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Military Colonels speak on active duty role in U.S government

(Photo courtesy The Balance) In addition to the five previously existing branches, the U.S. Military has also created the U.S Space force as of Dec. 20, 2019
Victoria Eluszkiewicz
Connector Editor

On Oct. 28 in Coburn hall, Colonel James Long and Colonel Katrina Stephens had a talk about the role of the U.S military in the American government and their experiences serving the country.

Col. Long, who is now studying at Harvard University, said he joined the military because of family tradition.

“My father was in the Navy. He was in the Mediterranean in the 60’s, he actually fueled aircrafts. So, being exposed to that as a child inspired me. I was in awe of it.”

Long first served as a private in the marine corps, which he said was the lowest rank, and then he advanced to become a colonel which is a senior military officer.

During the talk, Long spoke briefly about the history behind the military and how it is dependent on Congress for any decisions. Congress decides whether there is a military at all. So if Congress decided one day that they did not need the military anymore, they could defund it or reduce it. That is how the two are interconnected.

Then, Long spoke about the divisions of the military and how they are divided into the Air Force, the Army, the Marines, the Navy, the Space force and the Coast Guard.

He touched upon the four instruments of power that he said the United States can utilize to achieve its objectives  which are diplomatic, informational, military and economic. He emphasized the importance of diplomatic instruments and what is known as “soft power” first and foremost before resorting to any of the other three instruments.

He used a quote from former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“War is politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support.”

He highlighted how important diplomacy is in our world and how it should be used as much as possible.

Col. Stephens is commander of the 66th Air Base Group situated in Hanscom Air Force Base. She grew up in a small town in Kentucky, received her bachelor of science in community health and did her aster of arts in business administration. She joined the military because she liked the concept of it and wanted more for her life.

“I appreciate the concept of the military… the structure, the discipline, the experiences, the travelling, the discovering of different cultures, the diversity of thought and the experiencing of life,” Stephens said.

She travelled to over 30 different countries during her 25-year career in service.

At the beginning she held different positions, including educating, training and leading people. She advanced to the rank of colonel through hard work and determination.

“Dare to be different… Do not be afraid to try something different. Do not let the past determine your future. I am grateful for those who came before me to pave the way and afforded me the opportunity to serve.”

Her experiences taught her that life was too short to not do anything.

Long’s voiced the same sentiment.

“Serve. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the military or not. Serve in some public capacity. Give back, like volunteering at a homeless shelter. Give back to society. Society will gain from it, but you will also gain from it as well.”

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