Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Statistics & Percents

According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, the estimated population of the United States (in July 2007) is going to be around 301,139,947. Of that entire number, some three million (3,000,000) men and women comprise the active, reserve and National Guard units that serve in our military and our country. That’s all five branches- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. These are the men and women that are at both deployed and serving at home. That’s roughly about one percent (1%) of our population dedicated to protecting our way of life.

We must often endure long periods of separation from our loved ones and are called upon to put ourselves at risk of serious injury or death in order to protect the rest of America. Rest assured, we are an ALL volunteer force and none of us were pressed to join or drafted.

It would be very naïve to believe that all of us are angels. From time to time, we are informed of allegations of wrongdoing and criminal acts committed by our fellow military members. In such cases, we always owe them the benefit of the doubt due to the nature of the job and what the demands are of you. If America owes the presumption of innocence to anyone, they owe it to us.

While I don’t support censorship to the level that it had been taken to by other countries, like Iraq where the wrong word would get you & your family jailed, tortured and executed, I definitely don’t support the “watchdog” role that the media has taken “for the greater good”. I do, however, believe it is exceedingly detrimental to allow isolated incidents to cast a wider suspicion on America’s military members through the sensational media coverage such cases frequently receive. This type of “reporting” quickly chips away at America’s confidence in the institutions and people that protect it. It is also very demoralizing to us!

Wrongdoing by our fellow military members is very serious, is not tolerated and is treated as such. But instead of so much focus on the specific incidents, the media should be watching and reporting on the effectiveness of the internal systems we use to bring our own to justice.

The two prime examples include the prisoner abuse at Abu-Gharib and the marines accused of murdering civilians in different parts of the country. I am certain that all of you readers have at least a vague familiarity on both topics. Unlike America’s “Justice System”, our system is one that should be studied and used as the standard. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is respected, feared, and taught to us from day one in the military. It can be something handles at a level of administrative counseling, on the spot corrections/actions (push ups), demotions, extra duty, loss of pay, and (in severe cases) jail or executions.

The punishments here fit the crime. Did you also know that “A jury of your peers” is exactly that? The jury isn’t chosen base upon how little they know through the media, how neutral they are on a topic, or how much the book rights will sell for (OJ jurors). They are chosen based upon the experiences, careers and similarities of both the prosecution and the defendant’s background. For example, if one of my soldiers were to be brought up for a court marshal (UCMJ speak for trial or pre-trial) the juries would likely consist of males between the ages of 19 to 35, combat MOS (Military Occupational Skill-your job in the military), combat veteran, have been deployed to the same theater my Joes have, and have been in the military at least seven years. If it was me, my jury would have different parameters to match my jury as “my peers”. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Did you also know that the UCMJ has the death penalty for certain cases of rape? And the media calls our justice system “outdated”.

We do have problem soldiers and criminals in the military. I would be lying to you if I said different. We have our own justice system for dealing with them. Remember that we make up about 1% of America’s population. Soldiers that commit crimes while in the military make up an even less percentage than that. What’s a small percent of 1%? I’m not sure, but you get the idea. It’s a pity that all of this is overshadowed by the sensationalism that the media presents.

Unfortunately, reporting the sensational brings in the ratings and is better for business. I have witnessed a reporter here stating, “My editor taught me that if it bleeds, it leads”. The funny irony is that I wonder if he would like to make the headlines for being punched in the mouth for saying something stupid like that. I didn’t do it but, I really fought the urge to. I don’t think that all reporters believe the same way but sometimes you wonder.

We have accomplished so much good in this country that it would make your head spin if you were to compare the numbers and actions from before Saddam and after. We will continue to do good things here to the best of our ability. All that we ask is that, in the future, you hold the media accountable for their “Leading Stories” and don’t judge us by the few rotten apples we have in the batch. Remember, there were more murders in New York during the last few months than there were GI deaths in Iraq (cheap shot on Sen. Clinton but you get the point). We will handle our own criminals, keep the media out of it!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've read this post three times. Mostly because i think you hit the nail on the head just right (and i like your writing style too). i wish the great public could hear your 'voice' and get a true glimpse of what's going on.

Please stay safe


7:45 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Preach it, bro'! Keep telling it like it is...

3:08 PM  
Blogger barista grazioso said...

That was an excellent post. I couldn't agree with you more. Keep up the good work, and stay safe.

11:54 PM  
Blogger kissmekate said...

I agree how sad it is that a minority group dictates the opinion of the majority groups.

The media are a breed of their own and don't care who they hurt in getting that leading story.

Keep fighting for what you believe in and let the sick and twisted minds continue to twist stories in order to get a pay cheque.

At least your pay cheque is earnt honestly.

5:59 AM  
Blogger John said...

A very interesting post.

But, just as you say the media focus on isolated incidents that give a bad name to the military, so too do many people focus on isolated news outlets that give a bad name to the media.

There are plenty of serious, hard-working, responsible journalists who perform the role of 'watchdog.' You say you definitely don't support that role for the press, but would you rather not have known that President Nixon covered up Watergate?

It's just a matter of paying attention to the real news outlets -- and not paying attention to the rest.

10:33 PM  

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