Friday, September 30, 2016

A Suicide at Parris Island

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/us/ex-marine-describes-violent-hazing-and-the-lies-that-covered-it-up.html


Spending time in the "pit" - Courtesy Marines.mil


Thomas Weaver’s story of abuse and over-the-top hazing at Parris Island should be troubling to both Marines and civilians alike. Ten days after graduating High School in rural Rhode Island, I was stepping on the yellow foot prints in front of the Reception Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. That, as they say, is where it would all begin.
Drill Instructors being Sworn In - Courtesy marines.mil






Unlike Mr. Weaver, I was not a “top notch” recruit. I was an English and History nerd among football players and wrestlers. Having never been the athletic type, I struggled to make a first class fitness score. During my teenage years, however, I maintained a strict fitness regiment that would keep me from becoming a total slob. 

During a training evolution, I was harassed by my Senior Drill Instructor for failing to complete a wall climbing obstacle on the confidence course. My punishment was to do push ups and mountain climbers in the hot mulch, along with a group of other recruits that could not physically negotiate an obstacle. The Senior DI knew my hands had large open sores on them from being torn apart in a previous training evolution. I was in agony. He barked at usto push harder, and threatened to drop me to another Platoon if I didn’t perform to his liking. I was sure this was what Hell was like.


Despite all this, I knew this training was designed to push me to my physical, emotional, and mental limits. As someone who had volunteered into the Infantry, I knew a combat deployment was likely and imminent. After all, the War in Iraq was just ramping up. The Battle for Fallujah had just occurred. Marines were fighting and dying constantly in Afghanistan and Iraq. If I didn’t push myself to exhaustion at Parris Island, I would fail my team mates when the first battle erupted in whatever theater I would be sent into. General George S. Patton once said, “A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood”.


There were other moments where I hit the proverbial wall, but I won’t get into them. I felt insecure. Worthless. Weak. Depressed. Homesick. I questioned myself hundreds of times a day, but that drive to make it through to the other side continued to burn inside me, even when I thought that flame was extinguished. My motivation came from my best friend Marc who had joined me as my boot camp buddy. He was a hard charging squad leader who always had my back. I’m grateful that we were able to experience the Island together.


We had heard how recruits in the Third Training Battalion were roughed up much more than those of us in First and Second Battalion. This was mainly due to their location on the Island. Far away from prying eyes of Command Staff (senior Officers and Staff-NCOs), compared to the other Battalions which were within earshot of the Command HQ. Still, some of Weaver’s accounts seem to be highly exaggerated. 


Clearly, however, there were some seriously screwed up things that occurred during his stay at the beautiful Casa de Parris Island. Sticking a recruit in a hot clothes dryer is not training. It is not OK to target a recruit based on their race / religion / ethnicity / sexual orientation. Why? Because in combat, none of those things matter. What does matter is how effective you are at your job. How well you can place rounds on target. How well you communicate during the fight. How you react to the chaos of a battle. Those things have NOTHING to do with the color of your skin, what religion you follow, or what gender you are attracted to.


I feel sorry for the recruit who thought the only way out of Basic Training was to leap to his death. I feel for his family and his friends. No one should ever feel like they’ve been targeted to the point where suicide is the only escape, ESPECIALLY in a professional institution like the United States Marine Corps. I don’t know what your personal experience is with the Corps, but it is absolutely the most professional fighting organization the United States has to offer.


Leaders don’t throw their subordinates into dryers. Leaders don’t target their subordinates for their personal or cultural values. I understand that boot camp is designed to strip the civilian away from the recruit. I hear all this crap about “Oh, well the Sergeants are training them for combat.” No. That is not the purpose of Basic Training. They’re training them in customs & courtesies, Marine Corps history, and the fundamentals of what it means to be a U.S. Marine. 


Let the Combat Instructors at the School of Infantry simulate combat situations. Let the combat experienced Team Leader in the Fleet show them the ropes of a combat deployment. Personally, my time at Camp Geiger’s School of Infantry was much more physically demanding than anything I had done in Parris Island, but due to the mental fortitude I had gained in boot camp, I was able to keep my nose to the dirt and focus on becoming an effective Infantry Marine.


