A question for Vets and Active Duty...

I wasn’t sure whether I should put this in Great Debates or the Pit, so mods if you are moved to move this go for it. President Bush was at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs yesterday, the post that has lost 18 service men and women in this conflict, the most since WWII.
Here is my question…and this goes out to Active Duty and veterans alike. Where is this seemingly bottomless pit of support for this president and his administration coming from? I don’t want to start a flame war or a cyber “I told you so” fight, I am truly curious. This administration has done just about everything in its power to cut programs and projects for veterans and the active duty that are fighting in this awful war.
How about the fact the pay system is so messed up some of our soldiers fighting in the Middle East are missing paychecks. Where is the outrage at the cutting of federal funds for school districts serving military bases, the fact that just about every
commissary and BX/PX/NEX in Conus (1) is on the chopping block in the name of lowering costs? Or that if the “Liberal Press” hadn’t
gotten wind of it, this crew would have cut combat pay (COMBAT PAY?!?) for the men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan? The fact that the majority of our troops have Vietnam era combat vest? That the exact freedoms our brothers and sisters are fighting for are under the gun in the name of security? Why such slavish support for an administration that would blame the crew of an air craft carrier simply to save face? I work in a predominantly Republican town, on a military base no less, and spent ten years active duty in the Air Force, I understand completely the idea that we have a job to do, and that everyone knew the risks when they signed up, but I just can’t figure out why more vets and active duty folks aren’t asking the tough questions of these chicken hawks.
Like I said, not sure whether the PIT or GD is the place for this, but I did want to start a discussion.

1 Conus-Continental United States

I would appreciate some cites for some of these allegations.

As far as the “bottomless pit”, these are US citizens who feel the patriotic need enough to serve for their country, to put their life on hold for a number of years. Going in to the service, everyone knows that the pay and food are lousy, yet we have a fully volunteer force.

This volunteering isn’t being done for Bush, it is being done for our country and our way of life. I see that you are in Colorado Springs, the location of the Air Force Academy. Are you yourself in the service?

As for those few service members that were shown on TV questioning our role in Iraq and complaining of low morale, we had a name for them in the service: Pikers.

I didn’t post any cites for these allegations, because they have all been pretty much covered in the press as well as this board.
But if you insist…
jMiltary pay cuts

school fund cuts

vietnam era vests

Commissary Closures

These are only a couple of cites, but I think my point is made.

If you would have read my entire post, instead of just cherry picking the things that triggered your ire, you would see that I spent 10 years in the Air Force, eight of that spent overseas at various remote assignments. (Korea, Sicily, Phillipines) I’m currently employed at the Air Force Academy, and have watched the news as every one of our area men and women has been eulogized on the local news.
Dissent does not equal unpatriotic.
Asking questions does not promote low morale. Asking questions is one of the highest forms of patriotism. Without it, we end up with situations like Vietnam.
We in the service also had a word for folks who blindly followed even the stupidest of orders, but this isn’t the pit, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.

I’m retired military and was somewhat alarmed by this statement, as the commissary is about the only worthwhile benefit left to retired military. I linked to your cite on commissary closures and have to say that your statement is completely off base (no pun intended).

It mentions that six stores were closed in 2001 and that there may be more closures in 2005. Since there are something like 276 commissaries worldwide, these closures represent 2% of the total.

The threat of base closure is usually an attempt to use it as political leverage against some members of Congress in order to persuade them to vote in a certain manner, or as a payback for some slight.

That aside, I’m in complete agreement with your sentiments about the Bush administration.

Well, yanceylebeef, I spent 8 years in the same Air Force as you, but I don’t remember holding the commander-in-chief responsible every time a BX closed or we fielded Vietnam-era equipment. Do you honestly think that the blame for not having enough of the more modern, ceramic-tile flak vests lies at the feet of George W. Bush, himself?

What you refer to as a “seemingly bottomless pit” of support for the President doesn’t seem borne out by any popularity polling I’ve seen in a long, long time…at least when measuring opinions of the overall populace from which our forces are drawn. Even assuming, for the moment, that active-duty political leanings are more in line with the GOP than they are democrats, as they’ve typically been, you probably still have a roughly equally divided force in uniform, regarding support for Bush.

Regardless of the President’s party, though, the vast majority of soldiers respect him as their Commander-in-Chief. Not to go off on a Clinton hijack, but if HE could be respected by the men and women in uniform who served “under him”, it certainly follows that Bush could.

