Academic journal article Military Review

Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

Academic journal article Military Review

Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

Article excerpt

BREACH OF TRUST: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

Andrew J. Bacevich, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2013, 238 pages, $26.00

Andrew Bacevich's Breach of Trust is a must read for policymakers, military professionals, and the citizens on whose behalf those groups serve. The only critique is that the book's title does not capture the richness of Bacevich's argument. His foundational argument is that the all-volunteer force has allowed 99 percent of the population to shirk the shared responsibility of national defense. Although this accusation has become trite over the last 11 years, Bacevich moves beyond the simple military versus civilian argument, identifying how the all-volunteer force is eroding the checks-and-balances construct upon which American democracy is based and creating perverse incentives that enable global adventurism.

Bacevich argues that initially, the all-volunteer force seemed like a "bargain" for both citizen and soldier. Citizens received a professionally trained military capable of protecting the nation, while remaining unburdened by the requirements of common defense. Soldiers received the approbation of 99 percent of the population who were not only grateful for their service, but more than willing to pay the costs of contracting common defense to the other one percent. Overtime, the population became unconcerned with how the professional Army was employed, as long as the costs were not immediate and life continued seemingly uninterrupted. In return, the soldier enjoyed an elevated status in society and vast improvement in the quality of life compared to their military ancectors.

Bacevich concludes that 40 years later, the decision to "abandon the tradition of the citizen-soldier" resembles less a "grand bargain" and more a millstone around the neck of American democracy. …

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