Every recruit deserves a chance to become a Fleet Marine. Thanks to their arrogance, poor leadership, and dereliction of honor, twenty Marines are facing charges. These are probably Marines that would have otherwise had stellar careers. Some of them are simply being dragged into the mud because they held leadership positions above these cruel Sergeants. The United States needs every volunteer service member it can get as we approach our sixteenth year in America’s longest conflict.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Two Hundred and Thirty Seven Years

Every great nation has had their culture of great warriors. The Romans had their Legionnaires. The Greeks and their Spartans. The Egyptians and their Medjay. The Japanese and their Samurai. Regardless of political, cultural, or ideological beliefs, these men (and sometimes women) have waded into the fields of battle, watching horrors manifest before them, creating the strongest bonds human beings could ever endure.

Growing up, I idolized these warriors and their great traditions. Not necessarily the wars in which they campaigned, but the lifestyles they lived. I did not grow up in a military family. The closest military base was over an hour drive in any direction. But war and its combatants have always fascinated me. The beauty. The horror. The struggle. The personal conflict of the soldier who raises his hand and says, “Take me. I’ll go.” Leaving behind their family, friends, and community to travel to a land they probably barely knew anything of to face an enemy they knew little about. I saw it in movies. Read about it in books. Tried to attach some sort of personal anguish to the video game characters I played as. But none if it was real. It seemed so real, and yet so far away.

I made up my mind some time in High School that doing the military thing was going to be my personal right of passage. College was a definite, but sometime around fourteen or fifteen I decided I wanted to enlist. I tossed around the idea of the Army National Guard. Maybe be a Military Police officer so I could work the weekends, go to school, and get some real education and training that I could take with me into the “real” world. I’d be lining myself up a path of education, financial security, and a personal pride for myself and my family.

The Marine Corps always fascinated, yet intimidated me. I read about their battles. Their tenacity in the face of danger. Men literally rushing head on into firefights. Running TOWARDS the gunfire, not away. These people were not human. Their pit bull like mentality won the Marines many battles, and also caused some horrific losses. For a while I told myself, “I can never be that good. I could never be at that level.”

Then September 11th happened. Without a doubt this was the event that would shape my transition from youth to adult. This was my call to arms. I decided at that moment that I didn’t want to be a soldier pulling over drunk guys on base and locking up rowdy bar patrons. I wanted to hold a rifle. I wanted to be alongside the men rushing head first into a firefight. Kicking down the doors of the sick men who supported the terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans.

I wasn’t a football player and I didn’t do team sports. I was the guy who preferred to write a paper over going to the local basketball game. What I did do for extra curricular activity, though, absolutely helped to mold my mindset into that of a Marine. For years, I did the Boy Scouts thing. It was pretty cool. I did some camping, learned survival skills, outdoor first aid, etc. Useful stuff, in the long run. After getting sick of that, I joined the Civil Air Patrol (United States Air Force Auxiliary). It was cool. We learned how to march, perform search and rescue, and mild leadership courses.

But what really prepared my mind was the two years or so that I took a traditional style of Okinawan Karate, Shorin-Ryu. It was during my years as a martial artist where I learned the importance of intangible things that the warriors of yesteryear trained in, like controlled aggression, situational awareness, and muscle memory. All three of these things I would carry over into my career as a United States Marine. Especially in the world of the infantry.

I was seventeen. I told my parents I wanted to go to boot camp right after High School and if they would sign me over to the recruiter, I would be forever in their debt. With little hesitation they signed me away. They knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time. I went to the recruiter with very little questions. I just wanted to start training. My first choice was to become a combat videographer. Unfortunately, this was not offered to Reserve Marines, so my next pick was infantry. I wanted to be in the fight. Manning machine guns and going out on patrols. For me, the Marine Corps WAS the infantry, and the infantry was the Marine Corps.

I remember a phone call I received from one of the recruiters while I was coming back from my medical examination to enter the military. My long time friend from town and I were planning on doing the buddy program together where we would go down to boot camp together. The recruiter on the other end says, “Your buddy Marc wants to leave earlier.” We were planning on going to Parris Island sometime in July. “June 15th. Do you wanna go with him?” June 15th... that was only ten days after we would graduate. I wanted to spend time with some friends, family... “Yea. I’ll go.” I knew going with a friend would give me that added boost of motivation. That added courage to keep on pushing. To look over and see my friend enduring the same amount of suffering that I was... if not more... Well, selfishly, that made me feel a little better about the situation that I was in.

