Hillary Clinton

But There's No Danger/ It's A Professional Career

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Matthew Yglesias:

I see that Rudy Giuliani is joining Barack Obama, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton in calling for a larger Army. One can't help but wonder where these troops are supposed to be conjured up from.

Look, they're obviously not going to come from the ranks of the Atlantic Monthly. But Giuliani went into this last night. His theory is that we can expand the size of the army because potential recruits are nowhere near as gloomy about the military as they were in the 1970s and 1980s, when we had a much larger army. From his speech:

The war is not controversial at West Point or the Air Force Academy or the Naval Academy. In fact, their applications are up. They told me at the Citadel that they now get a significantly higher percentage of men and women volunteering in the infantry, because they want to be where the action is. … Even the critics of this president would have to admit that whatever the reaction to this situation is, it is not nearly at the intensity of the reaction to the Vietnam War. I hope they would say that, given the level of protests and demonstrations and we don't have soldiers coming back with the lack of morale. Even after the Vietnam War we were able to build that army of 775,000 that we had in the Reagan era. If we could do it then, we could do it now.

Spot the flaw? That's right: in the Reagan era we weren't at war. Grunts who signed up after 1975 and before 1991 figured knew* they would be spending their tours in relatively cushy bases in Western Europe, in Hawaii, in Japan, etc and etc. Giuliani seems to understand this, since he salutes that small population of 18-25 year olds who want to plunge into the suck. There aren't anywhere near enough people like that to build the army back up to Cold War levels.

Also, as Yglesias points out, high school graduates were confronting far darker economic times in the first seven, eight years of the period Giuliani is discussing.

*changed this word on the advice of commenters

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  1. Prepare, folks. Conscription cometh.

  2. FARLEY: Mr. President, since we continue to police the world, how do you intend to maintain our military presence without reinstituting a draft?

    BUSH: Yes, that’s a great question. Thanks.

    I hear there’s rumors on the Internets (sic) that we’re going to have a draft. We’re not going to have a draft, period.

    Second 2004 Presidential Debate Transcript

  3. One can’t help but wonder where these troops are supposed to be conjured up from.

    Perhaps Sam Raimi can help out with this one.

  4. This is the sort of thing that makes my head explode. Where does he get the brass to say these thing in public. And now that he’s said them, why don’t people spit on him wherever he goes?

    It’s not hard to fill the ranks during wartime, IF it’s a popular war. The prosecution of the Iraq war has come at the expense of very shabby treatment of our troops. Very few are signing up to get in. Even more telling is, record numbers are trying to get out.

    The ‘support our troop = support the war’ paradigm, is a national shame.

  5. The Army National Guard has already reached its peak authorized size. It’s about four to five months ahead of schedule on that recruiting goal. I wouldn’t say that there is a problem getting people to join the military now, since many people know that ANG units are frequently called up for places like Iraq.

    If there is anything that is making the military less attractive, it is the way it’s being managed. A lot of the personnel issues, such as straining families by repeat deployments, would have been avoided by a more assertive president who would have made the hard choices like ordering our military to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah.

  6. Also, as Yglesias points out, high school graduates were confronting far darker economic times in the first seven, eight years of the period Giuliani is discussing.

    Don’t worry, with Rudy at the helm the dark economic days won’t be far off, which will be good news for armed services recruitment.

  7. crimethink,
    You think that’s funny?

  8. . . . like ordering our military to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah.

    That would have been a remarkable feat, since Sadr was in Najaf at the time.

  9. MikeT, you need to get either your sects or your locations fixed. Fallujah is Sunni. Sadr was in Najaf.

    So you are a ‘more rubble, less trouble’ sort of guy? So a military that kills ’em all and lets God sort ’em out’ would make the military more appealing? Lack of assertiveness has not been the problem with our joke in the White House.

  10. a more assertive president who would have made the hard choices like ordering our military to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah.

