As a military man who's life relies on America's technological edge over our rivals, how am I supposed to take this? I don't want there to be technological parity between enemy SAMs and my aircraft. But Sen. Obama doesn't care about that. The programs that ensure my safety, and the safety of my colleagues are just way to expensive for a nation that is transitioning to a euro-socialist paradigm. His statement reveals a startlingly cavalier attitude towards our survival. As a result, I won't be voting for him.

There is a tack that Sen. Obama could take that would allow him to reduce military spending, and play up his keynote idea of being a diplomatic powerhouse. That idea is to stop underwriting European defense. Stop assuring safe passage to non-American flagged vessels. For decades, the European nations have been able to neglect defense allocations because of the massive bulwark of America in their corner. Sen. Obama could have his cake and eat it too if he made stopping this free ride part of his foreign policy. With no assurances of American assistance, other nations that have relied on that implicit fact would have to modernize and expand their armed forces, greatly reducing the burden on ours. Do you think that we would require 15 aircraft carriers if the British, French, German, and Italian navies were carrying their weight? No. And we could recapitalize those funds into maintaining a technological edge over the entire world, friend and foe.

So for Sen. Obama-- the message should be 'No more free lunch', not 'No more funding of future combat systems'. However, for a machine politician so tied to the idea of providing free lunches to everyone, this might be a bitter change of course.
 

Charlie:

REMF or not, becoming ANY kind of military pilot requires a far greater outlay of commitment and dedication than the 'draft dodgers' people are comparing Bush too.

Yeah, we've heard the RW "talking points" about the scary sooper-sonic jet planes (not to mention those sharks in the GoM) ... but hasn't Dubya decisively disproven this assertion?

Cheers,
 

Charlie:

Take Sen. Obama's comment that he would reduce or eliminate spending on the development of future weapon systems. As a military man who's life relies on America's technological edge over our rivals, how am I supposed to take this? I don't want there to be technological parity between enemy SAMs and my aircraft.

Your chance of getting shot down is mathematically the probability of getting shot down on any mission over enemy territory (your concern above) times the probability that someone will send you on a hostile mission over enemy territory. You figure it out, m'kay?

And what do you make of this: "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have...."

Cheers,
 

Well, two of my coworkers were killed recently, but maybe they were just idiots, right? I'm sure any guy of the street could have done is better and not left two widows and several children behind. Silly pilots! Your outrageously offensive assertions aside, I guess you didn't address my main points because.... I actually have no idea.
 

Charlie:

Well, two of my coworkers were killed recently, but maybe they were just idiots, right?

Never said that. Never said there weren't risks. And sometimes people just make mistakes (pilots or the ground crews). That said, people are not very good at assessing objective risks, and are scared more of things that should concern them less.

But risk and "commitment and dedication" are not inextricably related either (and that was more my point above). While Dubya may have "risked" more in a physical manner than would a trip to Canada (although the legal risks are quite different), that doesn't imply either "commitment" or "dedication".

Regardless, there was a good reason that folks about my age talked about looking for NG positions back then; no one wanted to be a grunt on point in a night firefight. That was objectively a less attractive position than falling off barstools in Houston as a "weekend warrior". If you disagree, feel free to trot out relative casualty rates for each type of posting.

Cheers,
 

BTW, Charlie (and "Bart"):

Here's another take on Dubya's military inclinations.

Cheers,
 

I do not equate serving as a REMF as the equivalent of draft dodging by seeking deferments from any military service at all.

Others in the military with dimmer views of REMFs may have a different view.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 12:07 PM


Probably because you spent all but 4 days of your military career as a REMF.
 

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