Friday, December 20, 2013

Post Square 12.17.13 ~ Our Asymmetrical Military

Post Square 12.17.13 ~ Our Asymmetrical Military

There is a difference of opinion about the importance of the United States National Guard versus that of the active-duty armed forces. This difference is being stressed as the U.S. military braces for new rounds of budget cuts in defense spending.

Active-duty leaders want the National Guard and reserve forces to absorb the brunt of the budget cuts. Guard and reserve leaders believe the reductions should go to the active-duty contingent.

Active-duty members are a professional volunteer force in which many officers and enlisted personnel spend twenty or more years in uniform, often acquiring specialized skills while in the service. The Guard’s “citizen soldiers” are state-based militias who protect local interests as well as serve in foreign conflicts when necessary. Because the Guard members and reservists are part-time soldiers they come with special training and bring professional knowledge from their full-time jobs.

This past year, the average active-duty service member cost the U.S. government over three times more than a Guard member. The small Guard bases are not like the full-scale installments of, for example, the Air Force, with its bowling alleys, movie theaters, golf courses and stately homes for officers.

The argument boils down to what kind of military America wants or needs. It is a choice between a foreign-legion force and a force of nationally based protectors. (I’m left wondering why it has to be one or the other ~ why the cuts can’t be split. But then there are a lot of things I don’t understand in this grown-up world.)

The Pentagon will have a say in how much is trimmed and where. Local leaders within each state who want to protect local jobs will weigh in as well. It will be Congress that makes the ultimate decision, and in the past they have generally sided with the National Guard.


This had to be a symmetrical drawing. The photo on the front page for this story is of Col. Gary McCue, commander of the National Guard 179th Airlift Wing, standing symmetrically over a yellow line, in front, and smack dab in the middle of the nose of a cargo plane, the propellers of which are exactly perpendicular to the wings.

And it had to be exactly square. And exactly 4” square. The image is the top of Col. McCue’s bald head and the windows of the plane, the tail visible in the back. I had a terrible time trying to get the proportions right on this drawing. My brother would have been able to draw it in his sleep. He was a combat artist for the Marines during the Vietnam War. But I had to trace the thing and then blow it up. I drew one half first and flipped the drawing to get the other half symmetrical.

I chose the color pencils randomly, as I often do, to fill in the areas of the design. As I colored away I thought about what a dinosaur I am, taking the time to color in the drawing, like a coloring book. If I knew how, I could do this in a couple of seconds in Photoshop, or whatever. And probably make it a lot more interesting. Maybe recognizing this is the first step. If I get tired enough of being a dinosaur, maybe I’ll change. Don’t know.

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