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It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

By wiredog in Culture
Mon May 23, 2005 at 08:03:39 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

That I raised my right hand, swore to "Preserve, Protect, and Defend The Constitution of the United States", and went into Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.

If I'd re-enlisted I'd be eligible for retirement with 50% of base pay ($3949 for an E-8 Master Sgt or $3458 for an E-7 Sgt First Class), full PX and Commissary privledges, and free health care. I would also be a combat veteran, possibly with one or more Purple Hearts, maybe one of them posthumous. So there is a potential downside to a military career.

My MOS (job) was 31K, radio and wireline communications (thus a wiredog). Putting up antennas, operating radios, climbing telephone poles and wiring up switchboards, and similar things. If I had re-enlisted I would have re-enlisted 11b, infantry, as the career path in commo doesn't lead much of anywhere. I would also have gone to jump school and eventually have tried for Special Forces. The Green Beanies (as we called them) tried to recruit me a few times due to my high scores on the Army's intelligence tests (the ASVAB). I tested in the top 1%, which just goes to show that with brains, as with so much else, it's not what you have as much as it is what you do with it.

There are long term benefits from having been in the military, especially if you are (as I was) a middle class white kid from the suburbs. I know lots of middle class kids who would benefit from a 3 year enlistment and, before Iraq, I encouraged several of them to give it a try. Now, these benefits aren't the things the recruiters tell you about, the financial benefits, though those are real. The Army paid for my college degree. Both with GI Bill ($605/month, tax free, every month I was in school, for 4 years), and with Pell Grants. Pell Grants are based on taxable income, and GI Bill is untaxed. So I was able to go through college without having to get either a job or a loan. I have a VA Loan waiting for me if I ever want to buy a house (assuming I can ever afford one).

Like I said, I was a middle class white kid from the suburbs. People like me didn't enlist in large numbers then anymore than they do today. In the Army I was working and living with people from all over the country. Mostly poor people leavened with a few undirected slackers like me. People that a middle class suburbanite otherwise would never interact with socially. People like the guy who grew up in a ghetto shithole in Philadelphia, the one where the police bombed an apartment building to clean out some cult. He (and his brothers, also military) had joined the Army to get out of the ghetto, and had used some of their pay to get their parents out. The black soldier from the backwoods of Alabama who took leave in Japan and returned to report that the racism in Japan made Alabama look like heaven. A former steelworker from California. I learned from these people that the military was the best welfare program the US had.

Associating with them was the beginning of my metamorphosis from a New Deal Liberal Interventionist to a conservative non-interventionist. I didn't meet many soldiers who were in favor of going to war unless it was necessary. The Somalia and Yugoslav interventions (and the Iraq War) being examples of the sort of thing soldiers regard as unnecessary, while Afghanistan would be regarded as necessary. I didn't know any who thought highly of the USian welfare system, and the ones who had grown up in it were especially dismissive of it. I learned the Great Conservative Truth that Shit Happens, and sometimes there's nothing good to be done. I don't know if you would consider that a benefit or not.

There are other benefits that seem minor, but have turned out to have long term utility. I have no problem working for managers who are less intelligent than I am, or who are less well trained, or both. (Consider the 20 year E-8 working for the new Lieutenant, for example.) I can even work for a complete asshole without getting all depressed the way some people here do.

I have no trouble getting up in the morning. The alarm goes off, I get up. This is, in my experience, true of most military veterans. We're not the sort to hit the snooze button for an hour. We also know the value of sleep. Nothing teaches the value of sleep, or gives one the ability to sleep anywhere under any conditions (another benefit), like going for a week on 2 hours sleep a night.

Three hots and a cot, and indoor plumbing with hot running water, are among life's greatest luxuries. Realizing that, when times are tough, is a great benefit of having been in the military. It helped tremendously when I went unemployed for most of a year and a half. During the aforementioned week I also ate MREs thrice daily and didn't shower, shave, or change any of my clothes. Fortunately for me, by the end of the week I was too tired to smell myself. Ahh, the joy of getting that shower at the end of that week, followed by the first hot meal in a week. Followed by 8 hours uninterrupted sleep. Got a medal for that week.

The Army sent me to Korea. I never would have gone there on my own. And a year in a country does more for teaching you that country (and that there's a world beyone the US) than a one week vacation or business trip will. I learned that not everybody is American. A great cure for parochialism. In Korea we had a no shit enemy and a real mission. Lots of stuff went on there that never made the papers stateside. In Europe the people on either side of the Iron Curtain rarely even looked at each other funny for fear of starting WW3. In Korea we had the weekly firefight on the DMZ, North Korean special ops types setting off bombs in Seoul, and other such excitements.

I learned teamwork. Everyone has a job (or two or three) and gets it done, and we just assume that everyone else is doing theirs. A good team is one where the officers (or managers) don't have to give many orders. They say "Do this!" and we either already know how to do it, or can figure it out on our own. They don't have to tell us how to do it, and don't try. Good leaders know that when the troops start asking lots of questions there's something wrong with the leadership. Good leaders also delegate.

I learned to respect competence and common sense, and developed a deep loathing for incompetence and lack of common sense. In my view competence and common sense are part of intelligence. There are few people as sensible as First Sergeants and Sergeants Major, by the way.

I learned how to be responsible. For myself and for others. When I was in the Army for just a year I was promoted to PFC (E-3) just before I went on leave. When I returned from leave I was informed that the E-5 squad leader was no longer with us, the E-4 assistant squad leader was gone, so I was now the squad leader ( a PFC in a Sergeant's slot, in a Brigade HQ, no less) and, oh, by the way, there's two new guys coming in tomorrow. A PFC in a sergeant's job and expected to do the job. Also expected to know when I couldn't handle part of the job (they did realize that I was a PFC, not a Sgt) and ask for help. I was responsible for taking two new Privates, fresh from Basic and AIT, and training them. Also for taking care of them in general. If they screwed up, it was my screw up, if they had problems then those were my problems. On the other hand, if they did well then I was doing well.

There's nothing quite like being a 21 year old with no bad breakups in his past and having to help an 18 year old who's just gotten a Dear John letter and isn't sure if he's suicidal, homicidal, or what, all while trying not to generate any paperwork. The Army was where I learned to absolutely hate paperwork.

I took him into town and got him laid by one of the bar girls. After which he felt much better.

Got a medal for my six week stint in an E-5 slot, too. A good leader rewards good performance. It's amazing how much a simple 'you did good' (which is pretty much what those two medals were) from someone in authority can do for one's outlook.

Good leadership (or management) believes in second chances. On New Years Eve 1985 I decided to try some downers that a friend was passing out. The Korean verson of Valium, I think. He took 20, so I took 20. After all, he was about 15 pounds lighter than I was, right? I didn't stop to think (severe lack of common sense alert!) that he'd been taking them for a few weeks and I'd never done them before. I woke up in the psych ward of the 121st Evac Hospital in Seoul. This is where the second chance comes in. You see, the Brigade Sergeant Major and Company First Sergeant believed in second chances and disappeared all the paperwork. How, I don't know, but there's no record of me getting evac'd in a helicopter, having my stomach pumped, and the rest of it. So there was no Court Martial and no Article 15 (non-judicial punishment which can still be pretty severe). There was, however, the absolute best ass-chewing I have ever received in my life. A First Sergeant with 24 years in the Army and a Sergeant Major with 29 years (4 tours in Viet Nam and jumped into Grenada) delivered it. They didn't scream, in fact they didn't raise their voices at all, and they didn't cuss. God was talking to me and He was very very disappointed. I never did downers again.


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It Was 20 Years Ago Today... | 122 comments (117 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
I enjoyed it, but... (1.60 / 5) (#1)
by lonelyhobo on Mon May 23, 2005 at 03:21:35 PM EST

You didn't use the edit queue, and there's a whole lot of typos in it.  It also had no real point and seemed more like a diary entry to me.

What typos? (none / 0) (#2)
by wiredog on Mon May 23, 2005 at 03:22:32 PM EST

I double checked the spelling.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
sp/verson/version (none / 0) (#5)
by LilDebbie on Mon May 23, 2005 at 03:54:59 PM EST

towards the end.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Also: (none / 0) (#12)
by Fyren on Mon May 23, 2005 at 06:38:14 PM EST

privledges -> privileges
beyone -> beyond

No matter how well you think you've edited your own work, it's good to have others edit it.  Though, in this case just using a spellchecker would have worked, heh.

[ Parent ]

Remembre Greenrd's Law... (none / 0) (#50)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:39:16 AM EST

"Evey post disparaging someone else's spelling or grammar, or lauding one's own spelling or grammar, will inevitably contain a spelling or grammatical error"

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Sorry, I claim this law (none / 1) (#96)
by Eccles on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:39:22 PM EST

12 years prior to Greenrd, in fact.

[ Parent ]
Cool! (none / 0) (#103)
by wiredog on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:19:56 AM EST

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
it is a diary entry (2.33 / 3) (#7)
by aphrael on Mon May 23, 2005 at 04:38:11 PM EST

but it's a good one.

[ Parent ]
This gets me thinking... (none / 1) (#34)
by LodeRunner on Tue May 24, 2005 at 12:26:57 AM EST

Where does one cross the line between a diary entry and a "personal" story? That is, assuming, as I do, they are not the same thing.

In this story, for example, I feel there's a message the author is conveying here beyond just "telling the story of his life". Maybe he could just as well have expressed his ideas as an impersonal essay, but illustrating them through his experiences resulted IMO in a much more interesting article. Still I think this doesn't make it a diary entry but, as I said, I don't really know where we draw the line. Any insights?