I’m sure you remember, also, that whoever the sitting President happens to be at the time, he’s so far “up the chain of command” as to be almost irrelevant to the troops daily lives. Immediate supervisors, maybe unit or squadron commanders… THAT’S who you’re “working for.”

If the situation in Iraq drags out a lot longer, or we go straight from Iraq and poke our stick into yet another bee’s nest, we will doubtless see some dissatisfaction within the force, in the form of lower re-enlistment rates, early-outs, retention problems among the Guards/Reserves, etc. For now, though, I would think that most military members are relatively “happy” to be doing precisely what they signed up to do (aside from the very real hardships of being deployed for so long) and feel that their efforts are contributing to our collective security back home.

Of course the troops will “rally 'round the President”, especially so during an armed conflict-- would you have that be otherwise?

Not being currently in the military, I can’t comment on the ‘bottomless pit of support’. As an 8 year veteran of the Army, I can say during my time that the widespread view was that while you may not have liked GOP politics in general, they were viewed as far more defense-friendly than those of the Democratic party.

We voted our paychecks, as I suspect the majority of Americans do…

Chefguy, here http://public.scott.amc.af.mil/375aw/rao/Section8/ssec8.6.3.htm#8-83a
is a little bit better analysis of the commissary closure issue. It’s a cost benefit analysis of privatizing the DeCA system. I just meant that eveytime a budget issue comes up, these seem to be the first places they look.

Ammo, I’m not saying the President should be held personally responsible, but this administration seems to have no qualms what so ever of cutting funding to the very people they are dependant upon to win this fight. I know that the men and women of today’s military will rally around the office of the President, if not the man, I just want someone to ask the hard questions of these guys, and not let them off the hook.
On the other hand…if President Bush wants to take credit for successes while in office, he also has to take the hits when things don’t go as swimmingly.

Unless I’ve missed a relevant metaphor, the bottomless pit of support for the prez (& so his crew) comes from basic (and mandatory) respect for rank–Da Prez is the top military leader, we owe him the respect & obedience that we would grant to any commanding officer. If He wants to act all gracious for receiving what is owed to him, well I guess it’s his right to spin it as adoration to the T. Millions.

Chat with GI Joe one on one if you want the REAL opinion about the Commander In Chief. I do so with some frequency, and among the people I have spoken with he is…untrusted.

Sorry to be picky, but the site you link to contains articles from as far back as 1993 and only as recent as 2001. This is dated information at best. And I really can’t find fault with the criteria listed for proposed closures:

Simple answer? We think we’re doing the right thing. Who the boss is matters not.

They don’t call it a sacrifice for nothing, guy.

Just because you asked John Q. Soldier what his opinion was doesn’t make it right. I’ve found that many people in the Army are just that: soldiers, and so-help-them, dumb as the day is long. They certainly aren’t experts on policy or the big picture.

What Matchka said is true about him being the top dog, and the chain of leadership to him demanding respect. Military does things because of a faith that leadership is going to do the right thing (save lives, win the battle), because higher has the eyes on the whole objective.

The Pay? You don’t join the military for the pay, just like any other reputable civil service worker.

I’d just like to point out to you, Vezer, that the difference in foreign policy knowledge between any President and the people that serve him in the military is simply that the President won an election. He knows no more than anyone else until he wins and gets to see the crown jewels. Until then he’s as uninformed as any civilian, which is actually “dumber” than most military people, as we get regular intelligence briefings.

I’d like to think that as the executors of foreign policy we’re kept pretty informed.

Chefguy I havent’ been able to find any information that isn’t dated in 2002 at the latest, so I’ll concede the commissary closure point, but I think my main question is still valid. How does the Grand Old Party and the current administration continue to hold the vote of our Active Duty and Veterans after everything is said and done?

Oh, and Airman Doors, careful with the smugness. Be proud of who you are and what you do for this country, but remember many have gone before you and sacrificed much, much more.

Honestly, I wasn’t trying to be smug. For that you have my apology.

What I was referring to was the low pay, not-so-great conditions, and the continued pay cuts you were referring to. None of us are too happy about that, but as for myself and the people in my unit, we wouldn’t trade all that to be sitting on the sidelines watching it rather than doing our bit to help (and that’s not a slight on anyone else, either, BTW).

I still think the answer to your original question is a very simple one, yanceylebeef.

