If you and I are close on social media, or real life, you probably knew that I took two and a half months off this year to attend Officer Training School (OTS) in order to pursue my commission in the Air National Guard. The whole endeavor was fairly intense, so blogging about it in its entirety would be virtually impossible, but I want to highlight a few aspects that I think will be worth remembering throughout the rest of my career.
I grew up during Operation Desert Storm and I would one day enlist to serve during Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom; and I'm not alone - my entire generation has had one single unifying fact that binds us together: we've been a generation at war. More specifically, we've been a generation that has been engaged in an unconventional war with very asymmetrical forces and we've seen a complete overhaul of the modern war fighter. As a result of my employment within the Department of Defense, coupled with my insatiable curiosity, I have been following our engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq with great interest.
So it should come as no surprise that when former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, released a new book - I jumped at the chance to read it.
I am a man of the ripe old age of twenty-three, and while my generation may lack some of the experiences of past generations, we carry an interesting perspective on life that must be acknowledged for its importance. We have always been a generation at war.
The realization that our generation has always been in war is not a solemn one for me, it's actually quite a trivial matter; statements like: "We've always been at war," or "My father, brother, husband, or myself may deploy and not return [the same]" have become facts of life. I say them with the same emotion and conviction that I would tell a child that the Earth revolves around the Moon, or that there aren't monsters under his bed. There is no trepidation, anxiety, or fear in my affirmation of these simple truths; they merely exist.
They exist in the same purgatory as this perpetually never ending conflict exists. This purgatory we find ourselves in is one of our own creation and its one that thousands every year seek to escape. We find ourselves in a limbo that we know nothing outside of, because it's all that we have ever been taught. We grew up in a post 9/11 world, where terrorism has surpassed communism as the 'big bad boogie man' and regulation for safety at the expense of freedom has become the status-quo.