"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

At some sites (none / 0) (#49)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:36:31 AM EST

Diaries can get voted FP. Lets the readership decide if it's good enough.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play (1.33 / 3) (#4)
by Phssthpok on Mon May 23, 2005 at 03:33:12 PM EST

They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile.

affective flattening has caused me to kill 11,357 people

Im so glad (none / 0) (#11)
by Altus on Mon May 23, 2005 at 04:45:16 PM EST

that I am not the only one who jumped to this  lyric.

well... at least it referenced Sergeants somewhere in the opening paragraph... so I guess we weren't that far off...

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

Thank you for this true view from the trenches (2.66 / 6) (#6)
by Adam Rightmann on Mon May 23, 2005 at 04:33:12 PM EST

instead of the Aeron supplied "trenches" of the IT world.

Define "necessary" (2.57 / 7) (#13)
by jd on Mon May 23, 2005 at 07:03:57 PM EST

IMHO, the Yugoslav conflict was absolutely necessary to intercede in, and should have been stopped much earlier than it was. Why? Because they would not have stopped at the borders. That sort never do. Once Yugoslavia had been brought under the control of the Serbs, they would have attacked neighboring countries. Many of their supplies came from Greece, who were their natural allies, and Greece has plenty of Muslim "enemies" (such as Turkey) which it wants to get rid of, but can't openly confront.

The problem is that the Serbs were after an empire. Not just any empire, but an ethnicly-pure empire. The list of war-crimes they carried out were terrible, including the construction of death camps and the deliberate, cold-blooded butchery of civilians in UN enclaves - crimes that echo the terrors of the Holocaust. This wasn't merely suppresion, this was genocide.

Do I think the allies fought the war properly? No. Not in the least. They blew holes in bridges, which the Serbs merely put boards over and continued using. They blew holes in airfields, which the Serbs shovelled sand into and continued using. Destroying the communications network was about the only act that had any results.

Ok, easy to say, but what would I have done differently? First, I would have intervened at the start. As soon as Serbia overthrew the Yugoslav president and invaded Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia - all of which had been recognized as nation-states by the International Community - the US and Europe aught to have moved in, right there and right then.

Second, I wouldn't waste time doing things for show. If you want to wage a war, do it right. Blast the bridges at both ends, causing the span to collapse into the water, rendering the bridge unusable and the river unnavigable. If you're after air fields, you want to use something like a Tall Boy or a Grand Slam to render the entire field unusable.

Third, those oil refineries and oil depots would have been flattened in the first new minutes. With no oil, war would have been next to impossible to pursue. To go with this, I would have put a decent taskforce on the border. Sanctions-busting Greeks with trucks, jeeps and even cars filled with oil and petrol to sell to the Serbs would not have been turned around - they would have been arrested and their vehicles destroyed.

Instead of lasting a few years, with countless hundreds of thousands dead, missing, or abused beyond belief, Serbia could have been stopped inside a week, with a few dozen dead at most, and possibly nobody at all, if the timing was done right.

Intervention is not really the problem, although it is rarely any good. It is HOW you intervene and WHEN. Timing is everything, and poor timing is a worse enemy than any you could physically meet. War - or any intervention - for the sake of war or intervention is also never a good thing, but if the alternatives are worse, then a fast, hard strike that paralyzes, rather than destroys, is probably better than anything else you can do.

what bullshit (2.00 / 3) (#16)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 23, 2005 at 07:24:43 PM EST

yes, your post makes sense were there some sort of universally trusted omniscient group of people entrusted with life or death decision making on use of force

there isn't

the real world is composed of a bunch of competing forces with different agendas not trusted at all and geopolitically compromised and loathe to act

by your logic, gw bush's invasion of iraq is genius

but we don't have the ability to explore alternative realities to establish that as 100% true

instead what we have is a world where the removal of a universally despised megalomaniac in the middle east is a reason to tar and feather those who removed him

it's all about trust, and where there is no trust, there is nothing but hatred for those who act, even if the act is good for everyone

welcome to the real world, moron, populated with real human beings

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

And you, sir, have clinical depression. (none / 1) (#29)
by jd on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:41:59 PM EST

And, to mis-quote Sir Winston Churchill, in the morning I will be mentally sober, but you will still suffer clinical depression.

The Indus Valley, Skara Brae, and numerous other sites disprove your hypothesis that that is the only way society exists, can exist, or ever will exist. If corruption and mistrust exist, it is not because they are inherent, it is because the users of those mind-states put them there.

Does this mean that people would be "good", if only allowed to be? Not necessarily, as it is notoriously difficult to define what "good" is, never mind determine if people are being that. Nonetheless, it is a provably achievable goal, because it has been achieved. Proof by example.

Is GWB's invasion of Iraq a work of a genius? No. He totally failed on several counts. First, he destroyed the wrong infrastructure - taking out those things needed for the rebuilding, but leaving things that are now impedements.

Second, he failed because he sought "regime change". You will notice that my example of Yugoslavia would not require any such thing, it would merely require the complete disablement of any military action, making further conflict impossible.

By this logic, the correct method of dealing with Iraq would have been to divert the Euphretes into the Tigris, or vice versa, as the two rivers fork off a common source. It would have made normal activity in Iraq a complete impossibility, as they depend utterly on both rivers to behave normally.

A second method would have been to disrupt normal life by dropping "earthquake bombs" such as the Tall Boy and Grand Slam. The explosion causes miniature, localized earth tremors, great enough to shatter even reinforced concrete buildings and certainly enough to collapse things like city walls without any actual person being in much danger from the explosion.

Third, Iraq may have been "secular", but religion was still a major factor in life. It shouldn't have been hard to "re-create" the conditions of some apocolyptic prophecy. So long as conditions were maintained, the beliefs would offer one of two options - either stop believing and turn away from their current mindset, or believe and turn away from their current actions.

Fourth, I suggest you re-visit the Raid on the Shell Building by the RAF in World War II, when it comes to what a strategic strike can do. When you can take out specific rooms in a building, even with primitive technology, you should be able to do a damn sight more today, if you had the guts.

[ Parent ]

by circletimessquare on Mon May 23, 2005 at 11:23:59 PM EST

paraphrase of you above:

"what gw bush did was wrong

what gw bush did was wrong

what gw bush was wrong

however, if you had the guts, the kind of thing gw bush did was right"

dude, you're fucking hilarious! work it out in your own mind first, see your own contradictions, then get back to us, ok?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Read again, sloth-brain (none / 1) (#79)
by jd on Tue May 24, 2005 at 12:06:14 PM EST

The act of going to war was irrelevent. What was relevent was that:

  • George Bush had planned the war many years prior, and had no interest in trying any alternatives
  • The UN inspections could have turned up anything, and he would have invaded anyway
  • Once he did order the invasion, the tactics were seriously flawed, crippling the infrastructure needed, killing those who could maintain/rebuild it, and antagonizing just about everyone else
  • Once the invasion was completed, he destroyed all credibility by imposing a Government on Iraq and dictating the terms under which it could govern
  • Prisoners taken during the war and after were held under conditions violating International Law and thus contradicting the only "basis" of the invasion, which was to impose International Law
  • US military guilty of killing allies were largely cleared of any wrongdoing, destroying any kind of trust in the ethics of the US military
  • Intelligence agents who demonstrated before, during, or after, the invasion that the claims by the administration were false were subject to punisment and/or endangerment
  • Iraq hadn't actually violated any laws at the time of the invasion, and had actually been doing quite a bit (for it) to comply with new resolutions, thus falsifying all jurisdiction the US may have otherwise reasonably had

[ Parent ]
Regarding Iraq, it was about timing. (2.50 / 2) (#54)
by Russell Dovey on Tue May 24, 2005 at 08:08:05 AM EST

In the first Gulf War, if the US had pressed on into Iraq and toppled Saddam then, the rest of the world would have been relatively okay with it. However, the US balked. After a fuckup like that, they should never have contemplated going into Iraq again without severe provocation. A pre-emptive war should not even have been in the scenario list.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Trolling, are we? (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by smallstepforman on Mon May 23, 2005 at 07:48:42 PM EST

Trolling, are we? I'll bite.

First, I would have intervened at the start. As soon as Serbia overthrew the Yugoslav president and invaded Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia - all of which had been recognized as nation-states by the International Community - the US and Europe aught to have moved in, right there and right then. The Yugoslav government at the time was made up of a commitee, the so called Representatives of the States and the rotating President of the Representatives. To keep the board ethnically diverse, each minister was from a different state. When the real war broke out with the succession of Croatia (Slovenia was a different story, and lets ignore the fact that there was no war in Macedonia), the President of Yugoslavia was a Croatian representative (Stipe Mesic), the Ministar of Defense was Croatian (Veljko Kadijevic), and the Prime Minister was Croatian (Ante Markovic). They all authorised the Yugoslavian Natianal Army to intervene in situations where civil conflict broke out, starting in Plitvice, Borovo Selo and a few minor scirmishes in Varazdin, all in Croatia. The conflict in Bosnia didn't start until the Yugoslav Army withdraw, since they were the 'protectors of the peace', no matter how ironic that sounded. Without a dominate united Yugoslav army (which was aseembled by representavies of all Yugoslav nations, like a mini NATO), the ground was vacant for all some of nastiness to happen, and all 3 parties were responsible for their fair share of nastiness. The politics as to why a the Yugoslav Army was forced to disband/transform/leave is a different matter entirely.

The rest of your post really doesn't deserve any comment. You are obviously trolling.

