NATIONAL SECURITY: WHAT OUR FIGHTING FORCES COULD LOOK LIKE
Here are a few thoughts about how we could make our fighting force more effective, more lethal and better able to protect the United States of America:
Set a new standard for fitness and actually enforce it. There is no reason why nearly every person in the United States Military could not maintain a body mass index of 25 or less. Going to 26 quadruples one’s risk of type 2 diabetes so this is not an arbitrary number chosen.
Actually create the environment on military bases to foster fitness instead of inculcating obesity as we do now. Yes, this means actually promoting the notion that our fighting forces need to be physically and mentally fit and prepared to defend the nation. This means creating a culture of regular exercise, a culture of modest calorie intake and a culture that eschews diets consisting of massive carbohydrate and calorie intake. This does not require a big brother technique on the base. It simply requires setting standards eliminating all the obvious places of abuse of the dietary requirements (starting with the deluge of high fructose corn syrup on the bases, the high carbohydrate, high calorie meals being served and replace these with some fantastic tasting, but very good for you protein based snacks and meals).
Change the culture by rewarding people for productivity instead of rewarding people for laziness. Yes I realize this will make me unpopular with all sorts of mid level bureaucrats in every sort of job in the country that implicates a culture of less and less activity, but think about it. Ask anyone in the military how to get ahead and they will begin explaining the politics to you. Getting ahead does not involve being more productive, working harder or doing better. It involves kissing the right asses, keeping your head down and creating the appearance of work at the proper moments. How do you change corporate culture? Well, there are dozens of great books on this, but let’s start by using the obvious levers such as rewards like pay, vacation time, and rank, all the obvious things that go the people who are the best schmoozers. Toss out this system of brown-nosing and replace it with one that attempts to recognize measurable productivity.
Imagine a fighting force in which the valuable administrators, the corporals, sergeants, lieutenants, captains and majors who make the whole system run were actually rewarded for getting their work done early and doing it well. They do not have to resort to tricks like leaving their lunch bag and hat on the desk with the light on so the colonel would think they are in the building when actually they are surfing the web at their apartment.
The United States taxpayers currently pay for something like half a million U.S. active duty service people deployed outside the United States at bases around the world. Those people could be representing America as the fittest, strongest, most vital people on the planet. But, it would take a culture change in the United States Military for this to take place. It would require recognition of the science of diabetes, health and nutrition- one that recognizes that cutting simple carbohydrates and overall calorie intake is critical to maintain fitness- emphasizes regular exercise and acknowledges the connection between mental and physical fitness and the ability to perform one’s job to the best level. This culture currently does not exist in our U.S. Military and in precious few places around the country. But I believe the U.S. Armed Forces represents an important area where a great difference could be made where great improvements in the health of the men and women who proudly serve could occur and where the national security could be improved. All it takes is leadership.