Many of you may be aware that former BG Janice Karpinksy of Abu Ghraib fame is blogging over at the Huffington Post.
What I found fascinating wasn’t her post, but one of the comments:
As an American, I feel out of touch with the military. Is there any way for the common man to talk to them and learn something about how they think about things? Whenever I see any of the generals talking on TV, they seem so untrustworthy. It is like they are trying to deceive us, and every time they are replaced the new ones just make it harder. Even General Powell, someone who we would all like to trust, doesn’t seem to ever be leveling with the American people. Some of the ex-generals seem a tiny bit more honest and open, but still guarded. It is like there is some great disconnect between the military and the American people, and I just wish there was some way to bridge the gap. I guess the only way that could ever happen is if someone could somehow start an honest dialog between some honest people on both sides. It would probably be worth it even if it was under penalty of death.
By: JimReed on February 14, 2007 at 09:33pm
Thank you for being honest, Jim Reed.
Jim has articulated something I have known for a long time. John Edwards may tell us that there are two Americas — one for the rich and one for the poor. I would remind him that there are two other Americas, one for those who understand the military and one for those who don’t.
I say this as a member of the former group who used to be part of the latter.
Let me explain with a picture:
A patchwork of military bases across the country. It seems to cover a large majority of the nation, but in reality, the military is actually concentrated in very few places. Consider just where the Marine Corps is located:
Even more concentrated. Add this to the fact that in communities where the military is concentrated, they are often walled off from the rest of society. They have their own post offices, own grocery stores, own night clubs…
I grew up in an area where the military did not seem to exist. The nearest major Army base was hundreds of miles away. I had never seen a Soldier until a few recruiters showed up at my high school my senior year. But in a high school where nearly 99% of students went on to college, enlisting in the military was dismissed by too many as something that “other people” did. This is the divide that Jim articulates.
It is a divide that is dangerous for our society. Especially in a time of war. Now, more than ever, the military needs to reach out to those people who don’t know and make them understand what it means to serve the country in uniform.
Too many entrenched in military culture blame the unaware, the ones who can’t distinguish between privates and colonels, the ones who don’t know what a SOP or a MRE or OPSEC is. It is easy to blame. The responsible thing — and the correct course of action — is to educate. It is to connect.
Thus is the problem. Often, military community relations and outreach efforts are centered around military bases — in communities that already understand the military. Because of its geographical limitations, the military is restricted on its ability to connect with the unaware masses.
Or is it?
Web technology has eliminated geography as a barrier to understanding. People across the country, at a time of their choosing can interact with members of the military as they see fit.
The technology is there. The conversation is one that people are begging to have. All the Pentagon needs to do is step up to the plate and have that conversation. Sec. Gates, are you willing? Will you commit the needed resources to host this dialogue with America?
Before you answer, remember, in a democracy, public communication from the government isn’t just a “nice thing.” It is essential for the survival of the republic.
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