Brent Scowcroft Center US Navy Fellow Mark Seip writes for Defense One in a response piece on a recent Atlantic article by James Fallows on “The Tragedy of the American Military”:
In The Atlantic article “The Tragedy of the American Military,” James Fallows discusses how the present disconnect between the military and civilian sectors manifests itself either in popular culture or in policy decision-making. While the how of the issue is important, Fallows neglected to take the time to fully explore why this schism exists. It is necessary to understand what the root causes of the disconnect are if senior leaders are to bridge this gap.
First, there is an emotional disconnect, as Fallows alludes. While he primarily focuses on why civilians don’t connect with troops, he neglected to articulate what drives the emotional divide from those in service. From the military side, many of us feel that we are unique to our generation in our calling; that we rose above the self-absorbed stereotype often associated with both Gen Xers and Millennials to protect our nation. We accept significant time away from our families, often subpar working conditions compared to our civilian counterparts, and average pay in relation to the skills we possess in order to wear the uniform. Moreover, as our nation’s warrior corps we assume a level of risk since time immemorial, that our occupation entails a distinct possibility of loss of life. Our service therefore requires a level of confidence and self-assurance to do our jobs and take the risks required.