Michael at The Reaction has a nice post on backtracking within the Air Force on the rules established to prevent evangelicals from abusing their positions in order to promote their religion:
One hopes that superior officers will be “sensitive” to the concerns of subordinates, but will that always be the case? What if free religious expression is perceived in some cases as insensitivity? Does the military need that? After all: “The guidelines were first issued in late August after allegations that evangelical Christian commanders, coaches and cadets at the Air Force Academy had pressured cadets of other faiths.”
Among the services that make up the United States military the Air Force has always been my least favorite. I am fascinated, of course, by the Navy, and I deeply respect the Army. The Air Force, not so much. Part of this antipathy has to do with what I think is an essentially naive approach to war; the idea that wars can be won at relatively low cost from a distance, an idea that I think has been (and will continue to be) extraordinarily destructive to the foreign policy of the United States. Note that I’m not just picking on Bush, here; I think that the Clinton administration was too often seduced by the notion that a few air strikes could solve difficult problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.
A second cause of my antipathy towards the Air Force comes from its pre-history, specifically, the experience of the Army Air Force in World War II. USAAF officers, including Curtis LeMay and others, decided that the Air Force would win its independence from the Army through a focus on strategic bombing, which was supposed to present a way of winning wars independent of the Army or the Navy. In short, this thinking was disastrous. Even setting aside the moral questions associated with the incineration of masses of civilians, the practical effect of the strategic bombing campaigns was minimal. World War II was won in Europe by the Red Army and the US Army, and in Asia by the United States Navy. This is not the story that the Air Force would like to tell or to hear, so they undertook to make up their own story, in which strategic bombing played a significant role. In an important sense, the Air Force was the first of the postwar revisionists. The USAAF played a major role in World War II, but its primary contribution was in support of ground and naval operations.
The accusations about evangelicals don’t make the situation any better. I very much believe that the Air Force is shot through with evagelical Christians who refuse to distinguish between their faith and their service. I recall speaking with a US Army major about this question once. Although he was a conservative, he explained to me that he found the situation in the Air Force appalling; qualified officers who were not part of evangelical Christian “cliques” could not get promoted, and their ideas were ignored. I suppose that the sad thing about this problem is that the rules established to prevent such behavior probably don’t work anyway, given what I suspect is rampant lack of enforcement.
John Cole is indispensible on this matter.