For three years, I was a Department of the Army civilian employee while teaching English literature and composition at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. I have now been a military spouse, married to an Army officer, for about the same length of time. When thinking about the question this symposium raises, I found that the thorniest aspect was not the teleological angle (what the military is for) but instead what seems like it should be a straightforward matter of description (what the military is). Everyone more or less agrees that the Department of Defense is a massive enterprise. But each time I tried to understand exactly how large it is, in comprehensible terms, it was like trying to catch the wind.
The total number of active-duty military personnel, according to data released by the Department of Defense (DoD) in January, is 1,335,360. That number has been fairly stable for the past two decades, always hovering between 1.3 and 1.4 million. But DoD funding has grown substantially in recent years. Last fall, the Defense Department requested $715 billion from Congress for its proposed FY2022 budget, a 28 percent increase over the enacted budget for FY2015.
At an Appropriations subcommittee meeting in March 2019, to discuss the Army’s FY2020 budget, Senator Dick Durbin noted that “any institution would struggle to responsibly manage the mountains of money that we are pushing into the Department of Defense.” People are easy enough to count, but dollars and programs at that scale can be harder to pin down. Each senator on the subcommittee had time to discuss at most two or three concrete applications of DoD funding, and at least one acknowledged how daunting the paperwork before them was. “You have this list, which is really not a list,” Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, told then-Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. “It is a universe.”
So let us concede for now that the contours of the U.S. military universe at present are difficult to define. The laws that govern it are, strangely, easier to discern. For the past seven years—since General Mark Milley assumed the Army’s top-ranking officer slot as Chief of Staff in August 2015 (just as I was getting ready to teach my first semester at West Point)—the animating principle of the Army has been readiness.
I should pause here to acknowledge that the Army is the only branch of the military I am really familiar with: it’s one whose uniform I have never put on but have seen almost daily for seven years now, and whose rhythms and idiosyncrasies have bled into my life. I have raised my voice to a shout to try to compete with the roar of helicopters hovering outside of my classroom at West Point and closed my office window to drown out cries of “Air assault!” in the summer. One afternoon, during Branch Week—when the various branches within the Army (armor, infantry, aviation, field artillery, transportation and so on) place their most impressive vehicles and equipment on the lawn to wow cadets—I accepted the invitation of a kind pilot to hold class in the back of a (grounded) helicopter. As a military spouse, I have driven my husband to the airport while I was seven months pregnant to see him off for a deployment; I’ve delivered a baby without him by my side; I’ve cursed the sounds of gunnery and artillery fire that threatened to wake our napping daughter when she was an infant. I have asked other military spouses for advice on getting motor oil out of clothes and off the drum of my washing machine. The only real lens through which I see the military is the Army.
But the Army is also the branch of the military with the most outsize influence. With nearly five hundred thousand soldiers, it’s the largest branch, and the highest-ranking officer in the entire military, who serves as principal military adviser to the president, is, more often than not, an Army officer. Although General Milley is no longer the Army’s chief of staff, his priorities are still relevant, because the reason he left was to accept that top-ranking officer post: he became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 2019.
Early in his tenure as the Army’s chief of staff, in 2016, General Milley told senior Army leaders that “priority one is readiness.” It was a message he would repeat again and again. By the time Senator Schatz found himself wading through an itemized DoD universe in that Appropriations subcommittee meeting three years later, “readiness” was the word on everyone’s lips.
The term appears in Senator Richard Shelby’s opening statement, and in opening statements by both General Milley and Secretary Esper. It is used in reference to training, to buildings, to equipment and prepositioned stocks, to doctrine and processes, and to having adequate numbers of adequately prepared medics. In that meeting, readiness was also connected to procurement and research and development, since “modernization,” in General Milley’s words, is “really just another term for future readiness.” It played a starring role in one exchange between Senator Shelby and Secretary Esper, after Esper stated that the Army was able to repurpose $33 billion of existing funds:
SENATOR SHELBY: Did any of this have an impact on readiness at the moment?
SECRETARY ESPER: On current readiness, Mr. Chairman? No, sir. But will have a dramatic impact on future readiness.
SENATOR SHELBY: In the future. Yes.
SECRETARY ESPER: Dramatic.
