2005 April 05 Tuesday
A US Army Reserve Officer On Life In The Military
Craig A. McNeil, an officer in the US Army reserve who spent time in Iraq, has an interesting essay on life in the Army which includes the absurdity of regulations for people who are warriors.
When we were coming home from Iraq, before we boarded the most beautiful airplane I have ever been on in my life, we received a briefing from an Air Force sergeant. "Federal regulations prohibit you from carrying certain dangerous items onto the aircraft. You may not transport knives or other cutting instruments, firearms, or explosives. Of course, this does not include your assault rifles, pistols, or bayonets." I stood and watched while a kid who was carrying an M-249 squad automatic weapon (a light machine gun) and a 9mm pistol put his pocketknife in a box. Let's think about this for a minute. If one of us were to hijack that plane, how would that have gone?
"Take this plane to America right now and no one gets hurt!"
"But we're already going to America."
"All right, then."
Has America grown too large and too regulated? Has it become too formalized? Think about that Air Force sergeant. He and his superiors who order him to read ridiculous regulations to a bunch of guys carrying their guns back from a war wouldn't think to just decide that reading the regulations should be skipped in some circumstances. I see this as a problem. The mentality of respect for rules can go too far and that is unhealthy for a society.
More troubling is that so many rules and regulations exist in the first place. Worse still, there will be more rules next year and more each year after that into the foreseeable future.
One of the problems is that the people in charge no longer have the courage to simply say, "no". Imagine a civil servant who has a stupid plan dropped on his desk which claims to 'be a measure to enhance the national security'. Pre-911 he'd have sent it back with a message pointing out how dumb it is. But post-911, it'd be a brave civil servant who wouldn't quickly endorse the idea and send it up the line.
Once upon a time there was an additional protection in that government often didn't have the resources to enforce every petty regulation. Now they have resources coming out of their ears (so long as the task has that 'national security' phrase in it). Not only that, but those same people would have once used their discretion not to enforce the regulation (ie a cop letting you off with a warning), but now they have the fear that the person they let go is a terrorist or some such - so the safe course is not to take the risk inherent in using discretion and instead enforce the reg. fully.
If the sergeant wasn't asking the syndicated questions, then if the opposition party (in this case Dems) got a hold of it they'd spin it something like: "Bush is lax on airline security. Even the military is ignoring the flight-boarding inspections." Kerry used that line for six months for port security because not every ship was being properly inspected and enforced.
I see it as a PC thing--if they don't go through the motions it will be taken out of context and used against them as a political hammer, and the 30 million American Idol viewers won't look into any further than that spin. The military (or other various entities) cannot afford not to go through the motions.
It was interesting that the article was from a reserve officer. Regular military officers and non coms know that a hell of a lot of military directives are BS. But, they are followed to the letter and bitched about later. Many directives by civilian leadership appears to be inane to the military. The directive in question is one of them but orders must be followed.
I am a 50 year old licensed clinical psychologist (Ph.D.) who recently received an unsolicited letter from the Army Reserve stated that my specialty was needed by the Army. The letter interested me so I went to see the recruiting sargeant at the local office. He raised more questions for me then he probably answered at this time. I am in need of information, and certainly did not understand the implications of most of what he said. He mentioned two types of Army Reserve: the regular Army reserve, for lack of a better description, where I would be attached to a unit, and the NADD, which he said would offer more "flexibility" in terms of drilling and service, whatever that means. He told me that if accepted I would enter in as a captain. However, he also seemed to be saying that other than PX privilges I would not be eligible for any other benefits, no retirement, no medical benefits, and no sign up bonus. I reamain somewhat skeptical of this, and somewhat dismayed if this is actually true. If it is true, other than service to the Army, there is no real incentive in terms of benefits. I can deal with all that, however, except for the number one concern, as reservists can well guess. That concern is being shipped overseas in short order, and to leave my family and my business. I am in private practice, and would probably have to close my business that has been operating successfully for 18 year. This would probably result in some immediate difficulties. I do understand that that is the risk one gets when one signs up. However, I get the funny feeling that the recruiter would not divulge this information. Any help from anyone with information about these issues, or how they feel about the Reserves would be greatly appreciated.
I am thinking of getting in the navy reserves (I know is not the army) and that is my concern, Being shipped in short order for 4 to 6 months and leave my wife and kids. The recruiter has offered a great bonus with a good monthly pay (I have a Masters Degree) and I would enter as an officer. The pay and benefits are very, very tempting, for one weekend a month and two weeks a year. However, my concern is being shpped overseas and leaving family and church form more than one or two months.
My question is, what are my chances of getting shipped after enlisting?