Last week I had the distinct pleasure of returning to Ft. Riley Kansas as an Honorary Member of the 16th Infantry Regiment for the change of command of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. As well, we, the members of the 16th Infantry Regiment Association, dedicated a memorial plaque at the 16th Infantry headquarters marking the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm.
It was just doggone humbling to stand there in the presence of today’s U.S. Army Soldiers, the men and women of America’s First Infantry Division, the Big Red One. As we looked out into the formation during the change of command, you saw nearly every one of those Soldiers with a right shoulder combat patch. That means they’d deployed to either the Iraq or Afghanistan combat theater of operations — perhaps both, and in multiple units.
There was such pride evident in their eyes and their comportment. And their pride transferred to those of us, their predecessors.
But as I sit here Monday evening writing this, there is a deep sadness in my heart, yet it steels my resolve. Here we are taking our US Army down to a manning level we haven’t seen since prior to World War II. Of course there are those who will say so what, well, look into the eyes of those Big Red One Soldiers and say that. What brings my sadness, actually more like calm anger, is a recent story from the Washington Times:
“The Army says soldiers can self-identify who they are and not face discrimination.The promise is contained in President Obama’s 2017 budget submission to Congress. In the Defense Department’s budget section on the Army, it states: “From the Secretary of the Army to the youngest private, the Army remains committed to ensuring the dignity and respect of Soldiers, civilians, and their families. A part of that respect is ensuring every Soldier and civilian has the opportunity to reach their highest potential. With the recent opening of all military occupations and positions to women, the Army will have access to a broader range of talent. The Army will provide every Soldier and civilian equal opportunities to rise to the level of their merit regardless of their gender, their race, or their self-identity.” The term “self-identity” was not contained in the sections on the other three military branches and was not found in the budgets for past years. Cynthia O. Smith, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, told The Washington Times: “Treating all soldiers with dignity and respect is not a change in policy, it is a core value. Moreover, the language in the budget report is wholly consistent with past Army statements.” Some observers say the term refers to transgender persons.”
The mission of the U.S. military is to fight and win our nation’s wars. The U.S. Army is designed to close with and destroy the enemy. The mission of the military is completely different from that of the civilian sector. The military takes individuals and conforms them to a unit; it is not based on what the individual desires and identifies. You become one thing: an American Soldier.
Now, thanks to the social egalitarians who don’t understand the concept of equality of opportunity, we now have the Obama administration determining equality of outcomes. This is a volunteer military force; it’s not about making the Army for everybody. However, the new American Socialist Party is without a doubt the party of the “Participation Trophy.” Everyone gets to play and participate. The focus is no longer about taking the field to win, but rather a guarantee of happiness for everyone.
You see, progressive socialism is based on a self-centered delusional emotion that needs to feel good about making everyone else feel good. So this decree, which is part of the U.S. Army budget, can make the current secretary of the Army and the Obama administration feel good about themselves because they are “allowing” a certain demographic group to self-identify and feel good.
The focus is not on the essential mission of the U.S. Army. The intent of the Obama administration has nothing to do with ensuring that we “provide for the common defense.” It’s about providing a happy moment, a safe space.
Last week when I sat there at the 1/16th Infantry change of command, I saw dignity and respect. I saw Soldiers singing the Big Red One and the Army song and leaders stating “I am a Big Red One Soldier.” That’s not some pride and dignity given of man; it is something earned, not a plastic participation trophy, but something intangible that comes from being part of something greater than yourself. That’s what it means to be an American Soldier. There’s only one thing as which a Soldier self-identifies…being an American Soldier. Sadly, in this day and time, the progressive socialists such as Barack Obama have no understanding of that quality.
When you pull up to our house here in Dallas, the flags fly, the American and the Army. Wherever I go, my “briefcase” is my old Army helmet bag, which has all my unit patches sewn on the front.
Real Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen don’t need some budget statement to determine how we “self-identify.” As the Marine Corps hymn states, “First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean, we have proudly earned the title of United States Marine.” Go up to any Marine and ask them how they “self-identify” and they’ll respond, Semper Fidelis, Devil Dog.
One of the inherent rights we have as Americans is that we all have the equality of opportunity to rise to our highest desired levels of achievement. It’s not something we look to anyone to “grant” us. We are endowed with this right not from man, but from our Creator.
The day cannot come soon enough for us to have civilian leadership in America that realizes they cannot grant dignity…it is earned; that the mission of the U.S. Military, my Army, isn’t to make folks feel good about themselves but rather enable them to “be all they can be” by challenging them and allowing them to join a long line of those who have served, sacrificed, and committed themselves to the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
I am “steadfast and loyal,” not because of a statement in the Army budget — but because I earned that as a Soldier…a Paratrooper, a Big Red One Trooper!