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JLeslie's avatar

Do you think of the military as separate from the government?

Asked by JLeslie (54508points) April 3rd, 2014

Please state what country you are from and/or live in.

I’m American. I will go ahead and add that I mostly grew up just outside of DC (our nation’s capital) in Maryland. To me the military is part of the government. My parents worked for the government growing up, and my father was a commissioned officer with full military benefits. I received my medical care at Bethesda Naval hospital, we shopped on base sometimes, we stayed on base while on vacation sometimes, and my parents still utilize military services since my father retired. My military medical care in my mind is government run medical care. To me military people are employed by the government, just like employees at FDA, HHS, NIH, NIST, etc. I am not trying to minimize the risks many soldiers take to protect America, I am only talking about it in terms of employment.

How do you think about it? it seems to me a lot of people feel the military is so wonderful and soldiers and Generals are celebrated. We want good medical and mental health care for the military, but then the same people don’t want the government to run health care for civilians, don’t want to support better mental health services for civilians, have no respect or support for the work FDA and NCI do for America and the world. I hear how the government never invented or discovered anything, which is completely false. Employees of the government invent and discover all the time.

I’m not idealistic about government run agencies, mistakes are made, and things can be improved, but there is a lot of good done by these agencies also. Same with military healthcare, lots of things wrong with it, but some things about that system are so so much better than private health care. Private business also has good and bad.

I don’t see how people separate military from government in their minds, if you do maybe you can explain it to me.

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23 Answers

GloPro's avatar

I’m from North Carolina originally. First of all, I agree with your viewpoints entirely. My sister’s husband is a career army man, from bottom ranks to E9. I am happy they have the advantages they have because of his service. They have built a wonderful family and life thanks to the army. He is definitely working for the government.

That being said, I lived in Wilmington and was privvy to the boys (and girls) from Camp Lejune and from Jacksonville. These troops are always some of the first to be deployed, many times right out of boot camp. Their troops have an above average death rate. The town and families are pretty tight knit. They understand following government orders, and are deployed on behalf of the government, but I don’t see them as government, per say. More like government enforcers. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It’s a little of both to me. I think of the President as the Commander-In-Chief, but throughout history the military has often been a seperate entity and rebelled, so I keep that in mind, too.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Where in our history has that sort of rebellion happened? When they rebel who supports them? Doesn’t it become a home grown militia once they leave the government hold? Unless there is an actual government overthrow and a new government is out in place.

Kropotkin's avatar

They’re separate because you’re using “government” to mean the state.

The government is the administrative and executive branch of the state.

The military is the branch of the state that goes to other countries to murder people on behalf of the state. Traditionally it is to “defend the realm” and project state power over its claimed territory—the monopoly on violence, which the state conveniently asserts to be “legitimate”.

The military is not the government, but the government gets to allocate resources to the military, and gets to direct it for whatever geopolitical machinations are expedient at the time (invading countries or backing and orchestrating coups that nationalise oil assets, or threaten US corporate profits with something as benign as land reform—see Guatamala and Iran for examples.)

And since I’ve noticed a couple of you talking about domestic rebellions.

We have the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 in which the National Guard was used to violently put down worker protests in defence of capitalist interests.

And the Battle of Blair Mountain where again the US military and police were used to violently suppress miners trying to unionise.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t say the US specifically, although some would call the American Revolution a good example of that here.
Egypt, Fiji & North Korea are good examples of recent military coup’s.

Jaxk's avatar

Interesting question. I do look at the military differently than government. It is a part of government but not a part of governing. The military does nothing to infringe on my personal life nor liberties. Hell even the issues @Kropotkin complains about were a result of decisions and orders from the civilian government rather than the military.

I’m a little surprised at the implication in the question that the civilian employees should have better benefits. Hell, government employees have the best benefits in the country. I can’t imagine what more you would give them.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jaxk I did not mean to imply civilians should have better benefits. Where did I say that? Civilians are anyone not in the military. Tha includes you and me. My mom was a government civilian employee. She worried for NCI and later FDA. I have no idea what most of her benefits were as a government employee, because she used my dad’s military benefits.

My point was if people expect health care to be done in a socialized manner for our military, why is that not ok for everyone? They could argue that all military hospitals are awful and everything should be privatized even for our military. It is an option. A crappy option in my opinion, but an option.

I don’t know if congressmen can use our military hospitals, I don’t think so. They use private healthcare like the rest of us I think. Their insurance might be very good though. The Presidents usually goes to my old hospital, Bethesda Naval.