So ten days after one of the biggest accomplishments of my young life, High School graduation, we ventured off to Parris Island, South Carolina. The land that, some say, God forgot. Boot camp was a hellacious but absolutely fulfilling time in my life. After boot camp I went off to infantry school in North Carolina. It was there that I met a member of the unit I was about to join. He was in a program that split up his boot camp and infantry time, allowing him to go back to the unit and start some training with them. He told me that our unit was slated to deploy at the beginning of the new year, 2006. I remember a cold feeling embracing me. That kind of feeling when you find out someone in your family is gravely ill. After infantry training, I checked into my unit. The feeling in the air was electric. The Staff Sergeant checking me in was asking if I was ready to go “down range”. The First Sergeant gave me a speech, asking if I was mentally ready to partake in this deployment. I told him I was.

For 236 years, the Marines have gone to some of the most treacherous war zones in the world. It’s been six years since my deployment. I’d like to consider myself a bit wiser. But nothing will ever take back the feeling of accomplishment I had when I walked away from the parade deck in which thousands of civilians had become Marines before me. That feeling of absolute terror mixed with the greatest excitement I’ve ever felt when I was first engaged in a gunfight. Each month that passed while I wore that uniform, I felt like I aged another 5 years, so I think I’m up to about the 237 mark. I’m proud of our generation of warriors. We accomplished a lot. We lost too many. It’s our job now to tell their stories, and to preserve the honor of the warrior, not the disgusting face of war.

Happy Birthday Marines.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mercenaries in Modern Warfare





