Unit 9: GRUNT Ch. 5-10

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Throughout the book, the Roach explores the contributions of individuals in the scientific community to the general health and well-being of military personnel. She considers discoveries made during conflicts as far back in American history as the Civil War, drawing clear connections between the scientists working then and those working in the aftermath of American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As she explores this side of the relationship between science and the military, she deepens the book’s consideration of the central theme   — the idea that scientific research can lead to, benefit from, and be defined by heroic, sometimes self-sacrificing actions in the same way as military service.

Should we think about scientists as soldiers on the front lines of wars with disease, environmental decline, and a deeper understanding of the universe? If so, shouldn't we (as a nation) be allocating resources toward this pursuit?   Where does scientific research and discovery line up with other national priorities?

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20 thoughts on “Unit 9: GRUNT Ch. 5-10

  1. James W.

    Scientists and soldiers both hold important positions within our American culture. Both receive respect from the public, but for very different reasons. Soldiers go to war, sacrificing themselves for a greater good, or the protection of those serving beside them. Scientists are tucked away, behind the scenes forming products and research to better support the soldiers. Scientists are far removed from any any conflict or hardships that could be considered war. However there can be no argument that soldiers would be lacking without the technology that scientists have provided them. Saying that a scientists is at war with the understanding of dark matter is a stretch. Scientists and war are nearly always separated by geographical distance, but the research and products that they produce are no less essential on the battlefield.

    The question is asked in our writing prompt, “shouldn’t the nation be allocating resources toward this pursuit (research)?” Through the first half of Roach’s book, we are introduced to quite a few military funded researchers and departments. A reader would be hard pressed to make an argument that the nation isn’t allocating resources and funding research. In fact, part of the pride of the US military throughout its history, is being on the cutting edge of scientific development. Often being the developer of technology that becomes standard in the civilian market. Our nation builds its military might not by force of numbers, but by having the most advanced equipment and research available.

    1. Isabella Darrah

      Having the most advanced equipment has looong been a priority for the US military. Well said.

    2. Ryan Hoskins-Chaddon

      I would agree with your last paragraph, but only to a point. During World War II and throughout the thick of the Cold War we were, in fact, excelling at researching and producing technology. However, somewhere between the Reagan and Bush Sr. administration the funding we gave to scientific research and education dropped significantly in preference of military efforts such as recruitment, and weapon production. To this day we still use the same jets that we used in the 1980’s, the same firearms since the 1060’s, and we’ve had some advancement in defensive gear, though not nearly as great of a stride as we were once used to. To be fair, there was at least one major leap in U.S. military technology in the last 20 years, the UAV.

      So, I hold the position that we have slouched on our funding and treatment of the scientific community. The government waves off NASA and other government-funded scientific organizations most days and their funding is always among the first to be cut. We are currently building satellites funded nearly 20 years ago! Small wonder why our nations talented scientists are quitting their government jobs to join privately owned companies in their field or going into politics.

      1. Justin Baugh

        The reason that we stopped researching military advancements like new jets and newer battle rifles is that we haven’t been in a recognized war, one that the US has declared. IF we were to start declaring war against another country then maybe we would see the shift change in research.

  2. Isabella Darrah

    Without a doubt the tireless work of many researchers ands scientists “behind the scenes” will improve the work and wellbeing of soldiers tenfold. That being said, the phrasing of if we should think of them as “soldiers on the front line of…” is weird. When I read that I think that being described as being on the front line should be used for those who are literally on the front line. Many of the scientists we read about worked in depth with many soldiers, but they never or seldom were in any danger.
    The question “should we be allocating towards [these scientists]?” is also weird. That sounds as if research for the military isn’t funded at all. Which of course it is. So…
    Military scientific research lines up fairly high on the list of national priorities, as the military is perhaps one of the top national priorities.

    1. Chelsea Barnett

      I think the point you bring up in the phrasing of the question is interesting, but I think that scientists’ work are applied the front lines which is what makes me view scientists as soldiers in the front lines in a way. I think that there should be more money and resources allocated for scientific research from the government outside of military scientific research. Currently there is a lot of government spending on the military, and the military opens the opportunity for scientists to have research funded through the military but there should be more options for funding for scientists outside of the military.

  3. Marissa King

    I believe that we should view scientist as soldiers on the front lines because without scientist, the military wouldn’t be able to operate or protect the nation without all of the technology we have/use today. Scientist are always learning and spreading knowledge about research to the military to benefit them. Humanity is faced with multiple diseases daily and without the help of both the military and scientist it wouldn’t stop. The military has enough resources to do proper research because of scientists. Not only do these individuals who have voluntarily chosen to serve the military but they also have the ability to learn so many different things in their respective fields. Hopefully when they are discharged from the military they can share their knowledge to the civilian world and further their research. Personal health and environmental well-being is extremely important to national priorities.

    1. Scott Chaddon Jr

      I like your examples of the “battles” that our scientists face. It reminds me of how things like the internet and silly putty started off as military projects and then made their way to public use. For having such high national priorities, do you think that the national funding should reflect this?

