Thursday, November 19, 2015

Centurion Logic

The Colonel has far more books than shelf space, and loves each as a personal treasure.  For a child who attended 12 different schools before he even started high school, books were the Colonel's educational salvation.

And he was in dire need of salvation.

His favorites are histories; particularly the ones that dive deep into the waters of connection and causation.  Names and dates are important as milestones, but the clash of motives and means are the critical components to understanding the arc of history.

The Colonel swims constantly in the sea of history.  Its mineral rich waters permeate his being and enrich his understanding...

Well..., as much as the understanding of an Ole Miss grad and knuckle-draggin' Marine can be enriched...

The Colonel will readily admit that he ain't smart and you can't make him.   But, it doesn't take a particularly bright person to read and comprehend most of the books from which the Colonel derives his understanding.

We're not talking quantum physics, here.  This treatise is about history; and, while the treatment of historical topics is subject to the world view of the historian and must be evaluated with that in mind, at least there ain't no stinkin' equations to solve.

In his life-long study of the history of nations, one theme constantly jumps off the pages and slaps the Colonel across his frown-framed jowls:

     -- The single most important motivation is survival, followed closely (upon survival's guarantee) by prosperity. -- 

It is not the duty of any nation's leaders to care about the survival and prosperity of any other nation, particularly to the detriment of their own.

This old centurion has lived by one code the entirety of his adult life:  

     -- All geo-political decisions boil down to one question:  What is best for the Republic?  All other nations DO NOT matter. 

When the president of our Republic says, and the Colonel quotes him verbatim, 

      "What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually gonna work to protect the American people and to protect people in the region."..., 

....then it is time for that man to go.  He no longer places the survival and prosperity of the United States in a place of supremacy in his thoughts and actions.  

The rest of the world DOES NOT matter, Mr. President.  You are the President of the United States of America; not the world.

When we start annexing other parts of the world (the Colonel recommends we start with Latin America), THEN you can start "protect[ing] people in th[at] region."

It's Centurion Logic. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Return on Investment

The Colonel isn't a conspiracy theorist -- when it comes to this republic's national government, he just doesn't think it is competent enough to pull off the kinds of convoluted secretive plans with which it is often credited.

What the Colonel does believe our republic's national government is very capable of is taking the path of least resistance and punishing its citizens instead of the nation's enemies.

For the past fourteen years, the U.S. federal government has done just that -- justifying restrictions on constitutionally protected rights in the name of security, while conducting little more than what professional military thinkers and planners would regard as "limited objective" operations.

To be sure, that sort of governmental reaction to outside threats is not a new phenomenon.  One can find federal reactionary restrictions in every "emergency" since the founding of the Republic.  They all amount to accumulation and consolidation of power in the hands of the national governing elite at the expense of the individual and State rights explicitly "guaranteed" in the Constitution, and justified as necessary for the safety and security of the individuals and States.

Here's the rub -- the citizens of the Republic already pay an exorbitant price in blood and treasure for their security. The American people fund and field the most effective security apparatus the world has ever seen -- the United States Armed Forces.  American taxpayers field an all-volunteer force, equip it with state-of-the-art weapons, supply it like no other force in the history of warfare, train it like no other force in the history of armies, and compensate its members on a scale way beyond any other on earth.   And yet, instead of seeing a return on their most costly investment, the American people watch the most effective bulk of their military sit idly in their barracks as threats to their security gather in plain sight.

Mark the Colonel's words, another major attack on U.S. soil is coming.  The Colonel harbors not one shred of doubt in his military mind that another attack is coming -- and you don't either.

When it does, (in the Colonel's version of a perfect world -- BEFORE it does), the citizens of this great republic deserve a rich return on their investment -- not a doubling down of restrictions on their rights.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Place Jihadism on Life Support

A common refrain among the squeamish, spineless, neo-hippies dominating American political thought today is that "an ideology can not be destroyed solely through the application of military force."

