Skip to comments."The Army We Have" -- Young Men, Responsibility, and Leadership for the Twenty-First Century
Posted on 05/10/2007 7:00:55 AM PDT by isaiah55version11_0
Writing in the June 2007 issue of The Atlantic, Brian Mockenhaupt -- himself a recent soldier -- provides the nation with a compelling analysis of today's Army and its recruits. The article, "The Army We Have," should be required reading for all who work with young men, and all who care about the future of the nation.
Today's Army is all-volunteer, of course. The end of the draft meant the rise of the volunteer army and massive changes in the way the Army operates. But, as Mockenhaupt makes clear, the current generation of young men presents the Army with some new challenges.
As Mockenhaupt reports:
Since the end of the draft, more than 30 years ago, this is the first time the all-volunteer military has faced sustained combat, and the demands on its human and material resources have been heavy and relentless. At the same time, a relatively prosperous economy and certain larger societal changes have made it harder for the Army to meet its recruiting goals. As Lieutenant General Michael Rochelle, the Army's deputy chief of staff, testified to Congress in February, the confluence of challenges in recruiting, training, and retaining soldiers is "unparalleled in the history of the volunteer force."
At the same time, Shwedo sees today's recruits as the product of a society that can't quite figure out how to raise its children. "Most kids coming into the Army today have never worn leather shoes in their life unless it said Nike, Adidas, or Timberland. They've never run two miles consecutively in their life, and for the most part they hadn't had an adult tell them 'no' and mean it. That's bizarre," he says. "Our society says you can't count in a soccer match, because you might hurt somebody's feelings. Every kid is going to get a trophy, whether or not you ever went to practice or ever won a game." But these societal shortcomings can be leveraged in the training environment, Shwedo says. "If you go up and do something as simple as slap a soldier on the back and tell them they are doing a good job, you are giving them the recognition that society hasn't given them besides those cheap trophies."
In that single paragraph, Mockenhaupt gives us a portrait of a generation in trouble -- a generation of young men who were largely unparented. Consider this one telling sentence: "They've never run two miles consecutively in their life, and for the most part they hadn't had an adult tell them 'no' and mean it." They haven't had an adult tell them 'no' and mean it. That goes a long way toward explaining the culture around us.
A hybrid of a high tech corporation and an industrial age war machine, the Army is straddling two very different territories. On one hand, it needs increasingly educated, well trained, highly skilled, loyal and physically fit personnel. On the other, they offer low pay, poor work conditions, horrible HR practices and a condescending, babysitting mentality.
"Your ass is ours, maggot! Oh, has it been 4 years already? Please re-enlist! We need you!"
All well and good when dealing with conscripts or the poor and desperate. With today's military, it's increasingly easy to just walk away. You can lure good people in with patriotic themes and cash prizes, but you can't get them to stay unless you run a quality organization.
OTOH there are kids who are really on the ball. This week I am volunteering as a training aid for three classes of EMT students. The other volunteers include some EMT's and nurses and we are all continually impressed with the dedication, knowledge and professionalism of these young people. They have worked hard to get where they are and it shows. When they graduate from high school, they are truly going to assets to their communities. You very seldom hear about the kids like these.
MEL’s -PASSION- sparked by -WE WERE SOLDIERS-
Just what the U.S. Army we have was fighting to prevent in Vietnam long ago and is again now in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Pictures of a vietnamaese Re-Education (SLAVE LABOR) Camp
..”JOURNEY from the FALL”.. MoviePremieres = Fall of Saigon CLARITY..
...as the U.S. Army we have puts a broad smile on GOD’s Face.
“a generation of young men who were largely unparented”
Kiss my rosy red chump.
I may not look like much
But I raised a US MARINE.
Stephen Ambrose, who I had the privilege of hearing speak when my town hosted the Convocation of the Living Medal of Honor Winners (still many alive from WWII then) had lobbyed for the American GI to be the Man of the Century for Time Magazine in 2000.
That didn't happen, but history will make its own judgement.
It already has. Some are just a little slow on the uptake.
I would have liked to hear Stephan Ambrose speak. He one of the best writers of history, ever. His books read like novels you cannot put down.
Personally I think it paints a darker picture than is necessary.
Enjoy it all.......
The New Recruit
Brian Mockenhaupt talks about the men and women who enter basic training today, and how the Army has adapted to meet their needs.
It's a follow up interview to "The Army We Have" link.