In the Appropriations subcommittee meeting transcript, readiness is sometimes tied to tangible specifics. “Our goal remains 66 percent, two-thirds, of the active-duty Army Brigade Combat Teams and 33 percent of the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve units stay at the highest levels of readiness,” General Milley wrote in his opening statement. But elsewhere it devolves, as George Orwell said political language is wont to do, into “sheer cloudy vagueness.” If you read the transcript closely, you will find a curious and contradictory narrative, in which there was formerly a decline in readiness which the Army is now in the process of fixing—or has already fixed—or will fix in the foreseeable future, either by 2022 or 2028.
Grammatically, readiness seems to demand a direct object; what exactly are we getting ready for? You will not find a clear answer from eavesdropping on a single Appropriations subcommittee meeting. But you will be left with at least one crystal-clear impression, which is that the only way to achieve military readiness—or perhaps to keep it, if we do already have it—is to provide the Department of Defense with vast and unceasing sums of money.
When I first started thinking about readiness, I was taken aback by General Milley’s declaration that two-thirds of all active-duty battalions should be at the highest levels of readiness at all times. It seemed to me to violate the rules of common sense. There’s no obvious equivalent of war for an English professor, thankfully. But about fifteen years ago I took the GRE. Right this instant, I do not possess even 51 percent GRE readiness, mostly because I don’t expect anyone to present me with algebra or geometry problems anytime soon. If I had to take the GRE again I would prepare in earnest, starting with the quantitative-analysis section. But common sense tells me that if I had spent the last fifteen years maintaining continuous GRE readiness, I would’ve had less time and fewer resources to devote to the more urgent tasks before me as a graduate student, then as a teacher, and now as a wife, mother and occasional essayist.
The Army’s rhetoric surrounding modernization also set commonsense alarm bells to ringing. “We have one simple focus” to guide modernization, General Milley and Secretary Esper stated: “to make Soldiers and units more capable and lethal.” But isn’t there more to soldiering than lethality? Few tasks are ever as simple or exciting as they sound as first. Even raking leaves is only, like, 20 percent raking leaves, and 80 percent trying to keep the damned bag open to stuff the leaves inside. Life is filled with moments of necessary but unglamorous labor, and in the jobs where I’ve worked most closely with people—teaching and motherhood—such humble fare can constitute almost the whole of what needs to be done.
To clarify, I’m not saying that I want the Army to coddle soldiers. One thing I loved about teaching at West Point was the fact that cadets were mostly good-tempered and often hilarious. Little by little, I found out why. Sometimes it was because they’d woken up at 5 a.m. to get punched in the face for boxing, a required class for all plebes, women included. Of course, they were human beings: when they heard the alarm go off, they wanted to do anything other than wake up and almost immediately get punched in the face; but up they got, and then dressed, and threw and received punches in the pre-dawn dark. Or it was because they’d had a grueling hour in the pool for survival swimming, only to find out afterward that somebody had tied their boots together in the locker room as a joke, which left them sprinting to get to their next class. Or they’d listed their preferences for company athletics, indicating an interest in every sport known to man other than wrestling, but were therefore assigned to wrestle, and their competitor yesterday hadn’t trimmed his nails, and that was why one particular plebe had little moon-shaped cuts all over his hands and face one day. By the time they made it to my class, they tended to be jocular and talkative. There wasn’t much I could’ve done to scare or faze them, if I’d wanted to for some reason, and I found that in such a demanding environment literature could provide a little oasis of rigorous joy. (In a box somewhere, I still have a haiku series about company athletics written by the moon-cut cadet who loathed wrestling. It was just like Samuel Beckett said: En face le pire jusqu’à ce qu’il fasse rire—facing the worst until it turns to laughter.)
But cadets needed shelter, too, from time to time. Once I overheard a cadet in tears as she told the major with whom I shared an office about a demeaning, abusive NCO in her chain of command; not often, but occasionally, I heard from cadets directly about issues in their own lives: physical abuse at home, a parent with cancer, a relative or friend who had committed suicide. Even the toughest people have a limit; even the strongest and most accomplished individuals still need to rest, and to know that someone has their backs, is rooting for them, cares about their well-being. And what is true of cadets is true of soldiers and officers too. No one can function indefinitely without rest or support.
