I was just doing a little re-reading of some recent posts and in the process I realized something rather odd. Recently I posted this entry, on the subject of sex slavery and male prostitution among Russian army conscripts. I chose the topic for several reasons, the main one being that it flies in the face of all those chicken little pundits who are constantly claiming that we’re on the verge of WWIII with Russia, as Russia is clearly not capable of waging such a war.
Abuse of conscripts, even if we exclude sexual exploitation, is still enough of a problem to severely hamper Russia militarily. Your signal soldiers, ADA(air defense), logistics, etc. cannot do their jobs properly when they have had barely any training and are being intimidated and abused by their higher ups. Of course even if we pretended the Russian military didn’t have problems with abuse of all sorts, there are still problems with its training nonetheless. Therefore it’s easy for a military history buff such as myself to get sidetracked into discussions about training deficiency, the short term of service, problems with conscription, et cetera, et cetera.
In the other article, I must admit I got sidetracked. I wrote about the vast difference between the US Army recruit and the training they receive versus that which a Russian conscript gets. In terms of military strategy and tactics, this is crucial since we live in an era when the average soldier must simply know more and be familiar with a wide variety of weapons and equipment, not to mention tactics. Gone are the days of the “grunt” who merely digs holes and shoots people. The infantryman must have enough knowledge to be able to act on his own initiative. And I’m sad to say, pro-Russia war nerds, but for all its many faults, the US military does a fine job of training its volunteers, and is currently light years ahead of Russia in this respects. But some where in that discussion about M203 grenade launchers and weapons qualifications, I lost sight of a very important factor, perhaps the most important factor.
Even if we ignore the superior weapons and infantry training given to all US Army recruits, by far the most important edge which the US military has as a whole over the Russian military is known in civilian terms as “not being forced into prostitution.” Sure, it is important that even in basic training recruits get to familiarize themselves with radios, anti-tank weapons, hand grenades, land navigation, and first aid, but not being brutally gang raped and pimped out is definitely, hands down, the best feature of the US military in terms of this comparison. That one factor easily makes all the other perks pale by comparison. I’m sure some Russian army survivors would agree, and they probably would have pointed that out were they able to read the blog entry in question.
Indeed, war nerdery can make a person not see the forest through the trees. I got so wrapped up in jargon and nostalgia for the youthful adventure of basic training that I totally forgot about the real issue here, that being how much better it is when you’re not forced into sex slavery. I apologize for this mix-up in priorities, and will endeavor not to do so again in the future. Yes, tactical training and equipment familiarization are crucial for soldiers in modern warfare. That being said, this is generally the case so long as you are not facing a realistic chance of being forced into prostitution. If there is such a probable scenario, then that is your main problem, and weapons qualification and familiarization must necessarily take a back seat.
Personally my military experience was far from stellar, and I often describe myself as a military historian who hates the military. That being said, I have to say that in spite of all the idiocy I saw in the US Army, they certainly kicked ass in the “not forcing people into sexual slavery” department. Passed with flying colors if you ask me. Not once did I see anyone even attempt to force someone into prostitution. I’m sure somebody in the past tried to do it, at least once, because there’s this specific law in UCMJ against “pandering,” basically trying to get someone into prostitution. But it seems to me that whatever measures they implemented to crack down on that were extremely effective, because I don’t remember seeing any pandering whatsoever. So now if people ask me for my best memories of being in the army, my new answer will be, “not being repeatedly beaten, robbed, exploited as slave labor, or forced into prostitution.” That was awesome.