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Monday, January 9, 2012

Ron Paul: the weakened army's choice

I am a member of several groups of a political nature on Facebook. A few of these groups, such as the Armed Forces Tea Party page, are also affiliated with the military. As a veteran myself, I occasionally read and post on these sites. While most of the people belonging to these groups claim to be conservative, we do have our differences. In fact, we are split as many ways as there are candidates in the GOP primary race. Each person defends his chosen candidate in his own way, but what I have noticed is that all of the Ron Paul supporters keep saying the same things: "More of the military supports Ron Paul than any other candidate."

First things first: I'm not entirely certain that is true. Nothing in my research has led me to believe that the military as a whole supports any candidate disproportionately. But if it is true, I may have some insight as to why.

A few years ago, in order to increase the strength of the Armed Forces, the Army implemented something called "low stress" Basic Training. 
It started out with something seemingly harmless - Drill Sergeants were instructed not to swear at trainees or to touch them. They claimed that it was to avoid legal problems such as lawsuits concerning inappropriate touching or verbal abuse. 
Then came the "stress card," a small slip of paper given to each trainee to be used at his discretion. If the trainee ever felt, during the course of training, that he was being singled out by the Drill Sergeant or unfairly treated in any way, he simply pulled out that slip of paper and the Drill Sergeant was forced to back down.
Eventually, Drill Sergeants were left with no recourse when new trainees swore at them, flipped them the bird, or sat down in the middle of the road during a ruck march, screaming, "I'm not marching anymore and you can't effing make me!"

The sad fact of the matter is that given the climate created in the Army by this "low-stress" training, the trainee was right. The Drill Sergeant couldn't make him march any farther - or do anything else, for that matter.

Army Captain Josh Gibbs, upon attending a Basic Training graduation in 2006, remarked on the graduating soldiers' inability to maintain any kind of professional bearing, to march properly, or to show respect for themselves, fellow soldiers, or the uniform. Things have only gotten worse in the years since.

So why does this breed Ron Paul supporters? The Army has spent the last decade "training" soldiers who are really no closer to being ready to handle combat at the end of training than they were at the beginning. After a deployment or two, after they lose a few friends, those who don't end up getting out of the military find themselves looking for someone to blame. Ron Paul gives them the Federal Government on a silver platter.
"You see, if America wasn't so set on nation-building, on controlling international issues, on starting wars over oil, there would be no need for such a large military. Soldiers wouldn't be rushed through sub-par training and catapulted into combat situations that should never have been created in the first place..."
What they are missing, however, is this: Ron Paul is willing to serve up the Federal Government as the scapegoat, but he is not willing to hold the Federal Government accountable for what he claims they have done. What do I mean by this? His fiscal policy hinges on curbing military spending - the military spending that supports the troops who are overseas, that helps military families hold it together when their breadwinner is either killed or wounded, that helps soldiers get educated so that they can continue to contribute to society when their military career is over. He's telling them to blame the government without allowing them to demand restitution from it.

To think that Drill Sergeants could have steered soldiers away from Ron Paul with a few well chosen epithets and a slap to the side of the head...

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