How the US government spends money from the military budget really irks me. Congress will spend billions of dollars to develop an aircraft that, by the time it is delivered to the forces that will actually use it in combat, will be out of date and near obsolete. Aegis class cruisers were just being commissioned when I was first in the Navy in 1982. They are now obsolete and we are selling them to other countries. The USS Yorktown, a ship commissioned after I left active duty, is being decommissioned upon its return to the States. Meanwhile, the USS Denver (LPD-9) is still in service after 40 years. The United States is chasing a technological edge at the cost of losing people it has just finished training.
An Electronics Technician goes into the Navy out of high school knowing nothing. The Navy puts that individual through two years of intensive training. Training complete the individual will go to a first duty assignment. While at that duty assignment the individual will likely pick up at least one and probably two more schools. Because of all the training required to be an ET, they must sign up for a minimum of six years. At the end of that six year period they have to choose between an $80,000 to $150,000 a job in the civilian world or continuing in their $30,000 a year Navy career. Many of these individuals leave military service to go work for the companies that land the contracts to research and develop the equipment that Congress approves. Our military’s primary focus is on having the best hardware. Once we have the best hardware then, almost as an afterthought, we find someone to man it for McDonald wages.
As I’ve said before, the United States military service member should be getting compensation that puts him dead middle class. His family should have the best health care available. His children should have the best schools. And those benefits should continue for the widows and children of fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Military families make sacrifices that the average American doesn’t even begin to understand. Joe Six-pack’s wife has no idea what it is like to watch her husband pack his gear for yet another deployment. Joe Six-pack’s wife wouldn’t know an Interceptor vest from from waistcoat. A soldier’s wife watches the gear go into the bags and knows what each piece of gear is for. She’s especially knowledgeable on the safety gear, the gear intended to help him live through that golden hour that is so critical to surviving on the battlefield. A soldier’s wife asks family members and friends for money so that she can buy her soldier an Intercepter vest because the military, for whatever reason, isn’t issuing them. At $1500 for the vest and the plates, the soldiers wife has to ask quite a few friends. $1500 is a lot of money to a military family.
Yeah, military pay and compensation is a critical issue that desperately needs to be a campaign issue. Too bad military families are seen as a voting block that warrants attention.