You may have noticed that only two presidential candidates are promising to truly kick ISIS’s ass: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Neither of them are pledging American ground troops to git ‘er done. Clearly, conventional wisdom says that engaging radical Islam in its home territory with U.S. combat forces is off the table — at least not without a “coalition” of forces. Members of which have shown little to no enthusiasm for the endeavor. Which leads me to wonder: is America’s military culture still strong? On one hand . . .

We have the Nation of Wimps analysis, as personified and promoted by the mainstream media (e.g., our recent post Cosmopolitan Magazine Highlights P*ssy Whipped Men With Guns). On the other hand, we have millions of battle-hardened — if unconscionably uncelebrated and underutilized — veterans amongst us. And tens of millions of gun owners. And tens of millions of (mostly) young men with a huge amount of video game-based pseudo-military experience. So, are we still a nation of fighters? If so, I reckon the next big terrorist attack on U.S. soil will unleash the beast. You?

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  1. I think that most muslims don’t understand one basic thing about Europeans… We’re very peaceful… Until we’re not. Once we hit that threshold… Well… Get things like the sack of Magdeburg or the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden (which did far more damage than the nukes). Think of it this way… Iraq and Afghanistan was us trying to HELP the people there.

    If the US gets so pissed off that we put aside our peaceful tendencies, the Islamic faith will be wiped off of the face of the earth the same way National Socialism was.

    But please muslims, keep poking the sleeping dragon with a stick.

    For extra bonus points, ask the Chechens how provoking a superpower to the point of stupidity worked out for them. I heard that the Russians invented a new game they play with artillery. They called it “let’s see how high we can make the rubble bounce”.

    • >> For extra bonus points, ask the Chechens how provoking a superpower to the point of stupidity worked out for them

      Given the amount of money that Chechnya now receives from the Russian federal budget yearly, it seems to be working great.

      Aside from literally dancing on that money, they’ve used it to rebuild all the “bouncing rubble” better than it was, and have built the largest mosque in Russia (and one of the largest mosques in Europe) with the same.

      What else were they busy at? Well, let’s look at demographics:

      1989 – 75% Chechen, 25% Russian
      (2 wars happen here)
      2002 – 93% Chechen, 4% Russian
      (no wars happen here, Chechnya is officially “re-integrated” into Russia)
      2012 – 95% Chechen, 2% Russian

      Oh, and Chechen police will tell women on the streets (not just Chechen women, all of them) to cover their hair, or else. There’s no law, of course – Russia being a secular country and all – it’s just that if you don’t do that, bad things happen, and somehow no-one will have the slightest idea of who did all those bad things. Similar calamities happen to anyone who might be selling alcohol in public.

      (In Russian:

      Me thinks that if you want a showcase of “resistance to Europeans is futile” and “we’ll always get our way”, Chechnya really isn’t it.

  2. The military is a sub-culture within our society; the changes that occur in our society affect these members, but more so as newer members are added. We are all indoctrinated in relatively similar fashion (though it is becoming “kinder & gentler” with some ridiculous restrictions IMHO). That, unfortunately, mirrors the same restrictive policies (like the OIR ROE) that diplomats & politicians believe make war “better.” The culture is still strong, but the everything-revolves-around-me generation will need some adjustment for future success. Again, IMHO.

  3. “Is America’s military culture still strong?”

    We’re not lacking experienced veterans with a capable attitude. The undermining of current service members by the political establishment, though… That’s a problem.

  4. I think the culture is buried, sitting in stasis.

    I was an ROTC cadet, medically disenrolled when my knee decided it was no longer interested in joining me on runs. I worked on rehabbing it and applied for direct commission after graduating from law school. I’m going to blame the knee for the rejections, and not my under qualification, but who knows.

    As I approached 32, I gave the idea some more thought, but decided I was done with the idea. I still like serving others, which is why I volunteer at the FD. But, I have no interest in being a misused tool.

    I would serve, but to allow yourself to be abused the way our administrations have done is akin to the battered wife. I appreciate the need to stay for whatever personal reasons, but as an outsider I can’t help but call her foolish.

  5. Honestly I think that the military culture is feeling a bit cutoff from a society that lots of well wishes had little to no concept of what that means. There are a number of very unpleasant places that could lead to. OTOH, I thing PwerSerge is onto something, which is that western culture has a tendency to waffle about for a long period of time, then explode with horrific consequences. I liken this to poking a guy repeatedly, saying Do somthing! The response, historically, has not been the slow trudging response of Muslim or eastern cultures, but a wall. A wall after which any measure is accepted. Were a war of similar deaths to ww2 to occur in modern times, that would be over 210 million people dead in a couple years.. 8 or 9 times that in injuries. That’s without more modern armaments. So a double billions casualties. That is actually a ridiculous number. The powers that be would do well to remember the consequences of lazy or violent foreign policy. Then again, I don’t think they care.

