ROTC speaks up

This letter is in response to Tom Stone’s article “No Place for Military on Campus.” Before I get started, let me introduce myself as a senior history major, athlete and Army ROTC cadet. I’m also a Democrat. If Mr. Stone wishes to write for this paper it should be expected that he is held to some standards. His facts are wrong, and his assumptions, besides being hurtful and misleading, are completely fabricated.

Mr. Stone writes that “it is common knowledge that the military experiences persistent difficulty in meeting its monthly enlistment quotas.” However, he cannot support this “common knowledge.” In fact, the Army reached its recruiting/retention goal of 80,000 on Sept. 22 of this year. The 80,000th recruit was a 23-year-old graduate of Rutgers University, and she is training to be a Signals Intelligence Analyst or a Cryptologic Linguist.

Mr. Stone also makes the argument that the military exploits people who are in “desperate” financial situations. In reality the military’s recruits represent the American population, as most recruits come from the middle class. The claim that the only people willing to volunteer for the military are ones who need money is ridiculous.

There is not a cadet here at the College who joined the program for the money. In fact, only two cadets (myself included) are having their education paid for by the Army. People join the army because they want to, not because of some “backdoor draft” our government has pulled off on us. Mr. Stone does not understand what drives the cadets and soldiers here at the College.

Mr. Stone, you have every right to believe what you want – but never open your mouth and claim to be speaking for me. You have never walked in my shoes and the fact is you couldn’t. I support my country and my flag, but most of all I support the Constitution – that is the oath I have taken: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” If you want to call me jingoistic because of my beliefs, then you are the ignorant one. You can write what you want because of the soldiers who choose to defend the Constitution.

Calling these people jingoists, na’ve and desperate is embarrassing, and a responsible news organization would not stand for that. My experience in the Army ROTC has been an extremely positive one. I’ve learned leadership skills, personal responsibility, made lifelong friends, gained confidence and prepared myself for a career in and out of the military. Mr. Stone, your kind of shock journalism is a cheap trick that doesn’t work on intelligent people like those in this school. Look up the word professionalism, and the next time you write an article don’t claim to speak for someone you don’t know. I have my own voice – I don’t want yours.

Duane Clark

While I share Mr. Stone’s concern for the high human and fiscal costs associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel his nonsensical tirade found in last week’s Signal cannot go unanswered.

As a graduate of the College and the Air Force ROTC program, I take great offense to his characterization of young people who choose to join the military as unwitting, desperate jingoists. Mr. Stone should be ashamed of himself for making such spurious generalizations about his peers simply because he is frustrated with current U.S. foreign policy.

Is it possible that some young people may actually want to serve their country in these troubled times, regardless of how they feel about Iraq or our national leadership?

Could young people actually gain some marketable skills such as leadership and management experience, language training or an advanced degree while serving in the military? Apparently the answer is no, at least according to Mr. Stone.

He would have readers believe that enlistees and cadets cannot grasp the realities of a military career with their feeble minds and that their financial need causes them to be tricked into service. Do scholarships or other benefits play a role in attracting recruits? Certainly, but those joining strictly for the money rarely make it to the end of the ROTC program, let alone active duty. By making such claims that enlistees and cadets are categorically being duped, Mr. Stone reveals his own ignorance.

Mr. Stone also seems to ignore the fact that we have an all-volunteer military. It’s not up to him if you or I join. Furthermore, it is important to understand that the military is a vast revolving door that relies on a continuous stream of manpower just as much in times of peace as in times of war. Our “cynical military masters” need the influx provided by recruitment and ROTC to keep manning levels stable as those currently serving leave or advance in rank and retire. If we were to indefinitely cut off the manpower stream just to protest Iraq, our senior officer and enlisted ranks would be reeling in 15 years time.

Unless Mr. Stone believes the military should be abolished all together (in which case he should just come out and say so), I think he’d agree that this is not a desirable outcome.

Finally, I’d like to point out to Mr. Stone that the military leaders in charge of manpower, recruiting and the like are not part of the policy-making process, as he would suggest. Their job is strictly to organize, train and equip the military, not to decide when and where it will fight. Apparently Mr. Stone is not familiar with the concept of civilian control of the military.

I appreciate Mr. Stone’s deep convictions and I wholeheartedly support his right to voice his opposition to U.S. foreign policy. However, I suggest that next time he save himself the embarrassment and simply ignore the recruiters rather than pen another inane outburst.

1st Lieutenant

Christopher E. Diehl, USAF

Class of 2004

Boys, don’t cry …

After reading last week’s letter, “Man-bashing is the new black,” I spent the rest of the day infuriated, not at the amount of “man-bashing” that is apparently plaguing our television sets, but at the obvious ignorance of the writer to the amount of “female-bashing” that occurs every day in our society.

Women and young girls are constantly being presented with unrealistic images of body types, including the classic thin-waisted, big-breasted woman that only 5 percent of the American population has. What about the 95 percent of women who will never look like that naturally, but are constantly being told by the media that in order to be desirable, one must look like that?

I’m not negating the fact that it is disturbing to see either of the sexes being degraded in commercials, but the fact of the matter is that women are constantly made to seem inept, dumber and weaker in hundreds of commercials and magazine ads every day.

The truth is that it is much more common to have women portrayed in subordinate roles than males, as documented by sociologist Erving Goffman decades ago and media analyst Jean Kilbourne in recent years.

Furthermore, the amount of “violence” that occurred when the wife hit her husband while fighting over the TV remote pales in comparison to the violent scenarios in which women have been portrayed in the media.

If the extent of violence against women in advertising, as well as in real life, only involved being elbowed over a remote, I think a lot of women would be very happy. As psychologist Jean Baker Miller has often mentioned, it is common for the dominant group to lash out whenever they feel their privilege is at risk, and I think that is exactly what has happened here.

So I also suggest not switching that dial next time commercials come on during your TV show. See whether you can justify the amount of “female-bashing” occurring every day.

Kristen Wozesniewski