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Objectivists in the military

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I wanted to hear from you all about your thoughts on the U.S. military. I've found at least one servicemember on these boards, but even if you don't have any experience with/near the military, I'd like to hear your opinions.

I'll be graduating from college in May and I've been thinking a lot about what I'm going to do next. In high school, I never ever would have considered joining the military--it was very, very far from my own sheltered experience. Close to 3 years ago, however, I met a Marine, who has since become my best friend; and then, of course, September 11 happened. Since then, I have been increasingly concerned with the defense of the U.S., and increasingly aware of the work done by the men and women of the Armed Forces. Over the past year, I started wondering what it would be like to join the military after graduating--I've met a lot of Marines over the past few years, and also had an opportunity this fall to get to know a number of West Point cadets, some of the most impressive people I have ever met.

So, to get to my questions. I know that Ayn Rand respected those who serve (see "Philosophy: Who Needs It?"). But what about the requirements of serving? I believe that joining the military is not a sacrifice, but the ultimate expression of one who acknowledges that in this world, freedom must be protected--the individual who will fight to protect his/her own freedom, as well as the system that guarantees that freedom. But all of the services preach self-sacrifice and duty (as well as other more laudable values), and that is what trips me up. Would you willingly associate yourself with an organization whose main mission is something you believe in, but whose means of achieving that mission (particularly in training) are contrary to your values? I believe that there are some very basic contradictions between the tenets of the military and the values of Objectivism--the service part is one, the emphasis on religion another...etc.

What do you all think? Are any of you active or former servicemembers? Do you know anyone who is? Do you know any Objectivists in the military? What are your/their experiences? If you don't have any direct experience with the military, what you think about this situation?

I have some more thoughts on the issue, but I'd like to put this out there first and see what you all have to say, then maybe add more later. In case anyone wants to know, if I do really look into joining up, I'd consider the Marine Corps before any other branch.

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I'm going into the Navy to become a SEAL. It was actually Objectivism that led me to my decision; the notion that a quality existence is one in which you acted upon your values. Now not all of my values can be met through the military, but the ones you mentioned in your post can. To persue a life as a SEAL seems to me the best way to push these values to the absolute extreme (and thus making existence more enjoyable/fulfilling).

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Before I begin here, I'm not trying to influence anyone's choice of joining the military in any way.

I've been in the air force for nearly five years. The fact that I'm in the air force doesn't really make that much of a difference. I could have joined the Army or Navy or whatever and still be as unhappy as I am now.

The willingness to fight for freedom and human rights is a noble cause.

However, volunteering to do so, is definately not without cost. You must be willing to sacrifice everything that you want, love, and cherish for the task at hand. To not do so, or even attempting not to do so, warrants confinement for up to twenty years in a military prison. In addition to abiding by the laws of the civilian world, you will have to abide by another set of military laws (the UCMJ) and these laws do take away from some of the rights that you now have.

The identity that people acknowledge you with now will be replaced by an insignificant patch that denotes rank, and your social security number. You must have rank in order to aquire other, better privileges. Such as: living off-base and driving or owning your own car. The only thing that gets me through this is that I know who I am and what I stand for. Even though rank is a symbol of who you are in the military, I can accept that and live with it only because I know that that is not true.

Then, when you finally attain that high rank that you've worked so hard for, you become a supervisor. You aquire "troops" under you that are now, other than service to your country, your next important responsibility. This means that you are no more than a baby-sitter in a uniform that must keep on top of your

"troop's" life. You must make sure that he is paying his bills on time and you must make sure that he is behaving off-duty. All of this must be done while you make sure your stuff is done, while having your own supervisor baby-sit you. My boss has finally realized that I can take care of myself, so he does lay off.

The military preaches volunteerism. This is fine. You can chose to volunteer for something you want to do. What happens if something comes up that no one wants to do? They pick you, regardless of the fact that you want to do it or not. Most people just volunteer out of fear of getting picked to do something in the first place.

