22 April 2009

Forget politics

Tonight, I feel compelled to write, not about politics nor even about principle. Tonight I feel compelled to write about the human condition within the American fighting man. I have just finished watching one of the best movies ever produced.   We Were Soldiers. I can never fully comprehend the sacrifice, dedication, and devotion that those 56 hours in the "Valley of the Shadow of Death" produced. I can only be grateful for men such as then Lt. Col Hal Moore of the 7th Cavalry.

I am grateful not only for men like Lt. Gen. Moore, but I am thankful for men like Sgt. Major Plumley and for Joe Galloway and the rest of the men of the 1st Cavalry Division. Their country ordered them into battle, and they did their job. As I watched the movie, a few observations came to mind that I would like to share with you now.

1.) War is a practical device. I mean to say that in war, focus is on what has to be done at the expense of what one would rather have happen. Company commanders and NCO's have such a tactical focus, that sometimes the forest overtakes the birds nest. Never let it be said that any soldier faces combat with the notion that his name will be in lights. He's simply fighting to take the next ridge, or even the next fence line. These fine fighting men take what is given to them situationally and they attempt to turn it to their advantage.

2.) War is never fought in a vacuum. While the most direct impact is felt by the soldiers themselves, most soldiers have a wife and family. The war fought on "the home front" is sometimes devastating for the families. Never underestimate the profound impact war has on the soldiers' family.

3.) War has immediate and direct consequences. First and foremost, the combat soldier will never be the same after surviving combat. The chaos and hell they go through can and does take a toll physically. Secondly, the emotional scarring is sometimes a permanent lifelong struggle. Those who do not make it, have indeed paid the last, full measure of devotion.

4.) War has two consquences, it will divide or it will unite. The Vietnam war is a prime example. While combat united the soldiers in their units, it divided our nation AND it alienated those who should have been welcomed home with at least open arms.

5.) War is not intended to be pleasant. Unsavory tactics are employed sometimes in war.

6.) War, as a device of last resort, is best left in the hands of the military commanders. The Framers of our Constitution rightfully placed command of the nation's armed forces in the Executive Branch. War fighting requires decision and action. Not necessarily deliberation. The officer has a word for this. PREPARATION. Once the general policy parameters are established, let the Generals and Command Staff execute it in their best judgment.

I did not intend this post to be preachy, but it strikes me as the height of folly for the "peaceniks" to smoke their dope and flash peace signs, when its not in the human nature to be peaceful. Where there is land, there will always be those who want land. Where there is power, there will be those who crave power. Where there is the weak, there will always be those who will seek to exploit them. That's humanity. Does that mean that we are not to strive to become better? Of course not. A proper understanding of diplomacy and warcraft (no, not as in the World of) comes with a correct understand of the human nature.

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