Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘military planning (not an oxymoron)’ Category

Bridges, Walls, and Transgender Rights

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This past week was a very frustrating one in many senses, folks.

First, we had the “announcement” of a transgender ban from military service by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, via a Tweet. (Something the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no idea was coming, much less the ordinary rank and file.)

Next, we had utter chaos at the White House as one of the new staffers (a guy I won’t name) decided to go on a profane rant. And rather than be fired, as anyone else would’ve been from any job anywhere, this particular new staffer was more or less praised by the President. (Or at least excused by him.)

Look. I believe in building bridges, not walls. I think we need to learn more about each other, in order to become more compassionate, much less wiser, people. And trying to understand the other person’s point of view is essential, or you can’t get anything done in that regard.

But I don’t understand the President’s point of view at all, here.

Donald Trump, in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, talked about how he was for LGBTQ rights. And the T in that stands for “transgender.”

Granted, if you had to ask me to ask one person whether the sun was rising in the East and setting in the West, I would pick anyone instead of Donald Trump. (I might even pick my dog, Trouble. He’d not be able to answer me, but at least he’d look cute.)

Still. Since transgender soldiers were allowed to serve openly in the military, they’ve done a fine job. No one’s seemed to have any trouble with them. They’re soldiers, like anyone else. They do their jobs, like anyone else. And no one’s ever questioned the fact that the United States military contains some of the best trained fighters ever seen.

(And make no mistake about it: I fully expected this to be the case. A trans person is a person like anyone else. And trans soldiers want to serve their country like anyone else does, too; give them credit for that fact, Mr. President. Please?)

I would’ve rather seen a bridge built here, rather than the wall of Donald Trump’s Tweet. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to the transgender soldier retired from Seal Team Six, who could’ve given Mr. Trump a very solid education on the entire subject. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to any soldiers, including Senators Lindsay Graham and Joni Ernst, who would’ve told him that soldiers of any persuasion, creed, color, sexuality or gender preference are worthy of care and will do the professional, thorough job that soldiers of the U.S. military are known for.

I tried to say that myself on my little-used Twitter account, but I was immediately given short shrift by a few of Mr. Trump’s more rabid followers. They believe that Mr. Trump was right to do this, because supposedly being trans is a “mental disease.” Or that it really is too expensive to give trans soldiers the care they need, which is absurd considering the immense amount of the military’s budget. (Supposedly, the military spends more on Viagra for male soldiers’ impotence than they do on the care for their trans soldiers. I wouldn’t doubt that for a minute.)

I know, myself, that as a writer and as a human being, I want to know more about people who feel marginalized and misunderstood in order to give them hope that someday, they will feel completely accepted and fully understood. That’s why I wrote my book, CHANGING FACES, and it’s why I believe firmly that we need to build a bridge to the trans community, and learn more from them, rather than exclude them out of hand as if they don’t matter — or worse, pretend that they don’t exist.

The Deity must have a reason for people coming in all sorts, shapes, creeds, sexes, genders, and yes, even differing political philosophies like Mr. Trump’s. But I don’t understand why anyone needs to be obnoxious in spreading his or her own political philosophy, especially if he hasn’t studied the subject at all, as it appears Mr. Trump has not.

For someone who said he was for LGBTQ rights, Mr. Trump had a horrible week.

But the trans soldiers had a worse one. Because they realized, perhaps for the first time, that this President does not have their back. And that is a very sad, even shameful, thing.

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The Importance of Military and Strategic Planning

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Folks, I’ve been reading SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS by Andrew F. Krepinevich this week, and it’s a reminder that we need strategic and military planning as a country.  This is an especially timely reminder because we have three wars currently going on — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Libya — and if we don’t use our fighting forces wisely, we may as well kiss them good bye and save steps.

What Krepinevich does by postulating seven scenarios that could incapacitate the US of A (one being a pandemic, another the global collapse of the economy, the third an unexpected attack by China, and four others), military planners need to do in order to try to plan for the inevitable.  Planning exists for a reason; if we refuse to plan, we run the risk of having completely and totally unanticipated things happen.  Military “futurists” (as Krepinevich describes himself) try to anticipate things well in advance as best they can, then hope someone will learn from their scenarios so if these horrible things happen, we as a country won’t be caught flat-footed.

The most chilling things I learned from SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS are historical, however; from the introduction, I found out that military exercises in 1932 — yes, 1932! — showed the vulnerability of the United States at Pearl Harbor, yet the only thing the “games arbiter” did was to say that what the opposing forces in the war games did was “out of bounds” because they came in on Sunday, before dawn, and did something unprecedented. 

Let me say this again.  Everyone said when Pearl Harbor was hit, “How could this happen?  Why would anyone do this?  Especially in this way?  We didn’t see it coming!”  Yet the United States did have warning.  Their own people, at least a few of ’em, saw vulnerability in advance and yet they weren’t heeded.

Astonishing.

Then, in another historical incident, the German panzer battalions showed how quickly they could advance on a country or nation during war games exercises in 1937 — yet France did not pay enough attention (didn’t realize the blitzkrieg was coming for ’em) and felt in 1940 that they’d have many months to resist Hitler.  And were wrong, because as we all now know, France fell after only six weeks, then were under Hitler’s domination until the end of the war in 1945.

And finally, Lieutenant General (retired) Paul van Riper, in what was called the “Millenium Challenge,” found ways to exploit the vulnerability of our current high-tech military forces but was ignored — once again, the war games “arbiters” ruled what van Riper was doing was “out of bounds” and the rules were changed so the current high-tech military could win the Millenium Challenge for themselves.  And the lessons van Riper was trying to teach as commander of the “Red” (basically, he was aping the military capacity of Third World, mostly-Muslim countries, proving that low-tech does not equal stupid) were once again blown off.

Look.  I would prefer we didn’t have wars, much less three at once.  But since we do have wars, and it looks like we’ll always have a need for fighting men and women, we’d best start learning how to use our people effectively and learn from things like the Millenium Challenge rather than finding a way to make the current crop of military commanders feel good about their current forces — especially as I thought “self esteem” was not something military commanders were supposed to concern themselves with (most especially not their own self-esteem, such as when they rig war games to provide an outcome favorable for themselves as was most certainly explicated by anecdotal evidence by Krepinevich).

These SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS are scary, especially as there’s no conclusion to them — Krepinevich lays the stuff out there, then it just ends, almost as if the reader is placed into the Oval Office and must, for one moment, realize the burdens placed upon the Commander-in-Chief.  And they’re even scarier when you realize these scenarios must already be known or Krepinevich wouldn’t be talking about ’em; the ones that have been kept private must be even worse, and that is truly appalling indeed.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm