I served in the U.S. Air Force from 2000-2007. My job code was 3C0X1 (Communications computer systems operator). My highest rank was E-5 (Staff Sergeant), and I received an honorable discharge. After separating, I wrote a series of posts about how the U.S. military is a cult that uses brainwashing techniques to indoctrinate recruits and commits other indignities and injustices against them. You can find links to those essays at the bottom of this page. Several people have commented asking what the alternative is. So here’s my tentative list of reforms that would address the systemic flaws in America’s military system.
Improve transparency of recruiting and contracts.
In my blogs I state the U.S. military is consciously designed using the cult model to brainwash troops into becoming suicidal, unquestioning zealots, and the Uniform Code of Justice strips enlisted troops of their civil rights and turns them into second-class citizens who live in a totalitarian culture where officers have the same power over them as slave owners.
Many people have argued these are necessary evils; since it’s not rational for human beings to charge into life-threatening situations, it’s necessary to hack recruits’ brains to change the way they think. Believe it or not, I can accept this. The purpose of war is to kill, which conflicts with the premise of civilized society. So if there must be war, then evil acts must be tolerated for the greater good. It would be naive to think otherwise.
However, if we lie to young, impressionable civilians, and tell them the purpose of basic training is to evolve them into a higher form of citizen, then everything they’re fighting for is based on a lie. By not giving recruits fair warning they’ll have their identity methodically stripped away and their values replaced, the U.S. government is stealing their souls. That’s existential murder.
If a patriotic recruit joins the military after receiving a lengthy briefing explaining everything they’re getting into, then that’s their choice. If a poor person joins the military because a recruiter told them they’re signing up for a lucrative adventure that will turn them into an uberman, that’s a bait and switch scam no one should tolerate.
Eliminate the use of mind control techniques.
Police officers, firefighters, search and rescue crews, ice road truckers, and civilian contractors in the military put their lives on the line every day without being systematically brainwashed or having their citizenship downgraded. So maybe using traumatic coercion to steal soldiers’ personalities isn’t a moral imperative.
Then again, maybe it is. However, until we’ve tried creating a fighting force that isn’t based on lies, we’ll never know, and we’ll all be guilty of crimes against humanity against our own troops before war even breaks out.
The change doesn’t have to happen overnight. We could create special units that use different training programs and “customs and courtesies.” If those units fail to accomplish their missions, at least we can say cared enough about the troops to try treating them like human beings.
Give the troops their freedom and rights back.
Ostensibly, military service can’t be compared to slavery because every troop joins willingly and gets paid. The murky reality is that most enlisted troops join for the paycheck and benefits because they don’t have enough education or certifications to get a job that pays a living wage, offers benefits, or vacation time. According to the American Dream, anyone can work hard and become anything they want, but statistically, if your family is poor and you’re not smart enough to score 50% on the ASVAB, you’re going to spend the rest of your life as a wage slave and die broke. Picking between that and military service is less of a choice and more of a trick to make you volunteer for indentured servitude.
Even if you get paid well and receive full benefits, you still lose your civil rights. Officers have totalitarian power over enlisted troops. The military has legal jurisdiction over you 24 hours a day, and you have to obey all its laws even when you’re off duty on vacation in a foreign country. You’re not free to date or marry a person from a higher caste, change jobs at will, choose where you live, or quit your job. The punishments for walking off the job are: going to prison, getting blacklisted from the civilian job market for life, and execution.
If military service isn’t literally slavery, it’s too close for comfort. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say it resembles apartheid more than freedom, and it literally fits the criteria of multiple “human rights abuses.” If a civilian organization operated the same way, the public would be screaming for the U.S. military to shut it down and convict the leaders for crimes against humanity at The Hague.
