I do not want to judge my brothers and sister in uniformed service but I discern a tendency in some to think that the average military member is predisposed to be sympathetic to our movement. This is similar to the assumption that the military is an overwhelming voting bloc for GOP candidates.
In the service, we have cliques and communities. We are truly a sub-culture. I even did a college sociological paper on the military as a separate culture years ago. There are divides such as between combat arms and support in the Army or operations (attached to the aircraft) and mission support in the USAF. There are divides between regular forces, reserves, and National Guard. There are divided between officers and enlisted. There are enlisted divides between junior enlisted, junior NCO’s, staff level NCO’s and Senior NCO’s. These are all important dynamics and many a fight has broken out for interservice rivalries or even intraservice rivalries. (Mix USAF cops and engineers together and stand back if you do not believe me)
The prepping mentality in the military falls along distinct lines, I believe. There are the older, more mature E-5′s and 6′s and the not so political senior NCO’s who have gotten to their positions largely by merit and have some life experience to lend weight to their views. These might be the crusty archetypal sergeants of veterans’ memories and Hollywood. These types are more cynical and know that a degree of preparation and distrust of the system will allow them and their troops to fare better. Many senior NCO’s in the post-Reagan DOD are politicians and they enforce the party line and as such are “company men.” To openly, or even tacitly agree to anything other than the service and government will come through outside of their circle is anathema, and it should be for the good of the service.
The commissioned ranks are changing. They are still overwhelmingly company men who tout the mantras of the day, out of necessity but they believe them, too. The fact that we went almost 30 years and allowed 3 intervening generations of officers to set the culture, between major conflicts is very evident. The fact that McNamara, who shares the same disdain that I hold for Rumsfeld, did away with career field grades has hurt us, IMO. However, as an NCO who interacts with officers, I see some changes happening. More officers are of a libertarian bias than I have ever noticed and that gives me hope. Perhaps the last decade is producing some better officers. Time will tell. These officers will be less likely to blindly toe the company line, though it must be noted that they are still a distinct minority.
Finally we get to the crux of the problem. Junior enlisted. While many more are of a libertarian mindset than 20 years ago, the vast majority of them are the product the most entitled generation in US history. They grew up with government entitlements being the norm and not a social stigma. They grew up with video games and not books in their hand. They eschew education to sound like they came up in some urban gang. They grew up and volunteered to serve so there is some hope, but they have served in the most entitled and well paid military culture in the world’s history. They have served in frankly some of the safest, statistically, conflicts in our history and went to war with contractors who fed them, housed them, and even did their laundry and picked up their trash for them. They have been taken care of by government programs from cradle to desert and back. They have little reason to question the government’s beneficence.
So, when trying to convert my fellow veterans, keep in mind what their experiences and mindset might have done to their belief systems and their likelihood of seeing the value of our ways. I do not speak for us all and I have not even begun to talk about the veterans of the Pre-HW Bush DOD. These are simply my observations and conclusions.