In most instances, people are pressured into a job which they do not want. I'm a mechanic/electrician, and I hate it. I had very little to work with in choosing my career path. I wanted to do something with computers. They told me I was much better qualified for what I do now, regardless of the fact that my test scores indicate otherwise.

The core values for the airforce are a killer. The first two are:

Integrity and Excellence in all you do. I can handle these without question and without qualm. The third core value is:

Service before self.

This statement, and a core value of the United States Air Force that I must abide by without question, is something that no objectivist should want to abide by.

It isn't all bad though. I do get weekends off sometimes. I can live like a person during this time for the most part. You get to travel. I've been to many countries. Most of the countries that I've been to do not want us there, but I still managed to have a good time.

If you can put yourself through all of this for the noble cause of what you're going to be fighting for, then it's definately for you. I'm too selfish to want to do it any more. I'll finish up the 3 years of my contract and get out. I'm not implying that you'll feel the way that I do about it either. There could be a good chance that you'll enjoy it. I have in certain aspects, and in others, I have not.

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I served 12 years in the Marine Corps but did not learn about Objectivism until several years after leaving active duty. Looking at military service now from an Objectivist standpoint (although I don't yet consider myself a true objectivist to date) I don't believe the ethical contrast is all that great.

The Marine Corps teaches something called "Core Values" which emphasizes duty, honor, country, selflessness, sacrifice, etc... On their face, some of these seem to obviously conflict with Objectivist ethics, but I believe one can easily resolve this by understanding the semantic reference of their source. "Duty" really isn't a duty if one understands and holds as a value that end or purpose to which it is directed.

"Selflessness" isn't really selflessness if what you are "sacrificing" for is similarly held up consciously as a value. The military does not attempt to "prove" the validity of its core values based on objective reason. Chances are they were gleaned from a host of common judeo-christian virtues because they "seemed applicable". IF you ever have an opportunity to give a core values class to subordinates then you can put them into the proper context for them.

My problem with military service at this point would have more to do with a complete lack of faith in the civilian leadership of this country and the proper role and use of our armed forces. Sometimes they get it right, but mostly they don't.

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Many thanks to you three, I really appreciated all of your responses. (Lucent, how is your arm?)

As time goes on, I become more and more attracted to joining the military, even as I discover the complications it will add to my life.

Socionomer, that is exactly how I hoped to fit "military" ethics into my own belief system, though it seems that even doing so there would still be plenty of opportunities for frustration.

I am also deeply concerned about the civilian leadership, but I also feel that the situation in the world is too dire for me to not do everything I can, even if it does mean placing myself in a position where I run the risk of being at the mercy of politicians. But maybe that is my youth speaking. I also feel that I have a lot to gain personally from serving.

In particular, it is this Ayn Rand quote (from "Philosophy:Who Needs It?") that inspires me:

"You have chosen to risk your lives for the defense of this country. I will not insult you by saying that you are dedicated to selfless service--it is not a virtue in my morality. In my morality, the defense of one's country means that a man is personally unwilling to live as the conquered slave of any enemy, foreign or domestic. This is an enormous virtue."

And that was in 1974, not long after the worst misuse of the American military to date. I believe that the War on Terror (despite the silly name and often wrong-headed tactics) is vital to the survival of American freedom.

Non-military Objectivists, I'd like to hear from you, too.

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I served for two tours in Viet Nam as a Navy nurse. My grandfather, father, and both of my brothers were all career Navy. My first husband's bones are still somewhere in the jungles of Viet Nam (he was a Navy pilot).

Many people have spoken to me about my family's "sacrifices". My father died aboard his ship when a boiler blew in the engine room. My husband vanished without a trace. My health was irreparaably damaged by Viet Nam. While all of this was hard, none of us ever considered any of this a sacrifice because each of us chose our path.

Here's how my father explained his reasons for staying in the service, despite all of the frustrations and deprevations involved, to both him and his family: He served freedom. It's that simple. He never considered it a sacrifice, even though we existed in povery, moved every few years and he had to put up with an unbelievable number of idiots. No matter what it took, the service to freedom was more important and made it worth while.

