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January 21, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-01-21

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Page 4-Saturday, January 21, 1978-The Michigan Daily
r 3irbi4an ailj
Eighty-Eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 92
News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

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Life is no cabaret for
U. S. GIs in Europe

The State ofthe Union
L OOKING AT THE text of Thursday ness community.
L evening's State of the Union Ad What Jimmy Carter called fbr in his
difnig'sSatefcutt o nfirst State of the Union message listed
dress, it becomes difficult to remember exactly the same priorities Gerald Ford
exactly who won the Presidency in 1976. ennunciated in his last: Limited tax re-
The President who delivered the ennmcabancesug mi are-o
State of the Union enunciated goals so form, a balanced budget, a harness on
modet ad initiatie srervd that; runaway inflation. And it boggles the
modest and initiaives so reservedta rwy memory trying to recall who won and
he bears little if any resemblance to the who lost two Novembers ago
populist reformer who electrified the wh lostewo Novemben o
1976 Democratic convention with the The Daily reluctantly endorsed Car-
rallyingcrti"yocanvdpendion .it., ter over Ford on the lesser of two evils
rallying cry "you can depend on it." rnilhpn ha tlatwt h
What ever happened to progressive principle, hoping that at least with the
candidate of 1976, who promised the help of a Democratic President a Con-
delegates in New York and the tele- gress with the initiative would be able"
vision audience across the country "a to pass much needed reforms like
complete overhaul of tax system," national health insurance.
which he referred to as "a disgrace. ' Judging from Carter's haphazard
Andchhenrteretwastheaprise.first year, during which he seems to
And then there was the promise of have dedicated himself to winning the
universal voter registration and the confidence of business even at the ex-
committment to "a nationwide compre-c
hensive health care system for all our pense of the people who elected him, it
people." is difficult to discern the advantage of
The President who delivered the Carter over Ford.
State of the Union message was hardly Perhaps Carter's first year and his
recognizable, and the discrepency was shotgun style of government are
=-not due totally to the lines of age etched merely indicative of his inexperience
with the subtleness and compromise of
on his face. The change was one of em- Washington politics. But if Thursday's
phasis, with cautious pragmatism re- speech is any indication of his new
placing campaign rhetoric, and far too speech ,i anygindicai oinew
-much emphasis on appeasing the busi- gbals, it's going to be a disappointing
three more years.
Editorials which appear without a by-line represent a con-
sensus opinion of the Daily's editorial board. All other editorials,
as well as cartoons, are the opinions of the individuals-who sub-
mit them.
".. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. ......... .... ...J:
A p LEsW4&N HOMELAWD -- ALWA JUSrO 14E NwX DUNE
- rr
-..

By JOHN STEWART
Pacific News Service
The 8,000 additional soldiers that President
Carter has pledged to Europe will join some
315,000 GIs already there, many of whom are
given to long hours of wondering why they are
here and wishing they were back in the
States.
For despite the seeming attractions of a
European tour, despite the pride and satisfac-
tion among officers here, and despite the talk
of the need to strengthen the NATO defense,
the average American GI in Europe is broke,
bored, skeptical and homesick.
He is beset by a mounting plethora of
problems: the declining value of the dollar;
an inability to speak the language and to
socialize with the native populations; outright
German racism against blacks; general
resentment against all GIs; alcoholism and
drug abuse.
OFFICIAL ARMY statistics on what are
called the "morale indicators" suggest things
have improved since the early 1970s, when,
drug usage reached epidemic proportions
both here and in Vietnam. Reenlistments in
the U.S. Army Europe (USAEUR), have
almost doubled between 1972 and 1977 (though
this is partly due to the end of the Vietnam Wa
and the introduction of the all-volunteer Ar-
my). AWOLS have fallen off by almost 400 per
cent since 1972, down to 1.2 per thousand a
month today.
Special courts-martial and Article 15s (ad-
mhinistrative discharges) are both down about
four per cent over the past two years.
Hard drug usage, says a Seventh Army
commander, is down 25 per cent over two
years, from a high of eight per cent of all
USAEUR soldiers to six per cent today. Yet
use of marijuana and hashish (by far the most
available and popular drug) still runs around
19 per cent of all GIs in Europe.
"To be honest," he says, "we've tried very
hard to convince, to coerce, to educate, to
change the thinking of these young folks about
grass and hash. We just haven't had much
success. They just don't see anything wrong
with it."
Whatever the validity of the statistics, in-
terviews with scores of GIs here at USAEUR
headquarters and at other bases throughout
Europe tell a different story. ,
TAKE DAVE BRIGGS, for instance (not his
real name). Briggs is a Spec. 4-as are the
majority of GIs-1 8years old and serving
three years with the 26th Signal Corps at
Heilbonn near here.
"I joined up and got into the Signal Corps,"
says Briggs, "because I didn't want to pump
gas the rest of my life. So now what am I
doing? Digging ditches, mostly, cleaning up
some farmer's field after training
maneuvers. I haven't learned a damn thing I
can use on the outside."
Briggs admits to frequently smoking hash
and claims everyone he knows does, though
he's never been detected. He has gone
through the localCommunity Drug and
Alcohol Assistance Center (there is at least