A report last year showed that between September 11, 2001—the start of the Global War on Terror—and 2021, an estimated 7,057 service members died in military operations, across all branches. But more than four times that number died from suicide during the same period, with an estimated 30,177 soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and veterans having taken their own lives. If four times as many service members have died from the job than on the job in the last twenty years, then here, too, common sense tells me that something important is being left out in the military’s readiness calculations. Over the past twenty years, both the frequency and variety of deployments has increased: soldiers are sent abroad for training and combat; at home the National Guard has been put to use not only after natural disasters but to relieve strained hospitals and schools, and to provide a presence at the border. The Army’s current policy aims for a “deployment-to-dwell ratio” of one to three, which means that if you are deployed for nine months, then ideally you won’t be deployed again in the 27 months after you return home. That’s still a lot of time away, and the strain on families is considerable; no one wants to miss a quarter of their married life or children’s childhood.
The Army is acutely aware of the fact that the suicide rate among active-duty personnel is rising. The current Chief of Staff, General James C. McConville, has shown admirable and appreciated concern for soldiers’ well-being. But at a professional development conference last year, he admitted to a reporter from Task & Purpose, “I haven’t been able to figure out how to cure suicides.” Dr. James Helis, director of the Army Resilience Directorate, told reporters at the same conference that the Army understands the “who” of the problem, but not the “why.” He added, “Is there something we’re missing? Is there a factor we’re not seeing?”
One thing, I might respectfully suggest, is the Army’s current understanding of readiness itself, both doctrinally and in terms of the way it plays out on the ground in the day-to-day life of combat brigades. In theory, the Army defines readiness two ways: it is both an actual condition of the armed forces and its individual constituents and units, and also a metric for assessing this condition. In practice, the current approach to readiness can perversely incentivize focus on the metric over the actual state of affairs, and, in its relentless operational tempo, it risks grinding down the very people and equipment it’s meant to bolster and prepare.
Army Doctrine on readiness can be found in Army Regulation 525-29: Force Generation—Sustainable Readiness. “Force generation” refers to the actual state of affairs, as it were—to all the materiel and personnel that the Army amasses, then moves to wherever it’s needed (“force projection”), then uses to achieve a military objective (“force employment”). Prior to World War II, the United States maintained only a small standing army. It worried about force generation and force employment only in times of war. When a war was declared, the Army relied on “the industrial might and the patriotic sense of the people” to quickly grow its capability and personnel. After the enemy was defeated, the Army shrank down again, its job done. But with the advent of the Cold War, approaches to both force generation and force employment changed. A large standing army was seen as a crucial part of deterrence, and the Army’s objective was not to win a declared war, but to prevent one from starting. Consequently, the DoD needed “a means to measure how effectively and efficiently the Army was generating forces” in order to meet threats that mostly hadn’t happened yet, and that everyone hoped would never actually happen at all.
Here’s where readiness enters the picture. Unnervingly, readiness doesn’t technically refer to the Army’s actual capabilities, but rather to the yardstick by which they’re measured: “Force Generation is the Army’s core function and Readiness is its defining metric.” This confusing terminology, wherein readiness-the-metric is naturally conflated with readiness-the-actual-state-of-affairs in thought and conversation, has laid the groundwork for considerable confusion in real life too. But more on that in a moment. Let’s get through the doctrine first.
The Army’s approach to readiness has changed several times since 1945. During the Cold War, the Army “used a sustained readiness method with static, tiered resource prioritization tied to war plans.” In particular, “static” Cold War readiness aimed to ensure that the Army could respond quickly to threats from the Soviet Union and North Korea and other “nation-state aggressors.” In the aftermath of 9/11, they switched to a “progressive readiness” plan (with the acronym ARFORGEN), which focused on current conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other terrorism hotspots. As counter-insurgency demands kept the Army busy, its readiness-as-an-actual-state-of-affairs to deter and fight nation-state aggressors naturally waned.
So in 2016, ARFORGEN was scrapped in favor of the current approach, called “Sustainable Readiness.” As far as I can tell, Sustainable Readiness is based on the assumption that with almost no expansion of its personnel and a huge expansion of its budget, the Army can magically do everything it’s ever done in the past, except now simultaneously. A small but technologically advanced standing army will continue to fight “known” counterinsurgency threats around the globe as needed; to deter great powers like Russia and China effectively, but also fight them in a multi-domain “Decisive Action contingency” war if deterrence fails; and to attend to additional “emergent” threats as they arise, while also modernizing the Army in order to be ready to do it all again tomorrow, and in a year, and a decade after that. That’s a tall order for an institution that has had difficulty with recruitment and retention in recent years.