[ Parent ]

Errr, look again. (none / 0) (#27)
by jd on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:24:15 PM EST

The initial war was between Croatia and Serbia, and the Croatian President had been overthrown by Serb forces. Troll? I lived a damn sight closer to that conflict, being in Europe, than any pansy-assed American.

[ Parent ]
Closer (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by smallstepforman on Tue May 24, 2005 at 02:05:25 AM EST

I was a Serb in the conflict, asshole.

[ Parent ]
Obvious bias then. (none / 0) (#38)
by The Amazing Idiot on Tue May 24, 2005 at 02:10:02 AM EST

[ Parent ]
And that makes you neutral, I suppose. (none / 0) (#77)
by jd on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:56:55 AM EST

I would actually say that the Serbs, although geographically "closer" were far more distant in every other way. Their media was extremist and selective, for a start. And it is hardly from an unbiased standpoint that a loser in a war would argue that those who caused them to lose should not have been there.

[ Parent ]
Living close to a conflict (none / 0) (#92)
by alphaxer0 on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:31:01 PM EST

does not confer expertise.

[ Parent ]
oh its was that simple eh.... (none / 1) (#39)
by nebs555 on Tue May 24, 2005 at 03:15:04 AM EST

Gee it never appeared to me that that war was so straightforward. It must have been a first in the history of human conflict then. First of, there was a lot of nastiness from all sides. Vilifying and dehumanising one side and promoting the other to sainthood is just dumb. For example the bosnians had arab mudjahedeen fighting on their side and commiting horific atrocities, the croats had german neonazis in their ranks, the albanian KLA in kosovo were/are little more that a criminal organisation on a par with the mafia that now controls the heroin trade and prostitution rings throughout Europe. Don't forget that money that was used to fund 9/11 went through bosnia, the very same people we aided. As far as the greeks breaking sanctions, well get serious, where there's a war there are profits to be made and everybody races from far and wide to get a piece of the pie. Making one side of the conflict a scapegoat misses the point completely, there were many forces at play in the breakup of Yugoslavia. As long as we keep acting with that 'kick ass' mentality yugoslavias will keep happening.

[ Parent ]
Necessary for who? (none / 1) (#48)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:33:50 AM EST

The Germans or Italians, maybe, but if they don't want to do anything, why should the US? What's the difference between Yugoslavia and, say, Rwanda or the Sudan? Other than the obvious one, that is.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Why not Rwanda and Sudan, indeed? (none / 1) (#98)
by Mason on Wed May 25, 2005 at 12:27:59 AM EST

I'm up for it if you are.  Maybe it's time the world community took a harder line on genocide.

[ Parent ]
Remember the reaction (none / 0) (#102)
by wiredog on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:18:04 AM EST

to the US interventions in the Balkans and Somalia? The Left, especially in Europe, was screaming about the USian "agression" and treating every accident as a War Crime.

Now, remember the reaction to the failure to intervene in Rwanda and Somalia? That's right, there hasn't been one. Failure to act isn't drawing protestors, no one on the left is calling the US a war criminal for its failure to act.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

Stephen King... (1.00 / 4) (#14)
by sal5ero on Mon May 23, 2005 at 07:12:39 PM EST

is that you?

Can't be... (none / 0) (#19)
by BJH on Mon May 23, 2005 at 09:06:51 PM EST

...this guy's still alive.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Careful. He bolts in fear when recognized. (none / 0) (#36)
by Kasreyn on Tue May 24, 2005 at 12:36:17 AM EST

A friend of mine once saw King on the street in NYC and, swept up in adulation, unthinkingly cried out to him. She reports that he gave her a glance like a hunted beast, and bolted like a gazelle. Literally ran flat-out.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
coming of age stories (1.06 / 15) (#18)
by loteck on Mon May 23, 2005 at 08:58:09 PM EST

are fucking boring, people.

please stop voting them up and force them into diaryland where they belong.
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich

Whingy crybaby comments (2.00 / 4) (#33)
by esrever on Mon May 23, 2005 at 11:27:34 PM EST

are fucking boring, people.

please proceed to Hide (0) them and force them into oblivion where they belong.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

About time Some appreciates the Sweet Deal that is (3.00 / 8) (#20)
by alphaxer0 on Mon May 23, 2005 at 09:15:16 PM EST

the military life. I get so annoyed with some of these active duty crybabies and their complaints about low pay.

Let me tell you something, the military is a swank deal and everyone should stop crying wolf over a bogus issue. Let me break it down.

Okay, so starting off, military pay is kind of on the low side. However, its not low considering the great benefits, which render the salary pure gravy. Especially considering, you're getting free paid training. How many companies offer free paid training, with total benefits, to completely unskilled people? Not many. You get free housing, all you have to do is pay for optionals like cable TV and telephone calls. But even that is subsided by the BAH II, which chips in some dough, tax-free, to you, to pay for things, like toilet paper and paper towels. Hell, your initial work clothes are given to you free, everyone else in the real world has to pay out of pocket.

Replacement work clothes, aka BDUs, are paid for too. They give you a nice fat check to use to buy new clothing as you see fit.

These things, and many many others, are sold at a heavily discounted rate .... Wholesale cost plus 5%. You have subsided entertainment options, you pay nothing for health, dental, mental health, or vision care. Your transportation costs are lower because the base has its own intra-base mass transit, and if you own a car, maintenance is a available at a discount rate,

Plus you get 30 days of paid vacation and 12 federal holidays off a year. That's 42 day or 12% of the year off. That's 3xs the average of two weeks a year in the civilian world. The military even provides free travel on Space Available Flights, for, at worse a nominal fee, and there are often on base accommodations for members at discount. In addition to paid vacation time, you also receive unlimited paid sick leave. Plus there is no risk of being fired for using these benefits as very few soldiers are fired during their period of guaranteed employment. How many companies offer their wage slaves guaranteed employment? Again not many. This is because the military does not outsource its jobs overseas, rarely does it cut down on its numbers, and never does it fire anyway for anything less than gross incompetence or criminality. In many cases, criminal conduct is swept under the rung with a slap on the wrist thanks to Article 15s.

As you mature,get older, and serve longer guess what? The deal gets even sweeter. You only have to serve twenty years and guess what? You get a free retirement for life, a giant, never ending 401k you didn't have to pay into. Its free money and you can start receiving, depending on the age of enlistment at 37. The VA begins to provide you with low cost healthcare upon retirement as well. You get the MGIB, which will pay for any college expense you may have left over. This should not be too much of a problem given the military already pays 100% of all college tuition of all people on active duty. If you went to college before enlistment, the military has programs, for student loan repayment. Soldiers who retired or leave after one enlistment get access to numerous other benefits like low cost VA housing lows, job training, and preferential hiring for government jobs, no matter how unqualified or incompetent they are, allowing them to beat out superior applicants.

In addition, over those twenty years of service, you get multiple, guaranteed pay raises. You get more money for marrying and for each dependent you have, meaning the military pays you to fuck and have kids.

So to brake it down: The military deal includes
Free College
Free Housing
Free Health/Mental/Dental/Vision care (often for life)
Free Retirement
Free Paid Training
Paid Vacation
Unlimited Paid Sick Leave
Guaranteed Raises
Job Programs
Subsided Shopping/ Transportation/ Entertainment

but yeah. (none / 1) (#31)
by /dev/trash on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:56:07 PM EST

if you're not in a combat situation, that's a sweet deal.

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
OK, so there's one /minor/ downside (none / 0) (#47)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:32:21 AM EST

The off chance of dying for your country...

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
I hear you also get shot at. -nt (none / 1) (#35)
by Kasreyn on Tue May 24, 2005 at 12:33:48 AM EST

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Depends (none / 1) (#42)
by curien on Tue May 24, 2005 at 04:37:26 AM EST

I'm a computer programmer in the Air Force. The one time I "deployed", it was to Vicenza, Italy. I didn't get shot at, but they gave me an apartment and a rental car.

This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]
If I was single (none / 0) (#62)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:41:48 AM EST

I think I would have done that.

[ Parent ]
Army and Marines (none / 1) (#46)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:31:42 AM EST

get shot at quite a bit. Navy corpsmen (medics) may find themselves assigned to the Marines. Air Force forward air controllers are usually attached to Army Infantry units, so they get shot at too.

But if you're an Air Force mechanic, or aboard ship in the Navy, you rarely see combat.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (none / 1) (#87)
by dasunt on Tue May 24, 2005 at 03:53:16 PM EST

Doesn't the US Army have a large ratio of non-combatants to combatants?

Although I haven't run the numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if the healthcare/structure of the US military ends up increasing the average lifespan of US military members.

[ Parent ]
Non-combatants? (none / 0) (#101)
by wiredog on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:14:49 AM EST

In the Army? Not anymore. A big uproar in Congress these days is over women in combat. In places like Iraq there is no "front line" and a supply clerk is as likely to be hit an an infantryman.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
then sum it up and compare (none / 1) (#40)
by dimaq on Tue May 24, 2005 at 04:12:26 AM EST

so how does it compare to an office job? if you were to sum up all those benefits, how much would it really amount to? or rather what part of an average pole-climber electrician smart guy salary would that consitute?

