Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Random Thoughts for 18 Feb 2014


The National Journal has an article entitled "High Time for Congress to Cave on Closing Military Bases".  There have been five rounds of Base Re-alingment and Closure Alignment (BRAC) rounds held starting in 1989, 1991 (which forced a huge involuntary separation (RIF) after Desert Storm), 1993, 1995 and 2005 (which saw the USAF steal airframes back from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves).  While I agree we could do with less bases, especially those built up overseas, BRAC tends to source its "savings" by gutting facilities thereby forcing out mid-level personnel.  BRAC does not make recommendations on the bloated staffs in Washington DC.  The huge personnel costs associated with the general officer ranks and their requisite staffs could be the source of savings for military benefits but they are exempt from BRAC since most of these staffs don't reside in true military installations.  Many military staffs are housed in rented office spaces throughout the beltway, hence BRACs don't see these on their lists and the general staffs can survive largely unscathed by cuts.

House of Cards

The NetFlix show "House of Cards" does a pretty good job of showing how the political process drives the BRAC.  The character Frank Underwood works a deal to have a smaller installation stay open to court political favor at the cost of closing a much larger facility. "House of Cards" also did an excellent job in covering sexual assault in the military (Military Times).  The episode made a point of the brochures on preventing sexual assault that recommend in some cases the not-resisting is the best course of action.  The brochure, which I've not seen, sounds like a typical product of a committee that argued and compromised on the information instead of looking at things realistically.

Sexual assault in the military has increased as more women are to participate in front-line positions during combat.  Vietnam did not see females in combat and Desert Storm was too short.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on for over 10 years with troops deploying multiple times.  The military has never looked at how troops in the 21st Century, facing combat conditions, will treat each other. We have a society now that spends more time interacting via electronic gadgets than with each other.  Take those same people and throw them into a combat zone, with no training in how to relate to one another, and the opportunities for assaults increases dramatically.  Add the stress of being killed at any moment with being away from friends and loved ones with young troops who have not yet learned how to act and it is a powder keg.

The discussion on sexual assault has to include not just the reporting and investigation but includes a look at how the military branches develop their culture.  I believe the Marine Corps is already approaching the issue in this way by re-looking at how its culture leads to an environment where sexual assault happens.

70 million Americans

According to WND, that's the number of Americans taking some type of mind-altering substance.  What should be even more alarming is as the wars draw down, more and more veterans with debiletating injuries or suffering from PTSD will be prescribed some of these same medications.  Imagine several huge metropolitan areas populated by citizens whose perception of reality may not be the same as yours.  If the numbers are correct, it may also explain in part the epidemic of sexual assaults.  Troops are prescribed drugs for a number of reasons and with the increased OPSTEMPO, drug use may have more of an effect on troop behavior they we realize.  Troops may also self-medicate (legal over the counter supplements or remedies) that may also contribute to the rise of assaults in the war zone when they can't get their fix.

1 comment:

Quimbob said...

great, now I have to watch House of Cards
Check this out
Old Testament Armed Forces