We're still at war…right?

I was channel surfing recently and part of this ritual involved a stop at the Military Channel.  Sometimes they have programs that interests me and other times I move on. This time, they got my attention. 

It was a documentary depicting the U.S. Marine advance on Baghdad in the early days of the war.  The scene was a frenzy of M1A1 Abrams tanks advancing along a road, the crack of small arms fire, dust, clouds of smoke and yelling...lots of yelling.  The 2nd Tank Battalion was the spearhead of the Marines' drive to Baghdad.  Their mission was to punch through Iraqi defenses and race toward the capital.  Behind them came the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment whose job it was to mop up and clean out stubborn defensive positions held by Iraqis who knew better than to attract the attention of the tank gunners and let them pass.  As usual, the infantry's role was going to be just plain nasty.

The program did a good job interviewing the Marines who were in the thick of it.  For most of them, it was their first time under hostile fire.  It was a vivid portrayal of just what our young warriors experience.  I think every elected official should be made to watch interviews like these.

One of the tanks was struck by a fusillade of rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) igniting a fuel bladder.  As the tank company commander dismounted to assess the damage and direct the tanks from the ambush kill zone, he was struck in the face by a small arms round.  The yoke of command passed immediately to a young first lieutenant who suddenly had to gain control of the situation and move his unit quickly and skillfully out of harm's way.

Crew members from the disabled tank opened a hatch to better observe his flanks.  An RPG round struck the inside of the raised hatch cover and was deflected into the crew compartment where it exploded killing the young corporal instantly.

The situation continued to develop as infantry units arrived to root out hidden enemy positions. A casualty evacuation point was set up to evacuate wounded Marines from the firefight.  A young sergeant recalled the moment when, as his squad swept across an open field, he heard an enemy soldier emerge from a hidden position behind him.  In a nanosecond, he reacted by shooting the attacker and realized that he had just seen the beast and beaten him this time.  This tough, young Marine was totally drained emotionally by the incident.

A forward air controller (FAC) called for Marine air support both to silence the small arms fire and evacuate the wounded.  An aged CH—46, the twin rotor helicopter that carried many of us to and from harm's way in Vietnam, swooped in overhead looking for a relatively secure place to land.  Sleek bodied Cobras, directed by the FAC, poured 20mm cannon fire and rockets on the buildings that had been the source of the fire aimed at Marines.  A huge secondary explosion ensued.  No more fire is received from that position, now a smoldering ruin.

Instinctively, the involved Marines fell back on the training and education they acquired at Parris Island, San Diego, Quantico, Pensacola as well as Camps Lejeune and Pendleton and other bases.  They were no longer distinguished by rank and different military occupational specialties.  No, they were all Marines bound by a commitment to one another they accepted when the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor became theirs.  The Navy Corpsman and doctors attached to the Marine units performed extraordinarily and calmly treated wounded Marines while exposing themselves to direct, hostile fire.  The Marine air—ground team performed as expected.

As the documentary concluded, I had to get up and walk around a bit.  My heart was pumping.  These are the Americans I respect.  These are the Americans who selflessly answered the call of their country. These are the Americans our enemies now know will relentlessly hunt them down and destroy them.

Sadly, not all Americans support their nation in quite the same way.  Fast forward now to recent hearings and statements made by scurrilous politicians comparing our alleged misuse of prisoners and detainees with the blackest of deeds including Russian gulags, Nazi atrocities and the genocide waged by Pol Pot.

What jaded thinking and level of selfishness have they achieved to make these comparisons of our military to these well—documented cases of war crimes?
These senators and congressmen remind me of spoiled children searching for scraps of anything that will afford them a shred of relevance. Is their hatred for the administration so great that they would serve up our military as hapless scapegoats for their own agendas?  But worse yet, why are these fools sent back to Washington term after term?  Are their constituents just as careless with the truth?

Mark my words, somewhere, a military planner or strategist for al Qaeda or whatever new group of thugs is emerging is watching this drama unfold.  They are making careful notes and calculations regarding just how long it will take for the brave efforts of our military to be eclipsed by the rantings of these self—serving politicians.  They know that the efforts of those who view war and the sacrifices those who wage it incur through some out—of—touch, intellectual prism, and use their right of free speech without regard for its consequences, will always provide them with a ray of hope that their twisted cause will prevail.  So they labor on, committing atrocities, killing the innocent, claiming their rights have been violated when captured,  deflecting and obfuscating the truth because they know they have found comrades firmly embedded in our government who by word and action will support them.

I wonder if, after watching some of the wretched hearings we have witnessed recently which showcase these sorry officials, our enemies will scratch their collective heads and say aloud, 'We're still at war...right?'

Semper Fidelis.

Dave St. John is a former Marine captain who served in the Corps from 1964—1970.  He is a Vietnam Veteran.