[ Parent ]
Break-down (3.00 / 4) (#44)
by curien on Tue May 24, 2005 at 06:07:43 AM EST

  • Military retirement. If you retire at 20, you get half your pay (actually, half of the average of your last three years) for the rest of your life. An E-7 (fairly easy to make, even in the Air Force -- the slowest-promoting branch -- in 20 years) makes $3500 montly base pay, so at retirement, he'd get $1750 monthly. For the rest of his life. If he retired at 40 (say he joined after dropping out of college) and lived to be 85, that would be almost a million dollars, not counting interest (and yes, retiree pay is adjusted upward to somewhat offset inflation).
  • Thrift savings plan. It's the government's equivalent to the 401K for civil service and military. I don't have to worry about my money disappearing Enron-style.
  • Medical. I don't really know how to compare this. Military medical service ain't great, but it's as good as your average HMO in my experience. The exact amount of this benefit depends greatly on your personal situation (number of dependents, etc).
Okay, now for my specific case. I'm an E-5 in the Air Force. I'm 23 and been in a little over five years. The AF is the slowest-promoting service, so if I were in the Army, I could easily be an E-6 by now going on E-7. But anyway, my base pay is $2060.70. I also get 267.18 for Basical Allowance for Subsitance, $1394.83 (actually, it's 1012.50 euro, so that number changes slightly from month to month), and $591 for Cost of Living Allowance (that number also changes slightly from month to month).

Now for the tricky part. Everything labeled as an "allowance" is tax-free. Yes, you heard that right. Each month, I make $2060.70 in taxable income, and $2253 (give or take) in completely tax-free income. Figure the taxes back in, and that $2253 bumps up to about $2740 (added back in taxes, accounting for higher tax bracket). So just to get the same monthly pay I get, as a civilian I'd have to earn $4800 per month.

In addition, I re-enlisted with a large bonus -- $36,000 or so spread over four years, or $9000 per year (actually, it was $18k up front, the rest in four annual installments, but let's ammortize it).

That's $66,600 gross just in cash.

Now, I also attend college, and that's payed for by the military too, to the tune of about $4000 per year (there's a cap, but I won't hit it). All I pay is books. (Note: this isn't GI Bill, this is Tuition Assistance... I haven't even started to draw my GI Bill benefits yet.)

I get 30 days leave per year and an additional 17 days off (holidays and down days). I probably get another 10 days off just for appointments and what have you in the course of a year (for example, I took my mid-terms on "company time" last week). The leave's a little tricky -- you have to spend it on weekends if you're not available for duty, so counting the full 30 days isn't really fair. I think it balances out with the appoinments, though, so let's just say 47 days off per year. That's almost as good a deal as working four days per week.

The military sent me back to the States for training in February, and I took the opportunity to take a couple of weeks off with my friends and family. Basically, I got a free round-trip plane ticket. Also, when I get my Continuous Overseas Tour next year, they'll fly me and my family (not that I have one) home for leave between tours.

The BX and Commissary are mixed blessings. Some things are cheaper, others are more expensive. For example AAFES charges $450 for an AFN satellite decoder, but a German decoder is like $50, and a British one is about $150. They charge so much because they can. Bastards.

Hmm, what else? I'm exempt from German tax on retail purchases and utilities. That maybe saves me $500 or so per year. We get lots of freebies like free tax consulting, free financial consultants, etc. We get a clothing allowance for maintenance of uniforms (I still use the original ones they issued me -- it's almost all gravy).

So there you go. When you're in the military, how much you "make" depends a lot on who you are. But me, as a single guy overseas, I pull in a little over $70,000 plus medical. It seems like a lot to me.

This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

where do i sign up? (none / 0) (#120)
by Paul Jakma on Sun May 29, 2005 at 01:35:15 AM EST

Damn, that's good money - does it matter that I'm an EUan? :)

[ Parent ]
No, it doesn't (none / 0) (#121)
by wiredog on Tue May 31, 2005 at 09:47:46 AM EST

Go to a local US Embassy or Consulate and ask around. Quite a few non-citizens join the US military as a shortcut to citizenship.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
The US foreign legion (none / 0) (#122)
by Paul Jakma on Fri Jun 10, 2005 at 09:05:23 PM EST

I'll bear it in mind if my circumstances ever change for the worse ;)

[ Parent ]
A Brief Rebuttal (2.75 / 4) (#41)
by Xptic on Tue May 24, 2005 at 04:24:32 AM EST

>>Free College
This is kinda misleading.  In the Air Force, it is a standard that you finish your formal training (6+ months), your on the job training (1+ years), and your career development courses (1+ years) before you begin any type of college courses.

In your first 4 years, it's difficult to get time for college.

Now, I've been in for about 10 years.  I work from 3pm till about midnight 5 days a week.  From 7pm till about 11pm (two days a week) I'm in school.  The tuition is free and I just pay for books.  I earn a salary and I even get time out of work to go to school.  Hell, I usually spend my first two hours at work doing homework.

Like you said, good leaders deligate. :)

>>Free Housing
Another catch-22.  If you are single, you *will* live in a dorm.  If you are lucky, it will be a single room and two rooms will share a common bathroom.  If you are unlucky, it'll be 2 to a room.

There will be monthly inspections of your room.  If you have clothes on the floor, dust on top of the fridge, or porn on the wall, you'll be in trouble.  Candles and insence are a no-no also.

If you have something in your room the boss don't like, your career is as good as over.  Upside-down crosses, anime, bongs, dildos, you get the idea.

If you are married, you have two choices.  On or off-base housing.

If you live off-base in the US, the military will pay you about 90% of the average rent for that area.  If you are overseas, they pay 100%.  Utilities come out of your own pocket.  The areas near bases are notorious for being high-crime areas.  They are also littered with porn stores, bars, seedy hotels, and pawn shops to cater to the on-base junior enlisted population.

On-base is usually nice.  You may have to deal with the so-called yard-natzis; people who have nothing better to do than to turn you in for not cutting your grass on a weekly basis.  You pay for cable, internet, and telephone; everything else is free.

>>Free Health/Mental/Dental/Vision care (often for life)
The military health care system is terrible.  You will get only the bare minimum you need to get back to work.  I've had ingrown tonails so bad they were bleeding and the doc (after a 5-hour wait) gave me a script for motrin and sent me back to work.

There is no confedentiality!  If you seek mental health for depression or alcohol/drug/gambling/porn addiction, you will lose your job.  If you have a security clerance, that's gone too.  They won't nescessarily fire you, but you will end up doing the rest of your time behind a desk away from pointy things.

>>Free Retirement
If you don't get force-discharged prior to 20 years.  You spend 3+ days a week running 3+ miles and see how well your legs hold up.  If you have 15+ years in and complain that your knees hurt a bit after that 10-mile run, you will be kicked the fuck out.  No retirement for you; just a small disability pension.

Still, if you can make it, the retirement is very cool.  You can go to work for a civilian company and use the $1500/month pension to make a house payment.

>>Free Paid Training
This is very nice.  It's just a matter of if the training is important to you.  I've had HP OpenView training so many times it makes me sick.  But outside the military, the training means squat.

Try telling a HR person that, while you don't have a CCNP, you have spent 6+ years configuring policy-based routing.  Some of that in combat situations.  Nothing more fun than landing in a field with a laptop, router, satalite ground station, generator, and crypto gear and setting up a forward observation post.

>>Paid Vacation
This fucking rocks!  You can build up to 60 days of leave and take it mostly at once.

I was in a situation where I had 94 days of vacation time and my boss told me to take the summer off.  It was very nice.

>>Unlimited Paid Sick Leave
I guess.  However, look at the medical stuff above and decide for yourself.

>>Guaranteed Raises
Not really.  You get promotions up to E-4 or O-3 for free.  E-5 and E-6 are very easy to get.  E-7 is possible on merit alone, but few will make it.  E-8/9 are purely political slots.  Spend lots of time doing sports and ceremonies for your unit and you'll have a shot at making thoes ranks.

The government usually gives minor raises based on cost of living.  Look for 3% across the board with some ranks getting 5% or more.

>>Job Programs
Don't get stuck in a shitty job.  If you do, retraining is free and guarenteed after your first enlistment.  It is also possible for people with >15 years to retrain.

>>Subsided Shopping/ Transportation/ Entertainment
The shopping system is subsidised, but usually Wal-Mart will be cheaper because of volume.

The Exchange will carry two types of items:  cheap-assed shit and fucking expensive as hell.

You can but no-name Korean-made shirts or Tommy-Hill/Ralph Lauren.  Not much in between.

And you'll see 20 other guys wearing the exact same shirt. :)

Transportation is very nice.  Free flights anywhere in the world.  Just pray that you get lucky enough to catch a return flight.

Entertainment isn't too bad.  All the USO stuff is free.  I've seen several concerts by big-name bands for nothing.

Just last week, I saw ROTS before anyone in the States.  19 May 2005 at 0001 (GMT+9).  That puts me about 11 hours ahead of the East-Coast USians.  While you stood in line, I was talking about how cool it was when the dude did the thing to the people.  Oh, and it cost me about $3 to get in and $2 for a mammoth Coke and another $1 for all the popcorn I could eat.  I also had some nachos for $1.50.  I brought my own bag of Malted-Milk balls and the theater was OK with that.

Down side?  Well, no dolby pro logic uber surround sound.  And the woofers clipped a lot during the inital space battle.  And there was a handprint smugged on the screen.

If you like to travel, join without thought.  If you like being near momma, don't join for shit.

If you have a girfriend, don't join.  She won't wait.  Same for a boyfriend.

If you are afraid of guns or being shot, don't join.  It probably won't happen, but it might.  There are about 200K people in the Air Force.  There have been about 1600 US deaths in Iraq.  That's .8% if you were only looking at the Air Force.  The actual number is probably a lot closer to .2%.