My two brothers stayed in the military even after Viet Nam. There has never been a time in the history of this country when our military was as abused as it was during that time. The waste of men and treasure was astounding, and the various acts of outright betrayal by both civilian and military authority, unconscionable. My brothers and I spoke about it many times. They both felt that it was important to use their experience to rebuilt what was left if we were going to be able to maintain ourselves as a country. We were still facing the Soviet Union and China and the danger was very real. We are in just as much danger today.

You have to put up with an incredible about of BS in the service. You have to take orders from people who give jerks a bad name. You have to give over a piece of yourself -- but not the most important piece. You give up a lot, but the rewards can be abundant. And it isn't all bad, of course. The work can be challenging and rewarding.

For people of our mind-set it is most important to absolutely know that it is worth it to serve freedom. (While none of my family is an Objectivist, they were all objectivist, if you get my meaning.) It has to always be there to get you through the rough times. The only "duty" any of these people recognized was in service of this cause, and I think you'd be surprised at the number of those in the military who believe the same way, whether they know how to express it or not.

Some of the most ethical people I've ever met were servicemen -- also some of the biggest jerks. The military is a reflection of the people they're drawn from. You're going to find the same kind of people no matter what you decide to do (though I don't think you will find as high a percentage of people who are committed to what they are doing on the outside). The difference is that you can't just get up and walk away from a military job the way you can as a civilian, and that is an important consideration.

I'm glad we have someone here who isn't happy with his life in the Air Force. It is true that you don't always get to do the job you want, and that can be very difficult to live with. If you are considering joining, you shouldn't have it sugar-coated in any way whatsoever. You need to go in with your eyes wide open. In the end, only you can decide if it is worth it to you to serve. For me and my family, it was, but it isn't for everyone.

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I've never been in the military, but the vast majority of people I've known who were in the military have a strength of character that I greatly admire. Almost all of them say they hated the military.

The most important thing is to make your own choice, and not to live your life for parents or anyone else's admiration. Be "the captain of your soul".

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I actually have just recently signed up for the Army and plan on going Active Duty. I did learn a few very important things however that may be of great aid to you.

First, I think that it is very important that you thoroughly identify precisely why you want to join the military. This is a very deep and heavy time of soul-searching within yourself, meaning that you and only you can come up with the answer.

Within your soul searching, the most fundamental trait you must practice (as well as in everything else you do) is honesty. Honesty to yourself and honesty to the facts of reality. I would suggest doing a lot of research online, speaking with recruiters, speaking to veterans and others like you are now, etc. The point of this is to gain information about what it is actually LIKE-meaning, not opinions, but facts. Evaluate these against the goal that you hope to achieve by going into the army. The question is this-is it worth it?

Another thing I would like to add is this warning. I myself am guilty of this-this being Romanticism. Or, romanticizing situations. This comes into play with honesty, as I was speaking about earlier. You must make it clear to yourself the difference between what the facts actually are, and the romantic notions in your head filled up by movies, the media (sometimes..), the recruiters, and others. Romanticism can blind you from the truth, and you would hate to join the military and regret it because you were blinded.

It is only after the deep soul-searching that you yourself can come up with a sufficient answer. Remember-always be honest. And best of luck to you.

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You have to think about the current political environment, do you want to risk your life fighting on behalf of some Kosovans? becuase there is a possibility you would be sent to a conflict which is not in your self interest.

There's also the risk of being imprisoned for killing someone in a war zone, or risking your life becuase some authority told you to be restraintful, to protect civilians from being killed, at your expense.

Currently in Britian a soldier is going through this process after killing an Iraqi civilian, the army back him but he must be tried not by the military courts but by domestic courts.

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I have been looking into Officer Training after college, perhaps to be an MP. There is going to be a high demand for military police in the armed forces now that we are taking the cooperative security route within our grand strategy (whether that is a good idea or not is debatable, but not the point of this post). It's either going to officer training or an academy to become a police officer at this point. Generally, I would use the military training to get a better civilian job in law enforcement or perhaps the defense department (I love foreign policy/international relations).

