The Department of Gomer Pyle

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I was an average high school student. I had to attend summer school between my junior and senior years just to graduate with my class and even then, on graduation night, I wasn’t sure there’d be a diploma waiting for me. I was always more interested in playing ball and chasing girls. I was more successful at the former than the latter.

After graduation I did manage to earn an athletic scholarship to play baseball at a small Florida college but after two years of playing ball, and earning less than one year’s worth of college credit, I realized I was wasting my time as well as the college’s resources and decided I needed to do something else until I figured out what I wanted to do.

So, being the son of a 20-year retired Air Force Tech Sergeant, I joined the military. I spoke to all the branches and in the end it was the Navy that won me over for a six-year enlistment. They enticed me with visions of advanced electronics training, fantastic marketability in the civilian world and a chance to see the world. Remember the old Navy slogan: u201CIt’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.u201D Oh boy!

From the moment I arrived in Orlando, Florida for my basic training I realized what a joke it was. If you want to know what military basic training is like just watch any episode of Gomer Pyle, it’s exactly like that. Just as ridiculous.

The military always advertises that it wants the best and the brightest, but the first thing they do is try to break you down and then reprogram you. They want to reprogram you into a person that will follow orders without question; something tantamount to a frontal lobotomy that leaves subjects unable to think for themselves. Well then why do they need the best and the brightest if they are not meant to think for themselves? Given the chaos of battle, to strive to have a force that is not expected to think for themselves is not only ridiculous but dangerous as well yet the military, under the guise of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), regularly prosecutes soldiers who had the courage, intellect and wisdom to do what needed to be done in the field to preserve lives even though they weren’t told to do it. That’s called u201Cdisobeying a direct orderu201D from some arrogant, bonehead hundreds or thousands of miles away.

One is taught that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things and the military will teach you the right way. Anyone not doing things the right way then is to be looked upon with contempt and suspicion. The military teaches you how to micromanage life, as if they know how to do this, to the point that you find yourself counting brush strokes when you brush your teeth. Every move is to have purpose and be approved or else you will be prosecuted by the UCMJ.

The military, see, is a complete subculture within America. All soldiers are considered to be government property, no kidding, and there exist regulations in the UCMJ that can mean loss of pay, confinement, and even jail time if that government property is damaged somehow or if it doesn’t do what it is told to do. Again, even though the government says it wants the best and the brightest, if the sidewalks outside are icy during the winter soldiers are not allowed out for fear of them falling and injuring themselves. As ridiculous and asinine as that sounds it is fact; I lived it. So the broken logic is that we want the best to go fight in foreign lands and kill people and operate multi-million dollar equipment but we don’t trust them to walk down an icy sidewalk without hurting themselves like thousands of civilians do daily in the wintertime.

It’s an abusive subculture that demands abject subjectivity and a complete lack of reason, logic and intellect. The military trains people to be killers; puts those people in a war zone where at any moment, at any second their lives could be over and then prosecutes them if they don’t kill someone in accordance with the u201Crules of engagement.u201D That is to say: even though you are in a war zone there are rules to killing people and it doesn’t matter that a month earlier you were teaching 8th-grade history and your national guard unit got called to battle in Iraq. You need to pull that trigger and end another human life but only after that person clearly tries to kill you or else you can be prosecuted under the UCMJ for murder. I’ll let you marinate on that thought for a second.

I’ve never killed anyone but I don’t think you have to in order to imagine what that could do to a rational person’s psyche. I would imagine you would have to put yourself into a mental state that disassociates what you’ve always known to be reality and convince yourself that somehow what you are doing is right; that if you don’t kill that other guy, he will kill you, so you pull the trigger.

Then these poor souls come home and are expected to re-associate their minds with the reality of a civilized society because if they don’t then they will be prosecuted under the UCMJ for insubordination or worse: they might kill someone. The whole thing is a study in mind control conducted by the least-educated people in our society.

It still amazes me how parents brag about their children serving in the military in Afghanistan or Iraq. They talk about how some Arabs dropped planes on their heads on 9/11/01 so they are all for going over there and killing as many of those sons-a-bitches as possible and damn proud that their children are helping make the world a safer place. Who’s going to help the make the world a safer place from America?

Don Cooper [send him mail] is a Florida native, Navy veteran, economist, and editor of the daily non-partisan column Qaoss.com.

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