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American Leadership

January 11, 1991

Kempton's smirking column ("Again, 'Losers' Will Do Our Dirty Work") should not be allowed to pass without correction. His condescending attitude toward the men and women in the United States Army, a favorite topic with guilty liberals and conservatives alike, is not justified either by fact or analysis.

The newspaper I edit, Army Times, is an independent publication serving soldiers, and we have painstakingly chronicled the renaissance of the all-volunteer Army over the past decade. The service has lifted itself up by its bootstraps, and now fields a force of higher quality of enlisted men and women than it could possibly hope to attain through a draft. There is little place for a "loser," to use Kempton's unfortunate term, in today's Army.

And its record in race matters, while far from unblemished, establishes the Army as arguably the most colorblind segment of American society.

But then Kempton's ideas of a winner is someone who merits "civilian employment and college scholarships." Ignoring for the moment that many soldiers choose military service as a way to earn college benefits, I would argue that "civilian employment" is a rather limited goal to aspire to. What about service to the nation?

The shame of having shirked such service should, as Kempton suggests, be borne by those who have reaped great rewards from this society while giving little in return. However, that shame is something they alone bear, not those who are serving now.


Editor, Army Times

Springfield, Va.

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