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Military Millennials’ Bad Reputation Is Undeserved
Millennials have gotten a bad rap for a little while now. Many military personnel and civilians alike rant in person and online about how millennials are lazy and entitled. While those disparaging remarks may or may not have merit outside the military, those millennials in the military have nothing to be ashamed of. While millennials may be different from those who preceded them, they are equals to any of their forebears.
The Army Times recently opened an article about millennials with the line, “Are so-called ‘millennials,’ born in 1980 or later — soft?” Based on the active-duty personnel the Times interviewed, a substantial number believe the answer is “yes.” Apparently they’re so different that they even need an operator’s guide. Much like articles in men’s magazines trying to figure out the mystery behind women, the suggestions often come down to “treat them like people.”
A little perspective is in order. Elder troops have been criticizing their juniors since the days of the Roman legions. That has never, and will never, change. The regular troops who served in the peacetime interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s looked down at the draftees as they flowed in during World War II. The World War II and Korean War vets looked down on the Vietnam generation, and so on.
Meanwhile, today’s troops rightly look back on their forebears with respect, but just as with any nostalgia, they see only the good while forgetting the bad. For example, during World War II, the desertion problem was so bad that MPs even had firefights with the deserter GIs who ran black markets in France. That’s not said to impugn the service of those who came before, but to make clear the fact that every generation, even the mythologized “Greatest Generation,” had its shortcomings and challenges.
When I, a Generation Xer, came on active duty in 1995, there was the potential for service in combat, but it was far from a certain thing. The only major combat operation from the end of the Vietnam War until Sept. 11, 2001 was the exceptionally short first Gulf War, the veterans of which are now almost gone from active duty. Few of my peers saw any combat or major contingency operations until after 9/11.
Today’s military came of age during the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a dozen smaller battlegrounds in the “Global War on Terror,” or whatever the blanket term du jour is. All of those started after Sept. 11, 2001. The vast majority of the U.S. military’s collective combat experience has come since 9/11, and millennials have been serving on the front lines that whole time.
Almost all millennials in the military joined after 2001. Service in combat theater was a certainty for them, yet they joined anyway. Even the younger millennials, those who don't even remember 9/11, joined even though they’ve never known a military not at war. That’s the distinguishing characteristic of this generation.
Those enlistees of 2001 are the staff noncommissioned officers of today. The boot lieutenants are now senior majors and new lieutenant colonels. Yes, that means your commanding officer might be a millennial.
People still complain about the quality of millennials, even though recruits’ education and ASVAB scores have steadily improved since the volunteer force was established over 40 years ago.
While physical fitness of new recruits may indeed leave something to be desired, that seems a small price to pay for a smart, dedicated force that joined with the intention of serving in battle. Physical fitness can be fixed with a few extra runs led by their Generation X superiors, but you can’t fix stupid, and you can't make someone volunteer for service in a military at war.
If you want to poke fun at the millennial misspelling your name at Starbucks or sputtering juvenile silliness at a political rally, have at it. But your brothers and sisters-at-arms? They took the oath, just as you did, and are pulling their load in the longest sustained period of combat in American history. They might not be the Greatest Generation, but they are a great generation.
The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?