I have an uncle who was a colonel in the Air Force. He told me never to enlist. The only way to go is to be an officer. Better pay, better housing, etc. I am friends with a sergeant in Iraq and he agreed that being an officer is the only way to go in the armed forces.

Being a student of Objectivism, I'm in conflict about whether this would be a good move. I'm leaning toward yes, that it is a selfish move: it's voluntary, it's for a better career in law enforcement after service and I've always wanted to serve my country because. IMHO, the United States even with all its flaws is still the greatest country on Earth.

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I've never served, but I've got two brothers and one sister in the Army, another sister in the Air Force, and two parents who are retired Navy commanders, and you can bet I've squeezed a lot of information out of all them. My dad entered enlisted, which explains why he served 37 years vs. my mom's 18 years. Based on what they've told me, I have to agree 100% with Lucent that officers become almost baby-sitters because of the huge responsibility they have for those under them. This contrasts with the civilian world, where people high in the pay ranks mostly just have to worry about holding their own.

I felt discouraged when I heard this, but now I feel as if Objectivism has armed me with the kind of self-confidence I need to be a leader and deal with the daily psychological needs of those serving under me. However, there is no doubt that it will be a challenge. One of my army brothers was severely punished after a few of his men, behind his back, injured themselves after stuffing rags into alcohol bottles and lighting them on fire.

In middle school, I had my heart set on becoming a Navy SEAL, but as I drifted into my anti-social, nihilistic, anti-American phase during grades 8-11, I lost all interest in serving. After finding Objectivism, my interest grew again, not only due to new-found patriotism, but also after learning about John Boyd's military strategy ideas. Due to his literature on Maneuver Warfare, I've found the Marine Corps to be the most appealing. To the guy who wants to join the SEALs, I wish you luck. Realistically, I know I'm too lanky for that, and there isn't any other job in the Navy I'm interested in.

Anyway, there's lots of great information and advice in this thread so thanks to all who posted.

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I've never served, but I've got two brothers and one sister in the Army, another sister in the Air Force, and two parents who are retired Navy commanders, and you can bet I've squeezed a lot of information out of all them. My dad entered enlisted, which explains why he served 37 years vs. my mom's 18 years. Based on what they've told me, I have to agree 100% with Lucent that officers become almost baby-sitters because of the huge responsibility they have for those under them. This contrasts with the civilian world, where people high in the pay ranks mostly just have to worry about holding their own.

I felt discouraged when I heard this, but now I feel as if Objectivism has armed me with the kind of self-confidence I need to be a leader and deal with the daily psychological needs of those serving under me. However, there is no doubt that it will be a challenge. One of my army brothers was severely punished after a few of his men, behind his back, injured themselves after stuffing rags into alcohol bottles and lighting them on fire.

In middle school, I had my heart set on becoming a Navy SEAL, but as I drifted into my anti-social, nihilistic, anti-American phase during grades 8-11, I lost all interest in serving. After finding Objectivism, my interest grew again, not only due to new-found patriotism, but also after learning about John Boyd's military strategy ideas. Due to his literature on Maneuver Warfare, I've found the Marine Corps to be the most appealing. To the guy who wants to join the SEALs, I wish you luck. Realistically, I know I'm too lanky for that, and there isn't any other job in the Navy I'm interested in.

Anyway, there's lots of great information and advice in this thread so thanks to all who posted.

WOW, that almost what i went through too. except for the part of my parents being in the navy.

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Before I begin here, I'm not trying to influence anyone's choice of joining the military in any way.

I've been in the air force for nearly five years.  The fact that I'm in the air force doesn't really make that much of a difference.  I could have joined the Army or Navy or whatever and still be as unhappy as I am now. 

