The so-called Fiscal Cliff is on everyone’s mind these days. Among the automatic cuts set to take place on January 2 are steep reductions in military spending. Not surprisingly, defense contractors and politicians are crying foul. Cutting defense, they claim, will plunge the nation back into recession.
This may or may not be true. But what’s missing from the conversation is how this financial challenge is actually a golden opportunity to change how we fight wars. Why change? Because the current way isn’t working – the Afghan war has been characterized by annual turnover of commanding generals, Koran burnings, horrible massacres, and death and injury for untold thousands. We’ve squandered trillions of dollars. It’s a sad, sad mess.
But the looming fiscal cliff allows us to change all this. We can finally start using the most cost-effective and least deadly weapon in our arsenal – the Military Band. The next time a conflict arises we simply challenge our enemy to a Battle Of The Bands. And then, after playing a searing rendition of We Will Rock You, our band comes home with a sweet little First Place trophy.
Think about it. Our bands are the best in the world. And they are extremely cost effective – when a tuba or a trumpet breaks, it’s cheap to replace (far cheaper than a Chinook helicopter, which costs $18-$25 million for a base model, heated seats and coffee holders extra). For the cost of one Predator drone we could fund the biggest, baddest band the planet has ever seen. But best of all? The Taliban, our number one enemy, HATES music. They brutally suppress it. As a result, they have squat for highly trained musician combatants. If we’d invaded Afghanistan with a band, we could have won the war in a month. With only one conductor needed, not 15.
This shift will happen. You can count on it. But best of all will be the new types of war stories you’ll overhear at the VFW hall of the future:
“Our string quartet was defending a city on the border of Kazakhstan. The Russians came at us with full symphony. They even had gongs. When we heard Stravinsky, we shit our pants.”
“That’s nothing. Have you ever parachuted out of a bomber while holding a cello? No? Didn’t think so Mr. Tambourine Man.”
“Whatever, guys. Get this – I’m in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Hot as hell. Four days without food and water, running low on reeds. Got separated from the band. Held off an entire Chinese battalion with an ear-piercing bassoon solo.”
“Get this. My great, great grandfather was a piccolo player who led the troops at Lexington and Concord. Talk all you want guys, but Gramps faced actual bullets. Doesn’t get any more old school than that.
Change is coming, even to the military. Some future historian will write a book about our next war and title it Brothers Of Band. And, as always, the change will be good.