Monday, January 23, 2017

Marianas Variety Op-Ed: The U.S. Military

TWO nephews saw action as Marines in the Middle East, with one returning to use the GI Bill through community college, earning a bachelor’s degree. 
He segued back to the disciplined lifestyle though no longer with the armed forces.  His brother did the same save he stayed with the service, got a master’s degree while on duty, and took his watch back to a military line of defense, leaving his wife and family with mother-in-law in Southern Cal.
Another nephew headed the National Guard in his state, retiring as a colonel with no complaints.  With the military salute providing easy access to disciplined management practices useful in the private sector, to call my posture to be anti-military is a stretch of the imagination.  But I am dubbed as such.  It is no comfort that a majority of soldiers do not trust the president as well.

A colleague in Seattle sent pictures of a park in Arizona where the service built five structures representing the federal armed forces of the United States in the order of their historical appearances, from the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force and the National Guard.  Each standing structure had a hole so that on Veterans Day, the 11th day of the 11th month, at exactly the 11th hour, each structure would let the sunray go through to illuminate a logo on the ground of the U.S. armed forces.  Neato!
The president heads the U.S. military, affirming a decision that defers military prowess to civilian power.  The president assists federal executive offices of the Department of Defense form military policies that the department carries out, and U.S. foreign policy abides by.
 A military base is in Guam at the combined Anderson Air Force Base and the Naval Base Guam on Apra Harbor.  The CNMI has Tinian and parts of Saipan available for strategic armed forces maneuvers but with no permanent base save the services of a PX.  Pagan and Farallon de Medinilla tasted U.S. armory, and the military command announces what it intends to do in politically correct terms to pacify the natives.
Armed forces locations in Guam already constitute 28 percent of its land area and plans to add 5,000 more personnel from the U.S. armed forces base in Okinawa that occasionally get local protests, which might add alarms particularly to the portion of Guam’s population that resents the absence of self-government in the “colony.”  The move doubles the current military presence when adding another 1,300 dependents; this does not bode well with the locals, though many support military presence for economic reason as evidenced by the loss of many incumbents perceived to be critical on the military in the 2016 elections.
Sure, Guam attracts its share of tourists from Sinosphere who splash their feet on its aquamarine waters and pose for photos on its white beaches, in the island that advertises itself as “where America’s day begins,” but behind the cliffs are the military whose only acknowledge skill is its readiness for war.  I need not mention the nuclear subs that call on its harbor and the B-52 bombers that call Anderson home.  Guam was acquired from Spain after the American-Spanish War.  Later, the CNMI was added for its military strategic location.
There is a sense in which the United States is a country poised for war, a stance played decisively in its history, beginning with the war with Barbary Coast nations when Sweden decided to stop pirates from the North African Ottoman Empire-influenced countries from collecting tribute from those sailing the Barbary Coast, or their ships taken over.  Besides, the Barbary Coast nation continued their slave trade way past its abolishment in England; the plantations in the U.S. South maintained slaves that Lincoln emancipated, triggering the U.S. Civil War.
Whoa. That’s a lot of history but war has a way of triggering a sense of national unity and identity. Barbary Coast piracy and North African slavery trade gave the U.S. colonies reason to be one.
Isolationist America got entangled in post-WWII when a standing Army got established.  National Security created the military framework that flamed the Cold War and bodies like the Department of War and the Department of the Navy merged into the National Military Establishment, renamed Department of Defense in 1949 that included the Air Force and the National Security Council.
Of the president’s spending of 2015-16-17, the military maintains a 54 percent share of the budget, not a piddly amount given that the discretionary spending constitutes a fourth of the nation’s budget.  The U.S. holds 40 percent of the world’s total military expenditure in 800 bases located outside the U.S., with its military personnel one of the largest; the U.S. is second in exporting armaments and eight in importing the same, so the projection of power of the Stars and Stripes worldwide is considerable.  
When North Korea or China is perceived to be a threat to the United States, a missile is ready for them called the “Guam killer.”  Yup, the military and war, they kill.

Opinions expressed by Marianas Variety contributors are their own.

No comments: