I really hate to say this and am almost ashamed to think this way but if I were a father of a military age son (or daughter) I would advise them against joining the military forces of the United States. Why? It appears that what this nation does for the most part is get involved in conflicts and not finish the job. For instance, the conflict in Iraq, whether it was a good idea or not, has turned into a nation building project that may ultimately fail. Fail? Of course. When Western forces finally leave, the Mohammedans will turn on each other and the butchery will begin. Iran may well step in and become even more of a dangerous regional power than they already are. It probably would have been best, if the original goal was to nation build, to divide the county into three separate nations; Sunni, Shiite and Kurd. As it is the "nation" of Iraq will likely devolve into a chaotic mess that will cost countless lives. While the lives of those in the region are of no great concern to me, the lives of the American and Western troops that have been lost or those that have been permanently maimed are.
In the fair nation of Afghanistan, the war, in my humble opinion, is not prosecuted to the fullest extent. Again the goal seems to be more to nation build than kill or capture Bin Laden. It has been near a decade and this man is apparently still breathing and the Taliban is resurgent. In the case of Afghanistan the better policy would have been, again in my humble opinion, to severely punish and then leave them to their own devices. In four years of war Japan was crushed, destroyed and brought to her knees. Imperial militarism on the part of the Japanese nation was permanently halted. Of course we then began the project of nation building in Japan, but the situation was and is different. Japan was and still is, a strategic cog in the defense of the nation. Afghanistan is not. It can be argued however that Iraq is of strategic value, due to the geographic location of that nation, and this must be noted. Now if the policy of the United States is to secure and hold Iraq as a bulwark against a military competitor such as Iran, then nation building makes a certain amount of sense. It should be noted however that combat forces would have to be a full time and very long term fixture. Their presence would be to keep Iran at bay, safeguard our oil supply, and ruthlessly crush any domestic insurgency. This is not apparently the policy of the United States. Our leaders do not have the political stomach for it and therefore our brave men and women that have sacrificed may have done so in vain.
Now this all may not sound like the words of an American patriot or perhaps even Un American to you. I have served this nation honorably in uniform in two branches of the armed forces; one active the other reserve. I have served my chosen community in uniformed civilian service and have been an independent (although not real successful) business person. All of these things are of great importance to the well being of our country. I would spit in any one's eye who had the audacity to tell me to my face that I am not a patriotic American. Still and all, I stand by my statement that I would not recommend any parent encourage their offspring to join the armed forces. Our political class does not allow them to do the job they are paid to do and that is tragic.