The means by which Sustainable Readiness proposes to enable this remarkable level of military activity is by instituting a series of elaborate PowerPoint and Excel trackers, which commanders at the tactical, operational and strategic levels are required to update and send up the chain of command on a monthly or quarterly basis, as detailed in AR 525-30. In Army Doctrine, the function of this readiness documentation is to ensure that the military gets the funding it needs (Force Generation Phase II), in order to “set the conditions” for actually amassing materiel and personnel (Force Generation Phase III). So it makes sense for Army leaders to use that term frequently in Appropriations meetings. But the danger lies in commanders mistaking readiness-the-metric as an end in itself, rather than as a means to the end of readiness-the-state-of-affairs. Because to the extent that readiness (the metric) is being prioritized above force generation (the actual state of affairs), it is arguably starting to impinge on both the well-being of soldiers and the health of the force as a whole.
Commanders may find themselves, for instance, pressured by readiness-the-metric to cook the books. If you inherited a PowerPoint tracker showing an ocean of green, to signify ready vehicles, there’s got to be a massive temptation to keep those boxes green, regardless of what’s really happening in the motor pool. Even if you did want to make the metric align with reality, your boss might not be so keen. Because if your trackers turn yellow and red, then odds are good that his or hers will, too—and if the unit had months of green reports before you arrived, then it might look like you broke them. The result is a system that rewards PowerPoints that say every vehicle is functioning (whether they are or not), rather than those that accurately account for vehicles and equipment that have broken down under the strains of age and training. And because key leaders don’t stay in one position for very long, the path of least resistance is to lay low, take credit for a perfect report card, and let the reality become the next person’s problem, almost like a macabre game of musical chairs.
In addition to creating a gap between readiness and force generation, every time readiness-the-metric diverges from readiness-the-reality, fissures can erupt up and down the chain of command. A scrupulous commander who wants to set the record straight risks the ire of the person who will complete his or her yearly Officer Evaluation Report (OER), which could harm his or her prospects for promotion and full retirement. An ambitious commander, who wants to submit only the most impressive picture of his unit’s preparedness possible, may start to view anything less than perfection as an impediment to his personal success. In that case, he might start to see those below him in the chain of command—and here I refer to an organizational schema I learned from an NCO at a nail salon near West Point—as dirtbags, that is, as people who are choosing to do wrong when they truly know better and therefore deserve to be punished. In reality, they’re probably just knuckleheads: people who mean well but lack guidance about, say, proper maintenance procedures and how to order parts. In these instances, instruction would go further than blame in improving force projection.
Training metrics, too, can incentivize hitting theoretical targets rather than taking into account actual particulars. In the process of squeezing in one last round of training exercises last winter, a caravan of tanks and other tactical vehicles found itself inching precariously down icy slopes for almost a full 24 hours after the training was scheduled to end. Tanks did 360-degree spins. Some crews ran out of water and food; others didn’t have any heat in their vehicles; my husband developed mild frostbite in his feet and what appears to have been a permanent change in his ability to tolerate cold.
Here, too, something insidious is creeping into the chain of command. In theory, readiness is meant to make the Army more prepared, for more threats, more quickly. In practice, the emphasis on metrics might be depleting soldiers of energy and trust. PowerPoint—like all technology—is meant to be a tool that serves real people, not the other way around. But soldiers can feel less important than spreadsheets, OERs and other abstractions. And by encouraging leaders to think in terms of snapshots (each a single point in time), rather than a trajectory or narrative (the path by which we get from point A to point B), the current approach to readiness may be changing the way they plan, or don’t, for a day, a week, a month or a year out. In at least some units, dozens of messages can ricochet around on encrypted apps every night with thoughts on the day to come, eroding any work-life balance.