    2. Ruby

      I think its very interesting that you correlated the fight of diseases with scientists and the military. I didn’t even consider that perspective. I think it’s also important to realize the work scientists put forth beyond the military. There is a lot of potential and a lot of life dedicated work but our nation puts heavy importance and focus solely on the tactical military usage.

    3. Moira O'Bryant

      I like that you acknowledge the voluntary nature of the scientists and their research, just as the sacrifices made by combat soldiers and other military personnel. And the experience they gain in the military can provide insight when they continue their research careers in the future outside of the military if they choose to do so.

  4. Chelsea Barnett

    We should think about scientists as soldiers on the front lines of wars because scientific discoveries make a huge difference between success and failure of a country at war. As mentioned in Grunt, “Even if crew stick to their posts, their vigilance is compromised; “illness preoccupation” is an overlooked military liability of diarrhea.” (pg. 153) It is clear that seemingly harmless things, like diarrhea, have a huge impact on warfare. Science is able to make advancements in treating ailments that could decrease the effectiveness of a soldier. Science is a tool that soldiers can use just as much as they use their tools in military tactfulness. It is just as important to allocate money and resources to science as it is to be allocating money to military spending.

    Currently scientific research is not seen as much of a priority as other things like military when it comes to government budgeting. I believe that scientific research and discovery are very important and are key to our society progressing which should make it one of our largest national priorities as a developed nation.

  5. Ryan Hoskins-Chaddon

    In a war of cultures, art is the weapon and artists are the soldiers. Why not, then, consider a scientist a soldier on the front lines of other wars that have no soldiers to fight them? No soldier can physically fight a plague, nor can they buy us time to prepare for when the climate reaches the horizon of change and sweeps the unprepared into the dust. Science can do these things and, much like the artist with culture, the scientist can wield science, experiment, and discovery as the weapons to fight against wars that have no soldiers. They are always nose-deep in these struggles to try and better us with a new innovation always around the corner, and while these innovations also apply to military conflicts, I wouldn’t say they are front-liners. Rather, I would say that they are a trusted companion that a soldier can count on to watch their backs.

    Ideally we would be allocating more resources to these pursuits. We are currently in a period of severely under-funded scientific pursuit in this country. The overwhelming application of that funding is placed in military technology development which is largely wasted effort not because it isn’t important, but because we wont really own what we create. The United States we live in today has lost in nearly all manufacturing competitions, allowing the economic policies of China and Japan to dominate our market. Our weapons may be cased in U.S. steel, but enclosed they contain wiring, plastic, electronics, and small metal components made in foreign countries, many parts from Eastern Asia. We would also be very lucky if they are even manufactured in the U.S.

    So why is the military budget always increasing? Japan has the highest level of technology in their military, China has one of the largest numbers in their forces, and we don’t even have very effective anti-terrorism measures (in the public eye anyway). What we do have over everyone else, I believe, is superior training for our soldiers. I believe that we spend all of this money on trying to keep up with everyone else with varying degrees of success, chasing two rabbits as it were. We can do that without the most recent, and historically massive, increase to the military budget. We can reallocate those funds to purely scientific pursuits. By doing so, we can, hypothetically, completely bypass our international competitors over the course of five to ten years, granting not just our citizens, but our nation, a greater role in technological and scientific leadership. This focus will also boost our military as well, as the technology becomes common for us and is re-purposed to fit with the military’s goals in those arenas.

  6. Scott Chaddon Jr

    “[You] want those squad leaders to be armed with knowledge, and not all knowledge comes from experience. (pg. 141)”
    We live in a world where it often seems that people are actively looking for reasons to be divided from others. This sews mistrust and paranoia between these groups, and one of the strongest divisions in the modern world is that of borders. Nations mistrust each other even given contracts and treaties. Because of this mistrust, they pour their funds primarily into defence and offence against each other: their military forces. While it would be nice to put the sciences even as an equivalent priority, this is likely not to be the case at any point in the foreseeable future.
    As time goes on, more and more of the world becomes reliant on new technologies to make lives better. Forging new medicines to fight off diseases. Crafting better pumps and drills to access water. Plotting better methods of growing and obtaining safe and reliable foods. Making faster and more reliable ways of transferring information. Inventing new, safer ways of providing power and energy to our ever-increasing populations. These all seem like they should take priority, as they can help to better the lives of the whole planet. Not only should new technologies be a priority of the country, but it should be the priority of the globe. Sadly, most global leaders seem to be as volatile, as likely to pick a fight, and as unforgiving as a group of grumpy two-year-olds.
    When looking at an article on the U.S. Federal Spending of 2015, I discovered that scientific research was one of the lowest priorities, taking up only 0.8% of total federal spending (https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/). This is absolutely minuscule, especially comparing it to the 15.9% spent on military and the 2.7% on education. Given how public schools are known for being underfunded, this gives a good basis for comparison.
    For now, it seems that our government is unwilling to focus more resources on the sciences. Hopefully, that will change as time goes on, and perhaps the idea of a forward-thinking, science-focused world won’t always be a Roddenberrian fantasy. We just have to keep pushing forward, learning, inventing, and discovering new aspects of our existence, with or without our government’s assistance.

