Social Question

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Do you have the right stuff to be a good soldier?

Asked by Dr_Lawrence (19408 points ) May 16th, 2012

Like many others, I have great respect for people who have served their countries as soldiers, with honour and distinction, both in times of war and peace.
Setting aside your age or physical fitness, do you have the personality, mental toughness and self-discipline to be a good soldier?

Do you think that your position on the broad continuum between Liberal and Conservative is related in any way to your fitness to be a good soldier?

Does your personal financial status (rich, comfortable, poor) play any role in your suitability for military service?

This is a social question but I encourage serious, on-topic answers.

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20 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I would have been a horrible soldier. I would hate following orders without explanation. I’m sure I would catch on quickly in basic training to keep that to myself and to do the “sir, yes sir” crap without batting an eyelash. But I would be like most of the smart people I know who were drafted: looking for every opportunity to get out as soon as possible, and in between, working to subvert the system as much as possible.

I grew up during Vietnam. I know it wasn’t the soldier’s fault, but I think we have a civic duty to stand up against things that are wrong, and this would include the US illegal and immoral invasion of Vietnam.

Nowadays, there is no draft and people volunteer for the armed services. There is some question as to whether they know enough to be said to be making a moral choice when they join. Some find out later that they can’t stand what they are doing. Others, for whatever reason, continue to believe they are doing the right thing despite the clear hatred of so many of the locals.

Anyway, I’m not made out of the stuff soldiers are made out of. I’ve known this from a very early age. I do associate my point of view with liberal political beliefs.

Blackberry's avatar

Most people can adapt. I’ve only seen one or two people that couldn’t handle it, but they were for stupid reasons. One guy was just a spoiled brat with rich parents and didn’t want to do real work, the other guy just couldn’t stop partying and doing drugs.

I hate being in the military, but I do it because it’s a job.

King_Pariah's avatar

I hate authority, I learned that in the army, I am not a good soldier but I am a hell of a lone wolf.

tups's avatar

I don’t believe I have the personality, mental toughness or self-discipline to be a soldier. I’m too fragile for that, I think. If I had to participate in a war and shoot somebody or see somebody being shot, I would most likely fall apart. I’m against violence, only with a few exceptions, so that would also be a factor.

ucme's avatar

No, because I happen to think that war, huh, good god now, what is it good for, absolutely nothing…say it again. There’s got to be a better way…yeah, huh….....
I do own a couple of pair of combat pants though, bit roomy around the hips, but very comfortable.

ragingloli's avatar

Nope, I am not a monster lusting after blood.

DaphneT's avatar

I would have been a good soldier, back when I was young enough to be one. I would have responded well to defined rules and regulations; structure and routine make me happy, not having to think for myself seems like an ideal kind of life, from this age’s perspective. If today I had to be a soldier, not a good fit. I like structure and routine, but I want to be the one in charge.

TexasDude's avatar

@ragingloli says the fellow who regularly discusses annihilating the entire human race. Also, generalizations are fun!

As for @Dr_Lawrence, here are my answers:

Setting aside your age or physical fitness, do you have the personality, mental toughness and self-discipline to be a good soldier?

Maybe. I’ve been through some really tough and weird shit in my life, but I don’t know really how it would compare to being a soldier. I know that I can handle more than most people because I have often been called upon to be a pillar for people in need, but I don’t know if that even amounts to a hill of beans in a military context.

Do you think that your position on the broad continuum between Liberal and Conservative is related in any way to your fitness to be a good soldier?

Not really. I reject the liberal-conservative paradigm. If anyone asks, I tell them I’m a classical liberal, out of convenience, but that is only a poor descriptor of my actual political views. I don’t think these views would interfere with military service.

Does your personal financial status (rich, comfortable, poor) play any role in your suitability for military service?

Possibly. I’m definitely not rich, but I’m educated with very little debt and I have a broad support structure that many people don’t have the benefit of having. That said, I wouldn’t go enlisted if I was strapped for cash. With my education, I’d go OCS, if possible. The benefits are much more tempting.

jerv's avatar

Let’s just say that my Navy years were a bit rough due to my issues with blind obedience and my inability to keep my opinions to myself ;)

Political leanings have no bearing; though Conservatives tend to do better on paper due to the fact that they and the military both value tradition and status quo, there are also plenty of young people around who tend to be more Liberal. But a common attitude is that you are serving your country and duty-bound to obey all lawful orders from your appointed superiors regardless, so politics really doesn’t play a huge role in the military.

