The Sinking Ship of Theseus: Adapting the U.S. Military to the Modern Family

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In Greek mythology, the ship of Theseus slowly replaces individual pieces over time. Eventually, all of the pieces that comprise the ship are replaced, presenting a philosophical question: Is it still the same ship? One could argue the United States military’s approach to personnel policy reform through the continued use of incremental, patchwork policy updates resembles the ship of Theseus. The U.S. military continues to repair and maintain the current personnel system despite obvious evidence that an entirely new model is required to keep the system afloat. The military must imagine and implement a new career model that is no longer at odds with the modern family. The military’s ship of Theseus, despite all the changes, is still the same, and it is sinking.

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