Troubles in the Military

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    Aug 05, 2009 11:11 PM GMT
    Soldier who refused deployment gets month in jail

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090805/ap_on_re_us/us_soldier_refused_deployment

    ""The Army is a values-based organization which embraces the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage; for a soldier to violate military law by refusing to obey orders is a serious matter," Fort Hood officials said in a statement released late Wednesday.

    Before Agosto was sentenced during the hourlong military hearing at the central Texas Army post, he told the judge he should not be jailed because he posed no threat to anyone.

    He said he had remained on post and went to work every day since refusing to deploy after learning a few months ago that the Army was keeping him beyond his enlistment date. He said he did not use drugs or go absent without leave, as other soldiers have done to avoid deployment.

    He said he did not apply for conscientious objector status because that requires opposition to all wars, and he does not believe that all war is wrong."

    I enjoy being free. I am both proud of our history and aware of its darker moments.

    This country is filled with messages honoring the soldiers. But what type of person makes a good soldier? What intellectual sacrifices must soldiers suppress within themselves... or even completely lack... in order to serve in the military? The military keeps us safe from harm. They uphold "worldly morals." But what about soldiers who:

    Blindly followThe Chain of Command...
    do not respectfully question the motives of one's superiors as necessary...
    are forced to follow orders from "superior officers"...
    supress critical thinking skills and their dialectial thought-process?

    Are these also hallmarks of the military? (not a rhetorical question, btw)

    What must be sacrificed in order for an army to function properly? And are these sacrifices indeed honorable? Or rather should we honor those who sacrifice individual thinking skills in order to serve a greater purpose?
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    Aug 06, 2009 1:56 PM GMT
    It's called deserting. And yes it's punished severely because there's the possibility of a chain reaction and outright mutiny to an order. There is no individual in an army. They are all extensions of their commander. The arms and feet of an octopus! The drones of the hive! The borg!

    *ahem*

    It's why the military attracts some people. It's not about individual power. There's only so much of that you can achieve. It's about collective power. You are being wielded as part of a larger force. The only drawback is - you are not fighting for your individual beliefs, but for the collective beliefs.

    But even then, independent thinking DOES still count for something. A soldier who objects to orders and does so with good reasons that benefit the larger cause can rise up the ranks and be one of the commanders. The problem is when you get saddled with an incompetent commander, but even that is also punishable by court martial.

    The punishment is even much more severe for past armies. In the Roman legions for example - executions were routine at times. The Centurio must maintain a very rigid command of the Legionari under him, because if discipline breaks, it is HIS neck that is on the line, literally.

    It's why anarchy is sometimes very appealing. Because whatever conflict arises, it would (ideally) be settled between the people who are most affected by it. In the standing army model, if the President of the Republic of Gibber insults the Queen of Garn, it is not them who draw swords and pistols and duel it out in the badminton field after Saturday brunch. It is their armies who fight and kill each other to defend the honor of their respective rulers who remain safe in their tea rooms deliberating what to wear on the next ball.

    But then again, if a Gibberish family of deaf-mute cripples was wronged by a band of pillaging Garnish troops by stealing all their rutabaga crops. They could not very well stage a retaliatory attack on their own. It's where the advantage of a standing army comes in, they can defend the weaker, even if the conflict does not involve them personally.

    States are themselves organisms. You have heads, bodies, senses, arms, feet, stomachs, and of course - weapons. Human ones. A break in the chain of command could be likened to cancer. The rebellion of a single cell to the will of the entire body. The body can break down fine, it does not have a vital function, so does the weapon in times of peace. But in times like this, when the US has a 'mission' to fulfill (never mind if the mission actually makes sense or not) which involves the weapons, a break could be very serious.

    So in this case, I think the punishment was justified. Of course, every soldier enlisting KNOWS this already (or at least they should, they're not entering the boy scouts if that's what they thought). He was not drafted, but voluntarily enlisted.
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    Aug 06, 2009 2:10 PM GMT
    Sedative's interesting philosophizing aside, as a former US Army enlisted soldier and later an officer, I'm afraid the fundamental problem here is contractual. He signed & took an enlistment oath, which doesn't give you a lot of options in what you will or will not do thereafter. If you don't want these consequences, then don't join. The draft no longer operates, no one forced you.

    Personally I don't like the concept of "Stop Loss" that involuntarily keeps soldiers past their original enlistment period, but even that possibility is in writing when you sign up. That's a Bush-era abuse of the law that I would be happy to see Obama stop. But the realities of the wars Bush got us into don't provide this new President much latitude at the moment, though I thought some of it was lessening.

    And frankly, a month's confinement is letting him off easy; a much longer period wouldn't have upset me. But neither could this be excused, or else everyone would feel they could pick and choose where they were willing to serve. Armed forces can't operate that way.
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    Aug 06, 2009 2:19 PM GMT
    Well said Vespa!
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    Aug 06, 2009 2:22 PM GMT
    What stopped me in my tracks was when I read a state the you are the property of the United States of America! That is not the state verbatim but that is how it translated. So did not go into the family business...he,,he,he!
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    Aug 06, 2009 2:36 PM GMT
    Ducky45 saidWhat stopped me in my tracks was when I read a state the you are the property of the United States of America! That is not the state verbatim but that is how it translated. So did not go into the family business...he,,he,he!

    Actually that's a common myth. You don't become any kind of "property" in the US military. But on the other hand, your pledge to complete obedience may effectively make it little different. "I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me..." is a part of the enlistment oath a soldier speaks, which I administered many times.

    In fact, I had it memorized, to enhance the solemnity of the moment, not needing to hold a piece of paper in front of my face, instead looking them right in the eye as we raised our hands and I spoke the words for them to repeat. I only did reenlistments, using that same oath, of career NCOs (sergeants) on my staff. An important moment for them and their families, and they & friends would be snapping photos and taking videos of the ceremony. I always tried to make it a memorable and dignified occasion for them.