I was channel surfing recently and part of this ritual involved a stop at the Military Channel.  Sometimes they have programs that interests me and other times I move on. This time, they got my attention. 

It was a documentary depicting the U.S. Marine advance on Baghdad in the early days of the war.  The scene was a frenzy of M1A1 Abrams tanks advancing along a road, the crack of small arms fire, dust, clouds of smoke and yelling...lots of yelling.  The 2nd Tank Battalion was the spearhead of the Marines' drive to Baghdad.  Their mission was to punch through Iraqi defenses and race toward the capital.  Behind them came the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment whose job it was to mop up and clean out stubborn defensive positions held by Iraqis who knew better than to attract the attention of the tank gunners and let them pass.  As usual, the infantry's role was going to be just plain nasty.

The program did a good job interviewing the Marines who were in the thick of it.  For most of them, it was their first time under hostile fire.  It was a vivid portrayal of just what our young warriors experience.  I think every elected official should be made to watch interviews like these.

One of the tanks was struck by a fusillade of rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) igniting a fuel bladder.  As the tank company commander dismounted to assess the damage and direct the tanks from the ambush kill zone, he was struck in the face by a small arms round.  The yoke of command passed immediately to a young first lieutenant who suddenly had to gain control of the situation and move his unit quickly and skillfully out of harm's way.

Crew members from the disabled tank opened a hatch to better observe his flanks.  An RPG round struck the inside of the raised hatch cover and was deflected into the crew compartment where it exploded killing the young corporal instantly.

The situation continued to develop as infantry units arrived to root out hidden enemy positions. A casualty evacuation point was set up to evacuate wounded Marines from the firefight.  A young sergeant recalled the moment when, as his squad swept across an open field, he heard an enemy soldier emerge from a hidden position behind him.  In a nanosecond, he reacted by shooting the attacker and realized that he had just seen the beast and beaten him this time.  This tough, young Marine was totally drained emotionally by the incident.

A forward air controller (FAC) called for Marine air support both to silence the small arms fire and evacuate the wounded.  An aged CH—46, the twin rotor helicopter that carried many of us to and from harm's way in Vietnam, swooped in overhead looking for a relatively secure place to land.  Sleek bodied Cobras, directed by the FAC, poured 20mm cannon fire and rockets on the buildings that had been the source of the fire aimed at Marines.  A huge secondary explosion ensued.  No more fire is received from that position, now a smoldering ruin.

Instinctively, the involved Marines fell back on the training and education they acquired at Parris Island, San Diego, Quantico, Pensacola as well as Camps Lejeune and Pendleton and other bases.  They were no longer distinguished by rank and different military occupational specialties.  No, they were all Marines bound by a commitment to one another they accepted when the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor became theirs.  The Navy Corpsman and doctors attached to the Marine units performed extraordinarily and calmly treated wounded Marines while exposing themselves to direct, hostile fire.  The Marine air—ground team performed as expected.

As the documentary concluded, I had to get up and walk around a bit.  My heart was pumping.  These are the Americans I respect.  These are the Americans who selflessly answered the call of their country. These are the Americans our enemies now know will relentlessly hunt them down and destroy them.

Sadly, not all Americans support their nation in quite the same way.  Fast forward now to recent hearings and statements made by scurrilous politicians comparing our alleged misuse of prisoners and detainees with the blackest of deeds including Russian gulags, Nazi atrocities and the genocide waged by Pol Pot.

What jaded thinking and level of selfishness have they achieved to make these comparisons of our military to these well—documented cases of war crimes?
These senators and congressmen remind me of spoiled children searching for scraps of anything that will afford them a shred of relevance. Is their hatred for the administration so great that they would serve up our military as hapless scapegoats for their own agendas?  But worse yet, why are these fools sent back to Washington term after term?  Are their constituents just as careless with the truth?

Mark my words, somewhere, a military planner or strategist for al Qaeda or whatever new group of thugs is emerging is watching this drama unfold.  They are making careful notes and calculations regarding just how long it will take for the brave efforts of our military to be eclipsed by the rantings of these self—serving politicians.  They know that the efforts of those who view war and the sacrifices those who wage it incur through some out—of—touch, intellectual prism, and use their right of free speech without regard for its consequences, will always provide them with a ray of hope that their twisted cause will prevail.  So they labor on, committing atrocities, killing the innocent, claiming their rights have been violated when captured,  deflecting and obfuscating the truth because they know they have found comrades firmly embedded in our government who by word and action will support them.

I wonder if, after watching some of the wretched hearings we have witnessed recently which showcase these sorry officials, our enemies will scratch their collective heads and say aloud, 'We're still at war...right?'

Semper Fidelis.

Dave St. John is a former Marine captain who served in the Corps from 1964—1970.  He is a Vietnam Veteran.