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America’s Military Profession: Creating Hectors, not Achilles

America’s Military Profession: Creating Hectors, not Achilles
By Aaron MacLean
(October 2014)

The military provides a clear benefit to the American polity: it is the country’s federal mechanism for the common defense. But what is its relationship to America’s civic culture? Do the professionals the military molds and employs in the nation’s wars affect the civic culture positively, as models of necessary virtues and keepers of specialized professional knowledge necessary to a healthy civic life? Or do they affect the culture negatively, as damaged and occasionally dangerous men perverted by violence?

…A regular corollary of polities with endemic political instability is not only poverty but also a high rate of underemployed young men. Young men tend to be not only aggressive but also honor seeking—that is, they desire the recognition of society. The military provides a well-designed path to that recognition, and works to return these young people back to society with their aggressive instincts melded with a sense of outward-focused duty. The US military makes Hectors, and works to keep Achilles off the streets.

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Military Seen as Contributing Most to Society

Despite contentious conflicts abroad, Americans continue to hold the military in the highest regard. A new poll by Pew asked Americans which professions contribute to society’s well-being, and the results may surprise you.

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Leroy Petry to be awarded the Medal of Honor

On May 26, 2008, in Paktya, Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry risked his life to save those of his fellow Rangers. According to the Army’s narrative of the event, on a mid-day raid of a strategic compound,

Staff Sergeant Petry was shot through both legs and another Ranger was hit by enemy fire. Shortly thereafter, an enemy hand grenade landed amid Staff Sergeant Petry and two other Rangers; despite his serious leg wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry unhesitatingly moved to the grenade, grabbed it, and immediately threw the armed grenade away from his fellow Rangers. The grenade detonated shortly after Staff Sergeant Petry threw it away from his fellow Rangers resulting in a catastrophic amputation of his right hand and multiple shrapnel wounds penetrating his body. This deliberate individual act of heroism by Staff Sergeant Petry saved the lives of his fellow comrades and allowed the completion of the mission. 

Today, President Obama will award Sgt. Petry the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. The Medal is the nation’s highest military decoration, and today will mark only the ninth time it has been awarded to a veteran of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan–and only the second time since the beginning of these wars that the award has not been given posthumously.

Sgt. 1st Class Petry is still in the Army, and now works as part of the 75th Ranger Regiment to provide help and assistance to wounded soldiers and their families. To learn more about Sgt. Petry, his actions in Afghanistan, and the Medal of Honor, click here.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer promotes ROTC in NYC

According to an article in today’s New York Post , Sen. Chuck Schumer

“yesterday urged the Navy to provide on-campus military training to help relaunch its ROTC program at Columbia University. Columbia last month agreed to allow the Navy back on campus for the first time since 1969, when it was banned amid Vietnam War protests.”

As AEI’s Cheryl Miller reported in last month’s Case Study of ROTC in New York City, New York City’s

“Navy ROTC program is located beneath Throgs Neck Bridge on the outskirts of the Bronx. It is almost completely inaccessible via public transportation—a significant challenge for cross-enrolled Navy ROTC students [like those at Columbia], who are required to attend classes and drill at Maritime three days a week.”

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More Military Vets Enter Congress

Pete Hegseth of Vets for Freedom notes that six Iraq and Afghanistan veterans won House seats last Tuesday. The new members are:

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