  6. That’s one reason I’m about 45% in Trump’s camp, because I think he’s a nationalist in the first order.

    On the other hand, I’ve had it with this ISIS nonsense, and I’m talking with a recruiter for the AF hoping to get in this year. I’m beyond tired of what’s going on, and we need a good military show before long to do for us what the Falklands did for England. None of this expensive, nation-building junk. Just get in, kill them all, and get out with the promise we’ll come back again if we have to. We’ve seen from history that the longer we stick around, the more the groups are galvanized and united to grow and act against us.

    • Make no mistake, if you do that, you’ll have to come back later again. And again. And again.

      How long do you intend to keep it going?

  7. No rational person who truly understands war (as warriors do) ever WANTS war.

    However, at some point, MOST rational people and warriors realize that (once again) war has become inevitable, and then the warrior attitude changes to “Well, let’s get this over with…” It is at that point that the biggest danger becomes a weak-willed political leadership that drags-out the conflict through micro-management or failure to dedicate the appropriate level of resources.

    Just give the warriors a goal, give them the needed resources, and get the hell out of the way.

    • You really don’t even need to give us much for resources. Certainly not everything we need. But that goal, yup. We need a clear mission. Once we have that, we can pretty much just take whatever else is necessary.

      • Let me makes this perfectly cloudy, you will be fighting for peace in Vietnam. We have to destroy the country to save it.

  8. Since 1840, a member of my family has served in the US Army. The past three generations have reached O-6 or higher rank with my grandfather a BG. At present, there are no members of the immediate family in uniform, but four sons of workers at our family farm are in the service. I like to think that the men of my family keep the warrior spirit alive and have passed it on to these young men.

  9. Traditional values related to service, honor, and chivalry are under appreciated in civil society because it’s been so long since our civilian population was directly threatened by war. There were minor threats to North America during WW II and most families had at least one member serving on active duty somewhere, so there was an appreciation of the sacrifice necessary. However, there hasn’t been any military threat to the lives of most Americans since then. I fear that appreciation and respect for our military won’t fully return until there is a direct military threat to our civilian population. That means we’ll probably sleep walk into the next World War before that happens.

    • There hasn’t been a direct military threat to our lands or our people cause we kept a strong military after ww2. Mao, Stalin and a whole lot of other dingbats had to think about messing with the US and its consequences.

      Weakening our military and having weak leaders in DC will be like chumming the waters with blood. It will attract the predators.

      • The predators are already out there, and one of the biggest players is jihadi-driven fundamentalist Islam, fighting a largely asymmetric brand of warfare.

        We can counter that threat without putting tens of thousands of sets of American boots on the ground.

        From somewhat-friendly local nations (Jordan and Qatar as two examples) we base Predator and Reaper armed UAVs.

        On the ground in Syria and the like, infiltrate CIA personnel (and-or contractors) armed with little more than communications and infrared laser designator. We are already hearing that jihadi walking along remote mountain trails are being demoralized that their friends are suddenly exploding from small guided munitions.

        Keep up a relentless harassing and assassination campaign on ISIS and their ilk using that and similar methods…

        • Would that be the same islamist gangsters that the US government tried to manipulate into toppling Assad? Wouldn’t the US boots on the ground be fighting our “allies”? 🙂

        • “asymmetric” is metrosexual Obamaspeak BS

          If you want to SOLVE anything it takes INFANTRYMEN (with mix of supporting troops) on the ground. Not airplanes, not model airplanes, not little girlsoldierettes, not John freaking Kerry. Grunts killing people and breaking things until the otherguy cries. Has been that way for the entire history of man.

        • Yep. It was the ocean that stopped those nasty u boats from sinking ships within sight of our shores in ww2. Or not.

          And those long range russian bombers that flew over the polar ice cap, the oceans stopped them right?

  10. Just on a local level around me, I see a strong volunteer attitude among the kids, joining all of the branches.
    And if there is another event like 9-11, you’ll see vets re-upping, and recruiters turning people away.

  11. Heh, nothing wimpy about refusing to become cannon fodder for feckless politicians. That is the domain of dumb animals.

  12. >>And tens of millions of (mostly) young men with a huge amount of video game-based pseudo-military experience

    Which is not entirely different from generation of boys whose understanding of ballistics and shooting technique came from Hunting Unlimited series. With somewhat predictable results.

