On War

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    • #59168
      Max
      Keymaster

        I was recently sent this email from a student, which I have so far been unable to answer:

        Hey Max.. 
        A bit of a deep question for you.  
        How the f**k have you stayed so sane after everything that you have seen and been through?? 
        There are so many guys that get so screwed up from seeing half of what you have, it makes me wonder.  
        I am not a violent man by nature. When I was young, and the hormones were over the top, I used to fight some. I got my ass whipped a few times, and whipped some ass other times. But considering what one may have to do if fighting for one’s life is a whole different ballgame.  
        I tend to believe that anything that anyone will be successful at starts in the mind, and has to be visualized first, but I could be way off base there.  
        So, how does one approach this in their mind? Should the time ever come where you have to take the life of another, how do you prepare for that?  
        Thanks.
        Well, yesterday I found myself unexpectedly ‘going live’ on my farm in  the presence of my wife and neighbor: ‘Wolves in the Barn’ – it sort of ripped the bandaid right off.
        I’m not sure I can answer the questions above, but here are some thoughts. Snapshots into the soul:
        The student is right about it all being in the mind, about training and visualization. Otherwise, how do you keep from freezing?
        This seems to be a good excuse to throw some Sabaton music into a post (I am currently enjoying a bit of that). So let’s take this from the top. We all know that war is wrong, yes? We all know that there is no glory in war? We are told that all the time. War is a tragedy:

        So war is to be avoided, until it isn’t.

        Tragedy indeed. I have an alternative view. Let’s take a few snapshots:

        You are an elite, selected and trained. You are a band of brothers. Shock troopers. Eyes up, chests to the enemy. You know you will be given the hardest missions, and casualties are expected to be high. But that is why you are there.

        You are not there for the politicians, or the fat selfish civvies back home. Screw them. You will never expect anything from them. They don’t care, and neither do you. You are there because you are the best, because you are a professional soldier. You don’t do it for the military leadership. Screw those assholes too. You do it for your buddies, for your brothers, because you are the best, and you don’t want to let them down. You do it for the proud tradition of those who went before you, and who stand next to you.

        In the miserable cold dawn, you mutter and mumble. Cuss and swear. But you are always ready. Your morale is unshaken, however much you complain about the stupidity of whatever you are tasked with. You don’t really care what the mission is, you just want to do your job.

        You will always be ready. You will defend the redoubt to the last round, or be the forlorn hope into the hopeless breach. The worst you fear is mutilation. Death will see you in Valhalla. The greatest fear is the pain that your loss will cause those that love you. You want to live not for yourself, but for others. particularly when you have a wife and children, because you want to be there in their life, so they will not feel the pain of loss.

        You keep the flame of aggression burning low, deep inside you, ready to go. You can drink chai with people in the morning, and wish them no ill will, and be fighting them later that day, determined to kill them.

        Because you know about The Quickening. You know about the visceral excitement that comes when it all starts. You know how the sound of the guns uplifts you.

        There is fear in the quiet times. You rationalize it away. As you gird yourself with your armor and your heavy gear, you feel the comfort of it, the pressure of it around your torso. Knowing that it will not help you when the molten metal rips through the vehicle, you feel comfort in it anyway.

        You feel the excitement, the oddness of the place that is combat, the different dimension. There is no fear there, just action. Everything feels different, and it is in that strange place that you do your work.

        As you wait in line to load onto the back of the CH47 Chinook, standing in the heat of the turbine engine exhaust, you feel it.

        As you feel the G forces pull as the chopper shoulders the rise, swooping nap of the earth, looking across and past the door gunner at the star wars villages below.

        The long hours of nothing as you drive the roads like a road warrior. When it happens, it happens quick. Visualize, be ready. Act.

        The enemy rounds cracking over and past you as you walk your strike onto their position, dueling in the desert. You hammer rounds into them, smashing them.

        RPG’s bursting.

        The eternity between the concussive WHAM of the IED, and when the small arms fire starts.

        The brother staggering, ear drums burst. The taste of explosives in the air.

        Rolling up on the compound, breaching, into the house, go left, go right, no hesitation.

        Weaving through the ambush site, vehicles burning, hammering your machine gun at shadowy enemy in the palm trees. Looking down and seeing the burned bodies, stiff blackened arms outstretched, dead eyes staring. Who laid the vehicle door over that dead guy? Bizarre. Looking up the road and seeing the monstrous boat like APCs, rolling towards you through the desert haze, coming like the cavalry.

        The sniper in the minaret. The brother down. In the back of the APC, rushing towards the FOB, hands red and bloody. His aorta hit, dead on arrival.

        The brothers with their legs torn off, after the EFP ripped its molten slugs through the armored SUV.

        The sudden rip of rounds into the roadway. The clang of enemy fire off the vehicle armor. Hammering away yet again, you see their firing positions on the rooftops across the waste ground.

        Or when your weapon is the radio, and you call it in, and the gods hammer the enemy from the sky.