one in each of the 33 military communities in
USAEUR), but that was for alcohol abuse.
"And it was a damn joke," he says. "As
soon as the meetings would end and
everybody would head straight for a bar."
BUT BRIGG'S $450-a-month gross pay,
minus about $90 in deductions, doesn't buy,
him many nights of revelry here, where a
glass of beer costs a dollar and a moderately
priced dinner can cost $15-$20. For GIs living
"on the economy"-off-base in rented apar-
tments-the situation is even worse. While the
mark, with which they pay their rent and buy
their food and clothing, has held steady, the
dollar, with which they are paid, has dropped
dramatically.
Some GIs, like Briffs, make up the differen-
ce by dabbling in black market American
cigarettes and liquor.
What does he think of the Army? "It
stinks," he says in the proverbial reply of GIs
everywhere. "I don't know what we're doing
here. If the Russians ever decided to come
across the border we've had it. There's
nothing we can do except start throwing
nuclear missiles at them. So believe me, when
the balloon goes up and my commander says
'Let's go,' I'm gonne jump in my car and go to
Switzerland."
If Brigg's attitudes and experiences are not
typical, they are not uncommon, either.
Others fare much worse.
A COLONEL IN USAEUR's community life
support division explains that "today's Army
is a married Army. Over half the GIs over
here have families. That's a real problem for
those below the officer level, because the Ar-
my doesn't give them any allowance what-
soever for bringing their families over here or
maintaining them. They either pay it out of
their own pocket or just kiss their 17-year-old
pregnant bride goodbye for three years:"
Apart from the GIs financial problems,
which are only getting worse, there's the
acute sense of dislocation and isolation in
foreign communities, where their sheer num-
bers and ignorance of customs and language
tend to make them the objects of resentment.
In Heidelberg, particularly, an ancient
university town, the GI stands in sharp con-
trast to the relative wealth, education and
politization of the 35,000 university students
with whom he shares the town.
TO THE STUDENTS, who tend toward ac-
tive radicalism, the GI-so easily discernable
by his short hair and American-style
dress-is a permanent, if accepted, evil, a
symbol of the capitalist militarism to which
so so many German students are opposed. In-
deed, as the graffiti that cover the university
buildings attest, there may be more sym-
pathy here for the remnants of the Baader-
Meinhof Red Army Faction than for the U.S.
Army.
Even an American student, showing a
reporter around town, is careful to patronize
only those bars displaying the ubiquitous "Off
Limits to GIs" sign over the door.
The signs, say Army officials, are perfectly
legal in Germany. And in most cases, they