That belief is as wrong as it is common; brainlessly mimicked by mellifluous minas with no more idea of the true cost of liberty than a toddler coddled in a cocoon of child-proof protection from even the slightest physical harm or mental over-stimulation. 

Ideas may never die, but they can be placed in an iron-lung of immobility from which they can be studied and pitied for their irrelevancy.

Malevolent ideologies only gain relevancy when people grant those ideas power over them -- either through weakness of mind and spirit, apathy, or slovenly greed.  

Malevolence must always be met with force, early and often, or later and always it will seek to strip all within its ever-widening scope of influence of every means to resist until it is undisputed lord and master.  

Force.  Overwhelming, unflinching, decisive force.

The kind of force these re-United States used to win the two most important wars in its history -- the War of Southern Secession and the War with Germany and Japan. 

The ideology that drove Japanese Imperialism still exists in the minds of men.  The idea was not destroyed.  But, the nation that attempted to enslave Asia under that idea's banner was destroyed.  Peace with the Japanese people has been a multitudinous blessing for the world for the seven decades since.

Ditto Nazism and Germany.

George W. Bush failed to lead a crushing crusade like that in which his father participated in his youth.  Paris suffered yesterday as a result.

Clearly, there will never be a war to end all wars.  War is the ceaseless responsibility of the righteous; a requirement of good men until the Perfect Man returns.    


Monday, November 09, 2015

Thanks for the Memories

Veterans Day observance at church yesterday morning included a video of Bob Hope entertaining troops overseas, and set the Colonel's memory machine whirring back 30 years.

In 1985, the Colonel, then a captain, was in the middle of an assignment at The Basic School (TBS) -- the Corps' basic officer training school through which all brand new Marine second lieutenants pass before going on to their primary military occupational specialty school.  After serving as a staff platoon commander in two student companies his first year, the Colonel spent his second year in the Command and Leadership instructor branch teaching Drill and Ceremonies and overseeing the Unarmed Combat Course; not-so perfect preparation for his final assignment on the staff -- Chief of Student Support.

The Colonel isn't sure how the position got that title, or if the position and title still exists.  The Chief of Student Support (CSS) at the Basic School in 1985 wasn't "Chief" of anything, and there was little in the actual day-to-day that involved supporting students.
CSS was a catch-all job of disparate responsibilities.  

As the school's protocol officer, the Chief of Student Support orchestrated the steady stream of VIP (generals, congressmen, foreign dignitaries, etc.) visits to the world's premier basic military officer training ground.  

Each student company -- eight or nine per year -- had a formal Commanding General's Reception, a formal Mess Night, and a formal graduation ceremony -- CSS was responsible for teaching the corresponding preparatory classes and supervised the conduct of each. 

A handful of foreign military officers (FMOs) were members of each Basic Officer Class -- CSS was responsible for tracking their comings and goings and official correspondence with their respective embassies. One particularly interesting requirement was to take all twenty-five or thirty FMOs to a pre-season Redskins game -- that experience, alone, is gist for several blog posts!

CSS was also nominally charged with purview of the administrative section that maintained each second lieutenant's nascent record book -- the Officer Qualification Record.  The Personnel Officer, a crusty old warrant officer, invited the Colonel into his office for a cup of coffee right after he was assigned the CSS job and told him that he had an open invitation to come drink a cup of joe anytime.  Otherwise, he'd let the Colonel know if there was ever a problem.  

There never was.

The Basic School had a flag football team that played in the Quantico base league.  After a disappointing start to the season, the Commanding Officer called the Colonel into his office and commissioned him "Coach."  The Colonel played more than he coached, and the season remained in the "disappointing" category. 

But, perhaps the duty for which the Colonel was most unprepared was supervision of the Basic School Chorus.  The Chorus, 40 or 50 lieutenants with more ambition than skill, performed at formal events -- mostly Mess Nights at which they..., ahem..., excelled at bawdy drinking songs.  And, that leads us back to Hope.