    Perhaps. With Rudy, we’d at least be reasonably certain the Abu Ghraib prisoners would have broomsticks up their rectums.

  11. “A lot of the personnel issues, such as straining families by repeat deployments, would have been avoided by a more assertive president who would have made the hard choices like ordering our military to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah.”

    Yeah, that’s it. A more ruthless and violent president and American military presence in Iraq would get everyone on our side there. We only destroyed 60 of the city’s 200 mosques, deployed white phosphorus munitions against residents, and watched video of the murder of an unarmed Iraqi insurgent disseminated worldwide.

    And, ofcourse, you are incorrect about al-Sadr and “his fighters,” since Fallujah was (and is) a Sunni stronghold where al-Zarqawi and HIS “fighters” were suspected of holing up. Of course they left before the fight, if they were ever even there.

    But a more ruthless president sure would have used nuclear weapons against the inhabitants of the city (I mean, where do you go from WP munitions?), and THAT would make thing now all better, right?

  12. It could be arragnged, with just a word in Mr. Churchill’s ear.

    If you’re out of luck, or out of work, we could send you to Johannesburg.

  13. Thanks for the Elvis Costello reference – it made my day.

  14. Since “the coalition” is getting smaller and smaller, it’ll be harder to scrape together enough forces to man all the missions Bush has committed to, especially when the boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne go home.

    Kevin

  15. A lot of the personnel issues, such as straining families by repeat deployments, would have been avoided by a more assertive president who would have made the hard choices like ordering our military to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah.

    Or if we had a president (or politicians) who had the balls to cut our losses before it’s too late. The cost/benefit ratio of keeping our troops in Iraq has long since tipped towards “cost.” Now the Republicans are just trying to score cheap political points with the lives of our soldiers. Whether or not those soldiers are willingly in Iraq is neither here nor there; it’s not their decision. Even if the war is popular among the troops, they need to come home. There are more important things for them to be doing than trying to manage an unmanageable situation. But no – Bush and his Republican (and Democrat) enablers in Congress keep our troops there, breaking the contract with them that they will only be used when it’s in our national interest to do so. You wanna talk about balls – try doing the right thing, even if it loses you the support of your electoral base.

  16. “””Grunts who signed up after 1975 and before 1991 knew they would be spending their tours in relatively cushy bases in Western Europe, in Hawaii, in Japan, etc and etc.””””

    I guess that would be correct for “wars”. But what about Beruit, Somilia, and such?

    “””since many people know that ANG units are frequently called up for places like Iraq.”””

    True, at face value. But that changes when they tell you “forget the aircraft, here’s a rifle your riding shotgun in an 18 wheeler.” The military is pulling a fair amount of non-combat, non-security people to do security roles. The Air Force and Navy are complaining some. My friends kid is a fire-control tech on a Sub. They are sending him to Iraq to do security. The kid is not happy and he, currently, is considering not re-upping. He said he enlisted into the Navy to do Navy work. I think that goes to mis-management.

    “””to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah”””

    I don’t think Al-Sadr’s crew was part of that. That was a battle against Sunni insurgence not Shias, and if you remember, we beat Fallujah at least twice. The problem with Falluljah was not having enough troops to hold the ground you take. When we left the fighters returned. That goes to the mis-management issue.

    I would imagine that many of the fighters in baghdad left. Bush gave them about 5 months advance notice that we were coming.

    Repeated deployment’s wouldn’t be too bad if you have enough time in between. Certainly 12 months there, 6 months here, repeated, is demoralizing. But few thing are more demoralizing than thinking your doing x amount of months and when your close to going home, you get extended another 3 months. That sucks. But they are pros, and will suck it up, and deal with it. But, too much sucking and you will not reenlist.

    Bottom line, if you enlist in the military, expect to fight.

  17. How does Weigel “know” that grunts from 1975 – 1991 “knew” that their military deployment would be “cushy”? Wow! Spot THAT flaw???

