I felt like a few people in the military were let down. Our first enlistments served as a tryout for actual war worthiness and many of us failed. Some of the biggest failures were those that experienced counter drug operations.
The disappointment of drug operations is that the vast majority of engaged US Navy personnel had been trained in other warfare areas. Even prior to boot camp, we were sold on this idea that we would have the opportunity to harvest the warrior should within us. The reality came at that many of us found ourselves in was that were cogs, unchallenged drones doing pointless jobs. Many of us found ourselves supporting law enforcement operations and LEO goals (counterdrug/migrant) instead of being part of an actual battlegroup.
It made for great copy when we highlighted the multinational efforts and the feel good results, but it failed to explain that the crew had mixed feelings. It failed to highlight that a cross section of the crew were not operating within the platform’s capabilities. The crew, being a mix of technologically leaning combat roles, ship focused operations/engineering personnel, and administrative bodies, found themselves doing a military police job (or a Coast Guard “assistant”).
The irony is that many people I knew joined the Navy to escape the drug game, only to be thrown at it again. A few of us could be called “libertarian”, preferring communities to be engaged in dealing with the “anti proliferation” of drugs. Many of these people want more involvement of parents an community leaders to govern behavior, preferring that the law enforcement entities deal with actual crimes involving people and property crimes, not supposed moral crimes related to personal choice.
I, among a few, felt defeated at the end of my first enlistment due to roughly nine months of counter drug operations. From someone in my senior enlisted chain of command, I learned that the only two types of shipboard deployments for my rating were Persian Gulf and Counter Drug Operations. Neither were appealing. I thought it to be a waste of labor and tax money. It also equated to a man feeling like he failed the tryout for war.