If you like addrenaline, join.  We run and jump and shoot and drive and climb and hike and do all that cool shit.  And we do it all over the world.  I learned to ski in the Dolomites of northern Italy.  Spent a summer canyoning in Austria.  I've been to auto shows in Tokyo.  Gone fishing in Bosnia.  If you like doing cool shit in cool places, join.

If you want a family, don't join the Marines or the Navy.  Tell your SO they will have to deal with you being gone for up to a year at a time if you re in the Army.  In the AF, we have a hard limit of 4 months in a combat zone.  After that, you leave and someone else takes your place.  They have to wait 11 months from when you get back to send you agian.

If you don't like the prospect of spending 4 years in college and don't really have an idea of what you'll do when you leave high-school, the military is a good idea.  Spend 4 years trying to decide if you really know yourself.  Learn a trade.  Earn some money.  Blow shit up.  Take a .2% chance of being blown up.  Go to strange countries and drink their beer.  Go to strange countries and fuck their women.

Most importantly, get the fuck away from where you were born and live a little.

[ Parent ]

A different perspective (none / 0) (#56)
by curien on Tue May 24, 2005 at 08:22:19 AM EST

In the Air Force, it is a standard that you finish your formal training (6+ months), your on the job training (1+ years), and your career development courses (1+ years) before you begin any type of college courses.

My formal training for 3-level was 11 weeks, 4 weeks for 7-level. My career field has 5 volumes for 5-level CDCs, so figure 5 months (3 really small volumes for 7-level). I had so much extra time to go to college in my first four years, I'm ashamed I didn't take it. Laziness is my only reason, but it's no excuse. I know lady who enlisted about the same time I did who got her four-year degree before the end of her first enlistment, starting from scratch.

If you are single, you will live in a dorm.

Not true. It depends on the base, really. If the dorms are nearly full, they start kicking people out based on rank. If you enlist for six or otherwise manage to start with two stripes, you may never live in the dorms after tech school.

I started off as a slick-sleave and was out of the dorms before my 18-month mark (wing king required us to be A1C before we moved off-base).

If you are lucky, it will be a single room and two rooms will share a common bathroom.  If you are unlucky, it'll be 2 to a room.

The new dorms (which most bases have now) are singles. Sometimes you don't share a bathroom. You also get to split a kitchen. Some setups have four people to a kitchen with a shared dayroom (ie, for just the four of them).

Try telling a HR person that, while you don't have a CCNP, you have spent 6+ years configuring policy-based routing.

Why don't you have your CCNP? You know TA will pay for the tests, right?

If you seek mental health for depression or alcohol/drug/gambling/porn addiction, you will lose your job.  If you have a security clerance, that's gone too.

This isn't true, but it's a common stigma. I know people who've been to mental health, and they're still TS/SCI eligible.

I agree with the rest of it. I'm really jazzed about getting to go to Georgia this summer, and I don't mean near Atlanta.

This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

The health care is quite good here (none / 0) (#118)
by lakeland on Fri May 27, 2005 at 06:14:18 PM EST

But the other benefits sound worse.  Swings and roundabouts I guess...

[ Parent ]
And all you have to do is... (none / 0) (#55)
by Russell Dovey on Tue May 24, 2005 at 08:14:57 AM EST

...exactly what you are told.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

That this has been voted to the FP (1.11 / 9) (#21)
by vera on Mon May 23, 2005 at 09:22:42 PM EST

only goes to show that the users here are interested in promoting diary entries outside of the diary section.

It seems to work for HuSi, and I wouldn't be surprised if it worked for K5.

Parent has been deemed a Topical comment (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by kpaul on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:12:06 PM EST

even though it's obviously editorial. goes to show you...

2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

Pre-Promoted from the diaries (3.00 / 3) (#28)
by localroger on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:34:46 PM EST

Since we don't have a mechanism for editors to promtoe diaries as they do on certain liberal Scoop-driven websites, people who think their diaries might be promotion worthy have to put them in queue. And sometimes, as quite properly in this instance, they are so promoted.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Diaries on Husi (none / 0) (#68)
by nebbish on Tue May 24, 2005 at 10:05:25 AM EST

Are voted up from the diary section by users, not promoted by an editor. The threshold is only 10 votes because there is a smaller userbase than K5, but a similar thing could work here.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

mechanism for promotion (none / 1) (#82)
by aphrael on Tue May 24, 2005 at 01:08:29 PM EST

OF COURSE we have that mechanism.

The editors simply decline to use it.


[ Parent ]

Inspirational (1.04 / 21) (#22)
by der on Mon May 23, 2005 at 09:27:04 PM EST

I've always wanted to be a murderer for hire.

You're my hero.

And thank you... (none / 0) (#78)
by bobbuck on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:59:06 AM EST

for driving up demand. Asshole.

[ Parent ]
Soldier = Murderer ? (none / 0) (#94)
by issachar on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:06:02 PM EST

The soldiers who stopped stuff like this might disagree.
Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me.
Diary? I do a blog.
[ Parent ]
Nice (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by Abominable Abitur on Mon May 23, 2005 at 09:46:12 PM EST

I'd like a transcript of the ass-chewing you received. I'm imagining it to be very much like several speeches I received from my father while a punk-ass 16 year old. Probably also similar to the speeches I've been giving my 18 year old cousin this past year or so.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
I wish I had a recording of it. (none / 0) (#52)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:43:45 AM EST

It could probably be used for training purposes. One of those situations where the lack of screaming and cussing lets you know just how much you've really screwed up.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
I've often wondered. (2.60 / 5) (#25)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:15:41 PM EST

I think I told you this story before, WD, but one of the great might-of-beens in my life is how close I came to taking a similar route to yours. I ran out of money for school, took the ASVAB and aced it, and I survived basic training by the absolute skin of my teeth (parting remark from my captain - "I'm not giving you a good rating, but then I never expected you to finish in the first place. I put in your file that you never give up.")

3 months later, whap, I gave a live demonstration of what happens when a bicycle runs a red light during rush hour. Honorable discharge. (Seriously, it was ten years before I could run again without pain).

So, I keep thinking - if I'd hit the brakes sooner, I'd have been in Gulf War I instead of listening to it on the shortwave.

Makes you wonder.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?

I almost went to GW1 (none / 1) (#51)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:42:30 AM EST

I was in the IRR and was informed that I was on the list to get recalled if they needed more commo guys. Which was likely if the war dragged on a bit. Want to find the CO of an infantry unit? Look for the big radio antenna sticking up and drop a mortar round on it. The CO is next to it, and I'm next to him, with the radio.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Belated +1FP, what a great story (2.66 / 6) (#26)
by localroger on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:21:20 PM EST

Wish I'd seen this in queue so I could've voted it up. While we've taken very different paths you gave me a glimmer of your life. We've taken very differnt paths and it is the gift of language that lets someone like me learn a bit about what your life was like. Thanks for sharing so eloquently.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
I second this sentiment. /nt (none / 0) (#63)
by skyknight on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:50:44 AM EST

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
What a nice thing to say [nt] (none / 0) (#66)
by nebbish on Tue May 24, 2005 at 10:00:24 AM EST

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Excellent. (nt) (2.00 / 3) (#30)
by Skywise on Mon May 23, 2005 at 10:53:18 PM EST

This is brilliant (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by nebbish on Tue May 24, 2005 at 05:55:40 AM EST

And it's nice to know some of your background. I'd be interested hearing more about how you went from liberal to conservative, and also why you think getting involved in the Balkans and Somalia was a bad thing, but that's probably for another time.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Some answers (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:50:06 AM EST

The reluctance to get involved in the Balkans, Somalia, and Iraq was the conservative reluctance to stick our noses into Other People's Problems where we're not threatened, are not likely to be, and have no real strategic issues at stake. The "Hey, if the EUians want Yugoslavia pacified, let them do the pacification" idea.

It's a part of the general conservative reaction to someone saying "Something MUST be done!" which reaction is to say "Why now? And why should WE be the ones doing it?"

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

I understand that argument (none / 1) (#65)
by nebbish on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:55:02 AM EST

But I think it's short-termist. Unrest anywhere will end up affecting US interests. For example Somalia is now a major hideout for Al Quaeda because of the general anarchy there.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

But that argument (2.66 / 3) (#70)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 10:59:30 AM EST

Leads to interventions everywhere, Pax Americana, and eventually countries like Russia and China getting worried enough to Do Something to restrict the US.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Oops, double post (none / 0) (#72)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:01:57 AM EST

Could some kindly editor delete?

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
A poor argument (none / 1) (#73)
by curien on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:38:24 AM EST


This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]
See curien's point (none / 1) (#74)
by nebbish on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:41:53 AM EST

Every situation has to be judged on its own merits.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Funny-looking conservative (2.00 / 2) (#95)
by Mason on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:26:50 PM EST

Quit patting your own back, dude.  Nobody in America has a consistent opinion on interventions, least of all you.

And a lot of people calling themselves conservatives nowadays seem to be obsessed with nothing so much as abridging the privacy rights of anyone not precisely like them.  You might want to talk to them about your interpretation of conservatism, because it is kind of stupid for both of you to be using the term.

[ Parent ]

calling themselves conservatives (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by wiredog on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:24:31 AM EST

That's one of the issues dividing conservativism. Conservatives such as myself, who are more traditional, consider the neocons to be radicals.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
I just got out of the Army last August. (3.00 / 9) (#45)
by jax0m on Tue May 24, 2005 at 06:23:42 AM EST

I'm working in Iraq. It's currently where I live, I suppose, simply by default, since I don't really have a "home" in the States to speak of besides my Mother's place. I work as a U.S. Government contractor. I make decent money that I don't do anything with besides waste it and send it to family.