    Also, does Weigel remember this thing from 1946 – 1989 that we called the “Cold War”? And how we were always preparing for it, and how it could happen any day? How many grunts during that time period, do you figure, probably thought they would be vaporized by Soviet nuclear weapons? One, maybe two? geez.

  18. One can’t help but wonder where these troops are supposed to be conjured up from

    Draft Weigel Not Beer

  19. How many grunts during that time period, do you figure, probably thought they would be vaporized by Soviet nuclear weapons? One, maybe two? geez.

    Mainly the paranoid ones. My father was career military, retiring just before the end of the cold war, and neither he nor any of his friends or colleagues showed the slightest bit of concern over the fact that we lived in what the Soviets would have considered one of the most attractive nuclear targets in the world–one bomb going off in the right part of my neighborhood would have wiped out a sizable chunk of the Navy, Air Force and Army.

    How does Weigel “know” that grunts from 1975 – 1991 “knew” that their military deployment would be “cushy”?

    Excellent point. Weigel should have written “grunts from 1975-1991 expected their military deployment would be cushy.”

  20. “Thought” would also have been an aceptable word. Or “believed.”

  21. Also: predicted, hypothesized, concluded, considered, counted upon, postulated, presupposed, assumed or presumed.

    But NOT KNEW.

  22. “Hoped” is probably the best word, though.

    “Hoped in vain” would be the most accurate. I doubt any of us would regard any enlisted man’s living conditions in any army base as “cushy.”

  23. Actually, I doubt a grunt would have “postulated” anything. Kudos to Weigel for not having said that.

    By the way, I am fully aware that “acceptable” should contain two “C”s.

  24. “Hoped” is probably the best word, though.

    Actually, in the context of Weigel’s sentence it should have been “hoped, perhaps in vain, although their hopes for a cushy deployment then were far more realistic than similar hopes would be now.”

  25. Huh?!?!

    Look, aside from the question to if we should have a bigger army, (my vote is no) it is easy to make it bigger…offer more pay and they will come.

    Pretty damn simple.

  26. “The war is not controversial at West Point or the Air Force Academy or the Naval Academy.” Bullshit.

    “In fact, their applications are up.” Does not follow.

    Other than that, Mr. Mayor, great speech.

  27. Any serious proposal to increase the size of the Army recognizes that it will be accompanied by a reduction in the sizes of the Air Force and/or Navy. We have how many destroyers? 300? We’re building how many nuclear attack subs?

    In terms of personnel, such a shift wouldn’t produce a 1:1 ratio of positions cut:positions added, but it would produce some. Some segment of potential Navy and Air Force recruits would end up going to the Army instead. So there’s part of the answer.

  28. Thanks, Jennifer. Bang up job. But how do you know even that?

    Predicting the motives of people from a certain time period based on information they weren’t privy to at the time is one heck of a weak way to make an argument. Perhaps if he had evidence to back it up, like an exhaustive history titled: The U.S. Army in the 1970s and 80s: Better Than the Teamsters.

    I would guess that the reason grunts joined the military back then didn’t change much from other times: an unruly mix of immature patriotism, desire to prove oneself, a perhaps misguided sense of adventure, a desire to belong, etc.

    Certainly not the expectation that there would be no conflict, because if you disregard the Cold War looming over everyone’s shoulders, there were things like the Iran hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Grenada, Beirut, and the Gulf War–all seemed to pop up every few years–which involved at least military posturing, if not deployment to a combat zone. Maybe they thought things would be cushy if they joined the Air Force, but not the Army.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but the Army assigns soldiers to units, they don’t get to choose, so I guess a grunt would be pretty dumb to think he was guaranteed a cushy desk job pushing paper, don’t you think?

    This is in no way disproved by the fact that some soldiers during this time period did actually have very cushy deployments, which I don’t doubt for a second. But that has always been the case, even during wartime.

