I met a retired Air Force vet today, and he was just the nicest guy. Kind, thoughtful, enthusiastic. In that, he resembled all of the other career military people I’ve met over the years, whether currently serving or retired. I’ll admit that my sample is small, since I don’t move in military circles, but it’s still a 100% hit rate for the 20 – 30 I have met: nice people.
In many countries — mostly military dictatorships — the military is to be feared, not just by the enemy, but by the citizens at home. They are lethal weapons at home and abroad.
The question that floated into my mind was whether the fact that our military demands decency, and that really nice people seem to serve, impairs our fighting strength. Let me phrase this another way: Are our guys and gals too nice to be truly effective?
This is not a new thought for me. I remember during the First Gulf War watching the news with my parents, and hearing U.S. soldiers saying that they didn’t hate the Iraqis. My Dad, who had seen fighting all over the Mediterranean during WWII was stunned: you have to hate to fight, he said.