Financial status may play a role. If you are too spoiled to handle being stacked three-high and sharing a bedroom with dozens/hundreds of other people, eating food that make McDonalds look like four-star cuisine, and having odd hour (sometimes many of them in a row) then the military isn’t for you. In that regard, the non-rich tend to do a bit better (at least in the enlisted ranks). If nothing else, a normal person earning $1200–2000/month won’t be as bitter about taking a cut in pay as someone who is used to $1200–2000/week.

Sunny2's avatar

As a veteran of Army service, I have to say, unequivocally, no. Because of circumstances, I was excused from basic training, so I never marched. Working in Army hospitals, I was really never given orders. I was told what to do, but never barked at. I was free to do as I pleased on weekends. It’s just as well. I would not have done well with what is considered normal Army activities.

Symbeline's avatar

As far as my mental side goes, I do not have what it takes at all. They would totally reject me. While I am quite logical, I never apply practicality to it. I’m too insecure, I overreact all the time, I panic for nothing and have a hard time dealing with even minor stressful issues. Emotional fuckery is an issue as well, which would be amplified by what I think it means to be a soldier. I am independent and don’t like authority; but not because it insults me to be told what to do or anything. Because I like being on my own and doing my own shit, and constant authority would be a great hindrance in what is simply a great part of my emotional well being and happiness. I’m also an alcoholic. They probably don’t want alcoholics as people meant to protect your country.
Also, I heard stuff about training in the military, and I’m not sure how accurate it is, but if you don’t cut it or have a hard time with the training, you can take a lot of crap from the other trainees you’re with. I probably wouldn’t be able to hack that.

Physically, I’m a wuss; but that could change with the proper training and good health keeping, I guess. I’m sure I could cut it if I wanted to. Maybe there’s stuff in the military I could do, but being a soldier is not one of them.

tinyfaery's avatar

No, and I’m proud to say it.

woodcutter's avatar

Been there done that.For me it was the garrison bullshit that was never ending. I liked being in the bush a lot but with budget constraints at the time it wasn’t possible to do it enough. I was excited to go to Grafenwoer. I miss the action. If you haven’t sent a 200 lb round down range you haven’t lived..

Paradox25's avatar

Setting aside your age or physical fitness, do you have the personality, mental toughness and self-discipline to be a good soldier? If anybody actually tries to answer this question (without actually having been in the military) then they may be answering this question prematurely. Nobody knows those answers until they’re actually there.

There were many who were expected to do well during training, but they fell apart. Also, there were some guys who struggled to do five pull-ups, who ended up doing well in the military. You can be one of the toughest son of a b——h alive, but still not be military material. Also, each branch has different standards, and your MOS is a big factor in determining how tough you will have it too. There are many variables here in determining whether you’re military material or not, and current life circumstances along with emotional stability (which can vary from time to time in almost anybody’s life) are major factors too.

woodcutter's avatar

Edit: I meant to say it was the garrison BS that made me decide to leave as well as the racial crap.Combat soldiers need to be in the field.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

No. For one thing, I question authority just enough I wouldn’t be a good fit. The military is about blind obedience to the chain of command/central authority, and I’ve never been a fan of that.

digitalimpression's avatar

I didn’t when I first got in. Somehow I muddled through, and now I see similar traits in other new Soldiers. It’s a tough process but I have great respect for those who do it or have done it.

It’s definitely not as relaxed and laid back as the janitor job I used to have. ^ ^

lillycoyote's avatar

Absolutely not. I really don’t like being told what to do. I would last about a second in the military.

augustlan's avatar

I’m usually very good in a crisis, but I fall apart afterward. So, if pressed, I could do what I had to do, but I’m pretty sure the only way I could kill someone would be if my life (or the life of someone close to me) was in immediate danger. Even then, I’m fairly certain I would be mentally devastated by it for the rest of my life. Probably not good soldier material. I’m very liberal, and I do think that plays into my anti-violence stance.

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