Posted on Jan 17, 2014
SN Alan West
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Earlier this week Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, spoke to officers and civilians studying at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.  His theme was how to make our fellow citizens better understand what we do and what the Military Instrument is and is not capable of.

Posted in these groups: Military leadership skills civilian employment CiviliansArmedforces Military service
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1SG Steven Stankovich
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I'm going to give my opinion here that may be a little different than most.  Anybody can pick up a Jane's book and see what the tools that our military can do.  Anyone can watch news footage from an embedded reporter and see what "war" looks like.  Anyone can Google stories or watch movies or any other avenue available to give them the "I know what they do" mentality. 




But to me, it is so much more than that.  It is about doing all that you can for a Soldier who is going through personal problems.  It is all about helping out your battle buddy who it going through a rough patch from some trauma they have experienced; maybe it was caused from something that happened downrange.  It is about getting a call in the middle of the night from one of your Soldiers and you rush out the door without even a second thought.  It is about receiving a call from the Red Cross and then bringing in a 20 year old kid to tell him his father just past away...and doing all that you can to make sure that he and his family is taken care of.  It is a bond that forms between you and the people with whom you serve with.  That is right...serve with.  




Most out there will never be able to grasp any of that.  That is not their fault.  I do not think any less of them.  I only hope that at the end of the day, they do not think any less of my Soldiers or of me because we did not sit down and try to explain it to them, knowing that the only way to truly understand it is to put on the uniform and serve. 

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SGT Craig Northacker
SGT Craig Northacker
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Excellent comment!
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SSG Mike Angelo
SSG Mike Angelo
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Putting on the uniform and serving has great merit. For many, the military niche is not for them. A Soldiers Story to a fellow American citizen or peoples of America can be delivered with clarity as well as ambiguity. 
The storyteller has to be sensitive to the limitations the target audience has on generational military language and associated cultural barriers; talking in acronyms and using military jargon can lose listeners. 
Attitudes and behaviors can also be a constraint, so in telling the Soldier Story would depend on the target audience interest and abilities to discern the meaning and values expressed by the storyteller. 
To their specific audience, such as a social construct off-duty, in a guest speaker discussion, a court room, or at a coffee shop/bar setting, people who may listen may pick up what they want to hear. 
Transitioning military language and experience may not work for the storyteller in a particular setting, hence in a resume format. I say, dont give up...in time storytelling a persons life in the military can take a lifetime, even for one hitch served.  
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CPT Aaron Kletzing
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Edited 8 y ago
So, I'll take the other side of this for the sake of discussion -- and I'm focused here on the desired outcome.  Why is it so important that regular civilians so thoroughly understand what the military does?  To what end?  ...I am not connecting the dots between the effort and what we can actually expect to happen as a result.  

Are we expecting the non-military community -- in its entirety -- to suddenly embrace the military?  If so, what on earth do you base that on?  Wouldn't that already have happened by now, since we're still fighting the longest war in US history?  I'm not being cynical -- just trying to be practical and think through it.

There has been a disconnect of some kind between the military and non-military communities since our earliest days.  Now, I know that today we're far from the Rosie the Riveter era, but I would guess that even in those days, there were significant pockets of the US population who were really disconnected from the military.

Looking fwd to everyone's thoughts.  Not saying I'm right, just curious to explore this from both sides.
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SFC Stephen P.
SFC Stephen P.
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When the public doesn't understand the capabilities of the military, they petition their government to employ us in a manner inconsistent with those capabilities.

If the mission is based on a flawed premiss, it will fail regardless of our performance.

We can kill, we can destroy, we can restrict movement. We can't make people want to be free; we can't make them respect each other.
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SGT Craig Northacker
SGT Craig Northacker
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You are absolutely correct, Aaron.  What we do/did is irrelevant to their lifestyle.  We are the less than 1%, we are the ones who return to existing structures, we are the ones who have to reintegrate.  C'est la vie! 
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SGT Craig Northacker
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We are the ones with the disconnect.  We are intruding on the civilian status quo.  Not only are they not really interested other than in a polite way, they have no need to know-which is part of our frustration.  What is even more annoying is when you meet people who think the military is nothing they believe in.  We number less than 1% of the population, so we have to adjust and adapt, which we are best trained to do in any event.
  I have been out a long time, and my civilian friends will talk sports, and which team did this, and who did that, and talk about business and golf-but forget what we do, not interested because it has no relevance to them. Took me a long time to adjust to that-but returning to a group like RP is good because we understand who we are and what we did, and why.
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