Sunday, June 29, 2008
I remember some years ago a news story that reported, then First Lady, Hillary Clinton wanting to rid the White House of uniformed military. Back then I was a serving officer and thought the whole idea blasphemous. Today, I’m not so sure she didn’t have a point.
If you look at news footage of less-developed countries, uniformed personnel surround their heads of state. Some of the Latin American countries come to mind as they have a habit of placing a uniformed officer behind the president when he speaks in public. It’s as if the military is looking over the president’s shoulder making sure that he stays in-line. Personally, I find it a little creepy.
I believe that the United States, as well as other nations, should strive to be above that sort of image. The President doesn’t need a Marine standing there opening the door for him every time he leaves the office. I’m certain that the Corps could better utilize the young Marine in another capacity. Is the Corps so awash with highly trained Marines that it can afford to make them doormen? I don’t buy the security argument either as I believe that’s the Secret Service’s purview. I think the President can open his own doors as it’s not like his hands are full. Besides in makes the President appear less royal. You don’t see a Royal Marine opening the door at Number 10 do you?
Having been stationed in Washington DC I realize that the military does have a lot of legitimate ceremonial duties, but I contend that many of those associated with or around the White House are unnecessary and often send the wrong image to the world. Why must visiting heads of state be greeted by formations of flag-bearing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines? I think that we’re past that now, and those guys and gals can be better used elsewhere. We are at war, aren't we? We spent a lot of time, energy and money training the finest uniformed men and women in the world, let’s allow them to do the job which they joined up for in the first place.