Chris Roach makes an outstanding point:
One unfortunate consequence of the increasing “professionalism” of the modern military is its leaders’ absolute financial dependence on the government and, by necessity, prevailing political winds. The old aristocratic volunteer officer might have been more inclined to speak out, whether against a losing campaigning in Afghanistan or a meddlesome requirement to integrate women into his unit, not least because he could fall back on an inheritance and family wealth. The modern major and lieutenant colonel is on the brink of a comfortable pension and is likely from a middle class background; to speak out to forcefully against the crazy directives coming from on high would result in penury, if not worse. We sometimes wonder why Soviet engineers and soldiers and bureaucrats participated in their insane system year after year, in spite of the obvious lies, half-truths, destruction, and missed projections made by central planners. There, as increasingly is the case in America, the state was everything. In the Soviet Union, the withholding of a job, a pension, a license, a prescription, an apartment, or a degree was incalculably destructive of the individual. And there, as increasingly is the case in America, there were almost no resources outside the state, including private wealth, to fall back upon if one had earned the disfavor of the state.
This reminds me of a quote originally attributed to Bush ‘41: “I don’t want guys with ideas in my administration. I want guys with mortgages.”
On a related note, I have it on good authority that the fitness centers (that a “gym” to you fellow old fogies) on military installations now have “VIP locker rooms” for senior officers where they get towel service and goodness knows what other perks. I’m reminded of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain as portrayed in Gettysburg, refusing food for himself until he could get food for the men under his command. I guess those days are now well behind us.