Introduction A scrutiny of the history of mankind, down the ages covering a period of 4000 years beginning from 3500BC till today indicates that in almost all the cases, the course of events have been dictated by the military prowess and the consequent superiority of one of the contenders. The fact continues to hold true even today, in this age of modernization when the emphasis is on economic power and political stability. The vital aspect of safeguarding these national interests is dependent upon one crucial factor: ‘Armed Forces’.
A career in the Armed Forces may be considered to be one of the oldest professions in the history of mankind (the other being prostitution), and it may have an important role to play in safeguarding national interests, but it is also one of the most forgotten and maligned of career choices. For in times of peace and enduring prosperity, the general propensity of people is to look down upon this profession and all related aspects. It is considered to be the last refuge of scoundrels and the failed cases in society-definitely not a job to take if one has other options. But is this reputation really based on facts?
Are conditions in the Armed Forces so bad today that it is anathema to even contemplate enlisting in the Armed Forces? Why do educational institutions and our society at large not promote the idea of their students/youngsters enlisting in the Armed Forces with a sense of pride and honor? Why does the present generation not consider enlisting in the Armed Forces as a worthwhile option? Critics (and there are many) point out that enlisting in the Armed Forces implies an unstated but real risk of life, separation from family for extended periods, frequent moves at short notices , poor work conditions and lower pay.
This argument is taking a rather biased and short sighted view of the issue, and it does not do justice to either the interests of the country and the people whom the argument attempts to dissuade. Thesis Statement My endeavor during the course of this essay is to illustrate the benefits of enlisting in the Armed Forces. I am of the opinion that the benefits of enlisting outstrip the disadvantages by a wide margin and overall, it is just as good or better; an employment option as any that is available to the new generation.
The scope of this thesis in terms of the people covered is holistic in nature: applicable to the entire scale of economic, racial, religious, gender and educational scale. Social Benefits During the ancient times, people enlisted for monetary and other purposes with the sole aim of garnering the spoils of war by way of loot, women, slaves and resources of the vanquished. At various stages in history, it has been repeatedly proved that other concerns like race, national pride and religion have also been a major motivating factor.
The last known war entirely based on religious affinities terminated with the victory of the Crusaders over the Jihadis in 1453 A. D. at Constantinople (Turkey). Upward Social Mobility Enlisting in the Armed Forces opens up a whole new world of opportunities for a person irrespective of whether he joins as an officer or as a GI/soldier. This immediately catapults him from his humble origins to a society much more privileged, acknowledged and recognized as one.
The change in social status leads to a subtle refinement in the person, his family and his circle of associates. Consequently, it brings about a change in the perception and quality of life for him as his options in everyday life are less weighed down by the mundane issues that he would have been otherwise negotiating. Culture Culturally, there is a huge leap due to the extensive interaction with people from diverse backgrounds and states. This introduces him to the positive and the negative aspects of life in other cultures both within and outside the country.
Presuming that the individual has the sense of purpose and ability to discriminate between good and bad (with few exceptions, most posses this quality in abundance), this exposure introduces in him a better understanding of customs and awareness of other cultures. He can then subconsciously or by design incorporate the good aspects in to his way of life, thereby becoming a better citizen and an effective soldier. It must be appreciated that a person hailing from a remote, under-developed and relatively backward area has a proportionately less chance of making it big in the world.
With time, he settles down to a job in the same place or at best moves within his state or county for a steady but not necessarily well paid job. It may not lead to much, but it provides him with basic economic security. Personality Development The tough training, regimental life and high emphasis on discipline permeates the very core and essence of the individual and transforms him from a happy go-lucky, take life as it comes type of youngster into a conscientious, well mannered and disciplined citizen of the future.
He is now capable of looking after his own interests in life and takes the decisions best suited to his requirements and a secure future. The training imparts to his personality a combined sense of discipline, mental robustness, endurance and physical sturdiness which is generally lacking in other competitors his age and experience in life. The training and culture within the Armed Forces lays a great deal of emphasis on development of moral values and personal integrity. This development of acquired skills leads to a multi-faceted and versatile individual who would be an asset to any organization he joins.
The refined mannerism, positive attitude and basic skills make him an automatic candidate of choice for prospective employers in the future. Pride, Prestige, Honor and Duty In the prevailing national environment, it has been the experience that the prospects of enlisting in the armed Forces are not considered to be a worthwhile option. Whatever be the reason, it must also be emphasized that in the rural countryside and deep interiors of the country, there still exist communities and villages which take great pride in sending their young ones to the Armed Forces.
