Most of my time spent on military bases was in the eighties and early nineties. There have been a lot of changes. The senior officers and senior NCOs look much younger. I saw a major and a WO3 yesterday both of whom looked barely thirty. At the same time, the soldiers look older. The privates and specialists and junior NCOs are dedicated and serious. They seem far more mature than I remember myself at that stage of life.
Connectivity is a huge change. When I went through basic and AIT or was away, the only contact was by letter or the rare privelege of a long distance phone call. In almost any breaks in briefing today I will see soldiers on cell phones or typing away texting. I will do it myself, later tonight. It's much easier to stay connected, to remember why we are here (and why we want to return) than it was.
The internet, too. Lots of laptops. This blog would not have been possible twenty years ago (it was over twenty years since I volunteered to be a part of this thing that I am only visiting now. Time flies.) E-mail. Pictures. Research. When things settle, videophone capability (the Sci-Fi of the fifties is here- where's my flying car?)
The baseline hasn't changed: The mission. Always the mission. I love that, I love being in a place where there is a job that needs doing. It doesn't have to be a big scary job (though I seem to like those best) but one where getting the job done is more important that political careers or managing image. Processing paperwork or medevacing a casualty, everyone is very serious. Even serious about down time.
It's good. Boring sometimes (but I am almost always bored.) Soon there will be less time for boredom.
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