The iPad generation has grown up and joined the Navy.
Like many parents across the country who negotiated screen time with their children, the Navy is now allowing recruits allotments of screen time in the (once) device-less crucible of Navy boot camp.
Within several weeks, recruits in two divisions “will have limited access to their cellphones during designated periods of training in order to connect with family and friends and manage personal matters,” U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command said in a Facebook post.
This rule change will have some implications. One may wonder what this will mean in terms of security.
TikTok, a popular app for young people, has had numerous figures raise concerns about espionage with the Chinese-owned social media platform. Will the Navy forbid its use during boot camp?
One may also wonder what the conditions of the recruits’ cellphone usage will be. How often can recruits use their phones, and for how long?
While that remains to be determined, we should expect answers to questions soon. “Our intent is to expand this same opportunity to all Recruit Divisions over time,” the Navy said. “A Frequently Asked Questions page will be provided in the near future to answer questions you may have.”
Comments on the post were mixed. Responses ranged from people who thought it would weaken the galvanizing experience of boot camp to those who thought it would be nice for lonely young soldiers to make contact with loved ones.
Notably, while the Navy has allowed access to cellphones in emergencies, it is the latest branch to embrace casual access to cellphones to some degree. The Army and Air Force already allow some modicum of cellphone access to their recruits.
These moves by several of the military’s largest branches come as recruiting numbers plummet. The Navy missed its recruitment goal of 37,700 by nearly 7,500 in the last fiscal year, according to Military Times. And there is no reason to think the situation will improve. Other than a brief period after 9/11, military recruitment has been bottoming out for decades.
Changing the Navy’s cellphone policy during boot camp to either improve retention or recruitment is like using a Dixie cup to drain the waterlog currently on the Titanic. This is a minor change that will have no positive effect. The major issues within the military today go far beyond this.
We have not decisively won a major war in living memory. Since 1945, every military incursion that lasted more than a few weeks has been a boondoggle. Boys my age, who enlisted in the armed forces after graduating high school to fight in the Global War on Terror, have largely left, disillusioned with their service. Especially for my classmates who served in Afghanistan, many feel that their country wasted their time and their friends’ lives.
American foreign policy is now assumed by my young friends and colleagues to be dishonest. Not since America went to war in December 1941 to save the West has there been the essential moral undergirding necessary to inspire Americans to back a just cause.
Americans are now suspicious of our motivations abroad. Often, their distrust is justified. The latest example of that was when leaked Pentagon documents revealed Ukraine was not winning the war with Russia, as Americans were repeatedly told by the political and defense establishment.
Perhaps the biggest issue facing the military is that it no longer seems to be a place where the kind of strong, competent and masculine men you need to win wars want to be. One can not forget the ‘Emma Has Two Moms’ ad, where the narrator (who sounds to be about 12 years old) explains how her unwed disabled lesbian parent’s gay pride inspired her to serve in the military.
While Emma’s growing up was eventful, what does any of that have to do with winning a war or ensuring that Emma is an elite fighter capable of repelling any enemy of the United States? The ad never says.
The treatment of soldiers during the COVID pandemic was similarly off-putting to your typical war-winning male.
American soldiers, some of the healthiest and youngest people in the country, were treated like hothouse petunias who could somehow take a bullet for their country but not a virus that, for them, would have similar health consequences to a cold. If they refused, they lost their jobs and benefits.
Then there is the racist and discriminatory behavior of the Pentagon’s top officials, who are seeking to wipe out a generation of talented Air Force pilots by capping the number of white male pilots at 43 percent. This would put the number of white male pilots well below the proportion whites represent in the population.
Each of these bizarre and woke acts by branches of the armed services demonstrates that the military is more concerned with playing woke politics than it is with winning wars. This does not attract the kind of young men who raise flags over Iowa Jima.
Even if the introduction of cellphones to boot camp does not directly cause a degradation of discipline among other maladies to the Navy, the public perception of cellphones at boot camp may feed a general sense that our military is no longer a force that could storm Omaha Beach. This perception will surely accelerate a decline already endemic in the military.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.