The citizen soldier is one of the founding principles of the United States dating all the way back to the Minutemen - farmers and shopkeepers who picked up their weapons when danger struck only to return to their quiet civilian lives soon after.
The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, both world wars, even Korea and Vietnam were fought by regular Joes brought, most often unwillingly, into the ranks of fighting men. Sure, there was always a cadre of professional soldiers among the officers but the vast majority were civilians who just wanted to do their duty and go home.
That all changed with the Vietnam War. The Pentagon realized that they couldn't fight wildly unpopular and unnecessary wars using an army of conscripted civilians. They needed an army that would go where it was told and kill who it was told without question or conscious. They needed an all volunteer, professional army.
A professional military class makes endless wars not only possible but necessary.
Take the now completely worthless war in Afghanistan. Most Americans think it is unwinnable. If conscripted sons were fighting and dying there, there would be a very active anti-war movement. Since it is professional soldiers who chose this career, we barely care.
While citizen soldiers want peace above all else, professional soldiers need wars. War means promotions, war means more money, war means using your training. A professional soldier without a war is a meaningless as a third-string quarterback.
A Breed Apart
You've seen all the TV commercials where actors dressed as civilians say "thank you" to actors dressed as soldiers. Has anyone ever seen that is real life? The fact is that most Americans don't know anyone serving in the military. During conscription, everyone knew someone whose family had a member who had served or was serving. The military was a cross-section of America then. The professional soldier class today is distinct and separate from America.
We might see some, from time to time, walking along the street conspicuously, and needlessly, dressed in cammies. They are deliberately setting themselves apart more like hari krishnas on parade.
That Cult Thing
Take a look at US Soldiers Creed and how it has changed in the last decade. Once it concentrated on service to others. Now its focus is on "the mission" and "the team." Even caring for their weapons has a higher priority than serving the country. Soldiers are indoctrinated to care only about the Mission, whatever it may be, and their fellow soldiers. It is Mission ahead of self; Mission ahead of country.
And in this country a form of Mithraism is preached where soldiers are to be worshiped by a mantra, "support the troops."
To Worship or Not
This past Veterans Day we were inundated with calls to worship the troops for their "service in keeping us free." Only this professional class of soldiers is not serving us. They are not fighting to preserve the Constitution or protect our shores. They are not fighting for their friends back home since all of their friends are fellow professional soldiers. The professional soldier fights because it is his job.
And soldiering as a profession is not honorable, it is not respectable. Professional soldiering is killing for money. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
See A Look Into the Mind of One Soldier
See also Citizen-Soldiers versus Professional Military