There’s A Problem With The Warrior-Caste System Developing In America

U.S. Army Soldiers participate in rappel training during the Ranger Course on Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga., July 12, 2015. Soldiers attend the Ranger Course to learn additional leadership and small unit technical and tactical skills in a physically and mentally demanding, combat simulated environment.
U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Yvette Zabala-Garriga

America is now in its fifteenth year of war, even if our elected leaders want to call it something else. Thus, we’ve entered into an age of persistent conflict, in which this generation of service members has been directly or indirectly engaged the entire time without mandatory conscription.

The second and third-order consequences of this are feelings of indifference, disengagement, and just outright blissful ignorance relating to our military from the rest of the general public. The sheer lack of understanding toward this era of veterans by our populace is not only disheartening, but in many respects, scary.

Let me state upfront, I do not blame our American citizenry whatsoever for not being involved in this war, or for where we all find ourselves in this moment of time. This civilian-military divide is not the fault of the American people, it is the fault of our senior policymakers. No one directed our citizens to do anything. When this war broke out, our politicians told the U.S. military to “get ready” and then told our civilian population to "go shopping."

The American civilian-military divide has never been this acute. A mandatory draft would be bad for our military, because if we want to remain the most formidable force in the world, then we must have professionals in our military, and people who really want to serve; but in the long run a military draft would be beneficial for our country. We as Americans are faced with a distinct paradox going forward. This paradox is not just with our population, it starts at the top. One percent of America’s population cannot continue to carry the burden of fighting for the rest of the nation, when we are facing threats, and conflicts with no end in sight.

People who serve in the military in “go-to-war units” do not have time for a bunch of nonsense. They must be discreet about decisions being made because of the nature of the threats they face, and will ruthlessly crush behavior that is contrary to mission accomplishment and teamwork. In the back of their minds they know that there is a real chance that they could end up on the battlefield together.

The military is an extremely personal experience, more so than any civilian job out there, because troops are forced to live together, and possibly risk their lives together. How many people actually wake up each morning and ask themselves, “What is the worst thing that can happen today to myself, my buddies, and fellow service members?” In the military, relationships are forged typically through tough realistic training and combat. These relationships are intimate. The more demanding the unit is, the more personal relationships will be. These relationships are closer than with those family members you share the same blood with, and in looking back, I had subordinates, peers, and leaders who knew more things about me than my immediate family ever will. They knew all my weaknesses and my strengths because the military tests us on every level —  spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, and academically. When you are required to deploy into harm’s way, these people are the only family you have, and these are the people that will bring you back home to your original family.

Related: Here’s what most people don’t understand about the civilian-military divide »

Going forward from here: Americans are going to be paying for all of these wars for generations to come. Maybe the only real way to close this current civilian-military divide is mandatory conscription. Such a small sliver of the population cannot continue to carry the burden for the rest of the nation. It is unreasonable and unstainable. If mandatory conscription is unachievable, than I argue there needs to be a much broader and robust engagement structure in our civilian communities. Civilian-military outreach programs need to be built in every city hall all across America. Since the majority of our elected leaders have never spent one day in uniform, then they too need to be involved in closing this divide. They should volunteer time at the Department of Veterans Affairs, or other places where veterans are in need of help, and integration into our communities after serving. This current civilian-military divide paradigm we now find ourselves in after fighting the longest war in American history needs a fundamental change in strategy. As George Washington once stated, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive how the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.

The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.

Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.

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A former Army soldier was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for stealing weapons from Fort Bliss, along with other charges.

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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

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