Friday-- February 23, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 165
"Vigilance With Attitude..."
The Marines Have Landed!
--In Two-Boots Montana!!!
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
Feb. 23--"Vigilance With Attitude" is the catchword of the Marine
Corps' new anti-terrorism brigade. I love it. I hate it.
A former U.S. Marine Corps
Combat Correspondent with over 100 combat missions in Vietnam, I have a
deep love and affection for the Corps.
Corps taught me manhood when I thought I was a wimp. It gave me
courage when I was afraid of what I wasn't. It taught me
conviction when I cowered with self-intimidation that I was a "wandering
generality rather than a meaningful specific." And, it
obliterated my complacency to stand up for what I believed by teaching me
how to fight and die for something bigger than myself.
It also taught me how to kill
anything that moved--without, of course, blinking an eye.
Now, there's a 4,800-strong brigade
of Marines ready to be deployed anywhere in America to "kill the evil
ones." It's called the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB
Brigadier General Douglas
O'Dell commands the force. In an official Marine Corps news release
on October 17, 2001, he stated:
"The activation of the 4th MEB puts the world on notice that there
will be Marines guarding our nation with increased vigilance and attitude
as we have done for 226 years."
I love that part about "vigilance."
I hate that part about "attitude."
The trouble with deploying the
Marines as a fighting unit within the United States is like unleashing
hungry pit bulls in a school playground.
Man for man there is no better
fighting team than the Marines. We learn how to "kill" with
the same aplomb as breathing, or swatting noxious mosquitoes buzzing
about. We also like to "hunt down" the bad guy and rush him or
her, guns blazing. We are trained not to flinch when our buddy next
to us gets his head blown off. We "take the objective" at all costs.
Back in the "old days,"
the Marines picked up the nickname "Devil Dogs" because we were trained to
yell and scream as we attacked. Our attitude was that we were
invincible, fearless of death. To an enemy not as convicted as
we that "death was ultimate honor," it was intimidating. Thus, the
name Devil Dogs.
The mascot of the Marine Corps
further exaggerates our tenacity--it's a bulldog. One of the
greatest warrior leaders of the Marine Corps was a man named Chesty Puller
who looked like a bulldog and acted as one might.
ferociously locked his jaws on anything in sight and shook it until it was
dead. He is the most decorated Marine in history because he
led his men to kill more enemy than anyone else.
This history of "killing" is
the "attitude" that bothers me about deploying the "bulldogs of battle" in
the streets of America.
It bothers me because Terrorism
doesn't show its face the way conventional enemies do.
Terrorism skulks in the shadows of a community. It assumes the
countenance of the civilian population. It infiltrates the
neighborhood. Its shadow walks with the innocent.
Firepower has always been the
key to the offensive success of the Marines. We are trained to
lay down a wall of lead so thick that if not by intention, then by
accident we would kill more of the "evil ones" than they killed of us.
Even if we were wounded we still pulled the trigger, sending our last gasp
of defiance in the form of hot lead toward the enemy.
General O'Dell made a couple of
comments that underscored his mission of killing comes before the mission
of vigilance. "These Marines are bad dudes," he said. "They're
being trained to be badder. We're not in the business of killing
14-year-old, rock-throwing boys. We're in the business of killing
these evil men who are dressed up in the clothing of terrorism."
The "clothing of
terrorism?" What's that? A uniform and sign that says:
"Shoot Me! I'm a Terrorist!"
Real terrorists in a
community don't dress any different than we, the average citizens.
As I recall from my Vietnam experience, the age of an enemy had no
limit. A young boy or girl running at you could be wearing a
satchel charge full of C-4. You shot first, regardless of age.
Vigilance came after the fact, if at all.
I also remember why we lost the war
in Vietnam, in part because we couldn't distinguish the "good guys" from
the "bad guys."
The Viet Cong had a way of infiltration into the community that caused us
to suspect the innocent as well as the guilty. So we burned
almost every village, assuming one rotten egg in the basket infected them
Vietnam, like Terrorism, was a
guerrilla war. The enemy hit and ran. The enemy had no
"territory" and lived like the Terrorists, in caves and tunnels, moving
itinerantly here and there, constantly covering their tracks. They
too had cells.
When I saw pictures of U.S. Marines
walking down the streets of America on practice night missions, hunting
Terrorists in the dark while people walked their dogs and kids rode their
bicycles, a shudder rushed through me. I wondered how it could
be possible to train a killer not to kill the wrong person.