Then, when you finally attain that high rank that you've worked so hard for, you become a supervisor.  You aquire "troops" under you that are now, other than service to your country, your next important responsibility.  This means that you are no more than a baby-sitter in a uniform that must keep on top of your

"troop's" life.  You must make sure that he is paying his bills on time and you must make sure that he is behaving off-duty.  All of this must be done while you make sure your stuff is done, while having your own supervisor baby-sit you.  My boss has finally realized that I can take care of myself, so he does lay off. 

The military preaches volunteerism.  This is fine.  You can chose to volunteer for something you want to do.  What happens if something comes up that no one wants to do?  They pick you, regardless of the fact that you want to do it or not.  Most people just volunteer out of fear of getting picked to do something in the first place.

In most instances, people are pressured into a job which they do not want.  I'm a mechanic/electrician, and I hate it.  I had very little to work with in choosing my career path.  I wanted to do something with computers.  They told me I was much better qualified for what I do now, regardless of the fact that my test scores indicate otherwise.

The core values for the airforce are a killer.  The first two are:

Integrity and Excellence in all you do.  I can handle these without question and without qualm.  The third core value is:

Service before self. 

This statement, and a core value of the United States Air Force that I must abide by without question, is something that no objectivist should want to abide by.

Yeah if you are planning to join the military get ready to deal with a lof of CRAP.

I dont know if LucentBrave left fotr these exact reasons but this is what ive read about the situation in the air force.

"a. Air Force pilot retention continues to decline. The separation rate increased 9% in FY98 with 48% of eligible pilots opting to leave the service. Total FY99 pilot losses are expected to approach 2,000. Additional losses are expected from post-bonus pilots (pilots with 15-19 years of service). Separations in these year groups increased 52% to 125 in FY98 vs 82 in FY97. The decline in retention is forecast to continue through FY07 when the projected deficit will be 2,330 pilots. "
http://www.defense-and-society.org/fcs/comments/c245.htm

So the military right now has a HUGE retention problem, people dont want to stay.And its not just becuase of the wars, that report was before 9/11 ever happend.

They believe the most important reason why people are leaving, particularly those in the crucial leadership cohort of junior officers, is a senior leadership that is more interested in protecting its own bureaucratic prerogatives (careerism, bureaucratic power seeking, and politics) than in service, country, or in making the sacrifices necessary to support the troops in the field. They argue that the better recruiting and retention rates of the Marines are because the Marines are the only service that still appeals the traditional group-centric military values of honor, self-sacrifice, and service. "

"1. Will a strategy of bribing the troops to join and stay in the military make a dent in the personnel crisis?

2. Will a strategy that lowers standards, and uses a slick PR campaign to recruit people on the basis of self-interest, topped off by a SECDEF speaking tour make a dent in the problems described below and in the referenced comments?

3. Is a mercenary strategy that holds people in such low esteem consistent the value system that produced three years of Armed Forces Day posters that celebrated weapons while ignoring the service, patriotism, and sacrifices of our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen "

So, the military si trying to ge more piople in the military by offering money instead of finding people who WANT to be soldiers.

What Makes a Good Soldier Want to Join and Stay In the Military?

11 Reasons Why Army Officers Don't Want to be Warriors

Why are pilots punching out of AF?

Why are pilots leaving AF? II

Why are Pilots Leaving the Navy?

AF Readiness - Plummeting Pilot Retention Sets

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I have been looking into Officer Training after college, perhaps to be an MP.  There is going to be a high demand for military police in the armed forces now that we are taking the cooperative security route within our grand strategy (whether that is a good idea or not is debatable, but not the point of this post).  It's either going to officer training or an academy to become a police officer at this point.  Generally, I would use the military training to get a better civilian job in law enforcement or perhaps the defense department (I love foreign policy/international relations). 

Law Enforcement is a noble profession, as is serving in the military. My children are probably close to your age, and I’ve always told them that education should come first!

Check in to ROTC programs and also think about any of the academies like West Point, Air Force Academy, and the Naval Academy.

If you would like to go in to Law Enforcement in the military, perhaps a recruiter can tell you more information on becoming a Warrant Officer.