Rightly or wrongly, the perception runs very strongly among uniformed service members that the Republican party is far more likely to “take care of them” than the Democratic party is. Republicans are more likely to be associated with maintaining a robust military, fully funding it, and even using it “correctly” than Democrats are.

Umm… you were in the Air Force-- surely this isn’t news to you. hehe

It wasn’t uncommon during the Clinton years to hear experienced active-duty troops complaining that they were little more than a global police force, being selectively deployed in various peace-keeping and humanitarian assignments around the globe. Contrast that with the Bush years, where the gloves have come off and the military has been unleashed to do what it trains for: Nation-busting, not nation*-building*. Obviously, using Iraq as an example, you have to do a little of both at times.

People don’t join the military because they want to hand out water bottles in some remote corner of Africa. They do it because they want to be part of the effort that they see as making America safe from those who would do us harm. And to most uniformed members, that means kicking a little ass when the situation dictates it-- knowing and accepting that there will be personal hardships, and painful losses to accompany it.

I think the majority of military members simply feel that a Republican administration is more likely to give them that “opportunity” than the Democrats-- and using recent history as a guide it’d be hard to persuade them otherwise.

Perception or not, the deception employed by our government and by the armed services regarding military benefits and retirement is astounding. Many promises are made, only to be arbitrarily withdrawn at a later date. As I stated before, about the only benefit I have full time access to is the commissary facilities. The medical facilities won’t treat me, even though that is what was promised. If I want to use that benefit, I’m at the mercy of whatever physician is either honorable enough or desperate enough to take the pittance the USG offers for payment.

After spending 23 years active duty, living and working in places you couldn’t pay civilians enough to visit, let alone work in, my retirement pay is laughable and my benefits continue to erode (more so under the pubbies than the dems).

Let me tell all of you something: patriotism doesn’t pay the bills, stores don’t take your military ID card as payment, and the flag doesn’t keep you warm. You sign on to the military life expecting things to be somewhat difficult, but knowing that you have been promised a decent life afterwards. It’s mostly a complete lie, and it’s shameful to treat citizens this way.

End of rant.

And yet people continue to enlist in this all-volunteer force, one in which there are generally more applicants than available slots. Go figure.

Yeah, the lies work pretty well, don’t they? When you’re 18, you’re invulnerable, naive and gullible. Also, most applicants are not joining to spend a career at it; they’re enlisting to learn a trade, earn a paycheck, fight in a specific war, or reap the short-term benefits. It’s the folks that stay in for the long haul that get shafted.

I believe most folks who enlist for the armed services do so because they’re from lower-income familes, and feel it is an easier way to get the training and/or experience needed to advance socially. At least, I don’t know of many enlisted soldiers from high-income families, nor do I know of any major recruiting efforts in Beverly Hills or Kennebunkport.

I don’t know specifically which “lies” are “working pretty well” on today’s troops, but I’d be interested in hearing about them…can you fill me in on a few of the deliberate falsehoods being given to recent enlistees, which are then systematically reneged on? I really can’t comment on them until I know what they are.

I would have thought that today’s armed forces, at the time they enter the service, are among the most informed inductees in our history. They know, for the most part, what they are getting into. I’m not so pie-eyed that I think all, or most, enlistees are signing up because of flag and country (although, post-9/11, there certainly was a response at the recruiter’s office. Maybe not to the same degree as December 8th, 1941, but this generation had people answering the call based heavily on pure patriotism.) I also agree with the primary reasons you listed for those joining up. In fact, I think you left out a biggie (the opportunity to earn a college degree on Uncle Sam) unless you count that under your “short-term benefits” being reaped.

Obviously, chefguy, you feel a bit bitter about your service-- or more specifically, maybe, the conditions under which you live as a retiree, and how they differ from your expectations. I don’t know (if you were enlisted) why you kept re-upping… especially near the end of your career. :smiley: I do have the utmost respect for your service of 23 years; I know and understand what that committment really means. I guess I wish you looked back on it more favorably, but that is straying from the original premise of this thread.

My opinion remains that our all-volunteer force knows, within reason, what to expect from military service in general… while admitting that there will be surprises in store, and some of them will be unpleasant.

And I think they know that Presidents will come and go during their tours without affecting their commitment to their individual assignments. It’s almost like the saying that “all politics is local”-- to a troop, “the military” is his or her unit. That’s where their strongest allegiance lies.