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War Doesn’t Remake People — It Just Highlights Who They Already Are
In a 2015 U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center presentation for his book “Doughboys on the Great War: How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experience” (available on YouTube), Dr. Edward Gutierrez included an interesting quotation from author Coningsby Dawson, who had served with the Canadian Field Artillery in the area around the Somme for two years from 1916 to the end of the war.
As Dawson saw the Lost Generation meme begin to take hold in the popular imagination through the writings of Dos Passos, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald in the decade after the war, he attempted to fight a rearguard action by insisting the following:
Men get out of the war what they brought to it… Except in rare instances the war did not recreate men; it only made emphatic in them tendencies that had been latent.
It is an interesting observation that gave me pause. I have turned the proposition over in my head many times, both with regard to those with whom I served and to myself. As much I wanted to deny it, I hedged and came down on the side of mostly true, for all the good and bad that implies.
Repurposing Dawson’s statement as a question makes for an illuminating mental exercise when considering the achievements and fates of both historical personalities and fictional characters. Instead of thinking about what “delight of battle… far on the ringing plains of windy Troy” did to Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus, it may be just as worthwhile to explore what each man brought to the war, and how that affected their actions and destinies. What did Benedict Arnold bring to the American Revolution? What did Pierre Bezuhkov and Prince Andrei bring to Borodino? Alvin York and and Desmond Doss to their respective crucibles in the Argonne Forest and Hacksaw Ridge? What did Lieutenant Calley and Hugh Thompson each bring to My Lai?
Dawson’s proposition may be suitable when dealing with the aftermath of war as well. Maybe it is possible to help veterans who are struggling by not only focusing on what they did in war or what it did to them, but by also helping them work through what they brought to it.
John Throckmorton is a business executive who lives with his family north of Atlanta. He was a U.S. Army officer for 20 years.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.