You might want to look in to obtaining a degree in Criminal Justice. After college you can decide whether you want to pursue a career as a civilian or in the military.

Good luck!

-Elizabeth

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I figured I'd throw in my experience since you asked. I was not an objectivist when I joined and had never read Rand or anything like it.

I took the ASVAB test in high school like many other people and got a 99. Its a pretty easy test so I didn't think much of it. After that I started getting calls from all branches of service, especially the Navy nucluar submarine people. They said with my scores I could get the best job and that would give me a great career. Well I kind of burned out my Senior year in HS and didn't pursue college as much as I should have. I wanted to do something to travel which I had never done and they offer all this money for college once you get out. So I figured I could do 4 years, get out, have an idea of what I liked, have money for school and everything is grand. At MEPS I met a guy who trying for NAVY seals. The AF has Para-Rescue which is sort of the same so I planned on trying for it and If I didn't make I could get a good job with my high test scores. So I enlist and here is the mistake. I was in such a hurry to see the world I told them to give me the 1st available job. Don't do this! I thought they would at least give me a job that fit my ability, WRONG! I got supply, Inventory Specialist. This has to be one of the most boring jobs but let me tell you about Basic Training 1st.

Its tough! AF basic is one of the easier ones too but I had a former Special Forces guy who was a serious badass. The loudest walker of all time. The 1st night there he threw a whole bed across the room. Once you get settled in its not so bad, I even got picked to march in Clinton Inaguration in DC. They flew us out during basic. Just make sure no to mouth off to your squad leader even if they are an idiot. This guy could barely even make a run around the track and he was one of the dumbest people in the flight. These people will usualy end up giving the orders though so get used to listening to stupid people.

Tech School was great. Its academics which I kill at and they start to give you more freedom. This was the best time for me. I had put in for overseas because I wantedto travel but they sent me to Beale AFB which is in northern Cali. Its really in the middle of nowhere and the nearest cities were rated the worst pace to live in North America when I was stationed there. :) So imagine a college atmosphere with little or nothing to do and no homework. Its party time. I tried to stay out of the party atmosphere for awhile but eventually gave in. I got running with a bad crowd which I admit was my fault but you can only read War and Peace so many times while your neighbors and roommates party until dawn. Being young and inexperienced I got curious and started partaking. At this point I had decided I hated my job and tried to et it changed. That didn't happen but I got a new LT fresh out of college. What a moron. She volunteered me for a month straight on a "Clean up the base for the General" detail that stretched the defintition of useless labor. At this point I viewed myself as nothing more than slave that was at the mercy of any idiot with a higher ranks whim. I really wanted out. I got out before I was in 2 years after trying almost everything.

Looking back I think I could have handled things differently and I could have had a much better experience. A good job and a better attitude from me would have made it ok. I still may have a problem taking orders from an idiot though, but you have no control over that no matter what you do unless you have your own business or something. :)

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I wanted to hear from you all about your thoughts on the U.S. military. I've found at least one servicemember on these boards, but even if you don't have any experience with/near the military, I'd like to hear your opinions.

I wrote several replies to your question, all filled with my personal impressions of my 4 years of military service, and ended up trashing each one. It's been a decade since I've completed my military service, and in trying to respond to your post I realized that I still haven't fully chewed and digested my *mixed-bag* of experiences in the military.

All I can presently do is offer a book recommendation: "The Mask of Command" by John Keegan. My Brigade Commander recommended I read this book during my first year as a Brigade Surgeon for a Mechanized Infantry Brigade (US Army).

Based on my own experiences and John Keegan's excellent historical account of styles of leadership, I would say that the primary virtue of a soldier is courage and his principle value is leadership.

I hope this helps and best of luck to you.

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Here's a web page of an Objectivist in the military, who's presently in Iraq.

here

Worth reading, especially by other Objectivists who are thinking of joining the armed forces.

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It does pain me to think of someone capable of understanding Objectivism risking their life in this way. The goal is to increase the number of living Objectivists, right? I hope anyone that joins the military does go in with their eyes fully open. Also consider your options in the private sector first.

