- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Perhaps the military's chronic recruiting and retention problems are worse than anyone imagined. That's the kindest explanation possible for the Army's new slogan, "An Army of one."

While it may not help the Army reach any recruiting targets, the slogan is a laser-guided index of the politically correct thinking currently operating in the Army's highest echelons.

Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera said, "I feel as if we are conveying a more accurate view of the men and women who comprise our Army." That may be true, if the Army consists of Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The slogan is purportedly aimed at independent young adults blown off by the regimentation demanded by the military. Mr. Caldera claimed, "It speaks to the individual strengths of each soldier and their part within the overall Army force."

Putting aside the fact that finding a rebellious teen-ager is approximately as difficult as finding a Ravens fan in Baltimore, an "overall Army force" is precisely the point a group of individuals who subvert their wills to the good of the unit and, one hopes, the good of the nation. The motto of the Marine Corps, "Semper fidelis," or always faithful, speaks to the same principle faithfulness to comrades and country.

Teamwork is a critical component of any military operation, even if it is merely (according to "Murphy's Rules of Combat") to give the enemy someone else to shoot at. Scholar F.E. Adcock observed, "Battles are sometimes won by generals; wars are usually always won by sergeants and privates." For that matter, "armies of one" can usually be best identified by their headstones, since teamwork often helps to keep the individual members of the team alive.

Combat soldiers depend on noncombat teams to do their duty as well. Since high performance often equals high maintenance, every combat plane used over Serbia's skies needed numerous maintenance personnel to keep it combat capable. Any general will agree that truck drivers are as important as tank drivers.

The Army seems to have forgotten this, and is attempting instead to impose a vision of a sensitive soldier who calls the shots. On the Army's web site, one of the first items listed under "The Army Vision" is the following statement: "Soldiering is, and always will be, an 'Affair of the Heart.' "

Yet soldiering never has been an affair of the heart, unless that is the part of the enemy that soldiers are supposed to aim at. Nor is soldiering supposed to be about peacekeeping missions, not asking and not telling, or awarding black berets for the military equivalent of Boy Scout duty.

Soldiering will never be about being "an army of one," although if the current leadership is fired, it may again be about being "all that you can be."

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