A country can never know exactly when it may need to call upon its warriors to take on the enemy; to fight to the death if necessary in order to protect its citizens' lives and property. For this reason, it has always been necessary for countries to have a strong and well-defined military culture that is built upon ancient traditions and respect for national history. Governments and civilians who allow their military institutions to dissipate into an unhealthy state, will bring devastating effects upon their nation's security if not corrected. No country, even one as wealthy as the United States, has ever been able to financially reward soldiers fairly for the risks they take and the deeds they do. Therefore a people must rely upon the ancient military culture to give the soldier the rewards necessary to have him go into battle and to fight valiantly for his homeland.
If one were to ask military people what they like about their careers, most would answer that they enjoy the opportunities to lead, to work and train with other soldiers, the military camaraderie and the opportunities to be patriotic. Military people enjoy the "esprit de corps" that comes from working on a team, the sense of accomplishment for jobs well done and the pride and prestige that comes from just being soldiers, representing their beloved homeland. These opportunities can only be found in the military lifestyle. No other job offers them. Seldom does a soldier mention pay or benefits, and every military person understands that his pay is in no way comparable to what his job would gain in the civilian sector.
What exactly is a healthy military culture? The military is a world of the young and always will be. There is no generation gap, but instead a hierarchy among the various ranks from low to high, which the military finds comforting. Each soldier knows exactly where he fits in the grand scheme and he call tell another soldier's place by the uniform, rank and medals worn. There is a "warrior spirit" interwoven into the framework of military culture, which is built upon basic moral and institutional values held in common between the warriors. Additionally, the military is rich with old fashioned traditions that have been bequeathed from soldier to soldier, as civilians hand down unseen treasures from father to son. Rather than having an occupation, a soldier feels part of an institution that is far greater than himself.
The military is expected by its commander in chief and the taxpayers who fund it to maintain a high code of ethics. In order to fight and win in battle, each soldier understands that discipline is demanded at every level of his job. Because military culture is almost always more conservative than that of the civilian sector, it can hurt morale to change codes of behavior which were in effect when the soldiers joined up. Although a civilian employee can walk off the job when he dislikes new rules imposed by his employer, a military person is subject to imprisonment for doing the same. Although a soldier fights to uphold freedom, he in fact has been required to give up some of his own freedoms in order to serve as a soldier. Ofttimes, this causes a lack of understanding from civilians as to why a soldier does or does not do certain things.
In the United States of today, with its entirely volunteer fighting force, it seems that, more than ever, the military culture should be upheld and respected. In fact, even a bit of emulation could be of great benefit. Those who belittle it, or try to merge it into the more modern civilian culture, or attempt to destroy it in various way, are actually harming all of us, not just the military.