Thursday, October 15, 2015

Standard Training

I am the son of educators. My parents spent their lives imparting wisdom to others - truly one of the most noble professions I know. The transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next is an incredible chain that ties the species together back to the beginning of time. Directly or indirectly my entire family is in the field – whether in the classroom or in my case working at a non-profit that enlightens in its own way. Before my current position I worked as a consultant where I would mentor and guide clients to be self-sufficient. That’s the benefit of training – giving others the ability to do for themselves. The U.S. has aspired to a similar goal but has had a long string of disappointments in this area especially in its foreign policy.

The current deployments of American military personnel cover a wide spectrum of projects throughout the globe. It involves everything from energy and environmental projects to health, human interest and community relations. Wikipedia  details further: “The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with over 156,000 of its active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories and an additional 70,000 deployed in various contingency operations as well as through military attache offices and temporary training assignments in foreign countries.” There are currently 1,148,530 active duty personnel – so 6% of them are helping others to help themselves. A noble goal that is a failed policy.

President Obama recently ended his administrations training of Syrian rebels. The idea was that American forces would take the Syrian rebels and show them how to fight, use strategy and weapons, organize and defeat the oppressors. Half a billion dollars was spent. In September 2015 the Pentagon admitted that only “four or five” rebels were trained. Others who were being taught in Turkey surrendered to the opposition. I’m not quite sure how one spends $100,000,000.00 in six months to train one person. I rather doubt that those five guys are going to have much of an impact in the region.

Rather than giving up on its approach the Guardian report continues: “A senior US official said there would no longer be any recruiting of Syrian rebels for training in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Instead, a single training centre would be set up in Turkey, where a small group of ‘enablers’ – mostly leaders of opposition groups – would be vetted and taught operational methods, such as how to call in airstrikes.”

I am not a military expert. Far from it. I abhor violence and am largely a pacifist. It's from watching and enjoying war films and tv shows that I know a communications system (walkie-talkie, cell phone, etc.) is all that’s needed to alert somebody to an airstrike. Perhaps there’s more to it that justifies an entire program of training and funded by the American taxpayer...but there's no evidence of that.

President Obama in 2014 proposed a regulatory regime that would punish schools “for failing to place graduates in well-paying jobs.” That ill-advised idea that makes the educational institution responsible for its students performance can’t work and has been tied up in the legislative process because the President still supports the idea. Since he proposed the concept perhaps the same standard can apply to the military and their training efforts? Where's our refund?

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