Then there exist certain demographic and regional specific patterns wherein the propensity towards enlisting in the Armed Forces is higher (Mavor 41-3) It is taken as a matter of pride and prestige by both: the family of the individual and the individual himself; as an act of repaying the nation for all it has bestowed them with and also as a matter of tradition. But the idea is a non starter and gradually starts loosing steam as we progress from the rural courtsides and deep interiors towards the cities and the power centers.
Purely from a moral ground, it should be the duty of each citizen to do his time in the Armed Forces and contribute to the national effort. After all if democracy bestows certain unquestioned rights, then it also imposes certain unstated obligations. It must be kept in mind that, ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’. Similarly, it is inappropriate to assume that one can proceed to enjoy the benefits of democracy for free without bothering to fulfill our own obligations to the nation.
Every right has a corresponding duty and this is no exception; we cannot leave the nation’s requirement of manpower to just the people from the interiors, highlands and the so called lower classes alone. This burden has to be shared by all of us who swear by democracy and the nation. Economic Benefits When speaking about the Armed Forces, the general refrain is that it is not a well paying job, and that the connected hardships of separation from family for extended periods, the frequent moves on duty at short notice, and the attendant risks to life and health is not worth it.
In the subsequent paragraphs, I will examine the merits and demerits of this presumption on a factual basis. Job Security What would be the prospects of a person in his native hometown of landing a job consistent to his qualification? What are the chances that he retains his job in the event of some constraining circumstances either to the person or to the employer? The answers to these questions are obvious. Whereas, in the case of the person employed in the Armed Forces, there is an assured degree of job security that is unmatched in any other form of employment.
The individual has to do something really drastic or be highly incompetent to be considered unfit for retention. The chances of retrenchment are virtually non-existent. On The Job Training(OJT) Until the end of World War II, the aspect of enlisting was more or less considered as the beginning of the military career. However, with the modernization of weapons and delivery systems, the process of refining the enlisted personnel in to a trained and efficient operator has to be taken up in earnest and hence the need of putting the person through rigorous specialized training schedule(Buck 204-6).
The Armed Forces provide training relevant to the aspect of specialization specific to the individual’s branch before formal induction in to the respective arm or service. There are approximately 360 specialist jobs in the US Army alone of which 20% have similar jobs in the civilian world in departments related to communication, IT, software and allied services (Goldberg 59-60). Upon reporting to the parent unit, the individual undergoes further training at the concerned facilities for a period depending upon the requirement of the job and the laid down parameters.
This is to say that depending upon the arm which the individual opts for; the training on the specialist equipment, weapons and other systems are guaranteed. The stipend during this period is paid for by the government. It implies that the individual is undergoing training and at the same time also making up his experience profile simultaneously; and he is being paid for it.! How many other jobs can boast of this facility? Job related risks It is often stated that the attendant risk and hardships of a career in the Armed Forces is a negative factor influencing the new generation from enlisting.
It can be argued that the so called hardships are not a way of life and depend entirely upon the number of conflicts and skirmishes the country is involved in. Again, how many other jobs do not involve frequent moves at short notices? The aspect of living out of suitcases is generally well described in all forms of literature and media, hence need not be repeated. Needless to say frequent moves and separation from family is a factor that is true for most other forms of employment.
The only difference is in the period, which again is taken care of by the system of rotation of troops that is strictly adhered to by the Defence Forces. As regards physical injuries and risk of death, it is a professional hazard and needs to be taken on its merit and statistical figures. The ratio of casualty sustained in comparison to the number of personnel inducted into the combat zone is very low, especially in the case of the developed countries like the USA, UK, France and other European countries.
This is so, due to overwhelming superiority of these countries over the adversary in terms of sophistication and capability levels of weapon systems, logistics, and ensuring of an adequate stand–off distance during delivery of tactical executions of strategic plans. Besides, the other major factor influencing Government decision making is level of intolerance by the media and the country to higher casualties of own nationals. This attitude is in stark contrast to the disdain that the average citizen professes on the issue of enlistment in peace time.
