The military procedural

The American Sniper movie is stirring up big controversy in some circles for supposedly glorifying war.  But it’s also a monster hit, possibly on its way to becoming the most popular war movie ever.  Film critic Ann Hornaday says that it’s an example of a new kind of war movie:  the military procedural.

On television, police procedurals have become extremely popular, stories that concentrate on showing how police officers do their jobs.  All of the shows about forensics specialists, physicians, lawyers, etc., are of the same type, showing professionals at work as they overcome obstacles and accomplish the tasks set before them.  That is to say, all of these procedurals are about vocation! [Read more...]

Lateral military enlistments?

The pattern for enlisting in the military is to sign up in your 20′s, then, if you want to make a career of it, keep rising in the ranks until you retire after 20 or 30 years.  The military only hires people, as it were, at entry level positions.  But what if you could enlist when you are older?  What if you could could come into the service with a rank commensurate with your experience and expertise?  Renee J. Squier proposes this kind of “lateral enlistment.” [Read more...]

At his post 29 years after the war

The Japanese soldier who held out in a Philippine jungle for 29 years after the end of World War II died.  Hiroo Onoda was 91.  Read his story–including why he finally turned himself in– after the jump.

Would you say Lt. Onoda was an example of outrageous stubborness (a vice) or inspirational integrity (a virtue)?  How does this relate to vocation? [Read more...]

Veterans Day

This is Veterans Day, so let us honor those who have served in the military vocations.  You readers who are veterans, thank you for your service.

I’ve read that some veterans, particularly of our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are sick of hearing that.  It is good, though, that they are receiving today almost universal respect, unlike the reception in some quarters of Vietnam vets.  After the jump, some questions and a link to a classic discussion of the military vocation. [Read more...]

Against women in combat

Let’s stipulate that women can engage in combat, that they are just as brave and patriotic as men and they they can kill our nation’s enemies when they need to.  The question is not can they, but should they?  Let me put forth two arguments and then put you onto several more from a column by Kathleen Parker. [Read more...]

Women in the “band of brothers”

Four women in the U. S. Army have filed a lawsuit  in federal court demanding that the military drop its practice of excluding women from combat.  Robert H. Scales, a retired Major General with combat experience, raises a concern that I haven’t heard before:

Infantry and armor soldiers alone do virtually all the intimate killing. Here’s where the issue gets hard for me. Intimate killing is done in small units, normally squads and teams. In these engagements they fight and often die not for country or mission but for each other. We borrow a phrase from Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and term this phenomenon the “band of brothers effect.” This is the essential glue in military culture that causes a young man to sacrifice his life willingly so that his buddies might survive. Contemporary history suggests that U.S. infantry units fight equally well when made up of soldiers of different ethnicities, cultures, intelligence and social background. The evidence is also solid that gays make just as good infantrymen as do straight men.

I’ve been studying the band of brothers effect for almost 40 years and have written extensively on the subject. We know that time together allows effective pairings — or “battle buddies,” to use the common Army term. We know that four solid buddy pairings led by a sergeant compose a nine-man, battle-ready squad. The Marine squad is slightly larger. We know from watching Ranger and special forces training that buddy groups form often spontaneously. But the human formula that ensures successful buddy pairings is still a mystery, and that’s the key stumbling block in the debate. Veteran SEALs, special forces, Rangers, tankers and line infantrymen will swear that the deliberate, premeditated and brutal act of intimate killing is a male-only occupation. But no one can prove it with data from empirical tests because no such data exist from the United States. They just know intuitively from battlefield experience that it’s true.

To be sure, women soldiers may be fit, they may be skilled and they may be able to “hang.” Many have proved with their lives that they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. But our senior ground-force leaders, as well as generations of former close combat veterans from all of our previous wars, are virtually united on one point: The precious and indefinable band of brothers effect so essential to winning in close combat would be irreparably compromised within mixed-gender infantry squads.

via Not yet time for women to serve in infantry – The Washington Post.

“Intimate killing.”  “Band of brothers.”  “Battle buddies.”  One would think that the intimate two-person bond between “battle buddies” would also be affected by homosexuality.  At any rate, it would seem that we should identify what the different units in our military are for and then determine what arrangements would make them more effective towards that end.


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