  29. I served in the USN in 85-88, Mostly on board a sub-tender stationed in the Mediterranean. There were cushier places to be, but I gotta say, it was pretty soft.

    I was in Barcelona about a month before the USO was bombed (a real pity too, as that was the best USO I’ve ever been to. Cold cuts laid out at two in the morning!) and I saw the USS Stark after they patched her up. But that was as close as I came to hostile action. I was never afraid of war while I was on active duty, I was only afraid of the galacticly stupid people in charge of me.

    Now two years later when I was in the reserves, and they were calling up folks for the Gulf War, that put the squeeze on my sphincter. But while all around me folks were getting tapped, I skated once again. I’m very happy about that.

  30. 5:09 p.m.: How many grunts during that time period, do you figure, probably thought they would be vaporized by Soviet nuclear weapons?

    5:40 p.m.: Predicting the motives of people from a certain time period based on information they weren’t privy to at the time is one heck of a weak way to make an argument. Perhaps if he had evidence to back it up, like an exhaustive history titled: The U.S. Army in the 1970s and 80s: Better Than the Teamsters.

    I look forward to the evidence you have to back up your prior claim, like an exhaustive history titled “The U.S. Army Nuclear Fears in the 1970s and 80s: Oh Shit We’re Gonna Be Vaporized.”

  31. Jennifer: Which of the following statements is more true?

    a) No one feared nuclear destruction in the years 1946 – 1989 because it never happened.

    b) Many people thought nuclear war possible and feared it during the years 1946 – 1989 due to the constant nuclear brinkmanship played out by the USSR and the USA.

    We are speculating as to what soldiers and others thought during that time period. It is perfectly valid to speculate that things happening at the time impacted people’s thoughts and actions.

    Wiegel is saying that soldiers from 1975 – 1991 were more likely to join the Army becuase they would never be deployed to a combat zone.

    He bases his assertion on the fact that the Army fought no major wars during that time period…but how could they know that? They couldn’t, quite simply; and further, all evidence available during that time period would point to an opposite assumption — that they would be deployed, if not to a tropical backwater guerrilla war, then to the Fulda Gap to stop Soviet tanks.

  32. ike ordering our military to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah.

    What does Muqtada have to do with Fallujah? Don’t you mean Najaf? I guess the president is not the only one who does not know shit about Iraq.

  33. Wiegel is saying that soldiers from 1975 – 1991 were more likely to join the Army becuase they would never be deployed to a combat zone.

    Have you ever considered the very real possibility that you’re being excessively pedantic? In context, Weigel’s “knew” struck me as in comparison to nowadays: today there’s a damn good chance the Army will send you to Iraq, whereas back then they knew they’d be likely to get a cushy gig. If you seriously think Weigel was claiming for himself an ability to read soldiers’ minds, or claiming “every soldier in the Army had perfect assurance that nothing bad would happen,” you need far more help than a thesaurus can provide.

    By the way, the only reason I’m even having this inane argument is because I have to kill time in the office before going to a meeting tonight.

  34. a more assertive president . . . would have made the hard choices like ordering our military to unapologetically kill Muqtada Al-Sadr and his fighters at the battle of Fallujah

    A more assertive president in 1942 would have made the hard choices like ordering our military to unapologetically kill Hitler and his SS at Guadalcanal . . .

  35. Jennifer:

    Normally Wiegel writes better posts than that. His only evidence still relies on “figured.” There appears to be anecdotal and statistical evidence that alot of junior officers and NCOs are leaving the Army now…but that could be due to micromanagement from the top just as much as disillusion with Iraq (and the two could be closely linked as well). Are they being replaced? Where is the evidence for or against that? I expect better from Wiegel, and you should too.

    In any case, I am stuck at the office as well.

    P.S. a cool person does not have a blog with “genius” in the title…even if it happens to be true.

  36. A more assertive President would have travelled back through time to ice Muqtada Al-Sadr’s mom. I think her maiden name was Sarah Conner.

