An Army Apart (cont.)

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Army photo by Vincenzo Leto

Sgt. 1st Class Rennick Beneby trains in the mud

Echoing our cover story of last month, Army Captain Damon Armeni wonders how the U.S. military will fare if it and society continue to drift apart. Armeni, now finishing his Masters in foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, served three combat tours in Iraq. He writes, in an article entitled A Question of Legitimacy, in Small Wars Journal:

Today in the United States, a variety of lobby groups exist to advance the military agenda and defend its benefits and budget. These groups generally have the support of the military and there is not widespread opposition to vocal activity by retired officers to defend the military’s interests. Some of these groups operate at the behest of the defense industry, others for the various causes and purposes of active, retired, and former soldiers and officers. In addition, the American soldier lives in separate communities, is largely educated by military schools, and sees his or her children often choose to join the military as well. These factors all contribute towards the rise of a Warrior Class, some culturally, others professionally…

This will eventually have the effect of creating a group of citizens who will begin to believe alike and see their interests as distinct from the nation writ large. It will further generate a tiny portion of the population solely responsible for the “hard” part of defending a nation, the part that involves killing and dying. When combined with the trend towards treating veterans as a separate class legally and socially through various veterans’ programs and even retail discounts for veterans, the nation runs the risk of ideologically confirming the belief that these persons are both special and unique as well as worthy of special treatment. It is logical then to conclude that a group who thinks uniformly, suffers uniformly, as treated uniformly, and lives and draws its members from within itself will eventually diverge in beliefs and values from the nation it is charged to defend.