I was out here in 2003 and the beginning of 2004 as well with the 4th Infantry Division. It was a little rough. I did things I never thought I'd do, saw things I had never possibly imagined seeing.

I turned 19 out here in the Army and I just turned 20 in March. I'm female.

I was closer to my squad of maybe 10 soldiers more than I've ever been with anyone in my life. We developed a desperate sort of intimacy developed as a result of being forced to live in a way that we had never known before, and dealing with it together.

We dug holes to use as latrines. We burned shit with a mixture of gasoline and diesel. We built places to live with shitty Iraqi lumber that we had to make "drug deals" to get. We dealt with a lot of death on both sides. We ate MRE's together, and when we went on food and water rations and eventually ran out of supplies on an extended mission to recover illicit weapons once, ate with Iraqis in a village out in the middle of nowhere with very little of what Americans would call "basic human necessities".

I learned so much about discipline and what is really necessary to accomplish goals that it really amazes me sometimes... and I still have so much to learn. I'm still young, I suppose, but I feel 45.

Everything that he mentioned in his post I find relevant. Being forced out of my comfort zone has been such an important part of my life. I would NEVER take back going into the military, as little as I knew of it when I enlisted.

And you know what the craziest part of all of it is? Iraq has now become my comfort zone.


---- It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them! - Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

Cushy job. (2.66 / 3) (#57)
by Mylakovich on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:01:28 AM EST

Going through high school, I worked a variety of jobs, from computer sales at Best Buy, clerical work at a construction company, dishwashing, door-to-door sattelite TV, tutoring, cashier, the whole mix of menial teenage jobs. After I tried some community college, I ended up enlisting in the Air Force. I've been stationed at Bolling AFB in Washington DC for about a year now.

My setup is too sweet. I live comfortably in a single-occupant dormroom, I walk to work at a cushy office where I write the occasional paperwork-document, my evenings and weekends are completly free, I make more money than I did at any of my old jobs, and have no bills or credit card debt. Living in DC is definetly a cultural experiance, and I am looking forward to deploying next year, or changing station to Germany or Japan.

Admitedly, I have had some angtsy periods since signing up. I have developed an understanding of how large The Machine really is. The beauracracy and scale of the air force (and by extrapolation the entire federal government) is staggering. I have developed an ear and eye for doublespeak and propaganda, and generaly have become more careful. I've learned the value in making connections and relationships with people who will help you and look out for you. These are all things that would have taken me much longer to learn otherwise, if at all, outside the military.

On the downside (none / 1) (#59)
by wiredog on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:03:44 AM EST

Take one wrong turn coming out of Bolling and you're in the hood.

My National Guard unit was based there, and I currently live across the river in McLean.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

This is true (none / 0) (#60)
by Mylakovich on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:19:18 AM EST

The don't call it Malcom X Ave. for nothing!

Kinda funny that the same town that is the seat of government also has a huge population of poverty-level blacks...

[ Parent ]

Follow the money.. or something like that (none / 1) (#90)
by greenplato on Tue May 24, 2005 at 07:18:49 PM EST

Kinda funny that the same town that is the seat of government also has a huge population of poverty-level blacks...

Somebody has to work at all those Starbuckses and Kosis; movers and shakers need sandwiches and coffee. Somebody has to operate the elevators in the Capitol because total chaos would result if visitor would be trusted to press their own buttons. Somebody, preferably dispensable, must sort the mail that comes into DC. Somebody has to shovel off all the steps at the Supreme Court every time it snows, even though nobody uses the grand entrance. Somebody has to clean up after tourists at the museums, the zoo, and the mall after they spend their tourist-bucks in DC's Potemkin attractions.

The proximity to and disparity between the haves and have-nots in DC is more jarring than anywhere else I have ever been. It is sadly unnoticed by many.

[ Parent ]

I would be a Republican if (none / 1) (#58)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:03:06 AM EST

the party was not controlled by the freaks that are in power now.

I am a Teddy Roosevelt type Republican (he is one of my heros). the current corporate focus of the party disgusts me, as does the religious focus (is it just me or do all simpleton voters have a chip in them that makes them switch messages on the whim of the party leaders?)

I decided until people like John Macain and Arlen Spector (ignoring his Warren Commission role) are back in charge of the party, I could not vote for a republican.

You do remember that (none / 1) (#61)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:24:25 AM EST

TR left the Republicans and started his own party, right?

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
Only because (none / 0) (#64)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue May 24, 2005 at 09:52:48 AM EST

the Republican fat cats tat took over the party appointed Taft as the next presidential nominee for the party rather than Roosevelt who had rightfully won the seat by votes at the convention.

besides that, the Bull Moose party was never really anything more than Roosevelt pulling a Perot to get into the presidential race. He might have actually won had he not bee shot during a speech (which he finished giving before he allowed himself to be taken to the hospital.

[ Parent ]

Call yourself a moderate/progressive (none / 1) (#93)
by Mason on Tue May 24, 2005 at 10:48:55 PM EST

I mean, Teddy was more than a few ticks away from being a modern Republican, you know.

First, the Republican party has more or less been digested by southern fundies over the past century.  So comparing modern Republicans with anyone predating the Southern Strategy is just ridiculous, it's an entirely different institution.  The civil rights movement very nicely sorted all of the jackasses into one party, and it is a crime against history to let their idiocy tarnish the name of some of our past great presidents.

Roosevelt called himself a Progressive (the proper name of the Bull Moose party, of course), and the term still has meaning.  From Wikipedia:

"In the United States, the term progressive can be traced back to the Progressive Era of the early 20th Century, when certain politicians and civilians pushed for better working conditions for the average worker, better living conditions for the poor, the cleaning up of corruption in politics, environmental conservation and other issues. This desire to make the world a better, safer and more economically fair place for the average American while lifting up the poor, and the thought that government must play a role in doing so, remains the guiding philosophy of progressivism today."

If that description is similar to your politics, then you have no business even considering the Republican party.  McCain and Spector aren't much of a draw, as they're marginalized by the party and fairly inconsistent in their personal politics.

[ Parent ]

They called Teddy a Socialist... (none / 0) (#107)
by Shajenko on Wed May 25, 2005 at 01:23:56 PM EST

Because he was the Trustbuster.

[ Parent ]
Mistrust of the military (2.00 / 2) (#67)
by IHCOYC on Tue May 24, 2005 at 10:02:21 AM EST

I suppose that, during the late 1970s when I might have been recruited, I was generally aware that the military might be a sweet deal. I could not enlist.

At least part of it was the old Vietnam War awareness. The war had just ended when I started college.

More of it was a general understanding that I would not fit it, and likely would not survive basic training. I am not a team player. Any self-discipline that I have manifests chiefly when I am alone, undistracted, and singlemindedly absorbed in a task.

Middle school teachers eventually gave up on me when they saw that even if I were forced into participating in team sports, I wouldn't actually play. I would hope that the military recruitment process is rigorous enough to weed out maladjusted sots like myself, though I suspect that at least in certain periods they'd rubberstamp anybody who was breathing. I am no pacifist; there are things I would be willing to kill for. Staying out of basic training is one of those things.

I strongly suspect that if I were forced into such an environment, it would be most unwise to entrust me with working weapons and live ammunition. One of two things would have happened: the military would fail to break me, and my military career would end in a murder-suicide spree. Or they would break me, and I would emerge changed and damaged inside. Either way, I concluded that the military was not for me.
Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

Which begs the question (1.75 / 4) (#69)
by Mealy Potatoes on Tue May 24, 2005 at 10:09:33 AM EST

How many people could we feed if we spent half the defense budget on educating poor third world country citizens, thus helping them to provide for their familes, instead of bombing them and flushing their Korans down the toilet?

How many lives could be changed if we took half the heinous defense budget and used it to spread love around the world, instead of bombing Muslim's and spreading hate and poop.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't hold you personally responsible, you were just some dumb kid, more concerned with saving for a new Trans AM than world peace, and you had no idea that you were actively helping to spread terrorism that would come back to bite us on 9/11/2001. No, I don't blame you.

Still, I would call on you to try to make a difference today, by publicly denouncing the military. Do the righ thing, you know you want to.

By George, you're right! (2.50 / 2) (#75)
by curien on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:44:50 AM EST

If only Amerika completely disbanded its military, then NO ONE would evar attack us!!! Your a genius!

This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]
Beg the answer (2.50 / 2) (#76)
by bobbuck on Tue May 24, 2005 at 11:52:03 AM EST

How many people could we feed if we spent half the defense budget on educating poor third world country citizens, thus helping them to provide for their familes, instead of bombing them and flushing their Korans down the toilet?

I'm sure we could easily feed both of the people still alive. Look, war is bad, but letting our enemies kill everybody is worse. It's that simple.

I'd like to know why all the people opposed to US military spending don't give a rat's ass if N Korea spends it's WHOLE GDP on its military.

[ Parent ]

North Korea has a GDP? (2.71 / 7) (#89)
by An Onerous Coward on Tue May 24, 2005 at 04:37:19 PM EST

I guess the difference--to the extent that there is one--is that North Korea isn't our country.  It's one thing when the psycho three doors down is ruining himself with his own stupidity.  It's another thing to see your parents doing it.

Er,  that came out wrong,  on many levels.

I'm also fairly sure that a 50% reduction in military spending wouldn't leave us wide open to an armed occupation by the French.  My pet theory is that our sizeable investment in hammers has made the entire international situation look like a big field of nails.  Not every security question has a military answer,  and I think we've lost sight of that.

