Thanks for all the replies. My assessment of the general tone is that
Officers are courageous and often place themselves in harms way (no argument here)
Officers perform an indispensible role in combat (again no argument).
Also plain, however is that more enlisted men die in combat. Whether a higher **percentage ** of PFC’s die than 2nd lieutenants, I don’t know (though I’d love to see stats, Googlers).
My contention is that the disparity may not be of necessity but of expediency. Every nation has limited resources. We try to do the most with what we have. The officer-enlisted hierchy is an efficient (thought perhaps not the only efficient) means to field a fighting force. You invest heavily in the training of a small percentage of the fighting force then use these officers to shepard the troops with considerably less training. The downside of this strategy, however, is the inevitably greater loss of life towards the bottom of the hierchy. Since the hierchy also reflects socioeconmoic status, losses concentrate within the working classes.
I believe we’d save lives by investing far more in the training of ALL soldiers. Something akin to having an entire fighting force of Seals and Green Berets. Weed out men incapable of completing this training, as they’d just be cannon fodder anyway.
Admittedly, maintaining such a force requires more resources per recruit (possibly more than we could afford???). In addition, fielding a large enough force with such great expertise poses difficulties. Has it ever been tried, though?
Without imposing value judgments, can we discuss the possibility that while our military organizational strategy is efficient (efficiency here measured as AKU (ass-kicking unit) per dollar spent) it embraces the notion of the greater expendibility of the enlisted man when national security is on the line.