Posts Tagged ‘Military Men’

To an extent greater than the officer corps, the NCO lives and breathes the Army.  The officer is obliged to mix with the civilian community, and to a degree derives his prestige from it.  The NCO does not.  The public does not distinguish between senior sergeants and junior ones; to the average civilian, “if they were any good they’d be officers.”
Senior sergeants affect a cool disdain both upwards and downwards, toward the unprofessional enlisted man on the one hand, and toward the better-paid officer on the other.  An officer is respected precisely to the degree that he allows the NCO to do his job with a minimum of interference.  Gillis: “I can always tell a good officer because he walks through that door and he asks rather than tells.  My job?  My main job is to make that troop commander look like the best troop commander in the Army.”  Beyond that, it is to see that orders are carried out.  The officer commands, the subordinates obey, and the job of the sergeant is to enforce, to see to it that subordinates obey.  Because he understands the process, the adroit NCO can make it work for him precisely as a mechanic can tune an engine.  If you are the only one who understands the machine, you are very close to being the indispensable man.
The senior NCO acts as a buffer as well: he looks after “the welfare of the men: (the phrase recurred a dozen times in interviews), and expects that when the commander wants to know what the men think, the commander will come to him to find out.  The role is somewhat Miltonic: explaining the ways of God to man, and man to God.  The NCO is successful to the degree he protects his men and serves his commanding officer.  It is a job which calls for enormous objectivity, a total dedication to the rules of the institution, and a thorough knowledge of the Book, both that which is written and that which is not.
All that is required is that he understand the system; he has that, and the knowledge that the Army is run on the wits of sergeants.
   —     Ward Just
From his book:  “Military Men
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Beyond that, the civilian leadership did not rally the country round the war; it insisted on both guns and butter, a short-term, short-sighted formulation that created awful psychological dilemmas, among both those who served and those who did not.  Among them was the inequality of sacrifice.  It was a bankrupt policy, fundamentally immoral and essentially divisive.
   —   Ward Just
From his book: “Military Men
[If you close your eyes, you can still picture President Bush standing in front of a sign saying “Mission Accomplished” or (shortly after 9-11) hearing him advise Americans to show the terrorists they can’t win by going out to the nearest mall and doing some shopping.
For the first time in American history the country went to war and refused to pay for it.  In fact, the Bush Administration carried the cost of the war (and other national security costs) “off books” so it would not be “considered” part of the national budget.  We have now been engaged in Afghanistan for over a decade and are only recently out of Iraq.  We have tens of thousands of unemployed and injured veterans, and, on television, we see private charities asking for funds to assist the injured vets and their families.
What we should be doing is raising the taxes on the “one-percent” to fully pay for the on-going war effort, the retraining of veterans who have chosen to return to civilian life, and for those injured vets and their families, full pay for their recovery and support.  No family should be out of pocket one-red-cent to be housed near a veteran recovering from a war-related injury.
But what do I know?  I’m just a liberal Democrat…
Actually, Mr. Ward’s book was written back in the early 1970’s and this quote is describing U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, not our recent conflicts in the middle-East and Asia.   —   KMAB]
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