Not all wars are fought by uniformed soldiers. At the same time, not all wars are fought by non-uniformed guerrillas or insurgents. Somewhere in between is a no man’s land where blood and honor go hand in hand. This is the world of the mercenary.
Soldiers for hire are nothing new. With the birth of warfare came the birth of the mercenary. Over the course of time, warfare has evolved and taken shape as tactics, equipment, and weapons make the battlefield subject to constant change.  Its not always a matter of who has the biggest army, the most advanced tactics and maneuvers, or the most deadly weapon. Many times its a simple matter of having boots on the ground, and men who are willing to fight and die to accomplish a mission.
image courtesy of Google
With the evolution of warfare, the mercenary has never had any trouble finding a job. His tactics, weapons, and equipment may have changed, but the simple fact is that he is getting paid (usually a significant amount more than their uniformed counterparts) to fight in a war, similar to his uniformed counterparts. So what is the major difference between a uniformed soldier and a mercenary?
The laws of war. Although it seems almost contradictory in nature, there are rules and laws that govern how wars should be fought. As a young Marine recruit entering my military service, I was taught the fundamentals of marksmanship, leadership, and the articles of the rules of war. Giving aid to enemy combatants, allowing combatants to surrender, and providing for civilians in occupied territory.
When an individual is in the armed forces of the United States, they are held to the laws of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ is very similar to laws that civilians must abide by, but are usually much more strict, with less chance of leniency, due to the professional nature of the armed forces. Mercenaries that are working for a host government should follow the host governments military laws if they are not already. Mercenaries are an invaluable asset to the battlefield. However, many times they are looked upon as cowboys and adrenaline junkies just trying to get their fix. Private security companies, as they’re known in the “professional” world, should hold high standards to their operators. If a US private security company is going to war for the US government, that company should be following the same exact laws as their uniformed counterparts have to follow.
In my research of modern mercenary groups, there are very few pieces of literature that come off as either “pro” or “anti” mercenary. The issue at hand is not the fact that mercenary groups exist, because as long as wars exist, mercenaries will have jobs. The issue at hand is responsibility in the mission, and who should take the heat when a mercenary acts inappropriately. Grouping my research together, I have decided to put them into two separate categories:
Literature written for the eyes of policy makers.
Literature written for the average reader.
The reason behind organizing my research in such a manner is because the issue of whether mercenaries should exist is not in question. Organizing the research by the target audience of the author is of most importance.
Jed Babbin is former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense and a political author. In his article, Prosecution of Blackwater’s Raven 23 Begins, Babbin feels that there is political motivation behind the prosecution of Blackwater mercenaries. “An Iraqi investigation found that the Raven 23 team fired without provocation. That conclusion--disputed by all but one of the Blackwater guards--falls into a legal void. Post-invasion Iraq has been a largely lawless place.” (Babbin, 2009) Babbin’s article is geared towards the average reader, as there is no call for action in policy change.
Louise Gerdes has an excellent article that calls for a change in the way that the government handles mercenary organizations. He notes that congress has taken some steps towards making changes, after it “...repeatedly expressed its concern at the lack of proper regulations for the oversight of PMSCs*.” (Gerdes, 2010) His article is geared distinctly towards policy makers, as the article was published in a 2010 issue of Armed Forces. At the bottom of the article is an excellent bullet list of recommended policy changes that the US government should have in regards to private contractors.
Ryan Kelty, a professor of sociology at Washington College, wrote up an impressive piece in the Journal of Political and Military Sociology concerning the physiological effect of private contractors in combat zones. Not only does this article address the mental well being of mercenaries after experiencing combat, but the relationship between mercenaries and uniformed soldiers working together in the field. This article is geared towards military and civilian leaders who are concerned with the way mercenaries are treated when they return from war, and what steps can be taken to prevent any catastrophic disasters during a time of conflict.
James Kwok wrote a piece for the Harvard International Review that goes over the history of mercenaries in our current conflicts. Kwok goes over the problems that mercenaries are facing in our current conflicts, and some ideas on how to regulate and monitor the activities of our private contractors. Although Kwok has some issues with the way that contractors are integrated in our modern battlefield, he feels that these men take a lot of strain off of our military, and can become an invaluable asset, if used properly. Kwok’s article can be used to target both policy makers and the individual reader, although I feel that a policy maker would get more out of the article.
image courtesy of Google
Sarah Percy wrote a lengthy piece on how modern mercenaries are often tossed into the mix of civil wars by their host state / government. The United States in particular, has done a poor job of integrating military and private contractors in occupied war zones. “The relationship between the American military and the private security industry in Iraq demonstrates a striking lack of policy forethought that has had a noticeable (and mainly negative) impact on the prosecution of the war.” (Percy, pp 6) Many of the suggestions that Percy makes are beyond the control of the average individual, which makes this piece perfect for policy makers.
Fred Smoler’s six page article on Mercenaries and the Market provides a good history of various mercenary groups. “Precisely because many employees of the best PMFs* are former
elite soldiers, they have internalized many of the norms and loyalties of the modern profession
of arms.” (Smoler, pp 6 ) This is a key statement that is made in the article. Simply put, the employees of these contracted agencies are already familiar with a set of rules that they have to abide by as warriors. Smoler’s piece provides a great amount of knowledge for the average reader who may not be fully aware of different private security contractors and their histories.
