Sunday, May 30, 2010

Unfinished, simple-minded thoughts 2: Thinking aloud.

While wandering around the Internut looking for crime stuff about Japan, I found something that took me back a number of years to when I was in the USAF.

Now contrary to what we see in the movies, read in some media, contrary to the beliefs of some who think that the military is made up of a bunch of flunkies, high school dropouts, and nitwits who were too dumb to go to college and spend four years in a semi-drunken haze, I never found that to be the case. The Air Force, for example, does not entrust a moron with the life of the pilot(s) and the care of a fighter jet worth millions.

Folks go in for different reasons, but in the AF at least, most went in for the training---which was better than anything I ever did in university as far as practical skills and life skills go---and to get money to go to college. Others go in for a career that is much, much better; much much more challenging; much, much, more intellectually demanding---yes, by far---than most other jobs available for high school grads or even many college graduates. (Provided that you don't get killed in a war.) When I think of the word professional, I still think of the military.

I was a "law enforcement specialist", a narcotics detector dog handler. I was in a good position to know the types of crimes that occurred on the bases I was stationed. I was never stationed in Japan, but I did know guys and gals who were here in a similar capacity.

During my AF time I found most crimes* on bases either overseas to be relatively minor. DUIs, occasional fights, drug possession (usually marijuana* or stimulants), occasional weapon storage---some guy kept his 30-06 hunting rifle in his room in the States---and traffic violations. Access to bases was controlled, people who lived and worked there had background clearances of various levels, and they lived and worked under a disciplined system that could be a real pain-in-the-ass**, but one that worked very well for young people, especially young men. (Haven't tried it, but I wonder what would happen if you compared the crime rates of people of that age in college to those in the military?)

So what? Well, we keep hearing and reading about the dangers and the crimes committed in Japan by US military personnel. It's not only stuff I read in the Japanese press, but I have even seen non-Japanese whose writing I usually respect fall for some unsubstantiated "Deer Hunter/Rambo" theory that those just back from a war zone are somehow naturally unstable and prone to violence.

Anyway, something smells about this supposed danger posed by the US military on the Japanese---or should I say Okinawans? What is the source of most of the claims of this danger? Is it the NPA? The media? Folks with an axe to grind? How do these same people view non-Japanese in general? They wouldn't go around claiming that all foreigners and foreign countries were potentially (if not actually) dangerous and untrustworthy would they?

No, such a thing would be so un-Japanese.

*Includes active duty military, dependents, civilian contractors, and base employees. Even visitors.

**Often exaggerated in movies and on TV. In the States I worked a 9 hour shift. I did not do KP---that's Basic Training---did not march around all day (Basic Training again), did not run around shouting "Sir, yes sir"---Basic Training again. Except for training, exercises, deployments, recalls etc, I pretty much worked as I have in civilian life.

***I once had the biggest quarterly marijuana find in PACAF (Pacific Air Forces). A massive 22 grams if I recall correctly...

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