In The American Conservative, Danny Sjursen, an Army major, tells the story of a senior officer’s lament that the U.S. has spread its efforts too far. The overreach, he said, was “killing these” soldiers, and “breaking the army!” A great test for sorting out which conflicts matter and which don’t is the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine. Unfortunately, none of the missions currently burdening America’s military meet the minimum qualifications of this test. Sjursen writes (abridged):
I’ll admit I was taken aback. This senior officer and mentor—with nearly 28 years of military service—wasn’t one for hyperbole. No, he believed what he was saying to me just then.
“We’re killing these kids, we’re breaking the army!” he exclaimed.
He went on to explain the competing requirements for standard, conventional army units—to say nothing of the overstretched Special Forces—in 2018: balancing Russia in Eastern Europe, deterrence rotations in South Korea, advise and assist missions in Africa. Add to that deployments to the usual hotspots in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He was genuinely concerned about the physical and emotional toll on the active-duty force, pushed to its limits by 17 years of perpetual combat. After all, with high military suicide rates now labeled the “new normal,” and a recent succession of accidental training deaths, it seems reasonable to wonder whether we are, indeed, “killing [our] kids.”
At that point Americans would have some tough decisions to make: ante up some cash and bodies to keep the U.S. military on top, or, just maybe, do less. Let’s hope it never comes to that. In the meantime, count on Congress and the American people to cover their eyes and let the “war on terror’s” third straight president run its cherished heroes into the ground.
What a way to say “thanks for your service!”
Read more here.