July 29, 2004
Turn off the TV and get the job done
. . . What did these Marines think about the political situation in Iraq? Why were the insurgents killing their own people? I should have known better. The Marines don't waste time debating motivations. There are no policy wonks here. They understand that though most Iraqis want democracy, until this majority is willing to fight for it, they'll never be free. History is rife with small bands of murderers controlling entire populations. In 1917, thousands of Bolsheviks controlled millions of people. The Viet Cong assassination program destroyed South Vietnam's intelligentsia and put a country on its knees. A few miles away, bands of murderers control Fallujah while the Iraqi brigade formed to secure the city camps outside its walls.
These Marines have a simple philosophy: Evil is everywhere. Every country has its own private slice of hell. The only way to deal with it is for the warrior class to turn off its big screen TV, drop its PlayStation, and trade its basketball for a sword.
Iraq is one of those societies that is ruled by its warriors. Like the Somali, Serb, and Afghan before him, the unseen enemy in Iraq is now being feted for his martial prowess. But Americans should not confuse the fact that we don't let our own warriors run roughshod over its citizenry with their ability.
Stateside, we seem to have embraced the role of victim. Everyone knew the Jessica Lynch feeding frenzy was insane—she said so herself—but with American blood in the water, the populace kept feeding and feeding. Producers gobbled up ratings, generals gobbled up stars, writers gobbled up book advances. Today, Chesty Puller would not throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. Who's Chesty Puller? Let's get a POW to throw out the first pitch. Oh, and would he mind wearing the orange jumpsuit?
At Camp Fallujah, the theme is not victimization but domination. And that's exactly what the Marines of First Recon Battalion are doing. They have conducted raids under the most brutal circumstances, an historic high-altitude combat parachute jump, and countless patrols. They have killed hundreds of combatants. And yet they are one of the only units in Fallujah to have avoided casualties because of roadside explosives. How do they do it? "By staying aggressive," says Gunnery Sgt. Dan Griego. "When we slow down and look for a fight, we're safer. Other convoys speed up and go pedal-to-the-metal. They look like victims, and they get hit. Sometimes we want to fight and can't get one."
"You can avoid IEDs [improvised explosive devices] at night," says Master Sgt. Karl Froisy. "Problem is, if you want contact, you need to get it during daytime. And we tend to look for contact."
The Marine Corps once used a recruiting slogan that read: "Nobody likes to fight, but someone has to know how." It was soon dropped. Marines like to fight.
This is not a celebration of violence. This is not a recruiting advertisement. This is not an endorsement of a political view. This is simply the result of dropping flesh and bone into an atmosphere filled with bits of steel. When you put equally determined riflemen in a pit, they will fight until one of them yields. These Marines promise to keep fighting until there's no one left to kill. Or they're told to go home.
Posted by Deb at July 29, 2004 09:01 AM
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