Civilians Who Pretend to Know Everything About the Military

I know, 9 months since last time. I am not a regular blogger only writing when I have something significant to talk about. I have had something but it will take time to do because of how involved it is. Due to some recent events, I have this subject to discuss today that is easier to write on.

I run across this at times, people who discuss the military as if they know everything about it. Problem is, I have been in their shoes and having served, I know there are things the average civilian does not know though they should. You may wonder how this could be true, well here is what I once told someone as proof. If you compare what people knew about the military from, say, World War II and earlier to around the Korean & Vietnam Wars and later, you would see some interesting things especially in media (books, movies, TV, news, etc.) that people have access to for forming opinions about the subject.

Fact #1 – People today know more about what special forces do and little about the average soldier. From WWII and earlier, a good number of stories (books, movies & TV) on military subjects dealt with Average Joe the Soldier and what his life was like, sometimes these experiences became a part of fictional work such as how J. R. R. Tolkien’s WWI experiences were partially portrayed in large scale battles of his Middle Earth books. From the Korean & Vietnam War era and later, not as many are shown unless they fit an agenda, promote propaganda or focus on special forces either government or private, the soldier doesn’t rate much of a mention. Agendas & propaganda come from all sides of the political spectrum usually include anti-war, mental trauma both real and imagined, exposing secrets such as special forces missions and focusing too much on adrenaline action flicks for the ‘cool’ factor. These types of stories are far more detached from reality given that special forces makes up a small percentage of the full military thus inaccurate in portrayal of military matters. This results in society treating average soldiers as if society were to judge every civilian by the standards of wealthy people and celebrities without the crazy shit they do that gets them in the media spotlight. Would the average civilian like to be treated that way? Probably not but they do not seem to mind doing it to soldiers.

Fact #2 – People usually seeing the average soldier in media as, “mentally traumatized,” and/or considered to have PTSD. This typically has to do with views on warfare ignoring that a large number of soldiers have served in peacetime so, while trained for war, never really fought in one, also ignoring that some soldiers during a war actually serve without ever going to the war. Thus there is a large number of soldiers who are not suffering from any form of mental problem.

Fact #3 – Making Fact #1 & #2 worse is media presentation of the subject in books, movies & TV. From WWI and before, you could find stories of what regular soldiers went through in fiction & non-fiction, sometimes these experiences became a part of fictional work such as how J. R. R. Tolkien’s WWI experiences were partially portrayed in large scale battles of his Middle Earth books. From the Korean & Vietnam War era and later, not as many are shown unless they fit an agenda or promote propaganda. Agendas & propaganda come from all sides of the political spectrum usually include anti-war, mental trauma both real and imagined, exposing secrets such as special forces missions and focusing too much on adrenaline action flicks for the ‘cool’ factor. These types of stories are far more detached thus inaccurate in portrayal of military matters.

Fact #4 – Some people like to, “study war.” They study strategies, usually past ones, and over time come to think of themselves as geniuses on every subject relating to the military. This tends to give such students an arrogance plus detachment from the lives of soldiers treating them more as cannon fodder than actual people. When presented with certain military problems that need solving, they just blow these off as they are not the ‘cool’ stuff of war.

Fact #5 – Some people view the military economy as it was back in WWII. They believe there is this massive pile of money that can easily be dipped into and reassigned elsewhere especially if said people are anti-military/war types. This group has ignored years of several nations doing cutbacks on their militaries, partially to appease said people, that have resulted in problems not publicly known and should be. You hear of programs being cut to fund new equipment but soldiers see cuts to maintenance, housing (wait time on getting into military housing keeps increasing), various other things in a soldier’s life that are not known by the civilian public. If there is so much money in a military budget, why does so little of it make it to the government armed services? I have seen one article state the US military budget is less than half what is was back around the time of Vietnam. What is spent sometimes goes to one place when it should go somewhere else.

That should cover all the main points if not everything. Next time on this subject, I will relate some personal stories that clarify some of these items.

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