I recently had an anniversary day. I spent it training American Soldiers to shoot better. It’s been a long time, and come at a personal cost. I’m here, at 46, in a bunk, while my kids are elsewhere. Because if I don’t, who will? There aren’t many that can do what I do. Most of them are far away. All of us are old. All of us know that this war has not seen its darkest days. We can feel the evil, slithering under our feet, in the shadows, whispered on the wind, we watch lives go on living blissfully unaware of the borrowed time they are spending.
My guys and I trained a lot of people; over 10,000 of them, to shoot really well, some got special attention.
4 of them never returned home.
Among the others, some set records, or did amazing acts of bravery under fire – sometimes in the face of piss poor odds and with a bleak prognosis: they are my greatest satisfaction.
Imagine a handful – less than 10 isolated Americans, beyond the reach of supporting arms, alone in a vast wilderness, outnumbered 5 to 1. They could hear the enemy, excited over the radio, believing that at last they would kill, maybe even capture a cut off group of Americans.
Yet these shooters emerged without a scratch, killing at least 50 attackers. No airplanes came to save them. They shot their way out. I don’t need anyone to tell me I did a good job. Those men are alive today living good lives because they could shoot, remarkably – the impacts were immediate and final.
They didn’t get that way by following unit IWQ training plans. Mediocre roads to half assery. No one ever does.
The thing I Know: the better the shooter the braver the Soldier. When a man knows if he can see the bad guy: it’s light out. Such a man is a fearsome thing, otherwordly, a terror, non human, something to flee. The fanatics will rush him, and die in small piles of two’s and threes.
American bad asses, “shooters,” a sprinkling of them in a larger group changes the character of the entire organization. When a unit has skilled shooters, a unit is like a beast on a leash, whose master strains at the leash, leaning back with all his weight, yet the beast drags him forward.
Let slip the leash and the dogs of war will mercilessly put down every beating heart that fails to hide. That’s the pointy tip of American foreign policy. Great shooting skill is a horrible thing to face. The attainment of that skill is easy. The hard part of attaining great shooting skill is getting the Army out of the way.
The biggest enemy is the original sin: Pride. Pride keeps more units from shooting as well as they could. Pride is why every so often the Army is outshot on the battlefield, embarrassingly so. Pride is why it will happen again to some mothers kid.
Humility is your ally. Humility enables you to see things as they are, and do what you must to overcome your challenges. Pride paralyzes you. pride makes you a spectator. pride never let’s you improve. That and general run of the mill ambivalence.
Some people are in the military for god knows what. They tolerate the Army. For them it’s something to get through or take advantage of.
The proud and the ambivalent wreak as much destruction as any successful enemy attack. If you don’t care about building the most fearsome destructive group of humans on the planet, or you don’t get excited to support that same group of humans – go do something else – otherwise, you’re as harmful as a truck bomb.
The Army exists to kill people and break things. When that day comes – and it will – the better, faster, and more efficient we are at these imperatives; the sooner we can go home and safely be with our loved ones.