admit, they are not there to keep out all
GIs-just the black ones.
"The black soldier has a much better chap-
ce of getting into trouble over here than his
white counterpart," says an Army official.
"They face great problems with the Ger-
-mans. And naturally incidents occur. A black
GI will go to a Gasthaus (inn) six times and
get turned away, and the seventh time he's
just had it and he's liable to go in and smash
windows and wreck the place.
"IT'S A PROBLEM that we're very aware
of and we're doing everything we can to solve
it. It used to be that we could lean on them
economically, threatne to take away all the
American business. But that doesn't count for
Amuch anymore."
If the sense of alienation is bad .in
Heidelberg, where there are at least thous4n-
ds of other young people and dozens of off-
base watering holes, it is near-ridiculous in an
area like Ramstein, headquarters of the
Allied Air Force and a part of the sprawling
Kaiserslautern military community.
There, in what is claimed to be the largest
U.S. "community" outside the United S-
tates, some 50,000 GIs live and work 24 hours
a day in what amounts to garrison conditions.
Aside from a few small, scattered villages
that offer little or no recreational facilities,
there are no real cities within 50 miles or
more.
Officers at Ramstein sit around a country
club-like officers' mess and speak en-
thusiastically of the great opportunities this
winter for skiing at Berchtesgaden and other
military resorts. But they admit that they see
few enlisted men there.
RECENTLY IN NAPLES, the U.S. sailors
and Marines who clog the so-called "Gut", or
prostitute area, were nowhere to be seen. The
city's cab drivers had virtually encircled the
landing area of the NATO Southern Command
to prevent any American GI from leaving the
ship. The blockade held until an American
sailor was arrested for the murden of a cab
driver the night before. But even a week later
the resentment shown toward GIs in Naples
was nearly palpable.
In fact, despite claims by commanders that
today's Army in Europe is the most
professional and ready for action that has
ever existed, there are few enlisted men who
would not trade in their USAEUR patch for
a ticket back home. Generally speaking-and
there are, of course, many exceptions-they
feel cheated, deprived, dislikes and uncertain
of their own military role or capacity.
An Army public relations officer, over :an
off-duty drink at a Heidelberg bar, looks over
the dozens of young American faces guzzling
strong, expensive German beer and says,
"It's not right that soldiers should be made to
pay for the privilege of serving in NATO. But
they are. They suffer, and not just finan-
cially."
Jort Stew'art, editor specializing in fil jiir
politics, has just com pleted a tour of 1,. NA T( in
stallatioms in Euro>pe.

Letters to

The Daily.

tenure
Td The Daily:
A letter in the Daily urges the
abolition of all faculty tenure
rights, holding that they were
merely a protection of incom-
petence. The idea, however, calls
for second thoughts. The origin of
tenure was the protection of
professors from political and
economic pressures from the out-
side. That the danger was, and
still is, a real one can be proven
from the numbers of the
Association of University
Professors bulletins which have
detailed over the years hundreds
of cases of professors who have
got into hot water for things said

valuable (though temporarily
unpopular) truths might be lost.
Remember the Scopes trial and
the Joe McCarthy era. Intellec-
tuals are always at the exposed
point, dealing with controversial
questions, and advancing un-
familiar ideas. We might lose the
services of a "professor"
Socrates, a "professor" Luther,
or a "professor" Galileo.
Lest anyone might think I am
pleading in my own interest, I
might say that my half century of
teaching, here, there and yonder,
though frequently involving
criticism and controversy
(history is an exposed area),
never seriously endangering my
bread. After all, I was a typical
-*A~l~nln a n; .-...vcf -

country who are lonely and
bored, and wouldlike to establish
meaningful corres-pondence with
anyone willing and interested.
Many of these prisoners have lit-
tle or no family, and letters are
their only contact with the out-
side world, and with the freedom
they so sorely miss. Although it is
our policy not to run these
requests in their entirety,
periodically we print the names
and addressed of all those
prisoners who have written us. If
you would like to correspond with
an inmate you may write to any
of the following:
Dan Stennett No. 143-765
Box 45699
Lucasville, Ohio 45699

Marty Noah No. 92266
Box 97
McAlester, Oklahoma 74501
Stan Lyles No. 89751
Box 97
McAlester, Oklahoma 74501
Mike Lay No. 87932
Box 97
McAlester, Oklahoma 74501
Tim Patterson No. 92015
Box 97
McAlester, Oklahoma 74501
Steve Brannum No. 30167
Box 1284 ch 446
Eddyville, Kentucky 42038

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