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American Military Culture
Submitted by Jason Quintana on Mon, 2005-12-05 21:43
Something which has always left me feeling uncomfortable is the culture of the American military. The military seems to have its own religion (or even cult) which is set up with the express purpose of breeding mindless conformity and a staunch sense of collectivist duty. The other day I was watching a TV program in which several young military men were interviewed and all of them said almost the same things -- and strangely with almost the same exact accent and terminology. Listening to them one after another made them seem like robots. They said things like :
"I'm just honored to have the opportunity to serve a higher purpose."
"Doing my duty for my country, even if it means dieing for it is the most important thing I'll ever do."
I recall speaking to a coworker who was a former member of the military in which he explained that many of the exercises that soldiers go through in boot camp and beyond are meant to train out any elements of individual judgement in the soldiers. On a daily basis commands are given which have no logical purpose other then training people to follow the commands of their superiors no matter what. Some of the examples he gave me were rather strange and grotesque to an outsider. His explanation for this kind of training was that "If your commanding officer tells you to do something that has a 99% chance of resulting in your death you have to be selfless enough to peform your duties anyway." This coworker took a great deal of pride in this kind of achievment and the thought of such a mentality got me so upset that we ended up getting into a heated argument.
For those who might have military experience is my fear about military culture warranted? Is there any ethical argument that can be made in favor of the arch collectivism of the American military? Or do I have a misunderstanding of this culture?
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