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It is long overdue that the Army begin cutting its deployment time, and more change is obviously needed. My close relationship with many soldiers, while not making me an expert by any means, shows me they are really burned out. I am honored to have worked with the vast majority of soldiers in my time in the military, and I wouldn’t trade my experience with them for the world. However, with the news of the deployment time cut and now a 50,000-person downsizing, perhaps it’s time Air Force leadership looks at ending Joint Expeditionary Taskings (JET).

JET took the place of “in lieu of” taskings, which is really all the same thing — airmen deploying to fill Army billets. Again, let me emphasize: I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything, especially my latest deployment to Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, with the 101st Airborne. A handful of airmen and I integrated with teams of 101st Airborne commo troops for a wild ride that formed friendships and broke down barriers in ways that money can’t buy. Yet the Air Force, still going through its own drawdowns (after how many years now?) needs to finally refocus its efforts on its own missions to “Fly, Fight, Win.”

It’s time to end JET and get back to letting airmen do airmen jobs, and let the Army do Army jobs. And with that, it’s time to end Combat Skills Training to support these roles as well.

Tech. Sgt. Patrick “Mac” McKimmie

Misawa Air Base, Japan

Allow reason to guide as well

I am thankful for many a chaplain’s assistance — not for spiritual assistance, but rather for help aboard ship and in the field in identifying those in need. Social workers could have done the same, but they were not assigned in many places where chaplains were. It was often “chaps” who steered those in need of additional medical and other referrals. Their good works prevented a lot of self-destructive behavior, and I was able to treat more than a few cases of depression sent my way.

During the same career I attended many a mandatory function with prayers. The chaplains’ benedictions and invocations were not at all inclusive of the beliefs of many (e.g., the increasing number of Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, atheists and other freethinkers). The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have documented multiple instances of less than decent treatment of identified military atheists, along with instances of evangelical biases.

If we are to have an inclusive military that reflects the best of society, we need to be more open to those who trust as much in reason (some surveys showing the great majority of scientists in the West to be freethinkers) as in supernatural deities and ancient texts.

Dr. (Capt.) K.E. Hayashi (retired)

Atlanta

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