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1. Let's talk for a minute about "he knew what he signed up for."
2. There's often a misconception among non-veterans that service members sign up with the expectation that they may die.
3. I did two tours in combat as an infantry officer and I never met a soldier who thought dying was a reasonable result of their service.
4. Take the numbers: Since 9/11, roughly 1 out of every 5,000 troops to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan died there.
5. I'll say that again: 1. Out of every 5,000. Dying in combat is neither common nor expected.
6. But when things *do* get dicey, troops expect leaders (at every level) to do everything in their power to keep death from happening.
7. Take roadside bombs. When they began killing U.S. troops, President Bush never said, "they knew what they signed up for."
8. Instead, DoD designed MRAPs. It was a concerted effort to keep more people from getting killed unnecessarily.
9. And that's what keeps troops going. The knowledge that your life is valuable. That it's not to be wasted. That air support is inbound.
10. Today we say, "I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy."
11. It's long been a thing in the U.S. military. Here's how Robert Heinlein characterized it in his 1959 military classic Starship Troopers:
12. After a KIA, no one in the military ever, EVER, says "he knew what he signed up for." Instead they reflect.
13. "What could we have done differently? How could we have prevented this from happening?" No one shrugs death off as an inevitability.
14. So when we have a Commander in Chief respond to a combat death with, "he knew what he signed up for," it tells us a few things.
15. First, it tells us the President has no idea how the military works or what his role and responsibilities are.
16. More importantly, it sends this message to troops: If you're looking for support from the White House, you know what you signed up for.
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