Hey Civilians, Quit Bitching About the Military’s Noisy, Scary Training
We're at war, people
The United States has been continually at war for 16 years all over the world. To prepare for potentially dangerous deployments, U.S. troops need to train. A little practice — Hell, a lot of practice — could make the difference between living and dying.
But for many American civilians, nearby military training is just a noisy disruption of their comfortable lives. And they seem to be getting less shy about voicing their unhappiness.
At Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, the Army is considering training some troops on the HIMARS rocket launcher — and some community leaders in surrounding areas are pissed off about it.
To be clear, U.S. troops have long conducted live-fire training with heavy weapons at the military’s Yakima Training Center in Washington’s eastern desert region, but the Army has proposed holding more of that training at Lewis-McChord as a way of saving money on travel.
That could mean more noise. Especially with HIMARS firing off its long-range artillery rockets. HIMARS is, admittedly, very loud.
While it’s true that most people living near the base say they strongly support the military, they also frequently complain about the traffic when soldiers go to and from work — as well as the noise from military flights. This complaining about day-to-day military training “disrupting” people’s lives highlights the widening gap between the majority of Americans … and the small minority that goes to war for everyone else.
Above — artillery troops at Joint Base Lewis-McChord during a pre-deployment ceremony in November 2015. Kevin Knodell photo. At top — HIMARS training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. U.S. Army photo
In March 2016, University of North Dakota associate professor Heidi Czerwiec caused a bit of a kerfuffle when she called the police on ROTC cadets conducting a routine drill on campus. The police informed Czerwiec that the university had approved the exercise and had even sent an e-mail to faculty and students explaining that.
But Czerwiec wasn’t satisfied. She left an angry message with the university’s professor of military science — the active-duty head of the ROTC program. “There is no reason in this day and age that you need to do these exercises on the middle of the quad,” she griped in the recorded message. “Do them somewhere else. I shouldn’t have to work in a terrorized environment. You created terror, you’ve achieved it. Please don’t do this again.”
Czerwiec even took the time to write a letter to The Grand Forks Herald bemoaning “unnecessary military maneuvers” and tied the ROTC training to America’s epidemic of school shootings.
She later backtracked slightly. “I have nothing against ROTC or its cadets – they are some of my finest students,” she said in a statement to local TV station WDAZ. “But in this current climate of school shootings, I’m sure many would agree that having students run across campus with guns while classes are in session is unwise and irresponsible.”
However, ROTC cadets do need to train somewhere. They’re the next generation of military officers and will eventually take the helm leading American troops.
Increasingly few Americans have any personal connection to the military or any direct experience with war. The military is becoming a blood tradition, with successive generations of men and women from the same families serving in the armed forces, while their neighbors and their kids and grandkids never even consider enlisting. America’s wars have become inter-generational.
Consider John Campbell, the four-star Army general who recently stepped down as commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Campbell first deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 as a colonel. Soon his son, who was in elementary school during his father’s first tour, will return to Afghanistan for his own third deployment.
The U.S. armed forces are all-volunteer organizations. If you don’t want to serve, you don’t have to. But Americans keep electing leaders who involve the United States in the world’s conflicts — or even start them. This usually happens with strong public approval. So even if you don’t want to actually fight the wars you might have voted for, at least let the people who do volunteer to go to war — on your behalf — train before they deploy.
Give them that opportunity to potentially save their own lives.
Consider a few hours of noise and inconvenience the price you pay for staying home, while a vanishingly small number of your fellow Americans travel to distant countries to fight, and sometimes die, in your place.