    Although video games may play important role in suppliying mea…ugh, I mean, ethusiasts to service branches, that it all they worth. And it still takes proper military training to make a soldier.

    >>Neither of them are pledging American ground troops to git ‘er done

    Of course, No one is too eager to give “damn it, why should we send fine men and women to die” leverage to opponent.

  13. I wear the uniform every day (I’m active duty USAF) and I see a huge division between those in uniform and the general civilian population. I look at my peers who have never worn the uniform, and I see the worst stereotypes of overly entitled millennial behavior. I don’t believe that the majority of the younger generations of Americans, whether they play tons of video games or not, possess the intestinal fortitude or the sense of responsibility to defend the nation, let alone themselves.

  14. Military culture or Warrior culture? The 2 are NOT the same thing. Our founding fathers resented the idea of a standing military. That was the reasoning behind our individual liberty with the 2nd Amendment. With a properly functioning Warrior culture, you don’t need standing armies because the people ARE the militia. Warrior culture is alive and well. Just ask some friends of mine: Pat McNamara – TMACS, Travis Haley – HALEY STRATEGIC, Massad Ayoob – MAG, Pat Rogers – EAG TACTICAL, Tom Spooner – NORTHERN RED, JD Potynsky – NORTHERN RED, Kyle Lamb – VTACS

    • Your examples contradict your point. With the exception of the career police officer, Massad Ayoob, every person you cited was a member of the military.

      • Trainers being prior service in no way contradicts my point. FORMER military, just like myself. Now training MIL, LEO and Civilians who are looking to advance their war fighting and self preservation skills. By mentioning fellow trainers I was implying that you can ask any reputable professional trainer if warrior culture is alive. The fact that classes are often sold out and largely comprised of civilians is a demonstration of that. No contradictory statements.

    • “That was the reasoning behind our individual liberty with the 2nd Amendment. With a properly functioning Warrior culture, you don’t need standing armies because the people ARE the militia. Warrior culture is alive and well . . .”

      We’ve always had one, although it’s members are often maligned as red-necks and crackers. The core of America’s warrior culture has been historically made up of people of Scots-Irish background—we are Europe’s last barbarians.

      “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America” by Sen. Jim Webb is a good book on the subject.

      • Implying those with Viking heritage aren’t up for a good scrap when it’s needed…with or without a particularly good reason.

        My ancestral Viking brothers and Germanic barbarians are turning in their graves at your assertion.

        Agreed, though, those British pansies aren’t fit for a fight.

      • My family , all Army are German by ancestry. My mother’s people, all Navy are Irish by ancestry. There’s no shortage of the warrior spirit on either side.

      • Excellent book. I happen to have extensive knowledge of my family genealogical history. Scot-Irish & Dutch-German. My family actually arrived to this continent with the expressed role of military advisor (Mayflower/Miles Standish). It is true, as one poster mentioned, that often war fighters become generational and a particular class within society. That seems to be the case with my own family. Being a small percentage of the overall population, it has had the side effect of allowing most Americans to forget about what the cost of liberty has been(and remains to be). My family came here in 1620 and we’ve been protecting this land generationally for nearly 400 years. Prior to that, we were war fighters in Europe. The sheepdogs. If it’s not in our blood, it’s certainly in our hearts.

    • “That was the reasoning behind our individual liberty with the 2nd Amendment. With a properly functioning Warrior culture, you don’t need standing armies because the people ARE the militia. Warrior culture is alive and well . . .”

      We’ve always had one, although it’s members are often maligned as red-necks and crackers. The core of America’s warrior culture has been historically made up of people of Scots-Irish background—we are Europe’s last barbarians.

      “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America” by Sen. Jim Webb is a good book on the subject.

    • SolidStateTactical – Name the (forgotten) events that wrapped up exactly 25years ago (if you were alive).

      The FIRST example of the US military surviving first contact with an enemt. Why? Because for the FIRST TIME we had a trained professional properly sized standing Army. Was barely deployable and resourced. But XVII and VI Corp destroyed the Russian military doctrine and showed the primacy of West over the degenerate Arab.

      Todays remaining (purged) military couldn’t pull off a fraction of it today.

      • The Gulf War was hardly the first time that we made first contact, survived and destroyed our enemy.

        It does remind me of a quote though:

        “NO battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy,”
        -Helmuth von Moltke

  15. I was active duty in the ’70s and early ’80s. When I run into Marines in this mostly USAF town, I realize they’re the same as we were back then. I can’t judge the other services, but Marines now are every bit as good as at any time in our history.