    Or maybe he would have invented Rock ‘n’ Roll so that weird fucker from River’s Edge and that almost pretty girl from All the Right Moves could get it on.

  37. Normally Wiegel writes better posts than that. His only evidence still relies on “figured.”

    Yeah, because it would be a hell of a stretch for anybody to think that Army guys in the 70s and 80s were more likely than modern ones to expect they’d avoid being sent to a war zone. Really.

  38. C’mon, it’s Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick ’em up, we zip right out again. We’re not going to Moscow. It’s Czechoslovakia. It’s like we’re going into *Wisconsin*.

  39. Uh… you guys are too young to remember the “hot years” of the Cold War, but… the fear of being “vaporized by Soviet nuclear weapons” wouldn’t keep someone out of the service… we ALL figured we’d be “vaporized by Soviet nuclear weapons”, whether in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, or at the freakin’ mall sipping a soda.

    CB
    (Opposed to expanding the military. In favor of keeping only a bare minimum “standing Army” and letting, uh, technology take care of true threats to our sovereignty.)

  40. I never thought I’d say this non-sarcastically, but: hooray! It’s time for me to go to the town council meeting! Whoo hoo! Coun-CIL! Coun-CIL! Coun-CIL!

  41. de stijl | May 8, 2007, 6:35pm | #

    C’mon, it’s Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick ’em up, we zip right out again. We’re not going to Moscow. It’s Czechoslovakia. It’s like we’re going into *Wisconsin*.

    I had friends who deployed to panama and to the gulf who thought when they signed up that they’d be going to germany or okinawa or whatever to get drunk and get laid and train up. Not that they were terribly surprised that shit popped off. But panama wasnt wisconsin. yeah, WE didnt lose many/any guys, but the descriptions i’d gotten from the people there was that it was mad ugly in the streets that day. Lots of withering fire from spectres into residential areas. Some friendly fire. Some accidents. Just your typical miltary clusterfuck.

    Anyway, neither here nor there. Just saying that most soldiers actually join HOPING to get into the shit. Then they do, and they want the fuck out. Shouldnt be surprising. Was the same for my dad, who joined HOPING to go to nam, and pissed he never fired his weapon. Those who did I’ve talked to, learned that moment that it wasnt exactly the same as what they’d been hoping for, per se.

    JG

  42. You can thank Jimmy Carter for draft registration. I’d expect Missus Clinton or Obama to push for one of those “progressive” conscription plans where youth can choose between
    the military or political cadres.

  43. I started college just as the draft was winding down. My birth year got the last draft cards. A lottery was held, but nobody was sent a “Greetings” letter. The whole system was in stand-by mode, and registration ended the following year.

    From talking to some ROTC members I was friendly with, I gleaned that the fact that the U.S.’s participation in the shooting war in Indochina was over figured into considerations of some of the students’ decisions to sign up. I have brothers who graduated high school in the late 60s. Some of their friends discussed various strategies to game the draft. Enlisting in a Guard or Reserve unit unlikely to get called up, or in the Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard were ways to avoid the infantry. As we all learned from the contretemps over G.W. Bush’s Vietnam-era service, getting into a slot like that wasn’t always possible without some clout.

    Before the draft ended, my friends and I discussed whether attending college on a military scholarship (academy or ROTC) with its concommitant 5-year commitment would be a good deal. On the one hand, once Nixon’s “Vietnamization” plan was underway it was a safe bet that after four years of school tramping around a rice paddy wouldn’t be your likely assignment, you would avoid taking on debt, and you’d at least have a job awaiting you after graduation. On the other hand, if you didn’t want to be career military you’d be five years behind your classmates who went on to law, medical or graduate school, even officers got paid crap back then, and we were pretty sure that hot chicks didn’t go for soldier boys. Pilots, aviators and astronauts made out, sure, but junior officers in unglamourous billets? Not so much. Also, just because we were finishing up in SE Asia didn’t mean that we trusted our politicians not to find some other strategic hellhole that would require U.S. “advisors” to resist the inevitable spread of international socialist brotherhood. We did manage to get into some Cold War proxy-fights in southern Afica, Central America and Afghanistan, and prior to Watergate breaking I would have never predicted that the Congress would have hobbled an American president who wanted to get mixed up in those, nor that we’d have a Commander-In-Chief averse to interventionism. Even Carter was roused to do something about Afghanistan, and eventually mounted a military attempt to solve the Iranian hostage crisis.

