As we celebrated Independence this week I’ve been thinking about the complaints about aircraft noise at the Navy Outlying Field at Coupeville and at Ault Field on Whidbey Island.
Military duty involves managing authority with responsibility I’m thinking in a very broad sense of the people who volunteer to serve in our military and, for the most part, do a very credible job. Conditions vary, but there is always the recognition that this is a very different line of work that is poorly understood by the majority of people being served and who are paying for your work.
As military individuals advance in seniority there is increasing authority and responsibility restrained by rules intended to keep everyone under control. Uniformity of behavior is desired and expected, but understood to be very difficult to attain. “Family life” is an active contradiction of words in many ways. Participation in civil government is highly regulated and discouraged or prohibited. Civil authority controls your profession and your life. Lots of Anniversaries and PTA Meetings are missed. You realize things at home aren’t easy while you are deployed. You may cry when you finally come home each time.
Delegation of authority and responsibility is encouraged in the military at all levels, but always at peril to the senior who has delegated because responsibility always rests with the senior person.
Military service is done with masses of very young people in their physical prime but at some distance from full maturity and ‘wisdom.’ Their strength, skill, and obedience are essential to accomplish each mission. They are individually and collectively similar to a race horse that has been prepared to perform in an explosion of energy when released, but are infrequently released in a real race. When the race is real it is deadly serious.
You have authority over them and responsibility for them and their performance during training and in war.
Topping this off, doing your job is very annoying to some of the people you work for.
You may be subject to exceptional punishment for smoking, drinking, and allowing your youthful sexual energy to follow natural courses that are prohibited in the military. I often wonder, “What did they think would happen?”
That’s what I’ve been thinking about when I listen to complaints about noise coming from aircraft practicing to protect us, and while we celebrated our independence.
Rufus R. Rose