Fifty years ago this month, the U.S. switched from a mixed military system, where the military was composed of both volunteers and draftees, to an all-volunteer force. In the intervening decades, the military has become detached from the American public with a proto-warrior class forming of generations of military families who serve. The steadily growing “gap” between the military and the general public affects how service members see themselves as well as how citizens and civilian leaders interact with the armed forces. A military removed from society is easier to commit to conflicts without backlash, and a military little understood, but abstractly revered, is a tempting way for partisan candidates to score political points.
Expecting our service members to be educated about the role they play should be a minimum requirement.
In this climate, service members shoulder a disproportionate responsibility to be paragons of civic responsibility that we unreservedly trust to preserve and protect our interests both at home and abroad. As a recent Center for a New American Security report points out, service members are held to a higher standard of behavior than their civilian counterparts. While this may be unfair, it is also unchangeable. As we entrust our military with a relative monopoly on the use of force, it is paramount that there is no question of their commitment to American ideals. However, if we are going to hold our service members to a higher standard, the impetus is on us to ensure that they can meet it.
Read the full article from Stars & Stripes.
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