Last week the Army suspended — for still-unspecified reasons — the first woman to command the service’s school for drill instructors at Fort Jackson, S.C. (we love Fort Jackson: it’s where Time was born). Command Sergeant Major Teresa King declared, upon being tapped to run the school in 2009:
I have one chance to do it, and if I don’t get it right, that soldier could not survive on the battlefield.
Yet – although you would never know it from reading the Army’s many reports on King’s promotion – she has never served on a battlefield. There’s a flame war raging over her lack of combat deployments to Afghanistan and/or Iraq. “Isn’t the purpose of a drill sergeant to train new soldiers in basic combat training?” one poster asked. “I couldn’t care less if she deployed or not,” another responded, “she is one of the most professional Soldiers and NCO’s that I have met.” But the Army’s tapping its top drill-sergeant trainer from among the ranks of those who never served on the front lines shouldn’t come as a surprise, mathematically.
One of the amazing facts after a decade of war is how tiny a slice of the U.S. military-personnel pie has actually deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.
This chart last year from the always-interesting Defense Business Board makes it clear: nearly half of those in uniform haven’t gone to war, and 70% have deployed only once, or not at all.