Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest Post: The Few Who Carry the Burden

The Few Who Carry the Burden
Colonel Donald J. Myers USMC (Ret)

Today, less than one half of one percent of our population is involved the military. We have been fighting a war in the Middle East for over a decade and the population as a whole has not been required to suffer any hardships. Many troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan on more than one occasion. Their families suffer as their loved ones depart for another deployment for either months or longer.

One is reminded of Prime Minister Churchill's words concerning the Royal Air Force during World War II, "Never was so much owed by so many to so few." That is just as true today concerning our country. The RAF prevailed against great odds in defeating the German Luftwaffe over the skies of England and thus saving England from an invasion.

I suspect that the only time in our history where anything even remotely similar would be in the 1800's when we had small detachments of the army fighting Indians in the west. The rest of the country had no interest or concern unless they had a relative in the army and that was a very small percentage.

Sadly, there remains a percentage of our people who do not believe that a military is necessary. In fact, there are some who believe that the military creates an environment that encourages war. If one were to look seriously at history, there are very few years when war was not being waged somewhere in the world. Normally it occurs when one country wants something from another country and that country is not willing to give it up.

Again, if one looks at history, this is the only country that has forsaken empire after it defeated enemies and was fully capable of doing so. We rebuilt the countries we defeated in World War II when we could have ruled them.

As the war in Vietnam came to a close, we eliminated the draft in 1973 and implemented the all-volunteer military. The first few years were rather tough to say the least, but we learned and move ahead. Today, we have the most powerful, educated, and professional military in history. It has proven itself in combat over the years by destroying its enemies.

As usual, the talk now is to reduce the military because it is too expensive to maintain. What is not understood is that military strength prevents war. A bully does not pick on someone who may be able to beat him; he picks on a weakling. Countries do the same thing. If they perceive weakness, they act. History is full of examples to support that fact.

Unlike most organizations, the military is an ideal place for young people to learn how to lead. In a relatively short period of time they may be given the opportunity to lead a group of fellow soldiers. Developing leadership is a key element in military schools and quite a bit of time is spent in educating personnel. The military today is even more so, because technology demands it. The military demands that its people mature rapidly because of the consequences of not doing so, especially while combat still looms. Our military personnel are the cream of the crop and must be respected as such.

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