There are so many facets to the military that are sometimes left out of everyday conversations. Perhaps it is simply a misunderstanding, or perhaps it is just ignorance, there are positives in serving the United States of America. Contrary to popular beliefs, it isn”t just for the bloodthirsty killers or those who can”t achieve anything else. There are some branches that have these highly trained, highly motivated soldiers, marines, airmen, and seamen that are chosen to fulfill that role, but the majority of the military is different.
Where does one start when talking about the Armed Forces of the United States of America, the largest and most highly trained organization in the world? At the outset, the structure of the military incorporates five main services: the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, and the Coast Guard. In order of institution, the Army was the first service established in April 1775, almost a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the initiation of the United States of America. It was activated to protect and defend the citizens of the United States and their Constitution. Though mostly involved in land warfare, they have units for air and sea.
When the airplane was invented, it took a whole new role when commissioned by the Army. Out of this originated the Army Air Corps, later to be known as the Air Force. July 1947 the battle for the control of the skies was continuing even though World War II had been over for just over 2 years. When the Army Air Corps was renamed the Air Force, it took on a whole new role again, it”s main mission was to rule the skies. Once they ruled the skies, they supported the ground attack by taking out key opposition targets, bring supplies deep into the war zone, and most of all: air cover.
So now that we have the land and the air is covered, we must look to the seas. The Navy was instituted in October 1775 to cut the supply lines of the British during the War of Independence. Originally named the Continental Navy, it originally had 2 ships. By the end of the war it was up to 50. Though they had been established it took some time to gain ship strength. In 1783, the Congress established the US Navy but it wasn”t truly operational until 1798. Its original mission was to protect the shores of the U.S. But later on was used to patrol all the seven seas. They have been pivotal in setting up supply blockades, area protection, and later on battle groups that carry troops, airplanes, and supplies into the battle zone to intensify the area coverage.
In November 1775, the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia passed a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces with the naval fleet. This resolution established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the United States Marine Corps. Serving on land and at sea, these first Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid into the Bahamas in March 1776. The Marines are the lethal branch of the Armed Forces that has been involved in the entirety of major conflicts since their formal institution in July 1798. Marines saw action in the quasi-war with France, landed in Santo Domingo, and took part in many operations against the Barbary pirates along the “Shores of Tripoli”.
The final service of the Armed Forces that is generally overlooked as being a worthwhile duty is the Coast Guard, a full-time naval service that is vital to our National Security. While the Navy is off on their worldwide missions, the Coast Guard stays behind to take care of the national interests of the U.S. After its origination in 1790, the United States government commissioned ten boats to collect taxes from ships carrying imported goods into American harbors. Today the organization is recognized worldwide as a leader in maritime safety, search and rescue, and law enforcement operations in Homeland Security of the United States.
Now that we know the services of the United States, there are three different modes of service: Active Duty, Reserve, and the National Guard. Active Duty is another word for fulltime service. These people live on military installations working for their particular branch continuing in their service for the country for their tour of duty, which is an average of 3 years. The Reserves are those “weekend warriors” that train or “drill” for two weekends a month and then an extended training period in the summer for 2 weeks. The National Guard is another force that is used for National Defense and Security. They are the specialized Reserves that are called up in a time of crisis: acts of God (earthquakes, forest fires, floods, and the like), and now Homeland Security. They also train for 2 weekends a month and 2 weeks in the summer.
So what does this mean for you? Some people may think what good is there in the military? Well we are going to go over both sides of this issue: the positive and the negative. This is going to be a realistic look at the military, no holds barred.
First of all, people automatically think of the military as a killing institution. Those who enlist will be brainwashed to be a killer, one who just destroys things. How many people have ever thought this? This is a common misconception of the military. Yes, when people enlist, they will go through intensive training that takes them from where they are and retrains the way that they think to allow them to act in a moment of crisis. This will enable them to protect themselves, their fellow service members, and their country in this crucial transition in thought process. The upside of this is that through this training, they develop a sense of what is called, “esprit de corps”, a brotherhood/sisterhood, and an impression of family that is so tight that nothing will separate them. They develop such a respect for those who have gone before them in the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Many people take this point for granted. So it is not simply a “killing institution”, but it is also a brotherhood, a family, an organization that helps people to achieve their goals of improving their lifestyle through education, training, and experiences that they may not have been able to have if not for the Armed Forces.
