A Military Redirect

When I think about recent military news (obscene budgets, drones killing civilians, not caring for vets, etc.), I get super pissed off. So I tried to reframe my thinking. We’ve already allocated the military budget for 2022, we’re not getting that money back. What’s something good we could ask them to do. Something like this:

Americans: We urgently need to get the whole world vaccinated against Covid before there’s another variant. Until the world is vaccinated, our lives — and heck, our whole economy — won’t be safe. This is true for every other country as well.

US Military: Pick us! That’s something we could do quite readily. We’re actually designed and organized for massive campaigns like this.

Americans: Hmmm. This doesn’t seem like your area of expertise. Maybe stick with drones and stuff.

US Military: Not true! Our entire purpose for existing is to keep the country safe — from ANY threat. Covid is the current most dangerous threat. So this is 100% our area of expertise.

Americans: Okay. But how will you pay for it?

US Military: That’s the best part. We have more money than God. The government just gave us $768 billion just for 2022. And that was $24 billion more than we asked for. We’ve got the budget for this covered.

Americans: So then how would you solve this?

US Military: Well, one of our biggest strengths is quickly gathering and relocating materials and resources to where they are needed most. And we already have some infrastructure on the ground in many countries. We have about 500,000 active duty personnel ready for assignments. We can do this.

Americans: But what about the actual vaccines? How will you get them?

US Military: We could just buy them. Or we could give the formula to every country so they can manufacture them locally. Or, we could take over a manufacturing facility and make them ourselves. Or heck, if Congress officially declares war on Covid, we can literally demand current manufacturers do whatever we need. This is not a project we should wait for the “free market” to fix. It’s a good place for government intervention.

Americans: Hold up. Isn’t the military full of anti-vaxxers? 

US Military: I mean, there are more than we’d prefer, but it’s not actually a huge concern. For example, by last month the Army and Navy were each 98% vaxxed, followed by the Air Force at 97.5%, and the Marine Corps at 95%. (As a bonus, vaccine mandates could be a great way for us to weed out the people who make the military less safe.)

Americans: I don’t know. This all sounds really expensive. 

US Military: I can not emphasize enough how much money we have. We have so much money, that we have no idea where huge portions of it go. Like, we NEVER have to balance our budget or be responsible for tracking the dollars we spend. 

I’m embarrassed to say it, but we facilitate more waste and financial corruption than pretty much any other organization in the world. Don’t worry about how to pay for this, because we essentially have a bottomless budget.

Americans: Are you sure you’re up for this? It seem like more of a doctor job.

US Military: We hear you. And guess what: we have doctors in the military too! The US Medical Corps is made up of 5,000 active duty and reserve commissioned medical officers, and there are TONS of other medical personnel too. For an intense, short (maybe 3 months?) campaign like this, I’ll bet we can get a whole lot of civilian doctors involved as well.

Americans: This just doesn’t seem feasible. Way too much work and organization.

US Military: I assure you we are trained for exactly this sort of massive undertaking. It’s the perfect assignment for us. Quickly procuring vaccines, getting them to where they need to be, communicating how they should be distributed — these are all tasks where we would shine.

Americans: I’m not sure people will listen to you when you ask them to get a vaccine, lots of people don’t trust you.

US Military: This is true. Outside of the US, we would need to make sure that trusted community leaders are the ones interacting with fellow citizens. But we can do that! We can mobilize volunteers — locals who are willing to help out, the Peace Corps, service missionaries, etc. And remember we have endless budgets, so we could also hire people for this campaign and not rely on volunteers — which means we could create jobs.

We should also note that in the US, those who are most vaccine-hesitant have a big overlap with those who are most pro-military. So having the military ask people to get vaccinated “for the good of the country” and to “support our troops” could be very effective.

Americans: I’m still suspicious. What will you get out of it?

US Military: Honestly, we could use some good PR right now. People are starting to figure out how much money we waste, and that the money could go to improving their communities instead. So giving us a chance to save the world via a really efficient and effective vaccine rollout would be a big plus for us. 

We’re actually confident volunteer enrollment would go up if people understood the military was capable of awesome stuff like this; campaigns that do practical work to protect our country versus endless military occupations and drone warfare that too often kills civilians.

Americans: Well, this is sounding like a no-brainer. But if all this is true, then why haven’t you figured out stuff like housing and medical care for veterans who need it? 

US Military: We’re completely baffled by this too. We’re asked to spend money and use resources for all sorts of silly and unnecessary things (did you see our jetpack?). But it’s like there’s some sort of unwritten rule that we can’t use time, energy, or money to fix the most basic community problems.

I mean, if we were given a command to provide housing and healthcare for every veteran, we could literally take care of this in less than a week.We own buildings and land all over the country, in both urban and rural areas, including all the big cities. Some of those buildings are actually living spaces — barracks, bunks, housing, that sort of thing. Or we could quickly build new housing on government land. We’re really good at doing that too. The military and government owns land everywhere.

And once you can see we’ve solved the veteran’s issues, you could also let us solve homelessness for everyone. We would love to do it. We have no idea why we haven’t been asked to do so. Just give us the command. We already have the money and resources.

Americans: So you really think you could get the whole world vaccinated in just a few months?

US Military: Yes. We definitely could. Please ask us to do so! We’re built for this. We exist for this. And if you don’t, the $768 billion will probably just go toward stuff that kills more civilians.

[End of thread]

Hey, if I got to choose, our unfathomably huge military budget would be redirected to meeting needs in our communities — redirected toward things like healthcare, education, housing, food, and infrastructure.

This essay (originally a thread on Twitter) was a helpful mental exercise to reframe to think about positive things an organization like the military could achieve. My first thought was a worldwide vaccine effort — because I know local National Guard units have already helped with this in some cities — but there are other projects the military could tackle too (or instead).

Do I actually think the ideas in my thread will actually happen? Well, I’m not in charge, so probably not. : ) But I think it’s really helpful for us to think about how military budgets could be redirected. Or, if our leaders aren’t willing to redirect funds, then it’s good to think about what we could ask the military to accomplish, with their massive budget and endless resources, especially when we’re not at war.

If you could redirect military budgets, how would you reallocate funds?

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