So jaded have seven years of readiness left some soldiers that even the commendable effort to reverse these trends by General McConville—whose speeches and writings evince a genuine respect and concern for soldiers and families that I truly appreciate—have been mistaken for just another exercise in PowerPoint bullshit. Sometimes they’re treated as one by commanders who, for instance, might view the process designed to help prevent soldier suicide as just another box to check or, worse, as a way to cover their own hides and shift blame to others if someone does die. “People First,” a soldier might say sarcastically in such moments, turning Orwellian a phrase that was not meant to be.
But often enough in Army rhetoric, I’ve noticed, people really do come last. You might catch a snippet of the challenges facing soldiers and their families—a quick reference to issues with housing, mental health, suicide and food insecurity—but then the focus turns back almost immediately to more exciting techno-bureaucratic matters. The usual formula is a quick sentence at the start of every speech or statement by senior leaders about what an honor it is to serve alongside the great men and women, etc., and then materiel and processes make up the meat and potatoes, and then two or three rushed references to soldiers, families, “quality of life” and “Army Values” are tacked on at the very end.
To be fair, I truly don’t believe that senior Army leaders are heartless. As I write this, General Milley is in Eastern Europe, visiting American troops who are currently amassing in response to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Between now and the time this issue appears in print, my husband will join them. It’s clear from General Milley’s rapport with soldiers that he really cares about them and enjoys their company. But it might be telling that the formula in the paragraph above is standard in outward-facing, funding-related texts. For, in the words of the King James Bible, “where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”
But if not readiness, then what? What is the military actually for? Here I defer to Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian general and military theorist whose greatest work, On War, provides a magnificent and eloquent introduction to the subject. On a basic level, Clausewitz would probably agree with AR 525-29 that force generation, force projection and force employment are the proper ends of an army. On a more philosophical level, he treats the conduct of war as a realm in which one might exercise Aristotelian virtue—the ability to discern and do the good, proper, right thing that any given situation warrants.
On War was unfinished when Clausewitz died in 1831, at the age of 51. His widow organized the extant notes and drafts and oversaw publication the following year. Though many of the tactical sections of the book have been rendered obsolete—best practices for “night attacks” aren’t what they were two hundred years ago—his first principles about war have endured. Clausewitz is perhaps most famous for saying that war is “a continuation of politics by other means” (although some argue that “politics with other means” is a better translation, because political and diplomatic efforts need not cease in wartime).
One of these first principles, then, is that every war has both a political dimension, in which one nation-state wishes to force another nation-state to submit to its will, and a military dimension, which utilizes violence as intelligently as possible to accomplish the political will. Neither dimension can be safely ignored. Another first principle is that war has a tendency to lead to extremes. Once a war has begun, Clausewitz writes, “there is no logical limit to the application” of force because each side “compels its opponent to follow suit: a reciprocal action is started which must lead, in theory, to extremes.”
And if the opponent is a hypothetical one, those theoretical preparations can just keep growing. If you were to plan out a theoretical war on paper, Clausewitz surmises, you might end up with something that attempts, like AR 525-29, to account for every eventuality. “From a pure concept of war, you might try to deduce absolute terms for the objective you should aim at and for the means of achieving it,” he writes, “but if you did so the continuous interaction would land you in extremes that represented nothing but a play of the imagination issuing from an almost invisible sequence of logical subtleties.” But, he concludes, “any such pronouncement would be an abstraction and would leave the real world quite unaffected.”
Though Clausewitz predicted something not too far off from deterrence in his writing—he called it “war by algebra,” in which fighting forces would grow and grow without ever clashing; instead, “comparative figures of their strength would be enough”—he didn’t imagine that it would gain traction in the real world. “The human mind,” he figured, “is unlikely to consent to being ruled by such a logical fantasy.” And perhaps in nineteenth-century Prussia it was. But the American mind, obsessed with protean invention and reinvention and strongly motivated by money, is prone to embrace abstraction. We seem to gravitate toward metrics and mediation, and in the Army’s defense, it’s worth noting that the triumph of abstraction is not unique to the military. No Child Left Behind may be gone, but metrics in schools are here to stay. Physicians spend more time with electronic health records than with patients, sometimes by a wide margin. Facebook has replaced friendship for middle-aged Americans; texting, talking on the phone or in person for slightly younger ones; screens, toys for the youngest. The list could go on.
