ELDER PATRIOT – From the “You-Can’t-Make-This-Shit-Up” file comes an announcement of a series of “family-friendly” initiatives from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. In announcing these new initiatives Carter prefaced his statements by saying this:
“Among the stresses military families face, having and raising children is near the top.”
You’d think that might mean a relaxing of the “Rules of Engagement” or restoring torture as an interrogation technique so that our young combat volunteers might have a higher probability of returning home to their families in one piece or without being court martialed for defending themselves.
Or, maybe an increase in their pay or their retirement benefits would be in order so they wouldn’t have to rely on food stamps in order to feed their families.
You’d be wrong.
The new directives can have no other goal than to denude the military of its backbone of readiness and ruggedness.
Carter cited statistics that retention among women in their child-bearing years is 30 percent lower than that of men because of the conflict between raising children and being in combat. No shit! This should be an accepted fact of life once there was acceptance of women into the military – if you even believe that a nation of able-bodied men should allow their women to fight for them.
Instead, our military continues to be stripped of the commitment required to conduct successful combat missions by these new directives as reported by cnsnews.com:
— 12 weeks of fully paid maternity leave across the joint force, up from 6 weeks in many cases, but below the 18 weeks now offered by the Navy. “Certainly, offering a more generous standard for maternity leave is imperative for attracting and retaining talent,” Carter said. (He assured Navy women who are currently pregnant that they can take 18 weeks of leave.)
— 10-14 days of paid paternity leave for new fathers. “For those who want to become dads, or are about to, I want them to know this leave is available to them and I want them to make full use of it,” Carter said.
— New investments in subsidized child care: “We will increase child care access to 14 hours a day across the force…from before revellie to after taps,” Carter said.
— Making military workplaces more accommodating to women when they return from maternity leave: The focus here is to make it easier for new mothers to continue breast-feeding, if they choose to do that.
“To make the transition between maternity leave and returning to work for military mothers smoother, to enhance our mission effectiveness, and to comply with standards that apply to nearly every organization outside the military, I am requiring that a mother’s room be made available at every facility with more than 50 women, which means the establishment of some 3,600 rooms across the country,” Carter said.
— Reasonable accommodations for those who face geographic challenges: “For a family who has a son or daughter who receives treatment at a particular hospital or who suffers from a particular disability, remaining longer in location where their specialized high-quality care can make a world of difference,” Carter said. “Other families want to remain in one place longer to allow a son or daughter to finish high school in one place with friends, teachers and teams they’re close to. Or perhaps to be close to grandparents or other family. These are all important.
“When the needs of the force permit a service member to stay at their current location, we will empower commanders to make reasonable accommodations, in exchange for an additional service obligation.”
— Reproductive technologies: “We can help our men and women preserve their ability to start a family, even if they suffer certain combat injuries. That’s why we will cover the cost of freezing sperm or eggs through a pilot program for active duty service members — a benefit that will help provide men and women, especially those deployed in combat, with greater peace of mind. This investment will also provide greater flexibility for our troops who want to start a family, but find it difficult because of where they find themselves in their careers.”
Carter said he’s also committed to “continuing to look at how we can provide advanced reproductive technologies like IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) to a wider population. Today, we provide reduced cost treatment at six locations across the country, and we will study how to broaden this coverage in the future.”
These initiatives lay the groundwork for destroying cohesiveness and morale in units that must depend upon each other for synchronized movements on the field of combat in order to save lives. But, that’s not Carter’s concern. He’s more concerned with maintaining a force that is committed to lifetime service in order to fight the protracted wars that the military-industrial complex prefers.
America once brought overwhelming force to a conflict in order to end it as quickly and inexpensively as possible. That makes it difficult to explain large outlays of public money over protracted periods for military spending to America’s taxpayers. Have you ever stopped to think that we defeated the two most powerful armies in the world in less than four years during WW II but that we are now in our 13th year of fighting ill equipped Middle Eastern insurgencies with no end in sight?
After the massive campaign to win WW II America was left with a total outstanding debt of $54 billion dollars. Adjusting for inflation, we will spend around that much this year during a time of relative peace.
The protracted wars we’re witnessing in the Middle East have no end in sight but they do allow defense contractors and politicians to make the case for hundreds of billions of extra dollars to be earmarked to their businesses.