The Military “Give a S**t” Spectrum

Let’s face it: the Army can be a place that wears you down, both physically and mentally. It takes a special kind of person to be able to take the brand of crazy that the Army pushes year after year and walk away from it relatively unscathed. As such, it seems like you usually get several different types of people that manage to make it to that ten-year mark of service.

First off, you’ve got the overly-motivated person who’s still acting as though it’s their first day in the military. They’re the majors or sergeants first class that still wear high and tights, own Army-themed apparel, and don’t understand why people leave the military. Their enthusiasm is nauseating and one suspects that when they go home at night they enter their home, sit down facing a blank wall, and simply stare at it all night until they reboot for the next day.

Next you get the ones who probably *shouldn’t* still be in uniform. In normal society we call these people “crazy.” In the Army they’re called “seasoned.” Whether they’ve been on too many deployments or not enough, they use lingo like “we’re gonna go in there and stack bodies,” which should make you wonder just how they envision an operation going. Polite people refer to them as the “break glass in time of war” type of person, while the rest of us would like to see them behind glass or at least out of uniform before they do something colossally illegal/stupid.

Then you have the incredibly talented, intelligent, and passionate officers and NCOs that have been bashing their heads against the brick wall of military bureaucracy for ten years. They fight for every hill and for every soldier. They are amazing leaders who inspire their troops and are beloved by them. However, at the ten year mark, they realize that they are getting promoted and recognized at the same pace as the mouth-breathers and window-lickers. After all this time of fighting, they are burnt out and exhausted. And so they leave.

Which leaves us…

The most dangerous ones: the ones that have seen all the stupidity that comes with ten years of military service and decide that they’re okay with it. They are not only immune to the “hurry up and wait” mentality but seem to thrive off it. They are not motivated in any way, they are just…there. They have no special talents to speak of, are not noted leaders, and don’t often care about the troops they lead. They simply exist. However, since they can tolerate the BS and have remained when the talented troops are gone, they get promoted. And then promoted again. And unless they’re caught, they rise to levels of rank not commensurate with their mediocrity.

Lastly, you’ve got the rest of us. Neither dull nor brilliant, we simply muddle our way through, attempting to avoid the poor leaders and stay close to the ones that shine. Often our motivation is simply spite: the desire to hang on long enough to get to a point where we can make some changes and hopefully watch those bad leaders retire. And we spend our days in fear of becoming the very people that we despise. Which is why we’re all cynical, jaded, and have turned to sarcasm as our weapon of choice. We can’t believe we’re gonna try to do ten more years of this.


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About the Editor: Angry Staff Officer is an Army engineer officer who is adrift in a sea of doctrine and staff operations and uses writing as a means to retain his sanity. He also collaborates on a podcast with Adin Dobkin entitled War Stories, which examines key moments in the history of warfare.

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