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Friday, September 15, 2006

An Army of Whatever

There's an article by Nick Turse at TomDispatch about the desperation of military recruiters and what sort of military we're getting as a result:
In the latter half of the Vietnam War, as the breakdown was occurring, American troops began to scrawl "UUUU" on their helmet liners -- an abbreviation that stood for "the unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful." The U.S. ground forces of 2007 and beyond, fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other war du jour may increasingly resemble the collapsing military of the Vietnam War, the band of criminal misfits sent behind enemy lines during World War II in the classic Vietnam-era film, The Dirty Dozen, or the janissaries of the old Ottoman Empire.

With a growing majority of Americans opposed to the war in Iraq, even ardent hawks refusing to enlist in droves, and the Pentagon pulling out ever more stops and sinking to new lows in recruitment and retention, a new all-volunteer generation of UUUU's may emerge -- the underachieving, unable, unexceptional, unintelligent, unsound, unhinged, unacceptable, unhealthy, undesirable, unloved, uncivil, and even un-American, all led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful. Current practices suggest this may well be the force of the future. It certainly isn't the new military Donald Rumsfeld's been promising all these years, but there's no denying the depth of the transformation.
Billmon, in his classic style, parallels quotes from that article with selections from Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.