Our military engagement internationally is the trademark of American foreign affairs. With bases around the world, our military provides financial and military incentives to foreign nations that we have a vested interest in, or protection for strategic interests nearby. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Pacific where the Marine Corps and Army have bases up and down the Japanese mainland and out to Okinawa.
These bases create an opportunity to share culture, increase local commerce, produce political and military bonds, as well as improve relations. This process though is hampered by continuous problems besetting any organization – poor decisions by subordinates. The military used to be an organization where the decisions of Generals led the way and the actions of privates meant very little. This flipped on its head over the last half century when it became understood that the actions of even a very low ranking service member could have profound political results.
Recently, beyond the heightened awareness to DUIs, the death of a local and reported rape has increased this animosity. On March 17, 2016 a sailor took a drunk and passed out girl to his hotel room and raped her. On June 5, 2016 a sailor was arrested for a DUI after driving the wrong way down the freeway and colliding with two vehicles, resulting in two people injured. On June 26, 2016 a US Air Force worker failed to stop at an intersection and collided with another car while having a blood alcohol level four times that of the legal limit. On June 30, 2016 a contractor (and former Marine) who worked at Kadena Air Base was charged with the rape and murder of a 20-year old local woman. He violently attacked the woman before dragging her into the bushes and she died before he could finish raping her. On July 4, 2016 an Airmen was arrested for driving erratically and failing a breathalyzer.
These incidents are not related, nor are they indicative of the military culture as a whole. Unfortunately, they are coming to define the military and its impact on foreign countries. Although it may be in Japan’s best interest to have a robust US military presence within its borders, these are not the concerns shared by many who are coming to protest. Instead, the realities are that the average person is not concerned with the existential threat of invasion from a foreign country. They are much more concerned with the very real threat of being injured by a drunk driver, or having their community members raped and murdered.
The impacts of these actions on the political discussion cannot be understated. A grieving community has limited concern for the fact that the vast majority of service members do not conduct these actions, nor do they condone it. They do not care that extensive PowerPoint briefings and discussions take place to directly advise against and curb these events. Nor do they care that it was a junior ranking individual, acting of their own accord.
What foreign countries see is a foreign military on their land, making it dangerous to live in their own country. This is the wrong message and it is up to us all to help fix it. We understand that some people commit crimes of opportunities regardless of how many times they have been told that it is wrong. Accordingly, it is only by being proactive, doing what is right, and reporting or stopping this from happening that we can help to break this cycle. As a leader once said to me, ‘if you show up at the main gate with a soldier in the trunk of your car because he wanted to drive while drunk and you had to physically restrain him to get him back safe, then it seems like you did the right thing.’ As crazy as it may sound, at least everyone would get home safe.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.