The second misnomer of the services is that you will always be away from family, friends, things that you may call dear. This point is partially true, however, it is not completely true. There will be times when your country will call on you to fulfill a mission that is not within the borders of the U.S. But on the other side of this, you will get an opportunity to travel, to see the world, to truly live life. Many of the people that get deployed may never have had the chance to see anything that they are seeing, or experience anything like they are experiencing. Above and beyond this, the biggest benefit of the military is money and bonuses for college. There are people that have earned their degrees while serving in the service.
The third most common misconception is that there are so many rules, regulations, and it is too regimented for an ordinary person. This is usually heard from someone who has never experienced this, and it is only out of ignorance that they speak. But those who have gone through this training think that everyone should go through it. It is all about discipline, using your resources wisely, and being aware your environment at all times. All of the things that one would need to survive not only in battle, but also in life. Along with these necessary skills, the regimental nature of the service is easy to find acceptance. RHIP, Rank Has It”s Privileges. This fact shows that each person is given an identity, a place, a belonging, a job, a need, and definitely a pride in knowing that they are worth something. Everyone in the service is needed, from the ones who supply the water, to the ones who are out on the front lines. It doesn”t matter if you are in the service support side of things; you are needed. To many people, this fact is not known because they have never served, but when your time of service is over, it is hard to leave this system because you no longer hold a rank, you no longer have such an obvious purpose and one must strive to find one on their own.
The fourth aspect that would keep people out is that it is so competitive between the branches and the first thing to get cut from the budget is the military. Prior to September 11, 2001 this fact was true, in fact it was proposed that there was a big cut pending, but that has all changed now. There has been renewed interest in the idea that the military is necessary. With the big call up of the Reserve forces, there is again huge opportunity for advancement that has hardly been seen before. If you want to succeed, there is nothing that will hold you back. The more you put into it, the higher you can go.
Many Christians think that no one who is serious about God and their spirituality should serve in the military because there is nothing but hardcore killers, people that are so hard and calloused that the Gospel cannot affect them. However, these certain people would provide so many opportunities for ministry. Knowing that there are Chaplains in all the services (accept the Marines, but they use Naval Chaplains), one should be comforted that there is a soldier who”s main purpose is to safeguard your right in the Constitution to have the freedom to exercise your religion. There is actually a law, title X, that states that religious services must be held once a week, normally on Sunday, but not restricted to that day.
Some do think that there is only the stuff that they see on the commercials, the “high tempo” stuff like (ie: training, doing missions, and always out in the field), it has to be said that with all of these things, there is a lot of preparation that is involved. There are going to be a lot of long hours, perhaps hazardous conditions, and definitely high pressure and stressful situations that are happening all the time. However with this idea the Armed Forces do make up for it in benefits. There is combat pay, hazardous duty pay, extra pay for training and missions (ie: “jump pay” for the Airborne units in the Army) and of course one of the best things, free health, dental, and life insurance.
You will be asked to put your life on the line for others, and perhaps you may never even know who they are. Some people don”t think that they can do this, however in service to your country you are not only defending those around you but also those who cannot defend themselves. This is for those people who cannot pick up a weapon physically, mentally, or spiritually. To think that there are people that have built up a foundation for this country protecting all of the freedoms and liberties that we hold dear, many even giving their lives. Multitudes forget about that because their lives are so busy with things that are completely selfish, it”s always about money, success, and the attempt at fame.
Some have said that the tree of liberty must be shaken every once in awhile by patriots attempting to show the complacency of those living under the tree”s protection. This may be true, and seeing that the world that we live in is a hostile and competitive realm, it doesn”t take much to figure out why the military structure has so much depth and is so complex for those who serve as its guardians.
Now that you have a basic overview of the history, the types of service, and the misconceptions that the Military has, here are some basic characteristics for each service.