Jaxk's avatar


OK, I wasn’t looking at it that way, thanks. I likely not real up to date on current military practices since I joined back in 1965. Things may have changed. Nonetheless, I recall the medical services as being very basic with no frills. Frankly I get much better medical service from my doctor than I ever got when in the service. Of course that’s just my opinion.

Darth_Algar's avatar

The military (and police, for that matter) is the cudgel of the state, so no, they are not separate.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

Somehow I never think of the military and Government as one. God forbid.

When I think of Government run military I think of places like Cuba and Venezuela. I grew up in a Military town and all my friends were army brats. even thought my dad was not a lifer in the Military he served in World War II in the Air Force.

I always saw that the Military Family’s had lots of perks and good medical as well. I use to wish I could live on base like them.

I think I pretty much agree with Jaxk.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jaxk Some military health facilities are better than others. I was spoiled since mine was Bethesda Naval. When I was an infant it was Walter Reed, my dad went there for some services until they moved it all to Bethesda. The military uses private care also when the military does not have the services to offer.

Jaxk's avatar


A quick example of what I mean by basic services. I wore glasses and the military supplies those. No choices however just the basic glasses. Everyone that wore glasses got the same ones. When I wanted contact lenses, the military did not do that that. I had to go to a private doctor and pay for them myself. This is fairly trivial but is an easy example to understand. It carries forward to other more complex situations as well.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jaxk My dad was wearing the same frames you were. LOL. It’s true, for years there was one choice of frames. Now they have a few more.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s the natural result of having only one vendor. Everyone gets the same solution.

ragingloli's avatar

As separate as triad enforcers are from the triads.

JLeslie's avatar

The military likes uniforms and the glasses are essentially part of the uniform, just like the haircut. It’s a thing; the glasses had all sorts of nicknames. Birth Control Glasses I think was one name, there are others. Currently, I don’t know the deal with glasses. I do remember a few years ago my dad debating whether to stick with the silver wire frames or go back to the black frames. I remember when he was able to first get the silver frames. I honestly could not tell you what he was wearing last time I saw him, which was just four months ago. I don’t even notice. Those old black frames are in style now funny enough. My husband’s new glasses are only slightly narrower top to bottom.

Jaxk's avatar

Not strictly true about the uniforms. At least when I was in you could wear whatever you liked but they would only supply one kind. The uniform however was not flexible in any way. It was what they issued and nothing else.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jaxk Seems like it isn’t that difficult to have provided a few choices. Strange.

rojo's avatar

I think of the military as a wing or appendage of the government but not actually the government, the mean, punishing arm so to speak.

I know it is an unpopular opinion but I do not see anything special in what they do or are. It is just a job like anyone else has. Yes, on occasion people shoot at you but that is true for many convenience store clerks too. It is a job just like the CEO of Walmart or the middle school janitor. I think that they get too much credit for what they do and do not think they truly deserve all the little extras like free schooling and housing subsidies and such that the get but, as I said, this is only my opinion.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’ve been in the military for almost 20 years now and of course it is part of the government. They fall under the Department of Defense which is the executive department of the United States government.

As far as being separate from things like politics and the judicial and legislative branches of the government, that’s certainly true and a good thing in my opinion considering I equate politicians with parasites and cockroaches. Unfortunately, those same vermin get to make choices that can ultimately hurt military members and veterans such as cutting benefits for us to justify fixing the already problematic budget.

As far as a previous comment in an entry above…... The military is the branch of the state that goes to other countries to murder people on behalf of the state, sorry, but that’s pretty offensive. Especially to someone like myself who has spent almost half my life serving honorably for my government with only the best intentions in mind.

Unless someone has actually served in the military for any time period whatsoever, then they are on the outside looking in and don’t actually know what it’s like to be in the employ of the government in a military capacity.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Bluefreedom Oh, sorry. The military doesn’t get sent to murder people in other countries. What was I thinking? I’ll just ignore decades (and millennia) of historical data and pretend reality is something completely different.

Here’s the thing. You were an individual serviceman. I’ve no complaints about you personally, or anyone who has served in the military. There’s lots of military men and women I’ve actually admired for one reason or another. It’s just that the institution is morally repugnant, and I’m not going to apologise for that, or say things I think are untrue—just to avoid causing offence.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@BeenThereSaidThat “When I think of Government run military I think of places like Cuba and Venezuela.”

And how is the US military not government run?

JLeslie's avatar

@Darth_Algar I don’t understand that either, thanks for asking.

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