Many people on my book tour asked, “Do you feel like you made a difference?” Ironically, I completed my book tour today on Veterans Day. I’ve lived out of an airport for three months, touring, speaking, and engaging Americans through Ohio, Kentucky, NC, Tenn, Florida, Texas, DC, Cali, and Vegas.
General Berger this month published an editorial in the US Naval Institute about his concerns with the American people’s degrading trust in military officers. He states, “Of all the factors affecting young Americans’ propensity to serve, the most alarming is the steady decline of public trust and confidence in the military.” He referenced a Gallup poll illustrating Americans’ trust in the military at the lowest levels recorded since the poll began in 2001. General Berger begrudgingly acknowledged the Afghanistan evacuation as a leading factor.
Concurrently, General Milley this month quietly discussed with his staff the need to address accountability at the senior military level in 2023. Watch for these initiatives next year.
Yet despite these small concessions, it still feels like decorum, rules, and etiquette are referenced more often by “military professionals” than the fallacy of blind obedience within a failing system.
And blind staff officers aren’t the only ones to blame. Exacerbating the problem are popular combat veteran politicians hiding behind resumes of past combat experiences. Why should these veteran politicians challenge the failing system if their past experiences protect against scrutiny? There is much to risk in challenging the same system to validate their fame.
While the active military population remains crippled by fear, obedience, and poor leadership, the veteran community fixates on problems perpetuating the status quo; Retired senior officers remain focused on force design discussions, even though tactical composition has never been the source of wartime failure; Mid-ranking veterans argue about the threshold required for the “combat veteran” moniker, oblivious to how their infighting marginalizes reform; and junior service members remain frustrated by their treatment, without a deeper understanding on how to fix the system.
Happy Veterans day to all who have served. I love you all, even if we disagree. I’m not perfect, just like all of you. But… I’m brave enough to engage anyone who disagrees with me in conversation. I challenge all of you to do the same.
Link at the bottom is my last speech of the book tour in Lexington, KY. It summarizes some of my thoughts in 45 mins if you have the time.
This was written on November 11, 2022, and published on facebook.com/stuartscheller