Remember the anti-Vietnam War slogan: "What if they gave a war and
came?" The way our $300 billion-a-year military is going, soon maybe
there won't be
anyone left with the stomach to show up.
The Pentagon's solution to weak Army recruits and old salts quitting
in droves is
pretty much what Gen. William Westmoreland employed in the 1970s: lower
standards. Then it was beer in the barracks, Elvis-length hair and
leaders forced to maintain a kinder, gentler approach. But none of
experiments worked. Instead, race riots, fragging and disobedience
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Only when fighting generals like Hank Emerson, Hal Moore and Jim
stood tall and demanded a return to hard soldiering did discipline and
World War II
standards return to the ranks. The problem with today's recruits --
according to the
word I get from the brass -- is that Generation Y-ers are weak whiners
They say many come from single-parent homes and lack a basic load of
are soft and spoiled -- so unwilling to put up with the stress, the
training rigors and
the hard discipline of the past that about 50 percent put in their
quit-slip before their
hitches are over.
Yes, most 1999 recruits didn't walk five miles in the snow to get to
milking the cows and feeding the chickens. No, they aren't mainly from
the farm or
brought 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 same
brave stock that first settled our country, then kicked a lot of butts
from Bunker Hill
to Kuwait City and made America great. I too can recall being
bad-mouthed by the
oldies. And then my generation zapped the baby boomers with the same
sort of put
downs, who in turn clobbered the Generation X-ers, who are now beginning
blister the Generation Y gang.
That's how it goes. The current generation are wimps who have it
old-timers always say. But remember when the wimps went on to perform
magnificently in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and The Gulf? I'm
convinced that all
those who join our forces today need is to be challenged, not coddled,
and to be led
by romping, stomping leaders -- not managed and spoon-fed by
uniform who think compromise and easy-does-it forges soldiers.
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These young folk are far more willing than the brass-and-staff
weenies think to make
the sacrifices that will turn them into the winners they joined up to
become. But the
new-breed brass haven't got the word. So things just keep getting softer
hope that the quit rate won't skyrocket even more. Now, the Army
have their choice of omelets for a leisurely breakfast and get to use a
knife and fork
instead of the Basic Spoon most vets still consider a primary weapon.
Not only are
our selfless drill sergeants worried, so are America's fathers.
Especially fathers like
Nevada's Nick Olguin, a 10-year Army veteran, who says, "Two of my sons
Army NCOs. They'll tell you in a heartbeat what the problem is: The old
discipline and hard knocks which turned boys into men are gone in an
too much training time in touchy-feely, non-warrior programs, like the
mandatory 'Sensitivity Training.'
"Soldiers aren't being challenged as they were in the past. Physical
been lowered, mostly to make 'coed training' acceptable." Olguin, whose
almost 40 years' active service, says, "Some soldiers coming out of
often cannot even pass a PT test. "Sergeants no longer get 'Sergeants
they work one-on-one with their troops to teach them skills required in
NCOs are not permitted to go into the barracks unannounced to inspect in
time-honored tradition. Nowadays, inspections have to be 'scheduled.'"
Olguin 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 a
"I hope we don't go to war and have to depend on what we are being
graduate. It will be ugly!"