Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why I didn't watch the debates

Given my hobby of writing about current events and national defense, it may come as a surprised that I didn't watch the debates last night.  In truth, I've don't recall ever watching any of the Presidential debates.  Being a great debater doesn't make you a good leader just as being a good leader doesn't make you a great debater.

Despite all of the vitriol being hurled by both candidates, and even more at each them, they have both managed to keep what they plan to do should they reach the White House opaque at best.  Immigration has become a major topic, especially after multiple bombing and mass shootings being committed by immigrants here in the US and abroad.  Other than that, the economy?  Maybe healthcare reform?

Sitting here this morning avoiding the deluge of social media and mainstream media posts about the debates, my mind turned to the military.  Fifteen years ago, the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 happened.  As a result, many men and women decided to join the US military.  For those that are still in, the means they have deployed at least 5 or more times over their 15 year career.

Not only have they have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times but many had to support operations in Libya and now Syria (as well as Iraq to fight ISIS).  Other troops have been busy trying to not start a war with China over contested islands.  Air defense pilots are constantly getting harassed by Russian planes flying near the ADIZ along Alaska and Hawaii.  Reports of Russian Navy vessels operating in the Gulf Mexico seem to have quieted down for now.

All of this has happened within the last 15 years with no down time for troops or equipment to be "refreshed".  When units from the Ohio Army and Air National Guard were first being sent over, it was a major event with whole communities coming together to support the troops and their families.  While that still happens, after 15 years ever has just become numb for there is no end in sight.  As I started to say, troops who joined as a result of 9/11 have around 5 more years before they hit 20 years of service (minimum time before becoming eligible to retire).  Those troops will see at least one more major deployment before they can retire.

Personnel are exhausted as deployments have now become as de rigueur as exercises were 25-30 years ago (except of course an exercise is not the same as combat).  Personnel are rated on their performance in combat zones but rather by their home station assignment, which of course they aren't there to perform.  Warriors are not as prized as Hollywood would make it appear because those heroes in combat aren't working for their home station commanders when they are doing all of that hero stuff.  And while the heroes are away doing what they do best, it's the ones that stay back home and get their tickets punched that get promoted.

You've seen the results without realizing it.  Increased numbers of accidents, especially with high performance aircraft.  Increased incidence of sexual assaults (which masks the increased number of plain old assaults).  Increased numbers of troops exiting the service early (that are not medically discharged).  Increased numbers of suicides.

The US military is tired and broke after 15 years of continuous war and neither of the windbags vying to sit in the White House has a damn plan to fix it.  So I didn't waste my time watching the debates, there was nothing new to be seen anyway.

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