Mateo Taussig-Rubbo’s piece on mercenaries is a quick tug on the heart strings of the average reader, and is the most “anti-mercenary” of all of the literature that I encountered. Although the piece is short (just a few paragraphs), it contains a strong emotional appeal to the reader. “The use of military contractors separates the soldiers from the established lines of military command and control. Their emergence is one way a government can avoid liability for the actions of those fighting a war.” (Taussig-Rubbo, 2008)
    When we read about wars, there are very few positive things that can ever be said. When we read about mercenaries, there are even fewer positive things that are said. Almost as if by default, mercenaries, private security contractors, soldiers of fortune, or whatever you want to call them, have a strong cliche as the renegade warrior. When they screw up, as anyone in combat is likely to do, the hammer comes down hard.
    Let’s take a look at Max Babbin’s article about Raven 23. The incident occurred on September 16th, 2007, in Nisour Square, Baghdad. Somewhere along the line, there was a lapse in communication, and Raven 23 opened fire. When the smoke cleared, fourteen Iraqis were dead. Twenty were wounded. It was this incident that caused Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq to be revoked on September 18th, two days after the massacre.
    Up until this point, there was no clear and definitive guidelines as to how to prosecute private security contractors working in other countries. Although Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claimed to be able to be able to hold Blackwater accountable within the confines of the Pentagon, there were logistical factors that said otherwise.
In November of 2000, seven years before the incident at Nisour Square, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) was passed. This was a law that was intended to encompass any contractors hired by the Department of Defense. Since 2000, there have been twelve prosecutions under MEJA. Of those twelve prosecutions, only one has been successful.
In response to the Nisour Square incident, the US House added a clause to MEJA that would encompass an even wider range of employees contracted for the government. If you look at the prosecution rate, though, there seem to be some serious flaws in the rules that are being set forth by the government. If a military convoy shot up fourteen civilians, there would be an immediate action taken upon the aggressive unit. Raven 23’s court date was set for sometime this year. It was dismissed by Judge Ricardo Urbina, a justice that Jed Babbin felt would burn the Blackwater employees to the fullest degree.
Military outsourcing is not a new idea. In most cases, its cheaper to train private contractors (since most of them are prior military), they are reliable, and they can perform missions that the military may not be tasked with. That’s where I feel the biggest issue is.
The average job for a private security contractor is a personal security for high value targets (officials working for the Department of Defense, State House, etc.) There is an awesome success rate at which private contractors can be very proud of. Normally, a soldier in the field would not be tasked to transport and protect those sorts of individuals. Not to say that it never happens, but its not a routine part of what it means to be in the military and in a combat zone.
Image courtesy of Google
I feel that any private contractor working for the Department of Defense should be subject to a “civilian version” of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Firstly, a good majority of these contractors will be very familiar with the laws and the consequences. Having a clear cut system set up, and training contractors on that system will avoid any grey areas in the law.
Why should it be the UCMJ, and not MEJA? Simply because the UCMJ is already a set of rules that is already in play, and has been for many years. If you think of the hierarchy of the military, they are ultimately under the watchful eye of the government that they work for. The hierarchy of security contractors should be no different. They are clients for a host government, and the host government should enact the laws that they subject to the military to any military outsource.
Private security contractors don’t normally go where there isn’t already an occupying force. The military should have complete jurisdiction of how laws are followed in combat zones, and they should be the enforcers of those laws. I’m not saying it should be a part of their mission to police after mercenaries, but if a mercenary group commits an atrocity like the one at Nisour Square, it falls under the jurisdiction of the military, which ultimately falls under the jurisdiction of the occupying government.
Is this not a simple solution to the confusion of laws in warfare? Eliminating all of these forks in the “road to responsibility” will prove to be easier and more effective than trying to throw around an assortment of bills and laws. As we have already seen, the employees of private security contractors are already very familiar with the warrior ethos and laws of morality.
Mercenaries are war fighters, and in the times that we live in, war is played by rules. Uniformed service members are expected to carry themselves with the highest professional standards. At all times, they are expected to follow the rules of war, and are fully aware of any consequences that may come down on them if they break the law.
Not everyone who joins the military stays in after their contract is up. Many of them move on and take the skills that they have learned to other fields. For the ones who choose not to don the uniform, but still operate in combat zones, I feel there is no excuse for ignorance of war crimes and other laws of war. These men have already been trained on the use of firearms, controlled aggression, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
All members of the United States Armed Forces are held accountable by the UCMJ. The government has once again let us down by attempting to complicate things, and throwing in laws that only affect certain employees of the government. This is wrong.
Any person who is working for a host government, either as a contractor or military personnel, and operating inside occupied territory should be subjected to the same laws. Justice is blind. Whether or not a person is wearing a uniform should not be the discriminating factor. There have been several cases where Marines, sailors, soldiers, and airmen have had to stand before a trial of their peers due to a catastrophic incident that occurred in a combat zone.
Why are mercenaries that commit crimes treated differently than their uniformed counterparts?

