Thursday, August 25, 2005

Base Closings

I found this on the Christian Science Monitor today. It's an interesting read, and naturally I have my own opinion.

Base closings could signal disconnect from society for the military

But New England's experience is in many ways a barometer for the nation, as the military contracts into fewer and larger installations, analysts suggest. The concern is not so much one of security, but of society.

Some wonder whether the military, by leaving so many places where it has long been a part of the community, is becoming too remote from the very people it is charged to protect, This changes the calculus on everything from defense budgets to recruiting and retention.

"As the military goes for fewer bases, there is an increasing disconnect between the military and the community," says Jeremiah Gertler of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

I agree there is a disconnect between the military and the community. The Draft went a long way in fostering a very personal connection. As we no longer have a draft and rely on volunteers that connection has faded. For a young person, going into the military is a way to get their education paid for and health benefits he or she might not have if they are in a low income category or a minority. (More likely both.) It certainly isn't for the salary, which is incredibly low.

However, base closings seem (at least to me) that there is a serious disconnect between the government and the military. This whole base closing scheme strikes me as a corporate-style strategy to save a few buck at the expense of the workers (military and civilian) and national security. I could even make an entirely specious argument that aggressively recruiting minorities is the equivalent of foreign outsourcing because they will work for the lower wages. Think about it: how many recruiting offices do you see in upscale areas? Yes, they are out there, but the majority may be in less affluent areas. No, I don't have proof. Like I said, it's a specious argument. (Although if anyone does have the figures, I'd like to take a look at them. It's the geographer in me.)

What I'd like to see is how the government is planning on utilizing the military given the proposed base closings. I'd like to see if they've even thought about it! I should hope that our security isn't in the hands of bean counters.

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