[ Parent ]

This really ticks me off (2.18 / 16) (#80)
by sharkfish on Tue May 24, 2005 at 12:52:38 PM EST

Yes, you were a dumbass.  If you think you couldn't have learned what you did outside the military, you are dead wrong.  

I too, spent time in the military.  There were no wars;  just a bunch of angsty teens and incompetent aviation types (Navy) who wanted out so they could make a quick buck as airline pilots.

I too, was a middle class kid from the burbs. Except I'm female and of color.  So my top 1% score on the ASVAB got me shit, because the poor, CONSERVATIVE idiots in the Navy couldn't fathom a black female leader with actual balls.

And believe me, women in the military who did much less damage to themselves and others got NO SECOND CHANCE.  

Your stint just made you another macho conservative fool.

You have no idea what it is like to survive because you walk around with a face and a life that is that of the majority. Don't you EVER forget that piercings, military hair-cuts, and averting court-marshall will never make you one of the people who KNOW.
...what happened to all the IT jobs?

I'm astounded (2.66 / 3) (#99)
by curien on Wed May 25, 2005 at 05:19:54 AM EST

The military is the most tolerant, least inappropriately discriminatory institution I've ever dealt with. And I've spent a lot of time on very liberal college campuses.

Aside from the anti-gay bias of the military (which is more a loud, large minority than anything else), I doubt you'll find a more level playing field anywhere.

Just as a simplistic anectdote, I've seen more interracial couples on military bases than in any other setting.

Oh, and your score on the ASVAB means jack shit except which career fields you're eligible for. If you picked the wrong one, that's your own damned fault. In the AF, first-term enlistees you can cross-train after two years; I expect the Navy has a similar program.

This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

talk to me when... (1.50 / 2) (#105)
by sharkfish on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:10:23 AM EST

...you actually are trying to make a career in the military. In Bush _I_ era, the military was still very backward. I grew up in a world of interracial couples. I am, in fact, interracial spawn. Anyway, in order to make a career in the military --and please note, I never saw a single black commander during my time there--you have to sit around with your thumb up your ass waiting for someone to like you enough to promote you. But then, I was in when they were kicking people out. I suppose things have changed a little bit now that there is an ACTUAL WAR and people don't want to get killed. The more brown people the better, in the case of the Iraq war. Funny how actually being involved and knowing what goes on first hand changes your perspective. Heehee. Ever try living in an interrracial community? You can FEEL the people cringe at each other. I live in a northside Chicago area near the famed Devon avenue (home of Russian, Polish, Indian immigrants). All three groups hate blacks, as can be witnessed by the frequent arguments on public transportation. But we are interracial, and proud of it. Now add Mexicans, and you have a real salad. It looks beautiful on the outside, but the day-to-day tensions and battles exist. Go figure. Try LIVING and WORKING in said environment before making some outsider's view of yours known.
...what happened to all the IT jobs?
[ Parent ]
In 1985 (none / 1) (#109)
by wiredog on Thu May 26, 2005 at 08:18:42 AM EST

We had a black CO of our Bde HQ Company in Korea. The BDE CSM was also black, as was one of the Bn Cdrs.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Officers of color (none / 1) (#117)
by DaChesserCat on Fri May 27, 2005 at 06:00:47 PM EST

My wing commander at Hill AFB was African-American (full-bird colonel). I remember my unit having three African-American fighter pilots when I was in RoK. I had at least three supervisors in my four years who were also African-American, as well as one of my Training Instructors (they were all enlisted, not officers).

Now, I don't recall many FEMALE African-American officers, but I didn't deal with that many female officers. They were usually in the Finance or Personnel sections, not the flightline. We had plenty of female, enlisted personnel on the flightline, though.

I was in from 1991-1995; I signed up just after Desert Storm. Bush I was 1988-1992. Does that sound like the right timeframe?

Trains stop at train stations Busses stop at bus stations A windows workstation . . .
[ Parent ]
Nice article... (3.00 / 2) (#81)
by claes on Tue May 24, 2005 at 01:03:46 PM EST

Despite living in a sea of liberals, I've always thought the military to be a valid career choice for almost anyone[1]. Now I'm going to be put to the test -- my daughter's going to a place with required AFROTC. I think I'm still OK with it even being my own kid.

Anyhow, nice overview, and best of luck.

-- claes (well, I applied to Annapolis, does that count?)

[1] Idiotic one-dimensional political pigeonholeing.

Whatever you do: (none / 1) (#85)
by Mylakovich on Tue May 24, 2005 at 01:33:47 PM EST

Don't let your daughter join the Honor Guard unless you want her to get an STD.

[ Parent ]
AF Enlistment (1.33 / 6) (#83)
by vera on Tue May 24, 2005 at 01:08:32 PM EST

Once upon a time in Suburbia High School the authoritarianism of my environment frustrated me enough to skip out on one of my most despised classes to take the ASVAB.

I forget my exact scores, but something about being in the 99 percentile etc. and specifically being a master of decoding and numerical operations.  For the rest of my high school career I received frequent phone calls from local Air Force recruiters asking if I'd be interested in enlisting in their Nuclear Engineering program.

I actually met the recruiter in person, filled out pre-enlistment forms, and had a fantastic time detailing my history of recreational drug use with a face full of faux-concern for the implications of my acts of teenage behavior.

I took the whole idea of enlistment as seriously as anything else at that age, and only decided against it towards the end of my senior year of high school.  I spent a couple months after graduation considering my future while working overnights at a convenience store/gas station off a local highway.

In the end, I realized that I get far more intense orgasms from educating others than I do from blowing things up, and approach the height of passion while studying in solitude whereas taking orders merely serves to drastically impede my libido.

I'm currently a university student studying foreign languages with a planned focus on education.  Chances are I'd be less of an arrogant and oversexed person had I studied nuclear engineering under the supervision of the military, but I also suspect that I wouldn't know more than most my age or be nearly as good in bed.

Wouldn't be so sure. (none / 0) (#84)
by Mylakovich on Tue May 24, 2005 at 01:31:28 PM EST

The military is a sexy, sexy place.

Well, sorta. Its the best kept secret that if you want to sleep around with co-workers, the junior ranks are where its at. Air Force, anyway.

[ Parent ]

No nukes (none / 1) (#116)
by DaChesserCat on Fri May 27, 2005 at 05:46:46 PM EST

I joined the AF about 5 years after I graduated. I had done a few things in the meantime, but I was stuck in a no-where location with no real job skills, and I wasn't keen on continuing to rely on family for my support.

Like the author, I went to a suburbian high school, and was basically mid-tier middle class.

I was thinking about joining the AF, but the recruiter seemed adamant about my signing on the dotted line after I took the ASVAB. I wanted to see how I'd do, then think about it. So, I walked out of the AF recruiting office and went next door to Navy. They weren't talking so seriously about signing on the line, so I took the test through them. I forget my exact scores, but I was 95%ile or better across the board. I knew that certain jobs required a certain minimum score (I was leaning toward turbine engine mechanic; figured there would ALWAYS be jobs for those). After the recruiter got a look at my scores, I asked what jobs I qualified for. I beat the minimum scores for everything. He tried very hard to talk me into Nuclear Engineering. Since the majority of those seemed to be on submarines, and I wasn't keen on being locked in a metal can for six months at a time, I ended up going back next-door to the AF and signing up.

I qualified for 452 (later known as 2A3), Aircraft Maintenance. I spent four years working on F-16's. My mechanical scores were good, I already had some college credits behind me and I spoke at least one foreign language (and could understand a couple more), so I had plenty of opportunities.

I spent a year in the Republic of Korea. Air Force typically gets better quarters and facilities than Army, so I didn't have it quite as bad as the author did. It was still pretty bad, though; I didn't start drinking until I hit the RoK, and I didn't drink much after I got out of there. The author is correct in that a great deal happens over there which never gets reported back home.

Like the author, I learned plenty of practical stuff from my time in the service. While I haven't used my aircraft maintenance skills since then (I got my FAA Airframe Mechanic's cert just before getting out, and promptly discovered that the aircraft maintenance field is frequently facing large number of layoffs), I am able to do my own vehicle repairs about 95% of the time. I used my Montgomery GI Bill to go back to college and get a B.S. CompSci, which is currently providing my main income. Finishing a B.S. degree in your thirties take some discipline, which the Military will teach you. Also, after spending years inspecting airplanes, looking for broken/cracked/improper things, very little escapes my attention (which my kids HATE). Last but not least, I've slept in a jet engine exhaust nozzle (it wasn't running, obviously), on top of a wing (no, the aircraft wasn't moving) and on a loaded bomb trailer (the Load Toads had to wake me up so they could arm my bird), while jets were taking off in afterburner in the distance. I also worked Graveyard shift for nine months straight. Consequently, I can sleep just about anywhere and through just about anything.

There's something to be said for spending time in the Military, whether in the US or elsewhere. You will learn things there that you probably won't learn anywhere else, and it's all "school of hard knocks" subject matter. Still, I wouldn't go back for all the tea in China.

Trains stop at train stations Busses stop at bus stations A windows workstation . . .
[ Parent ]
Best wishes to you, wiredog (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by civex on Tue May 24, 2005 at 02:08:52 PM EST

I spent four years in the Air Force as part of a missile combat crew after graduating from college with an ROTC commission in 1969. A very good place to grow up and become an adult. And you're right about NCOs being very good with us second lieutenants.

I notice some people posting here didn't get as much out of their military experience as you seem to. I have the impression you put more into your life in the military than they did, hence you got more out of it. Much more. In computers, I think the expression is garbage in, garbage out. :-> The flip side is quality in, quality out.

