Remember the anti-Vietnam War slogan: "What if they gave a war andnobodycame?" The way our $300 billion-a-year military is going, soon maybethere won't beanyone left with the stomach to show up.
The Pentagon's solution to weak Army recruits and old salts quittingin droves ispretty much what Gen. William Westmoreland employed in the 1970s: lowerthestandards. Then it was beer in the barracks, Elvis-length hair andsideburns, andleaders forced to maintain a kinder, gentler approach. But none ofWesty'sexperiments worked. Instead, race riots, fragging and disobediencereplacedclose-order drill.
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Only when fighting generals like Hank Emerson, Hal Moore and JimHollingsworthstood tall and demanded a return to hard soldiering did discipline andWorld War IIstandards return to the ranks. The problem with today's recruits --according to theword I get from the brass -- is that Generation Y-ers are weak whinersand quitters.They say many come from single-parent homes and lack a basic load ofvalues. Mostare soft and spoiled -- so unwilling to put up with the stress, thetraining rigors andthe hard discipline of the past that about 50 percent put in theirquit-slip before theirhitches are over.
Yes, most 1999 recruits didn't walk five miles in the snow to get toschool aftermilking the cows and feeding the chickens. No, they aren't mainly fromthe farm orbrought up by stern Moms and Dads with demanding standards at school and
church. Yet my take is that they're the same sort of kids from the sametype ofbrave stock that first settled our country, then kicked a lot of buttsfrom Bunker Hillto Kuwait City and made America great. I too can recall beingbad-mouthed by theoldies. And then my generation zapped the baby boomers with the samesort of putdowns, who in turn clobbered the Generation X-ers, who are now beginningtoblister the Generation Y gang.
That's how it goes. The current generation are wimps who have iteasy, theold-timers always say. But remember when the wimps went on to performmagnificently in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and The Gulf? I'mconvinced that allthose who join our forces today need is to be challenged, not coddled,and to be ledby romping, stomping leaders -- not managed and spoon-fed bysociologists inuniform who think compromise and easy-does-it forges soldiers.
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These young folk are far more willing than the brass-and-staffweenies think to makethe sacrifices that will turn them into the winners they joined up tobecome. But thenew-breed brass haven't got the word. So things just keep getting softerwith thehope that the quit rate won't skyrocket even more. Now, the Armyrecruits actuallyhave their choice of omelets for a leisurely breakfast and get to use aknife and forkinstead of the Basic Spoon most vets still consider a primary weapon.Not only areour selfless drill sergeants worried, so are America's fathers.Especially fathers likeNevada's Nick Olguin, a 10-year Army veteran, who says, "Two of my sonsare seniorArmy NCOs. They'll tell you in a heartbeat what the problem is: The oldstandards ofdiscipline and hard knocks which turned boys into men are gone in anArmy spendingtoo much training time in touchy-feely, non-warrior programs, like thenowmandatory 'Sensitivity Training.'
"Soldiers aren't being challenged as they were in the past. Physicalstandards havebeen lowered, mostly to make 'coed training' acceptable." Olguin, whosesons havealmost 40 years' active service, says, "Some soldiers coming out ofBasic Trainingoften cannot even pass a PT test. "Sergeants no longer get 'SergeantsTime' wherethey work one-on-one with their troops to teach them skills required inwar. "ManyNCOs are not permitted to go into the barracks unannounced to inspect inthetime-honored tradition. Nowadays, inspections have to be 'scheduled.'"CitizenOlguin has good reason to be worried. As do the thousands of parents and
small-unit leaders who write with similar messages like this one from adrill sergeant:"I hope we don't go to war and have to depend on what we are beingforced tograduate. It will be ugly!"