By Chad Storlie:
Since the results of the 2016 presidential election, there have been protests, threats of lawsuits, and untold celebrations by both sides. Newspapers have launched opinion pieces that this is the start (or the end) of American greatness. But what no one has written about, commented about, or protested about are the United States’ military forces.
The US Army is still helping to battle ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the Coast Guard is interdicting illegal drugs, the Navy is patrolling the Pacific, the Marines are preparing to go back to Afghanistan, and the Air Force is dropping bombs and moving forces across the globe. In short, nothing changed with the US military, and that is the story.
The transfer of power between Barack Obama and Donald Trump caused American society to question itself and the path the government has been on since the Clinton administration. While the Trump presidency will be challenged by global forces, unforeseen political events, and ongoing economic change, the one issue that Trump will not have to contend with is the US military’s commitment to our country. The military is the institution that both pro-Trump and anti-Trump types should be looking to as an example in this period of American history.
The image that caught my eye during the inauguration was a split screen between President Trump and President Obama. Trump spoke with US military members from all services in the background. Obama was at the head of a military honor guard that would escort him to Air Force One for his final flight from the Capitol. In these simple yet striking scenes, you might hold multiple opinions on both Trump and Obama; however, you can have only one opinion of the US military: admiration. In the flawless performance our armed forces at the inauguration, there are no opinions or heated discussions present– only professionalism, performance, and solemn dedication to the institution of the United States. The example set by the US military at Donald Trump’s inauguration is precisely what we need in American society.
As an infantry officer at Fort Campbell, KY amid the drawdown and budget cuts following Desert Storm, soldiers were tasked with grass cutting, snow removal, and other jobs to save money. I remember seeing a squad leader with his soldiers on grass-cutting duty taking a “break.” Their break was 20 minutes of low crawling, three-second rushes, and seeking cover from a patrol formation. This squad leader knew that even though his squad had to cut grass, his role was to teach, train, and employ them to accomplish their wartime mission. Grass cutting be dammed, his squad was going to be ready.
The admiration that we Americans ought to have for the US military stems from the its spoken and unspoken universal devotion—it has a vital job to do no matter people’s opinions, budgets, and the opinions of leaders. The United States must be protected, and it’s the military’s job to do it. Nothing more needs to be said.
We need the remainder of the country, the US government, Congress, and state and local governments to embrace this feeling of admiration for the country, admiration for our fellow citizens, and devotion to the roles that make the country run. Members of government need to remember that despite the opinions (both for and against) President Trump, the role of government is to solve problems in our communities, enable economic and social growth, and ensure that we leave a better society for our children. We would all do well to observe, learn, and admire the unspoken devotion and professionalism of the US military to the United States.
Chad Storlie is an OpsLens Contributor and retired Lieutenant Colonel with 20-plus years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. Chad is author of two books: “Combat Leader to Corporate Leader” and “Battlefield to Business Success.” Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @Combattocorp.
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