One of the more popular articles at BV is this one on the U.S. military’s propensity to give everyone a trophy — in the form of lots and lots of ribbons — regardless of results. Illustrative of this are the uniforms of America’s generals and admirals, which look much like over-decorated Christmas trees. Shouldn’t these officers be busy, well, leading, rather than collecting ribbons and badges and other, mostly empty, symbols of praise? Often, ribbons and medals simply show that someone’s been there rather than done that. Military members get awards for changing station, or simply for enlisting, or for time served in uniform. It’s often all show, no go, to go along with no clear wins in any major war since World War II.
There’s little reason for most of these ribbons and medals and badges. They are a sign of grade inflation, of course, but also of severe narcissism and serious self-deception.
It’s time the U.S. military stopped chasing bits of cloth and metal and started focusing on defending the U.S. Constitution.
General Robert Neller, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, is in the news since he told Marines to get ready for a big fight. This doesn’t really alarm me. A military exists to be ready to fight, and the Marines place a premium on combat readiness. No — what bothers me is the nine rows of ribbons General Neller is sporting on his uniform.
He may need a bigger chest for all those ribbons
And compared to the other services (Army, Navy, and Air Force), the Marines are usually the most reluctant to hand out ribbons freely.
I wrote about this back in 2007: why medals and metrics in the U.S. military mislead. A big offender back then was General David Petraeus, whose uniform was festooned with ribbons and badges of all kinds, most of them of the “been there” rather than “done that” variety.
Petraeus: 10 rows…
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