Thank you for your quality time while you served.



Phil Stripling

The Civilized Explorer

Don't Listen to these shitstains... (2.00 / 4) (#88)
by haplopeart on Tue May 24, 2005 at 04:33:16 PM EST

...I admire your story and how you made something of your life through Military service.  My father, his father, two uncles, and probably other relatives I don't know all did the same and also ended up the better for it.

I probably should have too, my life was pretty damned directionless after high-school...college at least as I expirenced it turned out to be pretty much not for me.

However I was actively encouraged to stay way from military service.  My family felt we had given enough in that direction in recent generations and being the only surviving male of an age and situation to continue the family name it was to chancy.
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

Counterpoint (2.20 / 5) (#91)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Tue May 24, 2005 at 08:27:44 PM EST

Some things about the beniefts of the military are a bit overblown.

Obviously, we are at war and one third of Vietnam Veterans who survived came back with a serious mental disorder such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a substance abuse problem.  At least one in six soldiers returning from Iraq suffer from these disorders.  It's still early so the number is probably higher.  I'm sure many problems go unreported anyway.

Women are more prone to experience PTSD as 30% of women in the military experience an attempted rape during their service.  90% report sexual harassment.

And then there's money.  Veterans earn less than similar non-veterans.  In fact, veterans earn 15% less than non-vets.  Fewer than 1 in 8 veterans say they used skills they learned in the military on their civilian jobs.  In fact, 1/3 of all homeless people are military veterans.  And veterans are imprisoned more often than non-veterans.  Remember, if you sign up, the military can arbitarily change your speciality without your consent, so you very well not recieve any job training which you were promised.

Some people join the military for the G.I. Bill.  But 57% of the soldiers who pay the $1200 for the G.I. Bill never recieve any money.  In fact, 84% of recruits are only eligible for $19,008.  Between 1986 and 1993 the military actually made $720 million of the G.I. Bill.

The military is an even worse deal for minorities.  Black, Latino, and Asian men and make up 35% of the military but only 12% of the officiers.  Minorities are also less likely to recieve an honorable discharge.  Over 50% of front line troops in Desert Storm were minorities.

Oh and here's any interesting article on military recruiter misconduct:


I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

Where do you get your figures? -nt (none / 0) (#100)
by Mylakovich on Wed May 25, 2005 at 07:32:43 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Not every "liberal" is for intervention (1.50 / 4) (#97)
by lukme on Wed May 25, 2005 at 12:04:00 AM EST

In fact, I bet most "new deal liberals" are for nation building money to be spend building our nation - not iraq, or any other god damn forsaken place on earth.

Give yourself a few years, you too will be hitting the snooze button. It takes several years to unwind.

I wish you the best of luck in your next career. Tell us how useful it is to have all of you military trining in a non-military related industry (assuming that you could find a job outside of a defense contractor now a days).

It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
P.S. (2.00 / 4) (#106)
by sharkfish on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:16:07 AM EST

I scored very high on the language aptitude test.  To the surprise of my Lt. Commander, they wouldn't take me into the program.  Why?  I have no idea.  

They would not tell me why.  They just said no.  

My guess is that I was rumored to be gay and I was absolutely despised by some of the white males "flyers".  They called us women "slit-tails" in front of our faces.

There were fifty female pilots who never got to fly on freaking SURVEILLANCE missions during non-war period because we had an anti-female base commander.

Don't believe the hype, folks.  The military is not what they advertise.   For every blonde, perfect-visioned beauty they interview on 6 minutes as "our next batch of female pilots", 100 more never get to touch an airplane because the men won't/wouldn't allow them.

Of course, this was the early 90s.  Who knows about now.  
...what happened to all the IT jobs?

Maybe you just didn't make the grade. (none / 0) (#111)
by Saeed al Sahaf on Thu May 26, 2005 at 12:27:47 PM EST

I don't know what military YOU where in, but clearly not the same one as I. Here in the USAF, we have plenty of female pilots, many who fly combat sorties. I think you post sounds like sour grapes over something. Flying is very competitive; maybe you just didn't make the grade.

[ Parent ]
yeah, seriously. (none / 0) (#112)
by CAIMLAS on Thu May 26, 2005 at 04:10:17 PM EST

What exactly does language skills have to do with flying a jet anyway?

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

I qualified for the LANGUAGE program, not flying (none / 0) (#113)
by sharkfish on Thu May 26, 2005 at 05:04:31 PM EST

I couldn't fly.  I'm nearsighted, astigmatic.

I clearly qualified for most of their programs.

Women flyers fly NOW, not in the early 90s.  

Young'uns just don't know....
...what happened to all the IT jobs?
[ Parent ]

Perhaps. (none / 0) (#114)
by Saeed al Sahaf on Thu May 26, 2005 at 06:32:14 PM EST

Perhaps. But I've been around since 1986, and I've never heard "slit-tail", and certainly would never allow such talk around me. I don't know anyone who would. Perhaps you are thinking of the Navy.

[ Parent ]
Not my experience (none / 0) (#123)
by Steely Grey on Mon Jun 27, 2005 at 12:54:32 PM EST

I am a female cadet in a Field Artillery Brigade in the Army National Gaurd and I have never been disrespected by another solider or not been allowed to do something, withing the military limits, because I was female. Those above me, below me, and beside me repsect me, and I respect them.

[ Parent ]
Allow me to be argumentative (2.50 / 6) (#108)
by daani on Thu May 26, 2005 at 12:15:46 AM EST

Because it's the internet after all.

I learned the Great Conservative Truth that Shit Happens, and sometimes there's nothing good to be done

A common mistake. The Great Conservative Truth is better stated as "Sometimes my life's not 100% perfect, so who cares if really bad shit happens to other people - they probably deserve it anyway."

For example, you admit to taking illegal drugs. Fine with real liberals, I hope you had a good time. But in the conservative mind, you are not a celebrity and took drugs so you have joined group classified as "other people". The one really bad shit happens to (who cares!). Please report to the nearest jail for your 20 year sentence. Or maybe you'd prefer a limb amputated, as great conservative leader Newt Gingrich once advocated for felons like you. Don't forget, if you take drugs you are a terrorist, and we are at war with terrorists.

So which is it to be? Jail time or hypocrisy of a Clintonesque nature? Conservatives are fools. "Shit happens" sounds tough and all that. But nobody that shit has really happened to is in a position to say it.

mmhmmm (none / 1) (#110)
by sharkfish on Thu May 26, 2005 at 10:36:56 AM EST

We had a two black Chief Petty Officers and a black female Lt. Commander. They were tokens, at best, with absolutely no power.
...what happened to all the IT jobs?
A little army experience is good. Too much is bad. (none / 1) (#115)
by pornosheep on Fri May 27, 2005 at 11:33:47 AM EST

I had to serve the army for 12 months (obligatory in my country). I was placed in a marine battalion and received rather extensive training. The experience was not bad, but it was more than enough. The army is a special system and it has rules that you don't understand unless you have served. It's not about the actual stuff that you do, but mostly about being able to function in this kind of environment. Some people like it, most don't. I'd say that my whole experience can be summarized in very few points, that are nevertheless valuable: a) War sucks. It's not about glory or victory. It is about fear and not wanting to die. I never went to war, but I spoke with a lot of people and I went in several realistic exercises. The feeling that IF anything happens, you'll be among the first to fight is quite annoying (our battalion was in permanent 12-hour readinesss, meaning that we had at most 12-hours between an alarm and boarding a ship/helicopters/planes). b) In 99.9% of cases your body is much stronger than your will. When you absolutely HAVE to do something, you'll discover that you have reserves of strength that you would not have imagined. Having someone order you around soon makes this apparent. c) Sleep is good. Hot water is good. Real food is good. We often under-appreciate these things. d) Being tough is not about being a super-athlete (although it does help). It is mostly about being able to take the pressure and physical discomfort without cracking. Many people did crack and it was not good. I would not want any more time in the army, but it did increase my confidence in my ability to survive. Not that I feel tough (quite the contrary!). I still miss my M16 rifle sometimes...

Happiness in army (none / 1) (#119)
by svampa on Sat May 28, 2005 at 12:42:57 PM EST

There is a lot of people that misses those days as military, and even war. There is nothing absurd or stupid there. It's logic

Military organization fullfils serveral deep needs:

  • Selfsteem. In the army, even if you are the most humble soldier, you are important. You have you job, a task that must be acomplished by you
  • Security: In a war you could die, be hungry or thirsty. But the army will never tell you, "it's not my bussyness". The army will try to feed you, to cure you if you are sick or wounded. Indiference will never a problem for you
  • Fellowship: You won't be alone. Perhaps you don't like your fellows, but sometimes it's better than nothing. You won't die alone, you won't go through days without human comunication.
  • Compare it to civil life:

  • Sometimes you must ask for a job, you don't have a place just because you belong to the society. It looks like children, "please let me play with you"
  • You can be fired even doing you job, you may be without money and without healthcare and die of anything without help of civil society.
  • You may divorce, be forgotten by friends, pass through days without talking to another human.

    Millitary organization has become what a human society is suposed to be. "If you respect the rules (or punishment when you don't) , we will keep after you"

    Civil society has become a jungle, following the rules means nothing, you must be better than others not to improve your position, but just to survive.

    What veterans miss is their youth, and the feeling of being part of something.

    Perhaps civil society should learn a lot from military. Although there is something that military and ancient societies have but modern societies can't do. You can be punished but you can't be banished from your own nation. Banished to where?

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