Before we get to today’s controversial main feature, check out Eric C’s guest post on WriteToDone.com with the provocatively titled, “How Miniskirts Will Make Your Prose Sexier: The Golden Rule of Length”. We should have some other guest posts going up around the web in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.
(To read more of our outside writing, click here. To read the entire "Our Communist Military" series, please click here.)
Head over to Thomas Ricks’ awesome FP.com blog, “The Best Defense”, to check out our newest guest post, “An Afghanistan/Iraq vet says Romney should run the Pentagon like Bain Capital”. To sum up our position: Mitt Romney wants to increase the Pentagon’s budget, but we think the military has enough money as is, it just doesn’t spend it very well. At all.
We’re going to include this guest post, unofficially, in the “Our Communist Military” series as an example of how the military is another example of out-of-control, wasteful, bureaucratic government spending. The military can (and should) learn from what the private sector does well. (Of course, as we’re now going to mention on all “Our Communist Military” posts, we don’t actually think the military is “communist”...that’s just a rhetorical device.)
Over the last few years, the Fayetteville Observer--newspaper of record for Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne--has written several award-winning series on the mental health of soldiers and their experiences returning from war zones.
For the most recent edition, “The Last Battle”, writer Greg Barnes reached out to me to expand on my thoughts from the guest post “Checking the Mental Health Block” I wrote for VAntage Point. I also spoke about being a junior leader dealing with mental health problems in my platoon.
Check out this valuable series on a topic far too neglected in our current political climate.
(To read the rest of our series, “The Case Against War with Iran”, please click here.)
Over the last few months, Eric C and I have spent countless hours turning the IPB section of our series, “The Case Against the War in Iran”, into an paper titled, “The Costs of War with Iran: An Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield”. After three months of work, that paper was just published on The Small Wars Journal on Friday. We’ve rewritten and updated almost every section, so check out our new takes.
I’ll repeat the point that concludes the article because the first comment on the post reflected my worry. More than anything, I want this paper (and hopefully a follow up op-ed) to inspire this discussion: Americans, what are you willing to sacrifice in a war with Iran? And I want politicians to answer this question: What do you think it will cost to go to war with Iran?
Also, thanks to Doctrine Man for linking to our most recent (and controversial) article, “Our Communist Military”.
To everyone who has Facebook’ed, Tweeted or commented on the recent posts, again thanks.
On Thursday morning, I started seeing inklings that the “Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation” recommended an overhaul to combat pay to reward junior soldiers for their sacrifices. If this sounds a lot like my Washinton Post opinion piece from last year, “I didn’t deserve my combat pay” well it should. As CNN’s "Security Clearance" blog tells it:
As part of its findings, the report cited a 2011 opinion piece in the Washington Post in which Capt. Michael Cummings wrote, "I didn't deserve my combat pay."
Cummings described the living conditions at Victory Base Complex in Iraq, "The water was always warm. The chow hall had a Caesar salad bar, a sandwich bar, an ice cream freezer, and shrimp & steak Fridays. My personal room had a working air conditioning unit and internet connection. VBC hosted multiple PXs, coffee shops and nightly dance parties. I could buy pillows, microwaves, televisions or any video game."
The report (which can be found here; our quote is in the “supporting research papers”) also details a different issue regarding combat pay that I hadn’t thought of: the giant benefit of Combat Zone Tax Exclusion for high ranking officers. I hadn’t thought of this, but it furthers the main thrust of my original Op-Ed: most generals and colonels receive way more compensation (in better conditions) for deployment than junior soldiers (in the suck).
Together--because really Eric C and I write everything together no matter whose name is on the piece--we are extremely excited about this development. To borrow a California surfing term, we’re stoked.
The big question is, am I optimistic that--even after the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation agreeing with our op-ed--the Pentagon and Congress will address these important issues? I am not for four reasons:
1. Most vocal pro-military types will resist any change to military compensation if it means any troops lose money. So even though conservative Republicans champion fiscal responsibility and cutting through “Bureaucracy”, they won’t jump to support this commission’s report. Republicans will also reflexively resist any proposal coming from President Obama.
2. Democrats will avoid anything that looks like it harms troops to because of their historically (false) reputation for being weak on defense and/or hating our troops. So the minute someone accuses Democrats of “hating our soldiers”, they will back down.
3. The military hates change.
4. Officers will suffer the most from these changes. Since officers (generals) run the Pentagon, they will fight it. Further, pro-military associations--like the Association of the U.S. Army and countless others are lead by retired Generals and Colonels, who will also resist this change.
So Republicans, Democrats, current officers and retired officers will all resist changing combat pay. Basically, no one will lobby for this commission’s reports, no matter how sensible. And (prediction alert!) if no one lobbies for legislation the odds it will happen are low.
That said, we love the fact that we might have influenced the debate, even a bit. Having gotten our names in one possibly influential report, we plan in the next few weeks to try again, this time on the topic of Iran. Stay tuned.
Quick heads up:
Michael C just had a guest post published at The New York Times "At War" Blog titled, "One Soldier’s Experience With One Nation Under Contract."
Check it out.
Quick heads up:
Eric C just had a guest post published at Killscreen titled "Review: Oiligarchy." Killscreen is quickly becoming our new favorite website and gaming journal, so we are absolutely thrilled to be writing for them.
Check it out.
Quick heads up:
Michael C just had an op-ed published today at the Washington Post, titled "I Didn't Deserve My Combat Pay."
Check it out.
If we see interesting responses to Michael C's post, we'll probably post them here. Like this one, from the forum on the Military Times.
We got a Small Wars Journal shout out today as well. Check it out here.
Another forum tackles Michael C's op-ed here. A mostly good discussion, I feel we should clarify: Michael C was an infantry officer.
Just found a post by Richard Morris, an author, responding to Michael C's piece with his own memories from Vietnam.
The WaPo ran a letter responding to Michael C's Op-ed.
Check out this comment thread at gatorsports. It supports what Michael C wrote.
The Daily Caller has a response piece, titled "I Deserved My Combat Pay" by Paul Hair. We'll respond on Monday.
And another forum, run by The Baltimore Sun, with some feedback...