Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fratres Aeterni (Brothers Forever)

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Pardon me, but I must post the words of some of my fellow Marines. I often feel that the greatest wisdom our nation will ever hold comes from the hearts of our seasoned veterans. Here are some words to ponder and take to heart.

First, from a World War II veteran.

[[ The ranks of WW11 vets are dwindling quite rapidly. Our legs are bowed and our back are bent but our chests still swell with pride when reading of our Marines. Our eyes may leak a little more rapidly than some. We have had a long time to practice.

God Bless America and God Bless the Marine Corps.

Cpl. M.G.Van Lue
7th Marines '43-'46 ]]

Here is the reaction of a Vietnam Marine to the recent deaths of 21 Marines in Iraq. He is most eloquent... and most wise.

[[ Marines around the world feel this loss. The Brotherhood is smaller now by a count of 21. Now, too old to be over there, I can only watch, read about, pray for and deeply appreciate their sacrifice. For those who share these circumstances, our time has come and gone. We still pay attention though.

Young men fighting in the most dangerous combat environments deeply bonded to one another by a blood oath to watch each other's back.no matter what. Each of them, clear on the mission; stop it here and stop it now.

The mindless, gutless rhetoric spouted by some who sent them and now are having second thoughts escapes them. They have long since crossed the line of departure and the fight is theirs now. They have sized it and rationalized it and have determined that those whom they fight and kill and those who kill them in return must be defeated. The concepts and tactics taught them in the Corps make sense now and are put to immediate use.

Their commanders and leaders watch them in awe as they go about the bloody, dangerous business of eliminating a foe that plays by no rules whatsoever. Marines I have had the privilege to know have had that unselfish and uncanny knack of sorting out and accepting the risks inherent in their chosen profession. For that period of time when the value of all else in their lives had to be subordinated to the accomplishment of the tasks at hand, they stepped forward and got them done.

Those young Marines we just lost knew all this. I don't know the specific circumstances involving their loss, but I do know that somewhere in the events preceding their deaths, some selfless, duty-bound decisions were made and 21 Marines gave it all. I know enough from experience that the potential for this outcome was a risk that they quietly accepted as part of their job.

Now, we who survive have a set of decisions to make. Do we look at these losses and say, "Enough"? It's time to quit the field and bring them home. Maybe, we need to cave in to these monsters who want the world order to be designed their way. Do we say to our service-age children, "I don't want you going into the military any time soon"? Do we march in protest against this war and policy? Do we smirk at their deaths and feel these Marines got what they deserved? Or. do we cry our tears, console one another, and comfort their loved ones, pray for their peaceful and eternal rest while recognizing that each of them saw something in all this worth fighting and dying for. Shouldn't we at least try to understand what that is?

Some tough days for the Corps? You bet.but they'll work through it and continue the mission.just like they always have.

Semper Fidelis, Brothers, Rest in Peace. We'll take it from here.

Dave St. John
Capt, USMCR 1964-70
RVN Vet
]]

That men such as these served this country... is an amazing thing. THIS is why our country is the greatest nation ever in the history of the world... THIS is why... because of their spirit.

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3 Comments:

Blogger husker_met said...

My sources inside the Marine Corps in Iraq tell me they are taking a pounding, relatively speaking.

But then the Marines are doing most of the heavy lifting (cf. Samarra, Fallujah 1 & 2, the Tigris River campaign).

The Corps embraced (to a much larger extent than the other branches) the tactical concept of the OODA loop in the mid-eighties, and in doing so changed their style of warfighting radically.

For those of you not familiar with the OODA loop concept, check out the writings and biography of Colonel John Boyd, USAF. It will change the way you think about force structure and small unit tactics. If you're like me, it will change the way you think about conflict on all levels (including personal interactions and negotiations).

Rather than the old and much maligned (at least by my pop who was an Army LtC) "Take that hill!" mentality, the Marines have fully adapted into maneuver warfare. They are now, arguably, the best integrated non-covert fighting force in the world.

After 20-odd years of changing and incorporating maneuver warfare into their doctrine, the Marines are miles ahead of the other branches in terms of the kind of combat we'll see in the 21st century (i.e urban close-quarters combat).

Because of this, they are tasked with the first-in types of missions that make big headlines, and consequently, also sustain most of the direct operation casualties.

God bless 'em, if I were dropped into the sh*tstorm, there's no group of pros like the Marine Corps who I'd rather have surrounding me in this day and age. Besides that, they make the best drinking mates.

19/8/05 23:35  
Blogger kmg said...

Husker_met:

We studied manuver warfare endlessley. We were made to understand completely the wisdom of Colonel Boyd and the OODA loop. I use it even now in my life. It is gospel.

Thanks for knowing and appreciating these things. They kept me and my comrades alive and fighting time after time.

20/8/05 00:41  
Blogger husker_met said...

Both Rummy and Cheney were both given the "Full Briefing" way back when, and are reportedly heavily influenced by Boyd.

What's sad is, even with the material available for nothing on the internet, and a vast collection of books analyzing and applying OODA, there are still people in places of authority who are anchored to attrition warfare. My own Sen. Chuck Hagel, Sen. John McCain, Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Shrillary come immediately to mind.

Then you get into the hallowed halls of the Pentagon, wherein budgets and organizational power hinge on "more, bigger, and with more bells and whistles". Of course they don't support force restructuring, as it would chip away at the 3- and 4-stars' and Joint Chiefs' personal empires.

Every time I hear "more boots on the ground" or read about some knucklehead trying to thwart force restructuring I want to tear my hair out.

Also for your summer reading list, check out "The Pentagon's New Map" by Thomas Barnett. He's a well known influence both on GWB and Rummy.

Between Boyd and Barnett my prediction is that we'll see the other branches looking and training more like the Marines, the Marines training more like Special Forces, and Special Forces becoming a larger and distinct sixth branch.

Just my most humble and undereducated guess though...

20/8/05 08:22  

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