Because following war to its abstract extremes would “result in strength being wasted, which is contrary to other principles of statecraft,” Clausewitz assumed that governments would be forced to make a trade-off between guns and butter, that all war chests would eventually run dry. As presumably they will. But fiat currency has changed the economic equation considerably. Felix Somary, an Austrian-Swiss banker and diplomat, once calculated that if nations had been compelled to keep their currency backed by physical gold in the twentieth century, then World War I could not have lasted more than two years and World War II could never have started at all. Meanwhile, the technical details of both government bureaucracy and the profession of arms in the 21st century make it rare to find a politician whose knowledge of statecraft encompasses both realms, which further complicates the process of military oversight.
In addition to its wastefulness, the problem with abstract warfaring is that wars aren’t fought on paper (although they are now fought online). Short of mutual assured destruction, wars still play out—as we are tragically seeing on the news right now—in the messy world of space-time, which is governed by the laws of physics, but also by chance and the unpredictable vagaries of human behavior. “No other human activity is so continuously or universally bound up with chance,” Clausewitz writes. “And through this element of chance, guesswork and luck come to play a great part in war.” Human elements, too, are impossible to predict and quantify. “The relations between material factors are all very simple,” he writes. “What is more difficult to grasp are the intellectual factors involved.” The moral and psychological qualities of a people “cannot be classified or counted. They have to be seen or felt.” But the “effects of physical and psychological factors form an organic whole.”
Consequently, he says, much about war cannot be planned in advance but must be intuited, guessed at and dealt with as particular actualities unfold. The skilled commander is one who can keep in mind all elements of the “paradoxical trinity” that Clausewitz says pushes and pulls at war, like three magnets. This paradoxical trinity is “composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force” (which he regards as mostly the realm of the citizenry); “of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam” (which is the domain of the military); and “of its element of subordination” to reason “as an instrument of policy” (which is the responsibility of the government).
The military is explicitly tasked with handling the non-rational elements of chance, but the skilled commander must also be attuned to the rational and irrational elements of war, too. He adopts a catholic perspective, taking in the entire complicated picture at once, and can rapidly adjust to the minutest shifts in political, military and moral factors. For Clausewitz, Frederick the Great embodied this kind of military virtue in his 1760 campaign during the Third Silesian War. “What is really admirable is the King’s wisdom,” he writes. “He did not try to undertake anything beyond his strength, but always just enough to get him what he wanted.” Clausewitz continues:
His whole conduct of war, therefore, shows an element of restrained strength, which was always in balance, never lacking in vigor, rising to remarkable heights in moments of crisis, but immediately afterward reverting to a state of calm oscillation, always ready to adjust to the smallest shift in the political situation. Neither vanity, ambition, nor vindictiveness could move him from this course; and it was this course alone that brought him success.
In any age, Clausewitz speculated, it takes an intuitive genius to achieve this level of skill as a commander. But it is unclear whether a person in possession of military excellence in this way would be able to exercise it in the contemporary Army, given how frequently positions rotate. Clausewitz’s ideal commander needs not only vision and wisdom, but also authority and longevity to see a mission through.
Today, I’m told, ascertaining relative material capabilities is far more unpredictable than it was two hundred years ago. In an age of technological innovation and enormous dependence on computing power, we don’t really know what our relative capabilities are compared to our rivals. So perhaps it’s no wonder that, in the face of uncertainty about even physical resources, estimations of metaphysical resources, as it were—the will, the intellect, the moral qualities of an enemy and of our own troops—are often misjudged or underappreciated.
The antidote to all this uncertainty, according to Clausewitz, is not technological overmatch or any other inanimate object, chart or algorithm. It is courage and the peculiar human capacity for judgment, which—unlike any tool or technology—is alive and responsive enough to deduce from partial and incomplete information an accurate picture of the whole. Ex ungue leonem: from the claw, the lion. From the smallest clues, we can somehow make sense of the world. And from a thorough picture of the whole, we can determine what virtue or excellence calls us to do, given our particular strengths and weaknesses and the myriad realities of the situation before us. That is, we can arrive at the proper course of action for each moment in time. How to develop this military virtue, and how it can translate into a form of authority that inspires and guides others, will never fit comfortably on a PowerPoint. But it may well be what the military is for.
This essay is part of our new issue 27 symposium, “What is the military for?” Click here to see the rest of the symposium.
Art credit: Yeon J. Yue. Lawton, Oklahoma, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.