Dear Mr. Obama:
There are two basics you would have learned in even the lowest ranks of military leadership. Perhaps your generals have expressed this advice. When dealing with troops, you don’t mess their mail, and you don’t mess with their pay.
We ask a lot of our fighting men and women. They give up civil rights like freedom of speech and assembly, privacy, and even some aspects of religious liberty. They can go to jail for sleeping at work or telling off the boss. They have special demands placed upon them that no other group in a nation does.
That is why, as leaders throughout history have known, the quickest way to destroy the morale of your fighting force is to interrupt their pay. Whatever the reason, it is not good enough.
Troop pay should come before interest payments, transfer payments, payments to doctors, even Social Security checks. They are defending or advancing the strategic interests of the nation, making possible the bubble of order in which our society exists. Without their work, no other activity, public or private, profitable or charitable, could take place.
If you do not believe the action in which they are engaged fulfills that purpose, you may bring them home. End their misery. Declare victory in any or all of the three cluster parties of kinetic military indecision in which you have them engaged. Tell Congress to close the myriad bases and installations we have scattered across the globe.
But the option you have chosen, keeping them in harm’s way and halting their pay, however temporarily, is, as I hope I have explained, completely unacceptable.
You can freeze them, bake them, blind them or bore them. But don’t mess with their pay.
You can curse them, march them, or send them to Hell. But: You don’t mess with their pay.
You can send them to death, or make them kill strangers.
You do not mess with their pay.