    As for being a nuclear target, I’m with Cracker’s Boy. I spent most of my first two decades within commuting distance of Times Square. We always figured that, given the MAD doctrine, if a Soviet nuclear strike on New York City didn’t kill us outright, the resulting firestorm and fallout would get us for sure. Actual strategic sites were located on Long Island – Brookhaven National Lab, Grumman’s Bethpage facility, the joint Navy/Grumman Calveron site, and Republic Aviation at Farmingdale. There were also Nike missile sites at Lido Beach, Lloyd Harbor and Rocky Point and some transatlantic radio installations that might get taken out. So, whether the Reds wanted to take out our warfighting capabilities or just murder millions of civilians, we’d be toast either way. Serving on an overseas base or aboard a ship might have been safer when the balloon went up.

    Kevin

  44. Grunts who signed up after 1975 and before 1991 figured knew* they would be spending their tours in relatively cushy bases in Western Europe, in Hawaii, in Japan, etc and etc. Giuliani seems to understand this, since he salutes that small population of 18-25 year olds who want to plunge into the suck. There aren’t anywhere near enough people like that to build the army back up to Cold War levels.

    Let’s see here . . .

    Okay, you heard about the Cold War someplace. Maybe you were not aware that the ground portion would be fought mostly in “relatively cushy bases in Western Europe”? That would be the Germany part of europe.

    Shortly after I enlisted in 1979 we had that pesky little Iran thing, where most of us thought your pacifist golden boy James Earl Carter III would actually go to war with Iran, rather than sub-authorize a bothched rescue mission and expell any Iranian student without a connection out of the US.

    Oh, little side note, we were just coming off of the 1960s/1970s hippy-freak era then when the general mood toward the military was worse than you, Radley and Nick combined, i.e., one had to be a social radical to participate in the military.

  45. ace wrote: “a) No one feared nuclear destruction in the years 1946 – 1989 because it never happened.”

    Um, everyone feared it, to some extent. Why would military people be particularly fearful of nuclear death, when they’d have plenty of civilian company. Millions, I expect. Nukes ain’t particular, and any exchange would be extensive.

    If anything, being in the military ought to have contributed to feeling *less* stress over WW3, due to being involved in even a small way. (Apart from, perhaps, the relatively small number of guys locked into the actual silos who might freak out at the prospect of launching the warheads and killing millions of people.)

  46. ” Maybe you were not aware that the ground portion would be fought mostly in “relatively cushy bases in Western Europe”? That would be the Germany part of europe.”

    You mean Germany, the place where our troops were safe enough to bring their wives and kids?

  47. Oh, little side note, we were just coming off of the 1960s/1970s hippy-freak era then when the general mood toward the military was worse than you, Radley and Nick combined, i.e., one had to be a social radical to participate in the military.

    I remember being home on boot leave from the Navy in ’69. I walked up to the local convenience store to get some smokes and a magazine to read and I was wearing civies – just jeans and a T-shirt. When I went to the counter to pay for my purchase the jerk cashier asked me to raise my shirt tail. Seems he had been ‘jacked a few times in the past and wanted to make sure I wasn’t packing heat. I guess the buzz haircut I was sporting (during a time of long-hair hippies, etc.) made him think I had just been released from the joint. Yeah, the general civilian population used to treat us real nice in those days; no wonder the government needed a god damned draft. I hope I never see one again.

