Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Military Now More Responsible/Professional

U.S. military now more responsible and professional
Guam Editorials
Thursday January 31, 2008

The Marianas Variety editorial of 30 January, 2008, was correct insofar as it urged the community to become and remain vigilant regarding violence against women.

Who among us could remain unmoved by the testimony of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence? We need to bear in mind, though, that vast majority of the atrocities they reported date to a past era, and to a military which was far less concerned with professionalism and community perceptions.

Members of today's United States armed forces are relentlessly drilled regarding acceptable behavior on and off duty. Members who wish to remain members are acutely aware that personal actions which once would have been dismissed as "boys will be boys" will result in quick punishment, frequently to include dismissal from their respective services.

The old guard of crusty NCOs who condoned such actions has largely retired and been replaced by a new breed of highly engaged and professional men and women. They and their subordinates are regularly reinforced with training regarding bans on acts including drinking and driving, public intoxication, community violence, and use of prostitutes (which is now correctly viewed as a chief cause of international human trafficking).

In short, members of the modern U.S. military are drilled to be highly responsible community members. As in the community as a whole, the vast majority live their lives being just that.

This is not to dismiss the probability that there will be occasional problems with military members. Out of any group including 8,000 young people, some will publicly misbehave. A few will likely engage in criminal behavior, up to and including violence.

If they are military members, in the current context they will be dealt with swiftly and severely.

We can and must remain vigilant against criminality and violence against women, and against any of our citizens. We need to quickly punish those who refuse to live within socially acceptable standards, whether they are military guests or lifelong residents of our beautiful island.

I believe that as is now the case, the vast majority of such misdeeds will continue to be committed by a small fraction of undisciplined members of our own society, not by those young men and women sworn and trained to protect the rest of us.

Kelly J. Fitzpatrick
Ipan, Guam

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