I remember the primary rule of
combat: "shoot first and ask questions later."
That creed has never left me.
In any combat situation hesitation
can mean death. And when you battle may be won, but its cost
may exceed its victory. When I returned from Vietnam,
many of my friends who were in the law enforcement field were awed by my
battle experiences. I would shrug and tell them how they had
the toughest job.
much more courage than I," I would say. "You can't just pull out your
weapon and shoot. You have to wait and be absolutely sure before you
pull the trigger. I just fired at anything. That took no
That's why I would feel far
safer if the U.S. government were to form "community militia" rather than
sending bulldog Marines into towns and communities with a thirst to kill.
At least the local militia might know that dark-skinned "Johnny" is the
principal's son and not a terrorist. The 19-year-old Marine who flew
into town on quick response from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina may not know
that about Johnny.
This idea that
conventional war strategy can fight unconventional tactics seems Hollywood
to me--media hype to assuage a nation that isn't ready to fight Terrorism
in its homeland.
The formation and
deployment of such troops seems to further the goal of Terrorism--it
ferments the elixir of fear, it exaggerates Terrorism's goal of
intimidation, and suppresses the need for each parent and citizen to
become Vigilant himself or herself. It presumes that the
"government," the "U.S. Marines," can protect America's neighborhood
better than they can protect themselves.
the absence of an aggressive national campaign of Community Vigilance, we
settle for one of "Vigilance with Attitude." We turn the
safety of our homes, our neighborhoods and our communities over to a task
force of young men who joined the Marine Corps as I did for one sole
purpose--to learn to kill the enemy with the finest.
Unfortunately, killing isn't an art
form. In the heat of any battle the ability to distinguish the
innocent from the "evil ones" evaporates. Anything that moves
becomes an "evil one." Ruby Ridge proved that. Waco
added exclamation points to it in Vietnam was the mother of all lessons.
Vietnamese people died, some who were the enemy, most, however, were the
innocent who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
While I would be the first to throw
the power of the Marine Corps against any enemy in any foreign land, I
wouldn't sleep well at night knowing they were at the corner protecting my
grandson or granddaughter from Terrorists.
I would know they couldn't tell
the difference between one of the "evil ones" and a high-schooler playing
cops and robbers. I couldn't in Vietnam.
Everyone became the enemy eventually. The killer
instinct takes over when you're frustrated that you can't "pick out" the
rides shotgun to attitude.
For my more conservative
friends who want to thump their chests and shout how wonderful
it is to have 4,800 young Marines standing ready to make our
nation safe, I caution you. If you have children or grandchildren
you might reconsider thinking I'm overreacting, or perhaps I'm
some kind of peacenik seeking to disarm America, or that I'm
I'm none of those.
I'm a Warrior of Vigilance.
I'll fight to the death anyone
who threatens my children, grandchildren, community or nation.
But, I won't let someone else do it for me. I won't hire
"trained killers" to come into my community and risk
my children's or grandchildren's lives with a "Vigilance
with Attitude" creed.
Instead, I'll fight to make everyone vow to be a Citizen of
Vigilance. I'll struggle to knock them off the pedestal
of complacency and take up their own arms. My weapon for
them is the Shield Of Vigilance, the one that converts fear
to courage, intimidation to conviction, and complacency to action.
The oath I ask them to take is the Citizen's and Parents' Pledge
of Vigilance. The action I ask is that they form Parents
of Vigilance Community Clubs, and Citizens of Vigilance Teams
within their community. To drive off Terrorism before
it happens requires Vigilance. Terrorism hates Vigilance,
and shies from it. Vigilance is the barbed wire that keeps
I'd also go so far as to
have every citizen become a member of the Neighborhood Militia
before I'd unleash pit bulls to protect a neighborhood.
I'd risk the accidental death of innocent people at the hands
of local community members before I would young men trained
to "kill for killings sake."
And, if anyone reading this piece
was ever in the Marine Corps, and further, ever in combat with
226 years of Marine tradition behind them, you know exactly
what I mean.
Instead of saying "Semper
Fi" to unleashing Marines to protect us from Terrorists,
I call for our nation to first cry: "Semper Vigilantes--Always
If we become Citizens of
Vigilance, we can do without the Marines.
If not, then we can't complain
when the blood flows.
To Feb. 22--Gun-To-The-Head Vigilance
- 2004, VigilanceVoice.com, All rights reserved - a ((HYYPE))