  16. A good friend and I talk about this at length as Americans who have no American soldiers in our family trees. As technological capabilities grow, armed forces naturally shrink, and the days of the Cold War style arms race are over for now. Look at the cumulative operational burden placed on JSOC over the past decade. Look at the changing role of the Army Rangers, or the Green Berets and how “cheap” their budget is, comparatively speaking. Wars are getting smaller and much more distant from the American conscience. There will be even less people fighting them if current trends continue.

    What this means for the relationship between military personnel and the civilian public depends entirely upon what said public is made up of in the future. In 2018 the first generation of American youth to have absolutely no first-hand memory of life in a pre 9/11 America will be entering their last years of high school. If there isn’t a massive cultural shift towards freedom and liberty by the time I’m a very old man in the 2070’s, when that generation has grand kids, we’ll have a lot more to worry about than what sorts of people inhabit the military and what remains of our gun rights.

  17. America, chopping at the tail of a snake with the head of a Hydra.Until America is willing to continue the “Crusades”.

  18. The question here is not a military one, it is a political one. The arms, men, munitions and machines exist to defeat ISIS, but that is largely irrelevant given the complex political situation on the ground. Obviously, politics define the Rules of Engagement, but even that is not the issue.

    You cannot win a war unless you win the people. In Iraq, the Shiia militias have stated publicly and on multiple occasions that American boots on the ground will be treated as an invading force and attacked. The Sunnis were the ones we were fighting the hardest in places such as Fallujah, and those same Sunni, lead by Saddam’s former Army officers, are still there and dedicated to fighting Americans. Nor do I believe that the current Iraqi government, dominated by Shiias and allied with Iran, wants us there. This government has been and continues to be guilty of the same abuses as the Baathist government that preceded it, except that the leadership has changed, from a largely secular Sunni govenrment to a more religiously oriented Shiia government. I am of the opinion that the overthrow of he Saddam government was a mistake, a mistake that lead to the current war, and that our involvement with boots on the ground cannot solve the underlying issues that preclude a truly balanced and peaceful society.

    Moreover, ISIS WANTS us to invade. Its apocalyptic vision is a vast battle on the plains in northern Aleppo province in which the forces of Allah will overwhelm the West (or die trying). NO amount of American force will solve the Shiia–Sunni schism; all we could do, as we did in the former Yugoslavia, is to separate the combatants, a role that will mean that we will be hated by everyone. This is not a fight in which ewe can come riding in on a white horse. Our role, politically speaking, should not exceed the role in which we are now engaged, providing CAS and close air support (and a little Special Forces operation on the side to go after the ISIS kingpins).

    • Personally, I’m in favor of a Nicaraguan solution for ISIS. We hired a mercenary force, the “Contras”, trained and supplied it and let it defeat the Sandinistas. In Iraq, the Kurds are ready and waiting. With our support they alone can defeat ISIS. Further, an independent Kurdish state would be an effective counter to Islamism. Not counting Israel, the Kurdish Peshmerga are the best troops in the middle-east.

  19. Heh, nothing wimpy about refusing to become cannon fodder for feckless politicians.
    Especially when the inside beltway politicians associated with the military industrial complex send young idealistic boys from Iowa to screw around in wars that they are not really interested in winning.
    Cough. Vietnam. Cough.

    • The hilarity of the US military clearing Iraq for ISIS to take over. How is that wind of democracy working out?

      Now the war pigs are calling for yet more military intervention to clean up the mess created by the last intervention. And the ooh-rah crowd is loving another taste of that kool-aid.

  20. Nothing in the Middle East is worth one drop of American blood or one ounce of American gold, including Israel. Bring all our troops home, guard our borders and let the rest of the world burn if it wants.

      • Yes, along with 300+ million guns. The military is the greatest threat to our freedom, not the protector of them.

        • Unlike your opinion about building a border wall (which is demonstrably useless and wasteful) that you deposited at the top of some other recent thread, the opinion that a standing army is a threat to liberty has been espoused by many people, such as the Founders, and more recently, a former 5-star general of the US army, along with plenty of sound reasoning.

          So yours (as usual) would be just an opinion of the rectal variety, and his is a well-reasonable opinion. There’s a difference, learn it. 🙂

  21. Most Americans don’t know anyone in the military.
    This does not bode well. The military becomes a class that does the fighting but loses the rights, concerns and empathy of the people. The people have no skin in the game. The fault lies in fighting wars for less than honorable reasons. Our parents or grand or great grands had freedom on their minds when they went into WW2. Freedom for their families and country.

    “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
    ― Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier

    Why were we in Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq? If Afghanistan, wouldn’t a strategic cleanup of the training sites have sufficed? Then go home?

