The US Navy’s chief of information, Rear Admiral Kirby, laments that there’s a “military-civilian gap”. But what he doesn’t understand is that it exists only to him and those in Ruling Class circles.
In more than 10 years of war, we in the military have gone to great expense and trouble to listen to the concerns of foreign peoples and cultures. We have learned Dari and Arabic and Pashto. We have sat cross-legged in shura and tribal councils. And yet I worry that we do not pay our fellow Americans the same courtesy.
It’s time that we do a better job understanding and relating to the people we serve.
Really? Has he been reading William “Troops are vile scumbag mercenaries who should grovel before their betters” Arkin‘s pieces?
Kirby’s perspective is horribly distorted.
We do not talk with them. Too often, we talk at them. We are the guest speakers, the first-pitch-throwers, the grand marshals. We show them the power of our capabilities through air shows, port visits and other demonstrations. This outreach is important, but it isn’t always a two-way street. And it doesn’t improve our understanding of the society we defend.
No, Kirby, you’re an admiral and chief of information. You talk at people, you are the guest speaker, the first-pitch-thrower, the grand marshal. You attend and orchestrate the dog-and-pony shows.
This lament comes up a lot from the left, and sometimes it comes up from those stuck inside the DC bubble.
I’ll address it the same way I did last time:
There are two Americas. There are those who serve, those who know those who serve, who understand service to the country, and those who don’t. Leftists and mainstream media writers are constantly scribbling about this. Read enough and you’ll find it shows up all the time. They lament that that the military isn’t representative of the nation, especially since we’ve switched to a volunteer system. It’s not an uncommon thing to notice. But it’s not a disconnect between the broader US public and the military.
It’s a divide between the Country Class and the Ruling Class. The military is the Country Class, and the Ruling Class always wonders why they aren’t represented enough. They wonder why the military is societally so far away from them, the same way they don’t understand farmers, truckers, miners, etc.
I guess I should amend that. Once you’re an O-7, you’re crossing over into the Ruling Class.
Kirby is an admiral and chief of information – he’s firmly in the Ruling Class. Off the top of my head, I can name 10 coworkers who are veterans in my job. Outside of work, back in regular life, I can come up with at least two friends from circles as far back as high school who are veterans – in circles that weren’t very military-oriented. If I count family and those who’ve served, I end up with 5 off the top of my head. The military and veterans don’t talk at people the way the Chief of Information Admiral does… because they aren’t the Chief of Information Admiral.
They’re people you have conversations with. The only “talking at” comes in the form of telling people about things they have limited to no experience about – which is true of any profession.
If you end up hanging out with a gearhead and know nothing about cars, you may feel “talked at”, but that’s just because you’re getting up to speed. Even if you know about muscle cars or imports, you may find yourself getting “talked at” as you’re brought up to speed on rat rods.
If I talked to the owner/builder of that ride, I expect to get talked at, because I know very little about it – but if I’m engaged in conversation, I’m probably going to learn.
The rest of the Admiral’s piece, when seen with the understanding that he’s part of the Ruling Class, makes sense. He seems to lament a disconnect between himself and the civilian world. But it isn’t a military-civilian disconnect. It’s between himself and his DC cronies against the Country Class. He even writes about cultivating relationships with the Ruling Class, and yet somehow doesn’t understand that’s the problem.
Naturally he, as a Ruling Class professional leader who talks at people, has decided to talk at us again and tell us all how we need to live and act.