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'Warfighter' Is Not The Best Way To Define Service Members
Sometime in the mid 2000s, a strange new word started to get popular: “warfighter.” It catapulted out of obscurity from the military, quickly becoming the de facto label for all active-duty and reserve personnel. This word is seriously misleading; it presents the exact opposite of military reality at a time when Americans need to be questioning our role in global security more than ever before.
People in the military used to be called by the names of the branch. Someone would actually list out each group in the Department of Defense, like this: soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. Occasionally the Coast Guardsmen would even got a slot in there, too, until we booted them over to Homeland Security (sad face).
At some point, that list became too hard for politicians and policymakers to remember — there are four names, after all — so people started playing around with "servicemen." That was an easy one, since it covers all the bases, and has been used since the early 1900s.
We're in the 2000s now, though. "Servicemen" is out of date, so the phrase would have to expand to "servicemen and servicewomen" or "service members." Both of these are unacceptable; they're too dry, too boring. Not badass enough.
The solution arrived when someone binged on YouTube videos of old recruiting commercials or watched “Top Gun” too many times in a row. He (or she) birthed the term "warfighter," which quickly took root in all the government circles and is spreading slowly into conventional media as well.
"Warfighter" is perfect. It's dripping in red, white, and blue at a time when the military has never been more popular, or more lionized.
I hate it. "Warfighter" is the rhetorical equivalent of a “Support the troops” bumper sticker or an American flag lapel pin. It reduces the complexity and ambiguity of modern national security, dragging it back to an imagined era of good wars, bad guys, and clear-cut victory. It's hard not to hear the phrase and picture a G.I Joe lookalike waving an American flag.
Using "warfighter" destroys our capacity for reason at a time when it’s desperately needed. With strategic flops in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s clear that the U.S. needs to take another stab at the national security paradigm. We should be thinking objectively about how to stabilize the international system, promote free enterprise, and share that burden across the full range of our allies. We need a clear strategy that Americans understand, but as well as our friends and, most importantly, our actual or potential enemies. Take Gen. James Mattis’ “Grand Strategy”, for instance.
Reducing troops to "warfighters" even in name does the exact opposite by fostering sloppy patriotism. This language harkens back to the sort of flag-waving retardation that helps us lurch into half-baked campaigns against Saddam Hussein, the Islamic State, and [cue next inappropriate military operation].
If "war" means traditional maneuver warfare, American troops do less of that than at almost any other time in our long history. We have tens of thousands of troops overseas engaged in partnered operations, foreign internal defense training, reconnaissance missions, narcotrafficking interdictions, and more. We probably have fewer than 5,000 people anywhere near direct combat as you're reading this.
Some people may argue that it's aspirational, saying that war is the sine qua non of military service, so of course people in the military should be called "warfighters." Horse shit.
Serving in America's professional volunteer military means being a part of the most dominant military is world history. No one can stand toe to toe with us. The purpose of our military, whether people like it or not, is to be the world's bully. It's street justice on a global scale.
We are the strongest out there by a huge margin. Everyone needs to step in line when we are stomping around. American military power makes people scared, and our troops are (or could quickly) be anywhere. That threat is actually the strongest possible deterrent against war that could exist.
Look at places where we are less dominant, Southeast Asia for example. Military spending there is blowing up because all the little countries around China have to hedge their bets. They aren't as confident that we can just smash our way in there like could anywhere else. That's part of what this "rebalancing" to the Pacific is all about; peace through strength.
And that's why I hate the word warfighter. It's a mouth-breather level understanding of national security and foreign policy, and it needs to go. America's soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines prevent more wars than any other institution on the planet. A lasting peace and prosperity are the true legacies of our military, not cigar-chomping forays into an endless supply of stupid conflicts.
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.