    • “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” – Henry Kissinger

    • >> This does not bode well. The military becomes a class that does the fighting but loses the rights, concerns and empathy of the people.

      This exactly. So many people here have already posted something along the lines of “N generations in my family have been military”, but stop and think about what that implies: military becomes a caste, segregated from the rest of society, and growing different from it. At which point does the military decide that the rest of society is not worth defending? At which point does the society decide that the military is not really working in its interest?

      I’m loathe to say anything good about conscription, but it was better in a sense that everyone had skin in the game, and military and society were inseparable. Perhaps some two-tier arrangement that would involve voluntary military (or other dangerous/tedious kind) service in exchange for additional civil rights – e.g. right to vote and be elected, perhaps also RKBA? A bit like “Starship Troopers”.

      • “I’m loathe to say anything good about conscription, but it was better in a sense that everyone had skin in the game,…”

        Except they didn’t. Deferments were the name of the game, and exploited.

        I whole-heartedly agree with you on trading military service for citizenship, why hasn’t there been any traction on that?

        • >> Except they didn’t. Deferments were the name of the game, and exploited.

          For the elite, yes, and that’s a separate problem which must also be tackled. But at least your common American citizen was in.

          And if you think about when exactly the issue with the elite started being a problem, it was with Vietnam. In other words, when US started to wage lengthy wars without calling them wars, and without a clear national interest. That’s when draft dodging stopped being unpatriotic in essence, and therefore morally justifiable – and hence an option for everyone with the means (but it also had that perverse effect of elite being the primary beneficiary, and therefore elite didn’t suffer from those non-wars as much as the rest).

          I don’t know if it’s going to fully solve the problem, but I would dare say that requiring a proper, narrowly scoped congressional authorization for any involvement of troops overseas would be a good start. And by proper I mean no “GWOT” bullshit. Specific place, specific time period, specific forces involved etc. And, most importantly, specific objectives set.

          Basically, what’s needed is the equivalent of the 4th Amendment ban on general warrants, but for the use of military force, outside of direct and obvious national defense (i.e. action taken against invading force).

          >> I whole-heartedly agree with you on trading military service for citizenship, why hasn’t there been any traction on that?

          Because most people don’t want to do it personally (can’t blame them, I don’t really want to do it either); and don’t realize the perils of following the present course to its logical conclusion.

          Also, this middle ground is rarely floated. Usually you either have people supporting draft, or opposing it.

          Also, there’s the conservatism of the armed forces themselves. Such an arrangement would have to involve women for obvious reasons, which would require full gender integration of all branches.

          It would also have to accommodate disabled and otherwise unfit, as well as conscientious objectors – which means providing some form of alternate service. Many European countries with conscription, for example, offer a stint in a public hospital as a nurse assistant as an alternative – it’s not particularly popular, because it’s messy, and the term is longer, but it offers an escape hatch for anyone who feels strongly enough about serving in the military, whether because they’re too cowardly, or because they have some ideological objections (which is a good thing, because you don’t really want those people there, anyway; and it would be unfair to deny them rights if they’re willing to serve in other useful ways).

        • Alter the law so that if you get a draft deferment you cannot ever run for elected office or serve in an appointed position.

        • The absurdity of only allowing people who let themselves to be enslaved in government battalions sit in positions that require moral clarity. 🙂

    • The Marine Corps sure likes to drill into your head how much of a badass Smedley Butler was, but of course they fail to mention that the career war fighter also saw the very flaw in standing militaries that our founding fathers warned about, and to which Eisenhower eerily eluded to: The military industrial complex.

      Politicians and business men using our military as strongmen for corporate interests. That’s been the extent of nearly all of our armed conflicts since WWII.

      You want boots on the ground to fight ISIS? Just show enough defense industry lobbyists the economic benefit. Then show the oil and gas lobby. Then show the mining and natural resource lobby…

      The lobbyists will pressure the politicians they own and you’ll get your war.

      Russia isn’t in Syria because Putin has a hard-on for Assad, the Russians are there because they have had a strategic port in Syria for decades. If the west takes control, they risk losing a tactical position.

      These proxy wars always boil down to economics and militarily strategic positions.

  22. Interesting TTAG would choose World of Tanks as its point of example concerning US military culture when the game itself was developed by a Russian company originally released in Russia with nearly 60 million registered users in 200 countries playing a game that features a multi-national force of antiquated tanks.

    But sure. Yeah, I guess US military culture is alive and well based on the popularity of the Battlefield and Modern Warfare series of games?

  23. Do you guys defending the military not realize that a standing army is a socialist program, and in the case of the US, one of the largest socialist programs in the history of humanity?


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