Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Each year since the late 1990s, public surveys have found that Americans have a high confidence in the country's armed forces, often higher than for any other American institution. This public confidence largely endured even as American plans in Afghanistan and Iraq repeatedly failed, and as thousands of men and women in uniform died and tens of thousands more were wounded in wars that did not achieve what the military and its leaders set out to do.



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For many people who served in these recent wars, living within the services' stifling bureaucracies or laboring in operations or circumstances that eroded their confidence in the Pentagon and the brass, these results can feel both familiar and odd. How do the services seemingly get a pass? Is public support reflexive, a species of approval as automatic as some of the thank-you-for-your-service gestures that are a feature of life as a service member or veteran?

The disconnect between public support and military performance extends beyond the failures in the wars. It's a feature as well in how the military handles issues away from the battlefields, including cases of sexual harassment and public health.


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On April 4, At War published an essay by Cristine Pedersen, a former Marine Corps cryptologist who followed her father into the service. Pedersen was raised in a Marine ethos, a climate of almost religious devotion to the corps. She completed her demanding training and volunteered for deployment, only to have her good-faith service betrayed. Pedersen was subjected to misogyny and repeated sexual harassment, and to small-unit leaders who often did not act upon her complaints. For much of her service, she withheld the sordid details from her father, worried that he too might play down her suffering or be inclined not to believe her. "My father and many Marines I served with," Pedersen wrote, "failed to grasp both the extent of the abuses and their costs. In the summer of 2015 I let my enlistment expire, and I started college three weeks later. I felt exhausted by my career and angry that my father still felt so loyal to an institution that had repeatedly dehumanized me."

How to square this kind of deep loyalty to the armed forces and high public support with a long record of failures? Pedersen proposed an answer that aligns with the mission of At War. "You can simultaneously love an institution and recognize how it is failing. The truest form of commitment is perhaps to bring these failures to light."

#1 | Posted by J_Tremain at 2019-04-09 03:36 PM | Reply

On April 3, Patricia Kime wrote about the dangers of lead exposure in military service and the multiyear odyssey of Stephen Hopkins, a Special Forces veteran who suffered "crippling nausea, constant dizziness, a skyrocketing heart rate" and later "migraine symptoms, abnormal thirst and muddled thinking." His symptoms began in 2005. Hopkins received a proper diagnosis -- chronic lead exposure -- in 2012, and only after he collapsed and his parents drove him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The military, Kime's reporting found, has resisted wider monitoring of its members for exposure, and has not followed earlier warnings.

That soldiers are exposed to lead while on the job isn't news for the Army. A 1996 study by the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine noted that soldiers on bases were at risk for exposure to ‘unhealthy levels of lead' from firing ranges, battery repair, lead paint and building demolition. The center recommended fully implementing ‘existing Army policies, programs and procedures for lead-exposure reduction' and including lead ‘as a priority pollutant in ... pollution prevention programs.' Yet Hopkins and others say they never received explicit warnings of potential lead exposure or guidance on proper range hygiene.

#2 | Posted by J_Tremain at 2019-04-09 03:37 PM | Reply

Sorry about the long copy pastes of the parts I found interesting. It's from the NY-Times and it's behind a paywall.

A paywall I breached for you. Because I love you.

You're welcome.

#3 | Posted by J_Tremain at 2019-04-09 03:41 PM | Reply

As long as corporations make a profit where is the failure??

#4 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2019-04-09 04:39 PM | Reply

Nice thing about the US military, they don't choose their missions. They don't run the government. They are obedient enough to do thing they know are stupid or counterproductive. Otherwise, you would see a coup. That has never happened, so far.

#5 | Posted by docnjo at 2019-04-10 06:56 AM | Reply

The military is responsible for strategic and tactical warfare, and they are exceedingly good at it. What they are not responsible for is political warfare, something our executive branch has sucked at since LBJ.

#6 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2019-04-10 11:16 AM | Reply

Why Don't Americans Hold Military Accountable for Failures?

It ain't the military that puts all the restrictions on the troops.

#7 | Posted by Sniper at 2019-04-10 11:34 AM | Reply

#7 | POSTED BY SNIPER AT 2019-04-10 11:34 AM | FLAG: Right as you can just look at the ROEs imposed on our troops by obama & Co.

Here's just one article concerning such:
Shades of Vietnam: Spike in U.S. troop deaths tied to stricter rules of engagement

#8 | Posted by MSgt at 2019-04-10 01:21 PM | Reply

On 9-11, the military failed. Everyone got promoted.

#9 | Posted by Petrous at 2019-04-10 04:24 PM | Reply

On 9/11 some people did some things.
Why should the military care...

#10 | Posted by 101Chairborne at 2019-04-10 04:30 PM | Reply

--On 9/11 some people did some things.

For those who are wondering what that references, it's the odious Ilhan Omar.


#11 | Posted by nullifidian at 2019-04-10 04:48 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

I know it's low hanging fruit to take a run at Omar, but...

#12 | Posted by 101Chairborne at 2019-04-10 08:56 PM | Reply

#12 - But she deserves it and more...

#13 | Posted by hoser at 2019-04-11 12:04 PM | Reply


For only $79.95 you (yes, YOU) can purchase this amazing kit. You will receive: a MP4 recording of a 5 second sound-byte from a Rep. Omar speech, a blank sheet of paper and a MAGI-TIP pencil, allowing you to write in your own context and then, using our own patented MEGA-PHONY DISSEMINATION SOFTWARE, quickly spread it around conservative media outlets country-wide.

ACT NOW and you will also receive a free set of steak knives and a picture of Rep. Omar you can hang up on your favorite dartboard.


#14 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2019-04-11 03:01 PM | Reply

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