What I am implying here is that the possibility of being injured or killed in the war zone is not as high as is being made out to be. It is just a professional hazard which hypothetically states the possibility, but does in no way categorically confirm the same. Fatal casualty/Grevious Injury Having deliberated on the aspect of the very low probability of grievous injury and death, let us presume the case wherein either of these possibility does indeed take place. In that case, the government looks after the individual depending upon the nature of his injury, makes efforts to ensure his rehabilitation and employment in another form of work.
In the event of death in action, the full range of military honors and government provisions are laid out to the individual and his family. This is only to state that the individual is not a forgotten chapter in case he is rendered invalid for active service or in case of fatal casualty. Perks and Privileges Every nation bestows upon the personnel of its armed forces a wide range of facilities and privileges which would otherwise adversely impact the monetary status of the individual.
The facilities and privileges are not sacrosanct and every nation follows a different yardstick to determine what it gives its personnel, e. g. free Medicare facilities given to the personnel and also extended to their families, accommodation at subsidized rates etc. Now if these perks and privileges extended by the government were to be quantified in terms of costs, it would work out to a high figure, when added to what the individual already earns, amounts to a fat salary bill (Ostrow 219).
The idea I am trying to highlight is that the privileges which are not considered while describing the low pay also need to be included just to put things in their proper perspective. And I have deliberately avoided discussing the various allowances which every nation provides its armed forces personnel in recognition of the hardships and limitations endured by them during times of operational deployment and commitments. The allowances by themselves amount to a substantial part of the remunerations and are by and large a realistic reflection of the hardships endured.
Pensioner Benefits The armed forces have a stipulated period of service for their personnel, and this duration varies from country to country and within the forces: from arm to arm and service to service (Roza 10-11). However, the bottom line is that the personnel are free to leave active service and proceed home with all pensioner benefits as laid down by the Government. If the individual is smart and has planned his moves well in advance, he can join a new employment which means he has effectively two incomes to go by.
It lends him a strong base for procuring home loans and enterprise related loans from banks as his degree of financial security is considerably higher than that of the average citizen. The pensioner benefits also entitle him to medical and other related facilities which result in considerable savings to the overall financial planning and outlay of the individual. Educational Benefits A sound education is defined as the basic foundation upon which rests the edifice of a person’s career.
Very often, and in most cases, the inclination, interest, and urge to undergo formal education from a standard university or college exists in individuals. However, there is a large gap in the ability of the existing education system to provide to the needs of each aspiring student due to various factors. Government education institutes in most democracies have an unstated but existing drawback on the quality of education they provide. Quality education in a democracy comes at a price, which not everyone can afford.
This leaves a large number of potential aspirants without quality education. However, by enlisting in the Armed Forces, this drawback is also addressed. The Armed Forces offer specialist training in a wide range of professionally oriented courses and degrees with a view to produce qualified and expert specialist in their respective sphere of tasks. Apart from this, the government provides for the service personnel opportunities to enhance their education skills before, during and after enlistment. The Montgomery GI Bill and Tuition Assistance Programme are a case in point(Asch 57).
Enlisting for the armed forces thus gives the individual the opportunity to complete a degree or an education that he could otherwise not have achieved (Paradis 106). Infact the consequent experience that the individual gains (mostly under pressures of time and combat) puts him in an advantageous position when looking for a job elsewhere upon termination of his contract with the Armed Forces. Counter Claims Critics of the proposal for enlisting into the Armed Forces cite the attendant risk to life, possible injuries, extended periods of separation and comparatively lower pay packages as the principle reasons to avoid the Armed Forces.
This reasoning has been discussed by me during the course of the essay and I have proved that on the surface, these points are apparently valid. However, they do not measure up to an unbiased and impartial scrutiny based on facts and statistics. Conclusion To conclude, it is again reiterated that the proposal of enlisting in the armed forces is highly beneficial to a large section of the society and country. The stated disadvantages regarding enlisting; and the advantages I have highlighted need to be weighed against each other.
It would be inappropriate to come to a conclusion that affects the lives and careers of a large number of people just because we think that a particular line of thought is correct. It is more important and relevant to analyze the issue based on facts and arrive at the correct conclusion, before propagating it as a statement of fact. Work Cited Asch Beth J. “Contextual Information on Recruiting” “Military Recruiting and Retention After the Fiscal Year : Military Pay Legislation” Ed. Asch Beth A, et al Rand Corporation(2002) 57 Buck Peter “Adjusting to military Life: The Social Sciences Go to War” “Military
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