  7. Ruby

    When it comes to scientists I would consider them insignificant to our national priorities. Overall a great majority of our funding goes towards the military, so if scientific work isn’t going toward the advancement of military technology or troop support then it is overlooked. I feel as if the biggest battle scientists fight is for recognition, that is to there work and their cause. We’ve read articles on climate change and how the effects are overlooked through plain disbelief on the matter, it’s not an uncommon subject that there are everyday people who neglect to realize the dangers of not vaccinating children, or even the declination of bee populations. Scientists put in so much work into studying all kinds of ways to make us better with the environment, our health, and our technological advancements but there are many people who fail to acknowledge that work and we don’t recognize these as ”great works”. We recognize those in the military because they put their life on the line overseas to protect us but we don’t take heed to the work done in our own country that is also done for our betterment and protection; perhaps its because their lives are not on the line? But ours can be, if we fail to work with them to protect health and environment we could be letting down the work of both the scientists and the military. I think more resources should should be put forth towards the sciences and more awareness in the general community. Everyone hears about the military because they give their lives for us but we should also hear about the scientists that dedicate their lifes work for us. Our nations priorities remain around money and power, even if it risks the lives of our soldiers, environment, and health and science has the potential to lose some of that money by finding alternative resources or cures for diseases and so it is not much in the interest of our nations government, that should probably change.

  8. Justin Baugh

    I think that we should view scientists with more respect than the average person but not soldiers because they are not facing immediate dangers when researching a new disease, or tracking the environmental decline. Scientific research and discovery lines up with the nation’s priorities when scientists are looking for new elements that make running the country more efficient or looking for a new planet that we may be able to live on or other life forms to trade with.

    1. Kimberly Ulery

      I do think scientists should be viewed with a similar level of respect as a solider, as their research is front-line to helping these soldiers whom are physically on the front-line, to be as healthy as they can be. I think the research done specifically on the military brings a huge benefit to many of the people living in this nation today.

  9. Moira O'Bryant

    I think scientists are a significant national priority. Our country contributes an astronomical amount of money toward military funding. When we think about this, and where those funds go, scientists may not be at the front of our mind, but research efforts to protect combat soldiers and develop equipment and technology is part of where that money goes. Unfortunately, science and research takes place outside of the realm of the military, and that significance of those efforts is more often ignored. But even those not directly connected to the military still make valuable discoveries and contributions that the government and department of defense can use to protect the country.

  10. Kimberly Ulery

    Scientific research into disease is very much like being a solider on the front line. The research done and knowledge given saves soldiers lives on a daily basis, and when they are out there fighting for our lives and their own, the least we can do as a nation is the scientific research needed to keep them as safe as possible from the things that shouldn’t hurt them; like food. Or, if anything were to happen to them, providing them with possible treatments along the way for those stuck in camps, or allowing some sort of allotment of medicines that can help to save them if they do catch a disease (For instance, keeping imodium with soldiers at all times when there is a higher possibility of coming into contact with an infectious disease that may cause diarrhea. While the medicine may not save them it may help to reduce symptoms long enough for them to get help.)
    We as a nation should always be allocating funds to scientific research. Scientific research is what brings us closer to cures and treatments of diseases everyday. This directly correlates to the military and correlates to us as a nation, as well. The military are not the only people in this nation subjected to harsh, dirty environments. While the aim should be directly at helping the military, it does help us as a nation overall. We have an outstanding amount of homeless people, and people living off the streets essentially, that these scientific discoveries do help these people to live a little healthier/cleaner with less risk of disease and illness because of what has been discovered.

    1. Christian Williams

      I kind of looked at it the opposite. I first saw that what our military does, allows our government to fund science. But I like that you said that what science has done has given the soldiers in the military better chances at survival and doing their job better. Shows that it’s a two-way street. Both sides can help each other.

  11. Christian Williams

    I think that it is okay to draw comparisons between what soldiers do and what scientists do. In a certain sense, they both end up on frontlines of battles. Scientists, however, choose to follow a passion that usually does not entail giving up many privileges. Soldiers and other military personnel who swear into military service give up much more to follow their sense of duty to a country that gives its people the opportunity to become scientists or doctors or teachers. The generations of military members, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism, are the reason our government can even allocate resources to scientific pursuits, so should we be allocating funding to scientists like we do to the military? I think not, but I think our country can do much more to become the very best in the world in every field. Our world is changing and to ensure our future, the environment has to be protected, diseases have to be fought, and our future generations a place to continue to call home. The environment should be more of a priority than I think it currently is, but I don’t think those who are fighting that fight are the same kind of soldiers in our nations military branches. Both are very important, both can be compared, but they are not the same.

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