The Army is known as the “Ground-Pounders”. They have acquired this title because they go everywhere on foot. Of course there are other vehicle of transportation such as the helicopter, the plane, and numerous troop carriers. However, the Army”s primary mission in a conflict is to weed out the enemy by sheer size and in depth hunting skills. They go anywhere to find anyone, to accomplish the mission. In the Army are some separate detachments known as “high tempo” units. These are the Air Assault (jumping out of helicopters), Airborne (jumping out of airplanes), the Rangers (the elite), the Special Forces (the elite of the elite), and the mighty Infantry (the bulk of the Army). There are still some Air Wing detachments in the Army, and there is also many opportunities in almost every area of the Armed Forces represented within this one branch. It is the oldest and the biggest one around. For more information go to www.goarmy.com. For a list of careers in the Army, check out http://www.goarmy.com/JobCatList.do?fw=careerindex
The Air Force is knows as the “Flyboys”. They have a reputation for caring about nothing except flying high in their jets. The main mission of the Air Force is air coverage. For the troops on the ground, it is crucial that the opposing military is weakened to make the job easier on the ground. The Air Force is precise in its bombings and has earned a name for itself with the lethality and overall dominance of the skies. However, there are not only just pilots in the Air Force, who do you think maintains all of the equipment and vehicles that they use? There are many mechanics, engineers, and service support personnel that keep the planes safe and in the air. There are also Special Force teams in this branch as well, namely the Parajumpers (or PJ”s). These teams are mainly used for pickup and recovery of downed pilots or essential hardware in the planes: reconnaissance. There is much more to the Air Force than many people think. For more information go to www.airforce.com. For more information on careers in the Air Force check http://www.airforce.com/careers/enlisted/careers.php
The Navy is known as the “seadogs”. They acquired this because they are always at sea. They do what are known as “floats” where they are at sea for six months at a time. They take off at least eight months in between, to recover and refocus their efforts, however they are always patrolling the seas. The Navy”s primary mission is to be in an area in case anything happens, to lend some shore support, or covering fire to aid in any type of action, whether sanctioned by the military or some branch of the government. Without the Navy, the missions that the Land and Air branches would be much more difficult. There are also different detachment groups in the Navy, specialized personnel. They are divers (mainly SCUBA), the pilots, the submariners, and the SEALS which are the Special Force of the Navy. The Navy is usually the first one on the scene and has already taken out some of the important structures of the military force that the U.S. is fighting against. They take their job seriously, and are the biggest and most well-equipped Navy in the world. For more information on the Navy go to www.navy.com. For more information on careers in the Navy go to http://www.navy.com/careers.
The other Special Forces detachment of the Navy is the Marine Corps, the Leathernecks (or the Devil Dogs). They are highly dedicated, truly motivated personnel that are usually the “first to fight”. They are there aboard ship while the Navy does their tours just in case they are needed in a certain area of the world in a moments notice. There is not much about the Marines that needs to be said, other than they smallest of the branches for a reason, they have the toughest out of all of the basic training camps of any service. They are the radicals, those people who go in to do the dirty work, the ones that usually are never acknowledged because most of what they do is covert. The Marines have one job to do, and they do it well. For more information on the Marine Corps go to www.marines.com.
The Coast Guard or “Coasties”, are seen as the National Guard of the Navy, however they are pivotal in the fight against all those who would seek to deter the National interests of the U.S. They are daily diverting hostile intenders, drug traffickers, and highjackers to other ports of call. They protect the shores of this great nation from more than anyone will ever know. This is their main mission, however they have taken on domestic roles in civilian disasters, downed airliners, lost or shipwrecked boaters. In some aspects, the Coast Guard is the first line of defense that the U.S. has. Without their help and protection, the U.S. would not be such a safe place to live. For more information on the Coast Guard check www.uscg.mil.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Have you had any experience or know anyone involved in the military? What has been there experience?
What are your thoughts on the military and the use of armed force?
Do you feel America or whichever country you are from, has handled the use of armed force well? Why or why not?
What does the Bible have to say about the use of armed force? What are arguments for and against its use?