By Matthew Wadler:
I served this nation for over twenty years in the United States Army. During that time I performed a wide scope of duties with some of the toughest, most heroic individuals this country has ever produced. We all took a sacred oath, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…” This words are simple yet powerful. We pledged to offer our lives up to a cause that was larger than ourselves if needed. We also swore to defend this great land.
I started my career under the Reagan doctrine of military strength. The philosophy was simple – deter war through projection of strength; and should deterrence fail, to win by overwhelming force. In simple terms the mission was to avoid war where possible and destroy our enemies when necessary. This is a far cry from our current mission which states that we provide military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. We have become a military pacified to the point where we no longer even acknowledge the brutal truth of our existence, to engage with and kill enemies of the United States. This change is not simply one of semantics. It is a change that has been instituted throughout the internal structure of our military.
George Orwell stated very eloquently, “people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” It was this ability and willingness to do violence that made our military strong and kept our enemies at bay. This aggressive streak was not one that occurred by happen stance. It was cultivated through the knowledge gained from countless victories won and massive defeats suffered. For some reason however, our leaders are choosing to ignore these historic lessons. Instead of instilling a warrior’s ethos they have now chosen to mandate political correctness. The Army defines the warriors ethos as, “[that which] compels soldiers to fight through all conditions to victory no matter how much effort is required. It is the soldier’s selfless commitment to the nation, mission, unit, and fellow soldiers.”
They have instead turned the military into a progressive testing ground, where everyone is accepted and no one is made to feel less. Hurt feelings are no longer allowed. I remember seeing this first hand when I was assigned to Fort Bragg as a young paratrooper. We would run every morning and invariably come across some “leg” unit (non-airborne) conducting physical training. We would immediately start our chant of, “Look to our left and what do I see, nasty bunch of legs wanting to be like me!!!” In doing so we believed our self-proclaimed hype. We were super humans. Anyone crazy enough to jump from a plane was invincible. It was who we were. The more we beat on our chests the more audacious we became. Yet that began to change around 1993. That was the year we were told no more running cadences that put down other units. It appeared that the non-airborne units were getting their feelings hurt and instead of coming up with their own motivating factors or internal impetus, they simply leveled the playing field. With this directive paratroopers throughout the post lost a little of that glean. Not much, just enough to pull at the unconscious mind that something was absent. Fast forward to the year 2016, where commanders spend the majority of their time scheduling for units to conduct sexual harassment training or executing training on not erroneously gender identifying someone.
I am not advocating for a military devoid of standards of conduct. Nor am I stating that it is wrong for the military to change based off the norms and values of an ever evolving nation. What I am saying is that our military is called to do and endure things that most civilians cannot rationalize or even imagine. We fight and we survive because of our bravado and our heightened sense of superiority. This attempt to equal everyone out will make us more inclusive, that is without a doubt. It will also lead to Soldiers forgetting their moral authority. It will cause them to lose their willingness to engage with the enemy in close combat and cost lives.
The military cannot be a social experiment. It cannot be mollified for the sake of the feelings of others. If our next generation of men and women are going to survive on the future battlefields they must be strong physically and emotionally. They must be able to take the strain and stresses of things far worse than harsh words and direct language. If we are going to demand they take up arms for us, we must ensure we keep them as sharp as a razors edge.
Matthew Wadler is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army veteran. Wadler served admirably for twenty years before retiring. His service included time as a paratrooper and two deployments to Afghanistan.