Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Military Monday On Tuesday: Downsizing

Okay, since President Obama announced this week that they were going to majorly start downsizing the military forces now that we are technically out of Iraq, I have been showered with questions and emails about what I thought about it and whether or not I was afraid or angry or whatnot.

Here's my opinion on the whole thing: it was coming.  It's actually been being implemented for a while now -- so it's no surprise. Whether we like it or not, all those soldiers just aren't needed anymore as the wars and conflicts wind down a bit.  We are still heavily needed in many parts of the world, and who knows what tricks some of the other countries have up their sleeves like Iran and North Korea.  We just don't know right now.

But there is one thing I have noticed.  There is a lot of tax payer money being wasted right now in the military sector.  Ben almost dreads going to drills because most of the guys spend the whole weekend sitting around chatting about the hottest new video game and what movies to go see.  He told me that they could easily cut over half of the guys in his unit and still be just as efficient if not more so than before.  Also what most people don't realize is that there are a handful or two (or more) soldiers in every unit that haven't passed a PT test in a while.  Seriously, who wants their loved one's life in the hands of someone who doesn't take their job seriously enough to get in shape and stay that way?

For example, back when Ben was training at Ft. Lewis, they were doing vehicle check simulations.  You know, you see it on the movies, soldiers patrolling the gates of the base and checking the vehicles as they try to come in.  Ben was one of the guys on the sides walking around and then suddenly one of the instructors gets on the intercom and says, "BAM!  That car just had a bomb on it and you, you and you are dead, and you, you and you are critically injured."  Ben's little group that he was with just froze.  They had no idea what to do.  So Ben took charge and reminded them of their training and that they were supposed to get their injured men out of harm's way into safety.  So what do these guys do?  They just stand there.  One or two grabbed a guy by his arm and tried to pull him a little ways then gave up.  Ben ran over, grabbed the biggest guy, threw him over his shoulder, fireman style and hauled him up the hill.

Later that day, Ben heard a group of soldiers that had been observing the training from a distance chatting about it, one guy said, "Did you see that guy haul that big guy up the hill?!  That was amazing!  If I am ever in that situation, THAT'S the guy I want on my team!"  Made Ben feel super good... but it also made him feel thankful that he valued his training and physical fitness that he could do things like that.

Sadly, there are MANY soldiers who can't.  And if they can't perform their duties, they just shouldn't be able to stay.  When the safety of my husband is on the line, I have little sympathy about stuff like this. I think the downsizing can be a positive thing for the military, and can ultimately make it stronger and more efficient.

I do feel bad that there are families out there who don't know what life is like without the military and they will have to make changes.  It's all part of life.  If Ben doesn't make active duty after he graduates, I am confident that we will be able to find something else he will love as well.  I'm really not too worried.

Does anyone really remember what the general attitude about the military was BEFORE 9-11?  I certainly do!  I was almost 21 when the Twin Towers when down.  I remember EXACTLY where I was and what I was doing.  And it was then that I really started to appreciate our military, before that I thought they were geeky.  Seriously.

When I was in high school in SLC, they had a Jr.ROTC at our school.  The nerds of the school were cooler than the ROTC guys... no kidding.  We all thought they were freakin' weird.  Everyone stayed away from them and they only really had friends among themselves.  My guess what that they only had the nerve to do it because one of their parents was military.  I thought they were so nerdy, that once I met this guy I really liked from another school then when I found out his was JROTC, I sent him packing in the same minute.  I know, shallow... but so is the life of teens right?

Then when I moved down south to the country, lots of guys were in the "real" military, not play-acting like I thought the JROTC guys were doing up north.  It was very common for guys (and girls) to join the local National Guard unit while still in high school.  I wasn't really excited about the whole idea, but my steady boyfriend at the time wanted to join because his older brother had.  So I put up with it, but I didn't like it.  I didn't tell anyone he was military, and I got embarrassed if I was spotted with him while he was in uniform.  I know, I was a jerk.  But that's honestly the way a lot of people felt back then, especially my generation.  This new generation has become used to knowing a couple of people serving, and used to wartime.... it wasn't like that in the 90's, even after the Gulf War.

I think some people are afraid it will go back to being like that.  But I don't think so.  I think most of us remember 9-11 and the great sacrifices our men and women in the Armed services and their families have made for us and our freedoms.  People just don't forget things like that no matter what they say.

I have a good feeling about the future, no matter what it holds, and I look forward to being a part of the history of this great nation.


Okay, friends now it is your turn!  If you want to participate, take this button and post it in your post today:

THEN write a post about what I did above, or one of these:

1. Are you worried/glad or whatever about the downsizing?


2. How do you think things are going to change?

If you have no idea what "Military Monday" is click here!


Nina said...

I so agree with you! Whether it is military or another career field, people need to be motivated and thrive their best. Like SGM Chandler said on Army Times, the military needs the best and dedicated soldiers.

Military is not a joke, not a game nor way to earn easy money but it is the way of living that comes from the desire to serve this nation.

trooppetrie said...

so agree, we had a amazing chaplain who was just booted out because of downsizing. when he first told us it was a option i thought he was wrong. so sad because he was amazing

Ana said...

Having a friend with a very good sailor who was just kicked out at the 15 year point, I'd say it's a concern. Nor for us because of my husband's job, but it's different when you've spent a lot of years and have a life plan. It's not so easy to just step out and say, okay, we're getting a whole other career and it's going to be great! So, yes, I feel for her a whole lot. It was a crappy thing to happen. He wasn't even done with his current enlistment, and was only given a few months before he had to be out.

They are resourceful and have already made new plans that will hopefully work out, but it really isn't about whether or not you are "only" used to military life. It's as worrisome as any company that is threatening to downsize. It forces you to change plans and it's scary. For us, now that we're hitting ten years and have decided to go to retirement, being kicked out would be pretty awful. More so if he were hitting 15.

So, while I agree with you that sometimes you need to cut the deadwood, the way they are doing it is not exactly cutting the losers. It's getting rid of a lot of good people, too.