Recently there's been a lot of talk on wether or not the military is going to ban smoking for it's enlisted men and women. I have mixed feelings about it.
I think it would be good, obviously, if the people who have to run around carrying the heavy guns, avoiding enemy fire, didn't smoke. They'd be healthier, more efficient, and would be more prepared for true worst-case scenarios (that's saying something for the military).
Think of it this way: What would be better, a soldier stuck behind enemy lines who can think rationally and has the endurance to get out quickly and effectively, or a soldier who is short of breath, going through nicotine withdrawals, and who can't concentrate because of the headaches.
So, I think it would be good if soldiers didn't smoke. However, I'm not sure if simply outlawing smoking is the right way to do this, and I don't think wartime is the right time to implement this new rule.
Firstly, the soldiers are under enough stress as it is. They don't need the added stress of not being able to smoke. Granted, if they don't smoke yet, don't let them start for any reason. But if they already do, I say give them whatever it takes to let them relax.
But what about outlawing the drug? (Yes, it is a drug.) Well, I'm not really comfortable with the idea of that. Kind of like how they've also outlawed fraternization among troops (i.e., sex). Obviously, they're going to have sex. It's a stressful situation they're in, and sex can help relieve that stress, as well and make stronger bonds.
The only difference with making it illegal, is that now you can get discharged for the act. For guys, it's pretty easy to just not "kiss and tell" (unless they get an STD or STI). But if a woman gets pregnant, she's in a world of trouble. Either she forfeits her only source of income, or she undergoes a very risky abortion.
The military doesn't cover abortions, and having a DIY abortion when you're living in a tent in the desert is never a good idea. There have been reports of women almost dying because of botched abortions which they concocted with essentially rubbing alcohol (if that) and a coat hanger.
But getting back to the smoking... (sorry)
People are going to smoke, whether you want them to or not, just like the sex. They know the risks, but it's still a fairly reliable means of relieving stress. They're trading their physical fitness and well being for a few moments peace in a war zone. It's not that hard to see why they do it.
What we need, is something more constructive for them to do to relieve stress, and better education on why they shouldn't smoke in the first place. (Wow, I never noticed all the similarities between smoking and sex.) This way, the people who do smoke, can do so in peace, but the ones who don't, won't be tempted to start up ever.
Now, how does all this relate to Chaplains?
Well, Chaplains are like the cigarettes of religious world. They serve no real purpose other than to help relieve stress, it's only a temporary fix, and in the end they do more harm than good.
Similarly, I'm not sure if Chaplains should be removed from the service. If you need some dog-collared-vampire to tell you Jesus loves you before you can go shoot infidels terrorists, then so be it. Whatever gets you out there, and keeps you from going crazy. Do you feel overwhelmed by war? Need a reminder of home? Remember when your parents used to drag you to church? The mass is the same all over the world. Go see the Chaplain and he'll fix you up.
Again, preferably, we wouldn't need these things, because no one would be addicted to them. But so long as they are addicted, war is no place to break a debilitating habit. Just keep all the clean kids from getting sucked down with you, you Goddammed junkie.