        After you get home, you are tired. Oh so very tired. You need to rest. You drive like a maniac, avoiding trash in the road. Sometimes the anger bubbles up. Mainly the tears come in the quiet times.

        But you are still ready to go. You know about The Quickening.

        You mourn those who did not make it back, but you get on with making a life and family.

        You never cared before what the mission was, you were just there to fight. Now you have awoken. You thought that you were always fighting for truth and freedom, on the side of justice. Perhaps you weren’t. Perhaps you were duped.

        Now you see evidence that tyranny is at home also. You are older. Your knees creak and your back hurts. But you are still a soldier, and you stay ready.

        You know that when you hear the sound  of the guns, you will be ready to go again. Instantly. Perhaps you will die in your bed, or perhaps you will yet make it to Valhalla.

        All you want to do is raise a family, live quiet, and farm. You will not start a fight, you will not start a war, but if it comes, you will be ready. Always ready.

        Hope for the best, but if evil rides, prepare for the worst. Train.

        This post may make no sense at all. If so, I will resume normal programming shortly.

        Wolves are loose in the Shire. Winter is coming.

        ‘Green fields and Blue Skies.’

        Max

      • #59169
        Max
        Keymaster

          Made sense to me. Especially this part:

          You never cared before what the mission was, you were just there to fight. Now you have awoken. You thought that you were always fighting for truth and freedom, on the side of justice. Perhaps you weren’t. Perhaps you were duped.

        • #59170
          Ernie
          Participant

            Well……….damn!

          • #59171
            DiznNC
            Participant

              This is also something I have come across when I try to teach armed self-defense to “normal” people. Not that we’re abby-normal, but I think you know what I mean. Many folks have a real problem thinking about dropping the hammer on another human being. The pacifism taught by progressives has gone deep into people’s minds. To the point where even when you’re life is in danger, you cannot bring yourself to harm another person.

              This is why I will not teach another person how to shoot in self-defense until I have given them a “mindset” lecture and let them decide if they are truly capable of killing, or not. Without this in place, all else is bullshit.

              It’s kind of like a buddy of mine was telling me about current law enforcement training academies. These things were just assumed to be already issued to you by your father and/or other menfolk in your clan. Nowadays you have to start at square one with this kind of thing because of the pussified world we now live in. But I digress.

              A lecture on combat mindset might be a good idea to start off basic weapons handling classes, just to get everybody on the right wave length for training.

              When I drop the hammer in training, I am thinking of killing the enemy. I am killing another person when I fire that round. It’s not target practice. It’s training for war.

              I know that sounds so psycho to normal people. But fuck it, that’s where you need to be.

            • #59172
              Max
              Keymaster

                I know that sounds so psycho to normal people. But fuck it, that’s where you need to be.

                Nope, that sounds about right to me. But then again, those of us on this forum, through various means and at various times, have long since moved past the normalcy bias that most Americans suffer from. For my part, I always knew there was evil in the world but spending nearly two years of my life in environments where there were people who definitely wanted to and were at various times actively trying to kill me really crystallized the concept.

                Once you internalize the idea that there are really, really bad people in this world who would kill you (or worse) without a second thought, the only rational course of action is to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically to make sure that doesn’t happen. That means developing the skills and mindset to do what needs to be done without hesitation. Unfortunately, even for those who realize that there is evil in this world, too many seem to think the police stand between them and the bad people when anyone who is paying attention knows the police, even when they have the best of intentions (debatable) are incapable of protecting individuals.

                Once you realize that you are your own (and more importantly, your family’s) PSD, you damn well better be ready to drop the hammer. And keep dropping it until the threat is neutralized.

              • #59173
                DiznNC
                Participant

                  Thanks, Chuck, it’s just that you can’t say this kind of shit out loud around the sheeple without scaring the shit out of them. When you talk about killing another human being, this concept that ALL killing is wrong is so deeply ingrained that many cannot get past it.

                  Again, Heinlein comes to mind. And I loosely quote: “Pacifism is a shifty doctrine that claims all the benefits of the body politic, but refuses to accept the responsibility for (defending) it, and claims a halo for their dishonesty”. Or words to that effect.

                • #59174
                  Corvette
                  Participant

                    Diz,

                    yep Heinlein got it right.
                    Gordon R Dickson is another favorite :D

                    Max, as for your description it sounds like the Furor Teutonicus that makes the northern European peoples such fearsome warriors. :yahoo:

                  • #59175
                    Corvette
                    Participant

                      Another interesting “war is hell” link, footage from February/March/April 1945, German Side everything from bicycle troops to King Tigers.
                      (The Vid is marked as “April” but i recognize some footage that’s definitely earlier likely the approx February 1945 Konrad I, Konrad II and Konrad III offensives for the relief of Budapest)

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWksOqa59mw&bpctr=1398209776

                    • #59176
                      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                      Moderator

                        I was raised with “You shall not Murder.” The distinction between Killing and Murder was taken very seriously and taught from an early age, around the time my introduction to firearms. All the men in my family had military service, most had experienced combat.