*PMSC - Private Military & Security Companies
*PMF - Privatized Military Forces

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
BABBIN, Jed. (2009, Jan 5). Prosecution of Backwater’s Raven 23 begins. Human Events, Vol         65, Issue 1, pp 7.

GERDES, Louise. (2010). "Private Military Forces Must Be Made Publicly Accountable to Protect     Human Rights." Armed Forces. Ed. Louise Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
   
KELTY, Ryan. (2009, Winter). Citizen soldiers and civilian contractors: Soldiers’ unit cohestion         (sp) and retention attitudes in the “total force”. Journal of Political and Military Sociology,         Vol 37,     Number 2, pp 133 - 159.

KWOK, James. (2006). Armed entrepreneurs: private military companies in Iraq. Harvard         International Review 28.1 pp 34.
http://hir.harvard.edu/soviet-legacies/armed-entrepreneurs

PERCY, Sarah. (2009, March). Private security companies and civil wars. Civil Wars, Vol. 11         Issue 1, pp 57-74.

SMOLER, Fred. (2008). Mercenaries and the markets. Dissent, Vol. 55 Issue 2, pp 111-117.


TAUSSIG-Rubbo, Mateo. (2008, April). Should Americans honor soldiers for hire? USA Today,         Vol 136, Issue 2755, pp 13.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chief Tecumseh's Words of Wisdom

"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."


So... what is your death song? 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Three Rules All Warriors Must Abide By

Whether you're a point man or a commander, war does not change. Only the perspective changes.

There are three rules all warriors must abide by in order to be successful in combat. These are not the end all be all, but they serve a good foundation for a unit that can effectively engage / destroy the enemy and accomplish mission objectives.


Respect Yourself.


Respect Your Men.

Respect Your Enemy.

Respecting yourself is pretty fucking important. It actually sounds kind of ridiculous when you really dissect it. "Respect". Okay, I got that part. "Yourself"? The fuck? How am I supposed to respect myself?

Let's take a look at a definition:
1 : a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation
2 : an act of giving particular attention : consideration
3 a : high or special regard : esteem b : the quality or state of being esteemed c plural : expressions of respect or deference
(www.meriam-webster.com)

In essence, to respect yourself is to KNOW yourself. Knowing your limitations, and how far you're willing to go. How much does this fight mean to you? Because its not always about the field of battle. It can be as simple as a conflict outside of a bar. Or an "intangible" conflict, such as conquering a major project at work or school.

The first rule can be utilized in situations where you find yourself alone and facing a task. Know yourself, and respect your limitations. Don't rush head first into a fire fight before ensuring that covering fire is being laid down. Which brings us to the second rule....

Respect Your Men.

Let's throw a situation into the mix... You're rolling down an MSR in the middle of August. Its Badlands-Somewhere-In-The-Middle-East. The heat causes your skivvy shirt to press and squish against your chest beneath your flak jacket. Sweat is rolling down your face and its hard to stay awake. Its quiet. The rumbling of the truck nearly lulls you to sleep.

Suddenly you take contact. As you begin to assess the situation, you disembark the truck and take cover behind another truck. Your Platoon Commander orders you to set up a machine gun team on the roof of a building 50 meters away. Your men being raining down a hail storm of cover so you can move to your objective. You focus on setting up the machine gun in a way that it can effectively put rounds on target and kill the enemy.

Part of it was because you respected your men. You knew that as soon as you took contact, the other guys would know exactly what to do. You've been training with them for months. You've seen them react to stressful situations, and you trust their judgement. You don't have to LIKE the SAW Gunner in 2nd team, but he sure as hell knows how to effectively use his weapon. You respect him as a warrior, and as a man who could quite possibly save your ass if you get into a sticky situation.

I'd like to think that not all combat engagements are absolute chaos, either. It takes an element of planning and resources to set up a complex ambush that can really put you and your boys in the "Oh Shit" Zone. You don't have to be Colin Powell to nail a convoy with an IED. If you want to stick around for the ensuing gun fight... well, if you're an insurgent, you're out gunned. Sorry. That's just the way it is.

Some times there are engagements where the fire is sporadic. Are they even aiming? It just seems that they stick their muzzles half an inch above a roof line and spray the magazine in your general direction. Its almost laughable.

But this brings us to my final point...

Respect Your Enemy.

Whether he's a farmer turned insurgent, or highly trained operator from Lebanon, the enemy wants to KILL you. You have to kill him FIRST.

In this case, the opposite of respect is not disrespect. The opposite of respect is a mix of ignorance, arrogance, and complacency. If you think you're Clint Eastwood and you can dodge bullets, you're in the wrong line of work. As warriors trained in an urban atmosphere, where you can take fire from 360 degrees, every civilian, dwelling, and vehicle must be looked at with suspicion and curiosity.

Respecting and knowing your enemy helps you to lay out a blue print of possible attack points in your operations. Your body is put in such a state that at the drop of a dime, you can immediately focus on the task at hand with almost super human accuracy and precision. By the time you say "What the fuck happened", its already over.

This is basically just a mash up of thoughts on combat and warfare in general. I've always had a weak spot for studying counter-insurgency and urban warfare. It was quite an experience to get up close and personal with these things.

Comments and opinions are welcome.