Army Secretary on the Service and Society
“What drives me personally is the view that the more the Army looks like society and the more voices we can bring in, the stronger that we’re gonna be.”
— Eric Fanning, outgoing Secretary of the Army
The idea that it is good for the US military to reflect society has been around for a long time — but it is predicated on an underlying assumption: That is, society is decent, honorable, and of moral character.
If society is not those things, then the military shouldn’t “look like” society — rather, it should be made up of men and women who are better than the average of society. The perception (truth notwithstanding) that the US military is made up of honorable and upright troops is at least part of the reason the military routinely ranks at the top of respected institutions every year.
What the US military does not need is a cross-section of a society that is obese, criminal, entitled, addicted, self-centered, or otherwise of ill-repute — simply because that’s what society “looks like.”
The military does often reflect the society from which it is drawn, but that is as much an acknowledgement of the problems within the military as it is the achievements. And when those “reflections” of society fail to meet the higher standard required of those in the military service, they are justifiably discharged.
The end result is the military, as a culture, should reflect only the best of society — not look just like it.