I agree with you on this. HOnestly, the difference (mentally) between 18 and 21, in general, is really not all that much. It just seems stupid. At 18 they are expected to be adults. Commit a crime, get an adult punishment. You can elect leaders, but you can't drink. You can die for your country, but you can't enjoy a beer. You're considered the age of consent, but not the age to drink?
At 18, their brain is not finished. They are still very moldable, which makes it very easy for the military to impart what they need on the individuals. They are 'disposable', as typically the 18 year old does not have a famlily (wife, children, responsibilities). They are coming into their peak of strength, testosterone is running high. Most 18 year olds are not responsible. Under the guidance of the military, they don't necessarily have to be responsible, they only have to understand how to follow the rules.
When my husband enlisted (1978), he could drink on post but he could not drink liquor or wine and was limited to no more than 2 beers. If he tried to drink off post or a party in the barracks, he could still be charged with underage drinking. He now works as a police officer on a military post and wishes the military would return to that sensible policy. It allowed young soldiers to go out for a drink with their buddies but helped to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed. The system is not perfect. My husband has a tattoo on his arm that he has no memory of getting as it happened somewhere in the middle of a 5 day drinking binge while in S. Korea. But it worked better than prosecuting every 19 year old who wants to go down to the club and hang out with the rest of his squad.
I thought they could drink on base, or something. Most military I know were military when the drinking age was 18.
But I thought I had heard somewhere that it was legal to drink on base if you're active.
Totally agree, old enough to go kill someone in war but you can't sit back afterwards and release some stress by drinking a freaking beer! Yeah forget the fact that killing someone has to be a life changing experience!!! But can't drink?! Stupid!
Usually though, these young guys don't think they will be "giving their lives for their country"...they are "too tough" to get killed and they are too young to worry because they think they are invinceable. And they are too young to safely drink,too,at age 18.