The Military's Self-Destructing Perception Bubble

During my last few years in the military before I retired in 2020, it was common to hear that "the military-civilian divide is a problem that is getting worse."  Whenever I heard this, it was always in the context that this divide was America's problem.  "The American public doesn't understand the military," or "their kids aren't fit to properly support the military."  There never seemed to be any reflection from the military.  But the military has a serious problem with recruiting now.  Based on the latest reports, the U.S. Army will achieve only 75% of its recruiting goal for 2022.

As a veteran, I follow many military news sources, and over the past two years, the theme has always been the same when it comes to the conversation on military recruiting.  The military's messaging is off, it doesn't provide enough benefits, the job market is too competitive, or it hasn't found the right social media tools to reach the young generation.  What's commonly left out of many of these articles is politics and a "woke" military.  When and if discussed, in many of these articles, which are usually written by typical media elites or military people who can't see out of the bubble, this is dismissed.

While I'm sure there is some validity to these reasons, the military fails to see what probably will have the worst impact on military recruiting for years to come: the trust of the American people, and more specifically the trust of American parents.  Despite the experts in the federal government, who seem to believe that kids can be raised by proper tech manipulation and enough free stuff from the government, parents still play an important role in their kids' lives in "flyover" country, and it's not unforeseeable for these parents, who have now categorized the military with every other government agency, to tell their kids, "You can go work at the local plant, or stay on the farm."

When questioned about many of today's controversial changes or policies in the military, top brass almost always fall back on the standard answer: "the military is only a reflection of the American people."  It's here where the military is failing miserably and will probably continue to hemorrhage recruiting numbers for years to come.  There was a time when the military was a pretty accurate representation of the American people, but that is no longer the case.  The military, the most trusted and respected federal agency when I retired, is now in the ranks of the IRS and the FBI.  Somehow, the military has managed to take a combat-trained force, which also happened to be the one of the most diverse and trusted organization in the country, and succeeded in ostracizing most of its supporters.  While the military still believes that it is representing the whole country, it now seems to represent only a small group of leftists and elitists that not only hate the country, but also have historically despised the same military that is now killing itself trying to accommodate every social just crisis that hits Twitter or Facebook at any given moment.

To put this into the proper context, senior leaders in the military who led troops into battle are now threatening subordinate leaders over a social media platform, which is probably made up of thousands of fake robot accounts, which are then being influenced by China over a vaccine mandate that was derived by some of the same people influencing the social media accounts and supported by a guy who recently just admitted that his handling of the pandemic was wrong, who also is the source of the vaccine mandate that caused the turmoil in the first place.  The sad thing with all of this is that I don't think these senior leaders realize that most of the people they need and want to support them for future recruits don't even have a Twitter account and are shaking their heads when they read about these things in the paper, or hear about them from a fellow veteran.

Unlike many of my peers who retired from the military, I didn't get a job working for the DoD, which I'm sure would have prolonged my time in the perception bubble.  I now work for the corporate HQs for a conglomerate of small trucking industry agents that live in reality and in many cases are still patriotic and love their country.  Unlike many other corporate HQs in America, our marketing and social media folks are kept on a tight leash when it comes to all of the social justice crises in the Twitter world.  If they weren't, we would be having the same problem with retention of agents and drivers that the military is having with recruiting, which would result in marketing and communications folks being thrown out on the street.

In much of my off time, I volunteer as the service officer for a local VFW and frequently talk to veterans all the way back to WWII.  If I can encapsulate their feelings of today's military policies, they are simply sad and disheartened.  While the military leaders continue to live in their bubble, and let the greatest military in the world be managed and squandered by leftists from the DoD Office of Diversity Management and Twitter, all of these old veterans can only sit and shake their heads in disgust.  Many are saying they wouldn't let their grandkids and kids join today's military.  I guess you can't blame them; who wants to get a phone call from West Point or the Air Force Academy and be told that we actually live in a racist country and all of our family members are extremists because they supported Trump?  Or hear from a child that "I'm not supposed to call you Dad anymore"?

The people running the military needs to re-think whom they are actually representing these days.  While they believe they are a reflection of America, the mirror they are actually at has a pretty strong ideological tint to it, and ironically, it is the same ideology whose acolytes would slash the military budget a million times before ever encouraging one of their kids to join.

The military would benefit itself and the country by creating a task force to rebuild and depoliticize itself.  Extra care and critical thinking should be utilized in the selection of the members.  Just one hint on whom not to select to stay within the parameters of critical thinking: former secretaries of defense, generals, media talent, or anyone from the DoD Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity.  The members I'm thinking of usually go by their first names, or "Grandpa," and can be found volunteering at a local VFW or American Legion on fish fry night in a part of the country that Washington, D.C. and the military forgot about.  They may be easy to find these days, because according to the "Whole of Government" definition of "extremist," their names are probably on a list somewhere.

Image via Department of Defense.

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