  48. Jon-

    “You mean Germany, the place where our troops were safe enough to bring their wives and kids?”

    Durunbg the Cold War, the main reason ANY dependents were allowed over was primarily as a tripwire. No one with any experience or knowledge of how the Russians and their allies fought a war had any illusions about their willingness (or for that matter, their ability) to avoid bombing base housing or anywhere else our families might have been. I’d also point out that the only way to get them home if things went south was by air – and if they were USAF transports, they were legitimate targets. As most civilian flights would have been grounded, that would have been one hell of a choice – risk them getting shot down or take your chances with the Soviets, who were of course so very gentle in captured territory.
    Jon, let me know where and when you served, okay?

    Mike Kozlowski
    USAF 78-98

  49. Mike writes: “Durunbg the Cold War, the main reason ANY dependents were allowed over was primarily as a tripwire. No one with any experience or knowledge of how the Russians and their allies fought a war had any illusions about their willingness (or for that matter, their ability) to avoid bombing base housing or anywhere else our families might have been.”

    Are you saying the dependents were human shields?

    I doubt it. Having the kids and spouses there adds zero to the ‘tripwire’ factor inherent in having a large number of troops there. The reason the dependents were there was because the deployments in Europe were long-term deployments in *safe* areas. That’s all.

    Your analysis of the difficulties of evacuating dependents is frankly silly. The odds of a Soviet land invasion of Western Europe taking place without rapidly escalating to a nuclear exchange were, frankly, quite slim. That’s why it never came close to occurring

    In the event of a nuclear exchange, evacuation of families would be less of an issue than designing the monument to be placed at the site of the former base, or as close as it would be possible to approach without getting a fatal dose of radiation.

    The simple fact is that Europe was a safe place to be. If things went bad with the USSR, they’d go REALLY bad, but that would be a global problem and nothing specific to Germany.

  50. Jon –

    “Your analysis of the difficulties of evacuating dependents is frankly silly.”

    With respect, Sir, it is not. I participated in several dependent evacuation exercises during my time in and I can assure you that unless someone had the money and foresight to get out while the civilian aircraft were still moving, the only way they were getting out was by military or military chartered aircraft returning to the states. And as those aircraft went down for maintenance or were lost in combat, the number of dependents who could get out would decrease dramatically. Airfields of all kinds would also have been under constant attack by Soviet aircraft whose accuracy was far less than ours.
    As far as nuclear escalation, we were prepared for it – but Soviet doctrine (and observed Soviet training)called for capture/destruction/neutralization of nuclear command-control systems and weapons in the opening moments of a war using conventional weapons and soldiers, and I assure you the Soviets were quite capable of doing it. (Not to mention the very real possibility that collapsing Allies wouldn’t LET us use the damned things, as we had to have their permission, and on at least two occasions I know of Allied troops refused to allow US personnel to get to the weapons during exercises. I shudder to think what might have happened if they thought that preventing access would have saved their nation.) the Soviets also had no intention of opening with nuclear weapons – why conquer a radioactive graveyard? They were relying on being able to overrun German, Belgian, and Dutch cities fast enough that if we used nuclear weapons it would be on population centers full of our former Allies – and through a good chunk of the Cold War, there was a fair chance that we wouldn’t.
    Were families intentionally placed there as human shields? No. Did the fact that the media might be able to show dead women and children at Soviet hands ever play into our planning? You betcha. Most of Europe was a safe place to be, but the < 1% that served as military installations was one big bullseye.

    Mike

  51. Another: ” Maybe you were not aware that the ground portion would be fought mostly in “relatively cushy bases in Western Europe”? That would be the Germany part of europe.”

    Jon H: “You mean Germany, the place where our troops were safe enough to bring their wives and kids?”

    Except for the infuriating dishonesty of it all, it’d have been hilarious to hear people comparing 50 years of garrison duty in Germany to waging war in Iraq.

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