Only join the military if the personal experience and opportunities cannot be replicated otherwise. You would be surprised that they often can. I have know Objectivists who traveled extensively in student programs, and as English tutors abroad. They never had to join the military but were able to get the benefits of travel and education by becoming smart consumers.

At one time I considered the military, and almost joined the Army as a linguist. Knowing what I have learned since, I probably would recommend going into the Air Force or Navy instead, because of the better payscales and job opportunities there. Get a good score on the ASVAB and you can have the better recruiters beating down your door. When you sign, make them give you all the bonuses and get your job description, payscale, and duration of obligation, in writing.

Honestly I would rather die in a terrorist attack than know that a young Objectivist died keeping me safe. Its not that I believe risking your life in the military is altruistic, just that I think some young people may be undervaluing their lives or be downplaying the real dangers involved. If you are young, intelligent, and in good health you have an incredible value in yourself. Keep that in mind.

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I fundamentally agree with everything Pericles(MBA) has written on this subject.

I should also mention that my primary motivation for entering the military was economic--the Army financed my medical education. As a consequence, I accrued a 4 year military obligation.

Also, I made my decisions in regards to the military before I knew anything about Objectivism. Had I been an Objectivist at the time that I made these decisions, I very seriously doubt that I would have accepted my Army Commission.

After I completed my 4 years, I left the Army as quickly as I could and I've since resigned my Commission.

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I don't see any problems with joining the USN or the USAF because these branches take few if any casulties in "The War on Terror".

I think this statement should be qualified by noting that the United States Marines (USM) fall under the department of the Navy (USN). Joining the USM is definitely a high-risk venture in the context of the War on Terrorism. Also, as with all branches of the services, the USN has its special operations units (Navy Seals), which are also very high risk. This is also true of the USAF (off-hand, I can't remember the name of their special operations unit).

There is another aspect to all of this to consider. So far, the Islamic Terrorists have not developed the capability of developing and implementing the use of tactical nuclear weapons nor "dirty bombs." If this should happen (which is a real possibility considering Bush's timid and altruistic war against terrorists), then all bets are off with respect to which branch of the military is higher risk.

It doesn't take much imagination to see "suicide bombers" caring tactical nuclear explosives strapped to themselves walking onto an Air Base in Baghdad, Italy or Germany. Consider the prospect of such a thing happening near an aircraft carrier or destroyer in the Persian Gulf, in the Mediterranean, or on a Navy Base in Spain.

Given the context in which the War on Terrorism is presently being fought, ultimately I think the idea that there are "safer" branches of the military is fallacious.

What I'm suggesting by all of this is that if your own personal safety is your primary concern, then you definately should not be in any branch of the military, particularly in the context of the War on Terrorism.

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It doesn't take much imagination to see "suicide bombers" caring tactical nuclear explosives strapped to themselves walking onto an Air Base in Baghdad, Italy or Germany.

FYI, even the smaller nukes are too big for one person to carry. They could fit just fine inside a van or large SUV, though.

Given the context in which the War on Terrorism is presently being fought, ultimately I think the idea that there are "safer" branches of the military is fallacious.

What I'm suggesting by all of this is that if your own personal safety is your primary concern, then you definately should not be in any branch of the military, particularly in the context of the War on Terrorism.

I disagree. The military branches are HUGE organizations, with (I'm guessing) maybe a third in potentially life-threatening roles. There are plenty of roles to fill behind the lines -- logistics, medical, procurement, administration, recruitment, etc. I've met several former Navy personnel who went through a brief boot camp, got technician training, and never even set foot on a boat! They did their tour of duty as technicians on land. In some cases, aside from wearing a uniform, you wouldn't know whether they worked for the military or a private electronics firm.

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FYI, even the smaller nukes are too big for one person to carry.  They could fit just fine inside a van or large SUV, though.

Thanks. Or on a fishing boat, etc. Or in or on some other as yet unidentified transportation vehicle or something else.

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