No, really--if you're a veteran, or you know a veteran, or you care about veterans, and you haven't read Stoneheart, you absolutely need to do so. Click my link above, buy a copy (which will help an independent author, and a veteran, immensely) and read it. I teared up several times reading it, and you probably will too.
So anyway, back to the topic at hand. At West Point, we learned a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. We learned to march, for example. Yay, marching! We learned to do X sport in our PE classes. Yay, volleyball, lacrosse, and--um, aerobic dance! We learned manners, and nutrition. Yay, yeah, whatever. We learned honor (and, as a Dean, I've mentioned several times that our honor code at West Point was enforceable largely because we spent many hours in honor training). We learned gymnastics. We learned military history, and that has been, believe it or not, more useful to me as a civilian than it was to me as a junior Army officer.
We learned about the ethics of warfare. Granted, it was in a "PY" class--eww, philosophy--that started with a bunch of logical stuff, but we eventually rolled over into the questions of "what makes a war just?" and "what makes actions within a war just?" And no, they're not the same questions. For example: was it just that we (the U.S.A.) were in Viet Nam? Yes, I believe--stupid, it was, but just, it was, too, at least at first. Given that, were all of our actions there just? If you look at My Lai, then--well, no.
See what I mean?
So given that, my buddy Tom posted a link to ten questions that should be asked at West Point. Generally, I like the questions. Now, I'm not so sure about the questions needing to be asked at West Point; they're fairly philosophical, after all, and the responses will vary over time (as they will have since I was there, myself).
That said, if you're entering into service to our nation, you really should consider the ethical questions posed below.
- What is the difference between a terrorist and an insurgent?
- How do unmanned systems impact modern battlefields?
- Where are the human cognitive, psychological, physical limits with respect to combat?
- How does information (Big Data and You Tube) affect the conduct of war?
- How should we measure tactical effectiveness in counterinsurgency operations?
- How does seapower and airpower contribute to landpower?
- In what ways does strategic culture influence military operations?
- How does logistics impact military operations in expeditionary campaigns?
- What is the proper role for civilians in military operations?
- What does "victory" look like in modern war?
For future military leaders, the questions asked above are tough to answer. For writers, on the other hand, these are a gold mine. After all, conflict is a writer's baseline requirement. It's like oxygen to a human. You can't even exist unless you have oxygen, if you're the one, or conflict, if you're the other.
And what better source of conflict than the previous set of questions, eh?
Hope you enjoy!