An article in yesterday's NYT by Dexter Filkins about the resurgence of the State Department under President Obama had this jaw-dropping stat:

According to an article in the January-February issue of Foreign Affairs by J. Anthony Holmes, there are more musicians playing in military bands than there are diplomats working around the globe. 

And it's not just our global martial music reach. Just look at the number of military musicians in the U.S. Here's a map of all the stateside military bands in just one service branch, the Air Force. And here's the home page for just one of those bands--a 45-member outfit called the Heartland of America Band that is stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and, according to its fact sheet:

is an Air Force squadron of professional musicians whose backgrounds include advanced degrees in music performance and whose broad mastery of musical styles range from classic to contemporary, jazz to country, and pop to rock. Its various component ensembles perform more than 450 concerts annually, touring extensively throughout a 680,000 square mile eight state area of responsibility. Known throughout the United States for its outstanding performances and recordings, the Heartland of America Band reaches more than one million people annually through live, radio and television appearances, and has been joined in concert by guest artists such as Frank Mantooth, Kevin Mahogany, Frederick Fennell, Chip Davis, John Denver and Crystal Gayle.

I'm all for greater employment opportunities for professional musicians, but the Pentagon budget seems like an unusual place to find them.

--Jason Zengerle