                        I was taught that Killing was not just morally justified at times. I was taught that many times it was my moral duty to Kill. Shocking for the naive and ignorant, absolute Truth to those in the real world.

                        This upbringing has helped me beyond measure over the years and I will forever be grateful for it.

                        Extraordinary Men in extraordinary circumstances, the purpose of my threads “Never Give Up!” and “So you think you are too old?” which help raise the bar for the rest of us.

                        War demonstrates humanity at its worst, but more importantly it also bears witness to its best!

                        Well, yesterday I found myself unexpectedly ‘going live’ on my farm in the presence of my wife and neighbor: ‘Wolves in the Barn’ – it sort of ripped the bandaid right off.

                        “Going live”…

                        …been there; even knowing my profession, Wife and Kids were shocked at its intensity. Max, I believe your kids are quite young, I am glad they weren’t there.

                      • #59177
                        Submariner
                        Participant

                          At this point in my life, I agree wholeheartedly with Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, USMC, particularly on that for which I am willing to fight and, perhaps, die:

                          War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

                          I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

                          I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

                          There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

                          It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

                          I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

                          I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

                          During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

                        • #59178
                          D Close
                          Moderator

                            1 Submariner. It certainly wasn’t what I was taught. I found his comments about my thought process being in “suspended animation” very poignant. If I have regrets they are tied to my late awakening.

                            Max, thank you for the deeply personal perspective. It is vital for us newbies to hear it from the combat vets that we will face daunting challenges and you overcome, you just do. Our families are counting on us, for real. Our sacrifice has meaning when it is for our children and our brotherhood of liberty. The roar of battle certainly becomes the sound of freedom.

                          • #59179
                            Submariner
                            Participant

                              When evil walks upon the land,
                              I’ll never hold nor stay me’ hand,
                              But fight to win a better day,
                              Over the hills and far away.

                              CHORUS

                              If I should fall to rise no more,
                              As many of us did before,
                              Ask the pipes and drums to play,
                              Over the hills and far away.

                              CHORUS

                              Let Kings and tyrants come and go,
                              I’ll stand a judge by what I know,
                              A soldier’s life I’ll ne’er gainsay,
                              Over the hills and far away.

                              CHORUS

                            • #59180
                              Max
                              Keymaster

                                I know that sounds so psycho to normal people. But fuck it, that’s where you need to be.

                                Nope, that sounds about right to me. But then again, those of us on this forum, through various means and at various times, have long since moved past the normalcy bias that most Americans suffer from. For my part, I always knew there was evil in the world but spending nearly two years of my life in environments where there were people who definitely wanted to and were at various times actively trying to kill me really crystallized the concept.

                                Once you internalize the idea that there are really, really bad people in this world who would kill you (or worse) without a second thought, the only rational course of action is to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically to make sure that doesn’t happen. That means developing the skills and mindset to do what needs to be done without hesitation. Unfortunately, even for those who realize that there is evil in this world, too many seem to think the police stand between them and the bad people when anyone who is paying attention knows the police, even when they have the best of intentions (debatable) are incapable of protecting individuals.

                                Once you realize that you are your own (and more importantly, your family’s) PSD, you damn well better be ready to drop the hammer. And keep dropping it until the threat is neutralized.

                                Times infinity.

                              • #59181
                                Eric
                                Participant

                                  Love the answers here…

                                  from everyone. Good stuff. :good:

                                • #59182
                                  Max
                                  Keymaster

                                    Would those who have been in combat relate it at all to being “in the zone” while competing in athletics? I don’t mean to seem belittling or anything like that.

                                  • #59183
                                    Max
                                    Keymaster

                                      Would those who have been in combat relate it at all to being “in the zone” while competing in athletics? I don’t mean to seem belittling or anything like that.

                                      In the sense you’re as alive as you’ll ever be. Everything after that is shades of gray.

                                    • #59184
                                      Max
                                      Keymaster

                                        My closest experience, and forgive me if I’m completely wrong and I accept that this is quite a ways off, has been those times during athletics when you’re consumed by the goal. In football when you’re going after the man with the ball and you don’t even feel the blocks and your route changes instinctually. In racquetball when all you hear is your own breathing and the ball and your heart is racing and your legs burning but its not pain its just a heightened knowledge of your body. In baseball when you’re playing third and take the ball off your chin but dont even realize the blood until someone points it out because all you cares about was throwing the guy out. That’s how i imagine it. All senses and emotions not pertinent to the objective leave and you’re left, as Randy put it, as alive as youll ever be. Forgive me if I’m wrong.

                                      • #59185
                                        DiznNC
                                        Participant

                                          No, I think you’re very close to it. Gunny Poole used the football team analogy a lot and I think it’s fitting (“The Last 100 Yards”).

                                          Being “in the zone” is precisely what we’re talking about. Doing your job efficiently, in concert with others, without a lot of hoo-hah. (See also Stephen Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire”.)

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