When someone uses the term "the military" is it implied they are talking about the military of the current country they are in, or any military? For example I sometimes see on application forms "Have you ever served in the military?" wouldn't it be more correct to have "Have you ever served in a military?" or "the US military"?
Is this an idiom in English that "the" refers to "any" in this context?
Another way to formulate this question: how would one phrase a question if they wanted to know if someone has actively been part of any military, regardless of which country they served for. For example if you were in the US and had a conversation with a man who appeared not to be from there (e.g. he spoke with a Russian accent) would it be more correct to ask "have you ever served in a military?" as it is probable that he hadn't served in the US one.