To quote one of my favorite speakers (Dinesh D’Souza), “I feel a bit like a mosquito in a nudist colony — where to begin?”
I sit here today, in a bit of physical pain. My chest, arms, abs, and quads all ache from the beating they took last night. I had an unreasonable amount of difficulty getting out of bed this morning, not because I was physically tired, but because the muscles used for sitting up apparently suffered some buildup of lactic acid during my exercise regimen yesterday.
You see, I’m in the Air Force Delayed Enlistment Program. Last night, the DEP ran our PT test (we’re not quite there yet, me included, but we’ll make it by ship date), and then trained for a full hour and a half. This exercise is nothing, simply nothing, compared to the physical demands of basic training — for this, and many other reasons, I plan to train as hard as I can before I go to basic training. I want to mitigate as much of the pain as I can. Oh, and to all you Marines out there: Mad respect for your legendary toughness, but right now the Air Force has tougher PT standards than you do.
This does not include the mind-games the Training Instructors play with the recruits in Basic. The TIs, from a methodology standpoint, are there to exploit and expose weakness, and to train it out of the individual recruits — to mold a strong team out of weak individuals. To do this, the TI must mentally destroy the individualistic mentality, and replace it with a team-first-and-only mentality. My first name will no longer be Mike; it will, upon entry into Basic, be Trainee. All of my brothers in my flight will have the same name.
The job I signed up to do requires that I go through something called SERE training. I won’t talk too much about this, but let this suffice: Under the current administration’s definition of torture, I will be tortured. A lot. I knew this when I signed up, and I appreciate the SERE instructors’ dedication in teaching me to resist common torture techniques.
I will also learn to jump out of perfectly good aircraft — aircraft that are not even on fire! This runs contrary to every instinct embedded in a human psyche. Of course, I’m nuts enough to enjoy the thought of doing just that.
These are the things I will do to earn the privilege to wear the uniform of the United States Air Force. I will go, I will train, I will suffer physical pain, mental abuse, and even torture for the privilege of wearing that uniform.
The purpose of my uniform is not to ensure that I look good in a bloody photo-op.
My uniform shows that I have accomplished something that only 2% of the world will ever accomplish. My uniform shows that I have earned the privilege of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with men and women whose excellence, integrity, and self-sacrifice are legendary. My uniform shows that I am a member of the best, most talented, hardest-working team ever concieved by man: The United States Military.
It’s not a campaign prop, any more than I am. Any more than my brothers and sisters in arms are. The members of the military serve at the pleasure of the President, but our purpose is to destroy the enemies of the United States, not to prop up political figures with conveniently-timed pictoral propaganda.
I am not some GI-Joe action figure, any more than the female members of the military are Barbie in cammies.
I swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to obey the orders of those appointed above me — and I will, because I swore to do so. While it would not be an illegal order for an officer to demand that I stand for political photo-ops, it would be distasteful, and a misallocation of military resources that lends nothing to defeating the enemies of the United States.
I’m not putting in this much time, enduring this much pain, so that I can help some civilian who never went through any of this further his career. President Barack Obama is my commander-in-chief, and I will always follow the orders of my commander-in-chief; but that statement betrays a complete ignorance of what the military is. That statement is irritating, to say the least.