July 01, 2004
"We are ready when America is least ready, and we answer the call"
USMC Captain Neal Murphy Jr reacts to retired USMC General Anthony Zinni's recent visit to Quantico:
Last week, retired Gen. Anthony C. Zinni arrived aboard Camp Lejeune, peddled his new book, criticized our civilian leadership in the Pentagon, pointed out problems and challenges and then he left us.
For over two years, I?ve had the opportunity to hear Gen. Zinni speak on three occasions regarding the war in Iraq. Every occasion, I left unimpressed. His record stands for itself; he served with honor. His points make sense, but something just doesn?t sit well.
Perhaps it summons a sarcastic quote from Francis Grose while giving advice to officers of the British army in 1782. ?When ordered for duty, always grumble and question the roster. This will procure you the character of one that will not be imposed on.?
As Marines, we are taught to comment on and make corrections on issues we can control and do something about. In the case of criticizing the war in Iraq, that is not our duty. We fight the fight, we follow instructions and we do our duty. Marines have a responsibility to develop and think about better ways to fight wars, but Marines should not publicly influence or second-guess our policy makers on why we are engaged in a war.
That is but one of the reasons that make Marines the premier force to be reckoned with. We are ready when America is least ready, and we answer the call.
General Zinni may be right in his criticism and he has the luxury to examine and point fingers, but it is important to realize that we don?t and shouldn?t.
Making statements like: ?The occupation has been a disaster,? or ?Heads should roll,? he makes good headlines and shows love of his plan when he was the Central Command chief, but does little service to our Marines and cheapens our efforts.
Marines should resist the temptation to allow themselves to experience mental confusion, contradiction of feeling, and indecisiveness that will erode our will to fight. Even worse, we grumble and complain as Francis Grose sarcastically advised, and we won?t get called to right wrongs and fight for freedom.
Like it or not, we are decisively engaged with an enemy that will kill us when and wherever they can. While Marines mull over what Gen. Zinni said, we can remember that he pointed out problems that have little to do with what we should be concerned about and generally failed to make a strong case on what to do next.
Dwelling in the past and pointing out perceived failures of the administration and ultimately the President should never be good conversation around Marines.
In future professional military education engagements, we Marines should ask our guests who speak on controversial issues to look to the future and make recommendations on how to do business better, not change history. We need to ?Dig with the shovel we got,? ?Dance with the girl we brought to the ball,? and ?Finish our jobs.?
Like a professional football team in the playoffs, Marines don?t have the time or luxury to think about what our franchise owner could have done better in negotiating a better schedule for the first few games of the season. Our team is built; we?ve trained, we?ve bled and we?re very much in the game. We need to continue to keep our heads in the game, improvise, adapt and overcome like we have for the past 228 years to get the job done and leave policy and criticism to our elected officials. They?ll get their job done and we must do ours.
Thanks, Captain Murphy. I've followed Gen. Zinni's remarks since before the war and, while I applaud healthy debate, the constant negativity and carping is wearing. Some of his dire predictions have not come true (he was certain that Saddam would drag Israel into the war) and we've handed over the country to the people of Iraq ahead of schedule. I have great respect for Gen. Zinni's service to our country but sometimes, I wish he'd sit down and take a well-earned rest.
Posted by Deb at July 1, 2004 09:17 PM
Eye on the horizon Mister!
Well Said Captain!
Posted by: JarheadDad at July 2, 2004 08:31 AM