Military service is unique in many ways, especially for enlisted personnel. In no other form of employment are you asked to sacrifice your life as a condition of employment. Even in times of conscription this uniqueness persists. Despite the differences, there are some similarities between military and private sector employment and management. There are even some principles of management that apply to both.
But I make no mistake when I say military service has some necessary differences that protect us all. In the gap between conflicts our job is to build our military to a lethality that will deter other nations from challenging our ability for victory. Military strength has been the key to protecting our Republic and way of life since World War II and has avoided another worldwide conflict.
Time Can Be Binary
To make this discussion easier let us divide all recorded time into times of peace and times of war. That might seem a little too simplistic, but if I look back through time, I can clearly see that all history is a long series of wars occasionally punctuated by brief moments of peace. It is not what anyone wants, but it is reality. Nations often covet the resources or despise the political ideology of others. In the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries these two factors alone were the causes of all wars.
“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” – General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower
For the United States, our recent wars have been fought under dual ideals of extending our freedoms to others by spreading republicanism and ensuring the free flow of resources needed to preserve our way of life. Most often this manifested as fighting back against communism or totalitarianism on the political side. Oil has been the scarce resource most of the world has fought over but that is changing and if we want to avoid another world war, we need domestic sources for key minerals in the twenty-first century.
Times of Peace
The primary reason I believe that returning to mandatory military service is that it is in the nation’s best long-term interest. Opportunities arise in times of peace for innovation in the private sector. But in our military, periods of peace give time for the development of modern technologies and weapons, both defensive and offensive. These gaps between conflicts are abnormal and supply time for nations to rebuild and train personnel for the next conflict. We cannot control when our enemies will make moves that conflict with our national interests, only prepare to defend ourselves, build resilience, and shape alliances.
“The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice!” – General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower
The reality of this human condition goes back to the Roman Empire. It is recorded that the Roman General Vegetius (Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus) gave us the phrase “Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum,” translated as “If you want peace, prepare for war.” This is wise counsel indeed and reflects real-world conditions. This advice was given at a time that the Roman army had begun to deteriorate. Their victories made them free and successful, but also soft. No one wanted to fight anymore to preserve their way of life. They had lost the connection between a strong citizen-populated military and the freedom to live as they chose.
Today we might rephrase this as “Peace Through Strength,” and we have good evidence that it works. I only need to look back at the end of World War II and the Cold War period to understand the value of gaps between major wars. During this gap, the United States and Russia came to a state known as “Mutually Assured Destruction.” Each had built enough nuclear capability to assure the other that if attacked they would respond. This stalemate proved to supply an extended period of peace that was also a time of great prosperity. As a child of the fifties and sixties I can never remember sitting around fretting about Russia dropping a nuke on us. I had faith that our military would keep us safe.
“Military power serves the cause of security by making prohibitive the cost of any aggressive attack. It serves the cause of peace by holding up a shield behind which the patient constructive work of peace can go on.” – General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower
In a strange quirk of history, we may return to the days of Leonardo DaVinci and a competition for intellect. The rise of technology and artificial intelligence may make intellect the world’s scarcest resource, and the key differentiator in economies, prosperity, and wars. Mandatory service gives us access to a young and tech savvy segment of our population that is needed for our long-term safety.
Times of War
Having a large and well-trained military is a huge deterrent, and even though we have been in a state of almost constant conflict since World War II, we have avoided another world war. A formidable military is also a necessity for national unity. It is a shared experience and should be a rite of passage for young people.
Our system of government creates some abnormalities that make unmistakable military victories difficult to achieve. With Congressional oversight (and interference) it is difficult for our military to have decisive victories. There is precedence for this in our history but also good evidence that in Vietnam and the Middle Eastern Wars our ability to outright win was compromised.
“The stopwatch of history is running. The race is on . . ..” – General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower
A friend of mine who is a career military officer reminded me that “Once war breaks out I have only two missions: break things and kill the enemy.” While this sounds overly simplistic, it is fact. Congress and the President need to make missions clear and articulate a clear definition of victory. But once we decide to go to war Congress especially needs to stay out of the process other than funding. Congressional meddling in military decisions drags wars out, and the longer they persist doubt begins to creep into all corners of Washington. It does not take a genius to understand that the longer any war drags out the more people die and the greater the financial cost.
Saving our Country, Children, and Resources
We all know that wars are expensive both financially and in human terms. But the cost of a real war far exceeds the cost of preparedness during times of peace. If we can return to a mandatory period of military service, then our attention needs to be focused on true support for those in uniform.
“We must achieve both security and solvency. In fact, the foundation of military strength is economic strength.” – General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower
People who serve in the military deserve the best leadership, housing, food, medical care, technology, and weapons we can provide. The cost will be high, but less expensive than the next world war.
“We do not keep security establishments merely to defend property or territory or rights abroad or at sea. We keep the security forces to defend a way of life.” – General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Our service men and women need to work in an environment free of Woke Ideology. Recent actions by the Biden administration have often detracted from the military’s primary mission. On the battlefield gender identity and pronouns have no meaning or place. Faced with survival, call me anything, just fight! Pentagon officials, military, and politicians that force Woke Ideology on the military need to be removed from positions of influence or voted out of office. They are by design weakening us on the world stage and they call into question their own patriotism.
“I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk, you make that decision, and everybody has skin in the game.” – General Stanley A. McChrystal
For our children military service can also be a time to learn critical life skills apart from combat training. Problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, teamwork, technical skills, financial skills, mentoring and coaching, and servant leadership are all a part of the training process. Where our public schools are failing, the military is filling those gaps with practical skills training.
What is Achievable?
In my next installment of this discussion, I will propose that I believe is achievable, even though full military service is the most desirable.
Resources Used in This Article
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