Education in the Military

By GotDesign
Yesterday, I was listening to the Laura Ingraham show. She was playing clips from Bill Maher's Real Time program on HBO. Mr. Maher had guests including REM's Michael Stipe, actor/comedian Richard Belzer, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), writer Michele Mitchell, and television anchor Lou Dobbs. The clips that Laura played were from that portion of the show where the guests discussed American troops in Iraq. Richard Belzer said the following in response to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's comments about our troops commenting about what is going on in Iraq:
They don't read 20 newspapers a day. They're under the threat of death every minute. They're not the best people to ask about the war because they're going to die any minute.
Mr. Belzer also said that most American soldiers are 18 and 19 year olds who have only a high school education and couldn't find any other kind of work so they entered the military. I find these comments disgusting. According to Wikipedia, Belzer dropped out of Junior College and joined the Army. If anything, Belzer should have certain sympathies with our troops -- himself only being a high school graduate and a U.S. Army veteran.

I guess what disgusts me the most about Belzer's comments is the assumption that our troops are mindless automatons who have to be spoon fed information to be functional in any given situation. While Belzer claims he reads 20 newspapers a day. And this is supposed to make on intelligent? And which newspapers would these be? The Congresswoman pressed the point that her son(-in-law ?) is a Marine officer with a Master's degree and that many other servicemen and women have a great deal of education, Belzer hastily added that her son was in the extreme minority.

For the record, all U.S. military entrants are required to have either a high school diploma or a GED. And while a significant number of veterans also have collegiate degrees, those who don't are highly trained. Gone are the days when you only needed a basic education to fight our nation's conflicts. Apart from basic soldier weapons (M-16, 9mm pistol, etc.), most weapon systems require a great deal of additional training. Also, many military jobs require extended training that includes an understanding of the laws and morals of war and international relations and diplomacy.

Don't get me wrong, after serving over 11 years in the Army myself, I know that there are some real rocks in the military. I have come across those whose brain's electrical activity would only lightly toast bread, but these are the aberration -- these are the exception, not the rule.

While I am a member of the not-insignificant minority of those in the military with a master's degree, I know that the vast majority would be well qualified to comment on the both the military and political situation in any zone of conflict in which they are serving. Despite Mr. Belzer's crazed ravings to the contrary, our military is very capable of intelligent analysis and commentary on any situation in which it finds itself.

By the way, I just found this article (thru Hugh Hewitt and Mudville Gazette) about the press being not particularly bright regarding the recent Operation Swarmer in Iraq. It seems that press did not read a press release on Operation Swarmer that described the scope and mission of the action. Instead they bumble around trying to get a description of the military action. And people say soldiers are not bright?

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