I was in the suburbs between Baltimore and Washington DC this weekend for a science fiction convention. I was a guest in the science track, as editor of Control and ControlGlobal.com. So I watched a lot of the DC Memorial Day festivities on the local news channels, and I also met some very interesting people.
Joe Haldeman, whose book "The Forever War" is one of the quintessential Vietnam experience novels was on a couple of panels with me. There is a very important sub-genre of science fiction called Military SciFi, typified by Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" (the book, not the inane movie) and others. There were a large number of military and ex-military attendees and guests, including John Hemry, a former Navy officer who is a well known Military SciFi author, and Dr. Chuck Gannon, who is not military but who has been a consultant to the DOD and who belongs to the SIGMA think tank along with Dr. Jerry Pournelle and others. It was the SIGMA people who thought up the Star Wars Defense that brought down the Soviet Union. We had a number of discussions and panels about the role of the military in the future- - all of the possible futures we could see.
Major Janine K. Spendlove, USMC
One of the other authors attending was Major Janine K. Spendlove, USMC. Her day job is Marine Corps Liason to the House Armed Services Committee, and she pilots a C-130 Hercules battlewagon (her "mighty fightin' battle Herc") and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In my opinion, she is on a track that might land her as Commandant of the Marine Corps in a decade or so. She has three or four very good fantasy novels published and a host of short stories.
I started thinking about the future of the military, and realized that the military hasn't changed since men and women first took up arms. I began to realize just how much the rest of us owe our military brothers and sisters, who put themselves on the line so we can go on having our very comfortable lives.
There has been much said recently about how war will become automated, and fought entirely by drones and robots. I think war will continue to be fought by young soldiers like Major Spendlove because drones and robots don't care about what they are fighting for. And because automation is only as good as its programming, and isn't as good as a human mind.
So let's remember the soldiers, sailors and marines who fight for us. And thank them when you see them.