Letter: Liberally educated military would save lives

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

To the Editor:

Following Peter Makhlouf’s ’16 Feb. 5 column “ROTC: Return of the criminals,” several issues warrant careful scrutiny.

Even if one truly despises the military and regards it solely as a vehicle of destruction, oppression and suffering, the country will always need an organization devoted to national defense. As unconventional warfare becomes more common, even the military’s staunchest critics should want liberally educated, culturally sensitive officers among those advising elected officials about security policy and, just as importantly, performing ground-level diplomacy like meeting with tribal elders in the Middle East to implement counterinsurgency measures.

Atrocities and civilian casualties are an inevitable, albeit unfortunate, reality of armed conflict for all parties involved, not just the United States. The only way to eliminate atrocities is to avoid any situation with the potential for social, cultural or political tension. The potential for atrocities will continue to exist as long as human beings inhabit the earth. It is not the policy of the United States Armed Forces to commit atrocities. Liberally educated military leaders may help policy makers formulate better approaches to conflict resolution, including those that are not contingent upon force. But the military does much more.

As an Air Force Pararescueman, I have been exposed to the military’s extensive training and unparalleled capabilities. I have seen lives saved and humanitarian assistance provided firsthand in remote, austere environments. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to respond to natural disasters in the United States in areas accessible only by helicopter, as well as to provide critical care to civilians all over the world whose medical conditions were unrelated to hostile action from any group, sometimes at great personal risk. My colleagues in Florida were among the first health care and technical rescue providers to reach Haiti following the earthquake there several years ago. Blanket accusations of criminal behavior directed at the military only serve to suppress intelligent discussion and are far below the level of discourse expected from an institution of Brown’s caliber.

I concede that integrating ROTC onto Brown’s campus while maintaining the University’s academic and social identity is no simple endeavor. But partisanship and emotional leanings should not interfere with legitimate debate.

 

Doug Kechijian ’02