Let’s play Pretend. Let’s pretend that on a bright, sunny morning America looks to the sky and sees enemy planes. Enemy balloons. Or, (not possible!) our own planes being used against us. Let’s pretend we look to the sea and an enemy Navy is sending forth missiles and small boats full of bristling troops. Let’s pretend The Shit Hits the Fan.
Who is going to protect us? Data analysts? Biology professors? A senator? That weird guy who smells like baby powder in the next cubicle? Our society is not as full of strong manual laborers as during the Revolution or even the beginning of WWII. Our citizenry bulks at animals as food; we are not hardened, calloused, or accustomed to hard-ships as our Grandparents were. For crying out loud, we pay to get a tan, we pay to go for a run, and we pay for others to raise our children. Who would rise to the gritty challenge of warfare? You?! Me?! Yeah right. I talk a lot of smack about the Zombie Apocalypse, how about you?
The professional soldier is a valuable asset. He (or she) is trained in hand to hand combat, cyber warfare, oceanography, water sanitation, field trauma, finding food, and possibly the most important: a whole bunch of them are trained to work with indigenous personnel.
That means that one small groups of men can take a bunch of farmers or shop owners or whatever and teach them to be an effective fighting force.
So. Back to our Play Pretend. The guy next door is in his front yard freaking out. Wolf Blitzer is hiding under a table. again. Who will rally us? Who will organize us? Who’s direction would you take? The latest schmuck who paid his way into the White House?
A General. A retired Command Sergeant Major. That pimply kid at the grocery store who served three times in Iraq. The dad with one leg who knows all too well about convoys. The female who can use her computer to track enemy movements. The grouchy old fart up the road who knows all about trenches and cold. That scary hill-billy former 10th Mountain sniper.
Investing in an Army isn’t all about paying for GI Bill benefits or “invading” another country (let’s face it: the world wants our money and our blood.) because the UN finger-wagged us into it. Investing in an Army is investing in a society who cares enough to bleed a little.
The data analyst. The biology professor. The senator. The weird guy who smells like baby powder. I know they wouldn’t show their belly to an invading force. I know they would make their ancestors proud. But they’d need someone to lead them.
I know a few folks who serve now and who have served in the past. I’d follow them. I’d follow them not just to the shores of Tripoli (look that one up, why don’t you.), but to the mountains of Tennessee or the factories of Detroit or the local armory. I’d follow them because they are trained and they know what the heck they’re talking about.
A well-trained force is an insurance policy that has, perhaps recently, been over-taxed, but is insurance none the less. Insurance that we have a populace, however small, that is organized, willing, and brave enough make the hard calls. A group of folks who can communicate immediate needs an long term objectives. People who can teach us to kick in doors and then protect a crop. I want those people as my neighbors. I want them to be my friends, local leaders, and policy makers. I want a door-kicker on my side.
I want an Army.