Killology versus Spirituality, Ne'er the Twain Shall Meet?I received an offline email in response to my last post, “Ugly Training, End it NOW.” I think it’s from an old Air Force squadron mate. Hopefully he won’t mind me excerpting part of it now, because he makes some interesting assertions that I’d like to address.
Nahhh. I buy very little of the stuff you claim. Christian upbringing notwithstanding, the reason men didn't shoot, or didn't shoot "well," is because of the lack of thorough "realistic" training. The Corps has rarely had a hard time with this, but the marine’s success with producing "dead eye shooters” is not due to instilling a beastly nature in its troops. Not shooting one's weapon has been a problem of the “average” infantryman at least since the phenomenon was first documented in the American Civil War. Men would load and load and load and never shoot. It’s because they trained mostly to load, and then didn't fire that load in a realistic setting in training. It wasn't part of the "numbers" to aim at a human being and pull the trigger. The result was they “froze” and couldn’t do it in real combat. No, fear is what causes men not to engage the enemy, not the supposedly inhibitive presence of values and principles. But fear can be overcome through muscle memory—not by simply promoting bloodlust and meanness, although on some level I'm sure that can also be effective. The problem is we CANNOT fight an insurgency with simple rampant bloodlust. It’s just not allowed, as PFC Jodka and his mates have learned.
Marines will never have a problem getting their riflemen to kill. Few people join the USMC for the GI Bill or to “see the world.” I joined, and many like me did as well, because of the desire to be a marine just like John Wayne was in the movies, and I KNEW and I understood that killing was likely a part of the bargain. But I never saw John Wayne kill because he enjoyed it or with any bloodlust involved, and I certainly never heard him say degrading things about women and girls. My idealistic “John Wayne Bubble” was soon burst; however, when I joined the Corps and was literally shocked by the things I heard said and pushed on me as my new "marine-way normal." For instance, how would constantly haranguing me about f*****g my mother (literally), or my sister or a baby, make me more willing to kill? It wouldn't, but it would serve to undermine baseline principles when constantly bombarded with that kind of profound decadence. And keep in mind that that sort of profane talk continued around me throughout my entire 5 years as a marine. Why is it like this? I asked then and I still ask.
I agree that men who have been schooled their first 18 years of life with the Judeo-Christian concepts that killing is against God's law MUST be "taught" how to make themselves do otherwise. So be it. Just the same, all that can be instilled without completely giving in to the "animal" within. Pat, I'm sure you were around Marines, but not as much as I was. The culture in the USMC is startling to those who haven't "grown up" in it. What a relief it was for me when I joined the AF. It felt like I was back in civilization. I hate to say it, but there were very few "noble acting" people in the "green machine," not even me. Those that were continuously upright in their actions and words seemed to be in the minority. For a while I caved in to the wantonness myself. I was just a kid and wanted to belong, so there it is. I observed a culture of brutality, perversity and incivility—when I was in we called it "hate and discontent," but there was more to it than that.
What I am saying is that the obscene bloodthirstyness that you say is necessary for marines and soldiers to be effective fighters, according to this study that you quote, probably needs a paradigm shift, especially when fighting police actions, which is what an insurgency mostly is. I think this shift can be done by the Commandant coming out and declaring that officers and NCOs from now on are expected to comport themselves civilly at ALL times, and that they will be expected to expect the same from THEIR men and women. Is that possible? I say yes, but because it will mean changing a foul culture born of tradition it will take many years for it to reach fruition. So, the sooner he starts the better!
But you know how I know it IS possible? Because when I was a Marine Embassy Guard we were "forced" to act like "normal" people at all times and we were forbidden to allow ourselves to "revert" to our old marine selves. Most of us who got through the
What you seem to be claiming is that we can't have it both ways. Pat, do you really believe we cannot field an army and a marine corps without allowing the troops therein to maintain a modicum of basic decency and moral underpinnings? It seems to me that we need to get the psychiatric, psychologic and chaplain communities involved with developing the training so that we can still turn out trigger pullers and bayoneteers that will fight our wars without "going too far" and committing atrocities like the one that started this conversation. And as I intimated above, a new culture of civility and decency should be "encouraged" to continue throughout the Fleet long after bootcamp and specialty training is completed. The conversation quoted in the AP article between Jodka and his marine squad mates tells me that the crap I used to listen to is still rampant in the ranks. I can’t imagine John Wayne talking like that. It’s too revolting and indicative of underlying indecent values. People’s actions tend to reflect their speech and vice versa. We ARE what we say. THAT is mostly my entire point here. My time in the marines makes me to this day mindful of my speech, because I NEVER want to talk like that again.
And what of spirituality and the lack of it in these “secular progressive” times? These days our "less religious" society "turns out" teens with a very limited morality set compared to just 30 years ago when I enlisted. Its old fashioned, but the fear of God is what keeps a lot of us on an ethical path, that and the fear of earthly punishment of course. Either way, these modern, less "Godly-minded" recruits are naturally more susceptible to the depravity that unfortunately IS the reality of the Corps. Most of us manage to hold on to our basic concepts of decency learned in our early lives, but now more often than not, kids of today raised with fewer moral boundaries are likely to "give in" to the depravity, especially in a stressful and violent combat environment, which ironically is exactly the place we EXPECT them to have the MOST control of their actions.