If any of this is true, then we should give troops most of their freedom and rights back. The cost is too high, and all the benefits are tainted with sin. At the very least, give troops the freedom to leave. Allow them to pay off the cost of their training or work it off doing community service for a local government office. If these options are always on the table, then any troop who chooses to live as a second-class citizen in a totalitarian regime, is exercising their free will. Those who can’t conform will leave without having to get kicked out, or stay until the end of their enlistment and be a toxic influence on our national defense force. Plus, if politicans ever decide to go to war for corporate profits, the troops can veto the unjust war by boycotting it. This will allow them to serve our country by not supporting counterproductive wars.
Eliminate or restructure the officer corps.
The officer corps is an archaic institution that’s incompatible with modern values. It elevates one class of people and gives them total power over another. I’ll concede, it might be necessary for combat troops to work under officers who enjoy more rights and benefits on and off duty, but there’s no reason to give that level of power and privilege to office managers and dentists. Nor is there any reason why network administrators and airplane mechanics should have to salute those people and live in drastically cheaper housing. Stop and think about this slowly. Do we really need segregated cafeterias with first-class and second-class seating that separates the dentists from the network administrators?
I don’t know if government-funded caste-systems are ever moral, but they might be endurable if they were effective. But any enlisted troop can tell you stories of moronic officers with God-sized egos who had bad ideas, wouldn’t listen to advice, and abused their rank. When you give people the power and glory of a dictator, and tell them to act like a leader, they’ll tend to act like megalomaniac dictators. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it has had deadly consequences in war zones and will continue to do so.
The officer system also puts twenty-three-year-old college graduates with no real-world experience in charge of highly trained and experienced master sergeants who have to groom their lieutenants through their mistakes until they get promoted and are replaced with another unqualified kid. This is a failed experiment that is perpetually impacting the military’s missions and wasting taxpayer money.
All these problems could be solved by eliminating the officer corps and giving the most important jobs to people who have gone through the enlisted ranks and have the most on-the-job training. If the officer corps must exist, you should have to get promoted to at least E-7 before you can apply for Officer Training School. This would at least keep out the trust fund frat boys looking for a cushy, flattering, obscenely high paying job that looks great on a resume, and it would do a better job of matching the most important positions with the most qualified candidates.
Democratize the promotion system.
Each branch has its own promotion system, and they’re all so broken it would take too long to list all the reasons here. Basically, your fate is either determined by one or two people who might be idiots who hate you for the wrong reasons or you’re practically guaranteed promotion if you just sit around long enough.
My solution is to eliminate promotion cycles and allow everyone in the military to vote for everyone’s promotion. You log onto a military website, select a person who you feel deserves a promotion, and enter a justification. When a person has reached enough votes, they get reviewed by the promotion board.
Likewise, everyone should also be able to anonymously vote “not recommended for promotion.” This would prevent toxic managers from rising in power by kissing up to a few higher ranking individuals who don’t work with them and barely know them.
Put the prison system under the Department of Defense to brainwash and exploit prisoners.
If it’s a moral imperative that we must ignore the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and turn normal human beings into unquestioning killing machines without their fully-informed consent, then perhaps it’s a moral imperative to take this rule to its logical conclusion.
America’s prison system strips civilians of their freedom and rights just like the military. Many prisoners are mentally broken, institutionalized killers who owe a debt to society. If we’re already committing the same human rights abuses against prisoners as we are troops, then why not take advantage of the sin? Turn every prison into a basic training camp and put those sub-humans to good use doing society’s dirty work. They won’t complain about having their rights abused like I am because they’re already used to it, and the public will never get upset because most people don’t care how prisoners are treated.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:
Military Mind Control
- 9 reasons not to join the United States military
- The military is a cult
- How and why military basic training brainwashes recruits
- The military rank structure is an inhumane caste system
- Similarities between military tech school and the Stanford prison experiment
- How basic training works (Comic)
- How the officer corps works (Comic)
- Every civilian owes every soldier a war debt
- 4 reasons why American soldiers are as much victims as heroes
- 5 ways the UCMJ treats troops unethically
- 4 reasons not all troops are heroes
- An open letter from a veteran to current active duty troops
- Should transsexuals be allowed in the military?
- Six lessons civilians can learn from the military
- 4 reasons terrorism doesn’t work and 4 alternatives that do