War Is Heck(ish)

by David French

In light of the substantial cuts to defense and considering certain cultural changes underway in the military, I decided to e-mail my 2020 self to see what the Army will be like in just a few, short years. My 2020 self responded by forwarding the following welcome briefing to new recruits:

Fort Biden, Delaware — Welcome, Soldiers, to the United States Army. It is our highest priority that you experience the Army as a safe and fulfilling space to live, work, and fulfill your dreams. While there is of course a chain of command, we do not want you to think of yourself as “commanded” but instead as “valued.” We value you and your unique contributions to the Army culture.

Never be afraid to speak your mind, and if you have the slightest concern that your identity, skills, or gifts are not appropriately appreciated, we have created a number of independent channels for you to seek justice, including the Inspector General, the Equal Opportunity Office, the Gender Equality Office, and the Office of Cultural Compliance. Each of these offices does not answer to the chain of “command” and is committed to protecting our Army’s greatest strength, diversity.

We urge you to maintain a moderate level of physical fitness as part of the Army Work-Life Balance Initiative, with an emphasis on regular walking, appropriate diet (please minimize processed foods!), and plenty of “me time” to allow you to pursue your hobbies and interests while maintaining and enriching your personal, sexual, and family identities. 

You will, on occasion, train with weapons and other forms of military equipment. Do not be alarmed! This equipment has served our nation well since the time your grandfathers served, and it is reliable and functions according to standard when put to the limited use the Army requires. You will rarely be required to use live ammunition, and counselors will be on hand to assist in any values conflicts that arise when handling items intended to take human life.

When you do enter a tank, or step into a helicopter, be mindful of history. These very items helped peacefully defeat a nation called the Soviet Union, a country that failed to properly apply Communist theory and thus represented an occasional threat to international norms.

Given our nation’s strategic emphasis on cultural accommodation and rejecting the imperial model of the latter half of the 20th Century and first eight years of the 21st, it is highly unlikely that you will be called to engage in combat. In those rare instances where armed conflict exists, the majority of initial combat will fall to the Central Intelligence Agency’s extremely capable drone fleet. If ground combat is required, rest assured that you will be equipped to engage with a maximum amount of cultural sensitivity, a maximum amount of humanitarian outreach, and a minimum amount of lethality.

At the conclusion of this briefing, you will be asked to choose a Military Occupation Specialty, or MOS. This will be your first step to a fulfilling Army career. Do not be afraid to choose infantry! This is not your father’s infantry. In fact, you are building the fathers’ and mothers’ infantry, a capable, diverse team committed to direct cultural engagement and humanitarian assistance — all within an ethic of courageous care. 

Go You!

United States Army Cooperative Command

Intrigued, I followed by e-mailing my 2022 self to see what this Army of new values/old equipment was like, and I responded: “Can’t talk. Humvee broke down 30 miles south of Seoul. City in flames. Full retreat. Lodging IG complaint.”

I’m not sure this is going to end well.