Fayetteville, NC: Fortress of Imperialist Mercenaries
Time Magazine had a short piece in its December 1st 2008 issue “Postcard: Fayetteville. It was about the military influence in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is an interesting look at Fayetteville as a military city, and at the change in military culture in the modern Iraq and Afghanistan War era. It looks at the trend toward more megabases, more isolated communities from the rest of Amerika made up of military mercenaries and their families, feeding off the military culture.
Fayetteville has a population of 210,000, and is home to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. As of October 2007 it had 22,000 members of the 82nd Airborne. Back in 2005 it declared itself Amerika’s most patriotic city, and they flirted with the idea of writing fake tickets for the owners of foreign cars. In September 2008 the city and surrounding Cumberland County adopted the slogan “Worlds First Sanctuary For Soldiers.” In the city document it stated that “military families need a sanctuary because some American communities are telling soldiers they’re not welcome ‘through protests, legislation, and sometimes violence.'” Even Time magazine said that was a dubious claim.
Fayetteville is also deploying an “Army’s Army.” These are 900 civilian volunteers for military families, who help on everything from flat tires to job placements. Like many other towns it is one geared primarily toward the military.
With base realignment the changing infrastructure of the military leads to a changing culture. More military bases across the country are closing and consolidating. With more smaller bases closing the remaining bases are becoming megabases, like Fort Bragg, which acquired two new commands from Atlanta. (1) With no draft, and an all-volunteer army of professional soldiers, more parts of the U.S. will have less contact with the military. With this, the parts of the U.S. that have the military will becoming more enclosed.
Economics also play a part in the changes. Fayetteville had 50,000 soldiers stationed in the city in 2008, and another 20,000 are expected by 2011. The economic impact of the city ranges from $5 billion to $6.5 billion. County Commission chairman Breeden Blackwell stated “You can see why we take care of our investment.” With a state of expanded war these type of towns will become even more dependent on military dollars.
With the new military comes with it a suppossed New Morality. During Vietnam, Fort Bragg was a staging ground for troops during Vietnam. These troops were mostly draftees. A glut of strip clubs and bars emerged, seemingly training them for the decadent nightlife of Saigon. Many anti-war protests happened here, even though most of the community supported the war. Fayetteville became known as Fayettenam. The values that todays army professes on the surface have changed. It is now professional and family oriented. Community bears the sacrifice of war with grace and shared sacrifice. Wives get taken care of too in this closed community, as the Time article focused on a massive baby shower for military wives there.
With a more enclosed military culture, there will be less anti-war sentiment to infect there. Fayetteville as a sanctuary city is exactly that, a reinforcing conservative and pro-military community. The military is the strings that keep it together. It is a replicating culture, where the military is seen as good fighting evil, as an honorable profession, and unchallenged in its sacredness. More down with God and country, to continue imperialist aggression everywhere. Many activists look to the Vietnam War protests and the involvement of returning troops in the anti-war movement. With these new trends anti-imperialists can rely less on troops as a social base. They are volunteers, supportive of the Amerikan mission, and reinforced by a community that benefits from war. So in other words, Fuck the Troops.
Thornburgh, Nathan. “Postcard: Fayetteville.” Time. December 1, 2008. p. 8.