Hold Your Fire

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honor-500x400 What, exactly, are we telling our soldiers about how they’re supposed to be fighting a war? To you a currently in vogue phrase-first, let me be clear: The military is currently considering medals for “Courageous Restraint”. To be fair, almost all of the high military officials have stated that they believe the idea behind such medals is flawed and that the medals are probably not a good idea. Everyone seems to agree on this point. The problem is that it actually GOT to a place where these medals were being considered. Why do I think this is a problem? Maybe a little history is in order. When I was a kid, my brother's favorite record in the world (we had things called records back then) was Kenny Roger's "The Gambler". There was this song on it we'd listen to over and over again called "Coward of the County" about this kid Tommy who's Dad had a rough life and made his son promise that he'd never, ever fight with anyone. So Tommy went around town, always backed down from any fight, got pushed around and sucked it up because he had promised his Daddy he'd be a good boy and walk away from trouble. One day, the Gatlin boys did some stuff to Tommy's girl, stuff I didn't quite understand as a kid but in retrospect seems pretty horrific. Well, that's Tommy's breaking point. He tried to be a good guy, but he locks the door to the bar room and proceeds to obliterate these guys who'd committed a pretty heinous crime. Sometimes you gotta fight, you know? My point here is not that someone who doesn't fight is a Coward, quite the contrary. It takes a hell of a lot of inner fortitude to hold back, it's one of the things that separate us from base animals. It's a hard line to walk and I have nothing but admiration for folks who can hold back in the face of severe situations and not give in to emotions. Moving away from violence as a first resort is really something worth striving for. No real soldier, nobody who has actually seen war, thinks that war should ever be the first option. But there's a time and a place for everything. Sometimes you gotta fight. When the military announced a new ROE a while back that said you essentially had to ask pretty please two or three times to fire back if there was a chance you might hit someone who wasn't holding a weapon we kind of shrugged it off and said-we're being the better folks, it'll help us win hearts and minds, blah, blah, etc...etc... We're sliding down a slippery slope. Back to the medals for "Courageous Restraint", basically the point would be to give medals for not fighting at great risk to your personal well being when you're life is in danger. Medals for not shooting back when you're being fired upon. Remember the military? They're the one who decided to stop handing out Medals of Honor. What are we telling soldiers in the field? We will reward you for choosing not to fight, but if you fight so hard at such great risk to yourself and actually find, fix and destroy the enemy like they teach you in your training...we'll sweep it under the rug. Where are the Medals of Honor for this war, for this Global War on Terror, for OEF/OIF? As of this writing we have awarded 6, and none to a living recipient. Six. We've been criticized by many for the interminable length that this war is dragging on to, and yet we've awarded six medals. In Afghanistan, they have awarded two Medals of Honor in nine years, for a sense of perspective, in the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia two Medals were awarded (justly) in one day. Are our service members not fighting? Are there no heroes out there performing actions worthy of this award? I would argue not. I would argue that Admiral Nimitz's words about Iwo Jima are as true about this war as they have been for any war that we have fought and the service members who fought for us. "Uncommon valor was a common virtue" It's just not a virtue that we reward any more. Now we're looking at rewarding our service members for not fighting a war. Do we lose our humanity, our moral high ground, if we fight a war with the intention of killing people? Should we fight wars if we can't guarantee that civilians will remain unharmed? War is not a pretty place, nor will it ever be. Civilians die in wars. They have since time immemorial. Good people die in wars, on both sides. People die in war, that's what happens. Wars are ugly, brutish, violent, tragic, every horrible thing you could think of. But sometimes they're necessary. Sometimes you gotta fight. You can't send soldiers out and tell them to take fire and not fight back. To quote a very smart person I know, someone mind you who loves the UN and could not be a greater cheerleader for the organization if she had been the love child of U Thant and Dag Hammarskjold, "Peacekeepers...don't" You just can't put them in that role, there's no way that comes out well. Furthermore, are we even at a stage of war where we should be putting our soldiers in the field as peacekeepers? Have we so successfully prosecuted the wars that we’re just sweeping up the last bits? Fighting a war should be a last resort, but when you commit to a war, commit to it wholeheartedly and never let up. Your enemy will not. Our enemy in this war certainly does not shy away from targeting innocent civilians. Ask the city of New York. Service members need a clear signal from command about what it is that they are expected to do. If what they are expected to do is restrain themselves from fighting, we should quit now. Really, we should quit. Because if we're not willing to fight, to do what it takes to fight a war, to recognize that our soldiers are there to find, fix and destroy the enemy, then we've already lost. You can't fight an implacable enemy by a policy if relenting.
Posted in the burner | 5 comments
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Political correctness and social engineering will be the death of this country.

The mlitary is, to quote the Bard, "about killing people and breaking things." Anyione even remotely considering this crap in the Puzzle Palace ought to be put into a rubber room and given an award for "Moronic Stupidity."

Why not just come up with an NCIB, a Non-Combat Infantryman Badge. It could be just the same as the CIB but with a yellow background instead of blue.

Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I had written and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to everything. Do you have any tips for novice blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.

"The military is currently considering medals for “Courageous Restraint”.

This is definitely Political Correctness gone mad. Where do these people who get to float such preposterous ideas come from and what's more why do we let them do it and get away with it? It erodes our morale and gives hope to our enemies.

It's just not right.

Nice little rant here. Not gonna lie, it's a bit difficult to read what without any paragraphs and such... good job anyways, though.

David W
Writer, EnviroSelects

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.