Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sheep, Wolves and Sheep Dogs

This letter was written by Charles Grennel and his comrades who are veterans of the Global War on Terror. Grennel is an Army Reservist who spent two years in Iraq and was a principal in putting together the first Iraq elections, January of 2005.

It was written to Jill Edwards, a student at the University of Washington who did not want to honor Medal of Honor winner USMC Colonel Greg Boyington. Ms. Edwards and other students (and faculty) do not think those who serve in the U.S. armed services are good role models.

To: Edwards, Jill (student, UW) Subject: Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Miss Edwards, I read of your student activity regarding the proposed memorial to Col. Greg Boyington, USMC and a Medal of Honor winner. I suspect you will receive a bellyful of angry e-mails from conservative folks like me.

You may be too young to appreciate fully the sacrifices of generations of servicemen and servicewomen on whose shoulders you and your fellow students stand. I forgive you for the untutored ways of youth and your naivete. It may be that you are, simply, a sheep. There's no dishonor in being a sheep as long as you know and accept what you are.

William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997 said: Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

Then there are sheepdogs and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the uncharted path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours. Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, Baa. Until the wolf shows up; then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them.

This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdogs live for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes. The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference. You want to be able to make a difference. There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself. Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When they learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd and the other passengers confronted the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers, athletes, business people and parents from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. Edmund Burke.

Only the dead have seen the end of war. Plato

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice.

But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warriors path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between.

Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. It's ok to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheep dog. Indeed, the sheep dog may just run a little harder, strive to protect a little better and be fully prepared to pay an ultimate price in battle and spirit with the sheep moving from baa to thanks.
We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot. We just need a small pat on the head, a smile and a thank you to fill the emotional tank which is drained protecting the sheep. And when our number is called by The Almighty, and day retreats into night, a small prayer before the heavens just may be in order to say thanks for letting you continue to be a sheep. And be grateful for the thousands, millions of American sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.

What could I possibly add. Well put Charles Grennel, well put.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Funny Laws of Combat

OK, I am compiling what I have as Funny Laws of Combat. Some of them are attributed to the infamous "Capt Murphy" and still others are just sayings that go around and seem to be all too true. In any case, none of them are mine and all of them probably originated in numerous era's in one whitty way or another. Enjoy!
  1. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
  2. If the sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.
  3. Don't look conspicuous, it draws fire.
  4. Incoming fire has the right of way.
  5. There is always a way, and it usually doesn't work.
  6. Try to look unimportant, they may be low on ammo.
  7. Professionals are predictable; amateurs are dangerous.
  8. The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions: when you're ready. when you're not ready.
  9. Teamwork is essential, it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at.
  10. If you can't remember, then the claymore is pointed at you.
  11. The enemy diversion you have been ignoring is the main attack.
  12. A retreating enemy is just falling back and regrouping.
  13. The enemy never watches until you make a mistake.
  14. A "sucking chest wound" is nature's way of telling you to slow down.
  15. If your attack is going well, it's an ambush.
  16. Never draw fire, it irritates everyone around you.
  17. Anything you do can get you shot, including nothing.
  18. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
  19. Never share your foxhole with someone wanting to die for his country.
  20. If you're short of everything but enemy, you're in combat.
  21. When you've secured the area, don't forget to tell the enemy.
  22. Your weapon is made by the lowest bidder.
  23. Friendly fire isn't.
  24. Interchangeable parts aren't.
  25. Covering/Supressing fires won't.
  26. Intelligence isn't.
  27. The easy way is always mined.
  28. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never stay awake when you can sleep.
  29. The most dangerous thing in the world is a second lieutenant with a map and a compass.
  30. The Gunny's least favorite words from a Private: "WATCH THIS!!!"
  31. The Gunny's least favorite words from a Corporal: "...but the Leutenant said..."
  32. The Gunny's least favorite words from a Leutenant: "Based on my experience...."
  33. The Gunny's least favorite words from a Captain: "I don't care what the map says...."
  34. The Gunny's least favorite words from a Major: "...your not going to like this, but...."
  35. The Gunny's least favorite words from a Colonal: "Awwww $h...."
  36. The Gunny's least favorite words from a General: "Ok, this is what really happened...."
  37. The Gunny's least favorite words from his air support: "where did you say you were?"
  38. There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.
  39. A grenade with a seven second fuse will always burn down in four seconds.
  40. When throwing a grenade uphill, remember to factor in gravity and that silly rolling effect.
  41. If at first you don't succeed call in an air-strike.
  42. Exceptions prove the rule, and destroy the battle plan.
  43. Everything works in your HQ, and always fails in the colonel's HQ.
  44. One enemy soldier is never enough, but two is entirely too many.
  45. A clean (and dry) set of BDU's is a magnet for mud and rain.
  46. Whenever you have plenty of ammo, you never miss.
  47. Whenever you are low on ammo, you can't hit the broad side of a barn.
  48. The more a weapon costs, the farther you will have to send it away to be repaired.
  49. The one item you need is always in short supply.
  50. Field experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
  51. No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill, in the rain, mined and looking nothing like it does on the map.
  52. If enough data is collected, a board of inquiry can prove ANYTHING.
  53. For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. (in boot camp)
  54. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.
  55. The complexity of a weapon is inversely proportional to the IQ of the weapon's operator.
  56. Airstrikes always overshoot the target, artillery always falls short.
  57. The tough part about being an officer is that the troops don't know what they want, but they know for certain what they DON'T want.
  58. To steal information from a person is called plagiarism; to steal information from the enemy is called gathering intelligence.
  59. A Purple Heart just goes to prove that were you smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive.
  60. Murphy was a grunt.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

That was then...

OK, so I was out of shape (I had just lost about 20 lbs of water and muscle) and it was bright outside... gimme a break! Besides, I just woke up....

Who, Me?

OK, I am Mark. That is really all you need to know..

At this point in my life, I am making some changes. I am learning and developing new habits; habits that are going to take me forward in new and exciting career directions. Alright, enough about me and on with the writings.

This is my journal and my forum to write about my thoughts. If you would like to add your comments please feel free. I am rather thick skinned so don't worry about offending me, as long as your writing is constructive in nature. Also, I enjoy dialog with intelligent people, so if you would like to add something relevant, feel free. Who knows, all this journaling stuff may just become a book one day... or not.

The topics I plan on writing on include, but are not limited to:
- my current academic endeavors (what I am reading about)
- my experiences
- my family / friends
- my career
- my thoughts on physical wellness
- my beliefs
- my thoughts on money

Enjoy the reading and I will keep the new stuff coming.