Bob Hope was one of six honorees at the 1985 Kennedy Center Honors.  For Hope's portion of the evening, the producers of the show invited each service's choral group to perform in a uniformed ensemble salute.  

There was only one problem with that.

The Marine Corps ain't got no dedicated choral group.  

We got a band.  Even got a Marine of two in that band who can sing a drinking song solo.  But, we ain't got no bunch o' singin' Jarheads...

When the Commandant of the Marine Corps was told that the Corps wasn't going to be represented on the stage that night, he remembered a recent Mess Night at TBS for which he had been the Guest of Honor.  

The Basic School Chorus sang that night for the Commandant.

The next morning, shortly after the CO of TBS got off the phone with the Commandant, the Colonel was called into his office and told that The Basic School Chorus was going to sing for Bob Hope.

And, oh, by the way, President Reagan was going to be sitting next to Hope. 

The Colonel remembers a lot of trips to a lot of bosses' offices to receive a lot of off-the-wall assignments, but he remembers none for which he felt so completely unprepared.

The Colonel must have blanched at the assignment, because the C.O. quickly reassured, "Don't sweat it, Ed, the other services will do the singing.  The lieutenants will just be there to be seen."    

So, on December 8th, 1985, the Colonel and the Basic School Chorus bussed up to D.C., spent a long day in rehearsal, and then provided Marine window dressing for the event.  

If you check out the video of the 1985 Kennedy Center Honors program -- particularly the part honoring Bob Hope -- you'll see Marine second lieutenants on stage lustily lip-synching "Thanks for the Memories" for Bob Hope.  What you won't see on that stage is Captain Gregory lip-synching -- lustily or otherwise.

You see, the Colonel was one of approximately eighty hard-chargin' Marine captains assigned to teach brand new second lieutenants at TBS.  By and large, the Colonel being one of a few notable exceptions, the captains assigned to teach at The Basic School were "the best of the best."  There was no little egotistical chest-bumping among that crowd, as you can well imagine.  

There wasn't about to be photographic evidence of the Colonel singing.  There would have been no end to the grief from his fellow captains.

So, instead, the Colonel (in his dress blues, mind you) stayed backstage during the show.

But, backstage was where the action was!

The Colonel (thanks entirely to the aforementioned dress blues) was the center of attraction.  Lucille Ball gave him a hug.  Michelle Lee gave him a hug.  Carol Burnett gave him a hug. The Colonel shook hands with Walter Cronkite, Jimmy Stewart, Chevy Chase, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rex Harrison, and Kirk Douglas.

Did the Colonel mention that Lucy gave him a hug?

Thanks for the memories, Bob!  

Thursday, November 05, 2015

And Then There Were Five

A little over thirty years ago, the Colonel and his Lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, conducted an after-action review of their attack to achieve life goals they had set not long after they had become a steady couple.  

Their early attraction had turned to addiction and instead of attempting to kick the habit, the Colonel and Miss Brenda had decided to make a life of it.  They dreamed together, and the longer they dreamed the more those shared dreams became shared goals.  Anyone who is blessed with the extreme good fortune of knowing the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda knows that once she sets her heart and head on something the world just needs to get off the tracks and let the Brenda train roll on through.

By the time they had been married eight years, the Colonel and Miss Brenda had pretty much put checks in all of the goal boxes on the Gregory Family timeline.

Finish college. Check.

Start a career.  Check.

Actually, those were Miss Brenda's personal goals.  The Colonel didn't really go to college -- he went to Ole Miss -- and serving as a Marine infantry officer wasn't as much a career as it was perpetual play time with rather dangerous activities and a more than likely opportunity for loss of limb or life.  

Good times...

The Colonel digresses.

So, thirty years ago, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda reminded the Colonel that there was a rather large box still to be checked on the timeline for the Ed and Brenda Show.

See, as far as the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was concerned the early goals were set in concrete by now and the Brenda Train was barrelling down the track...  

Oh, did the Colonel mention that the goals included three children -- two boys and a girl?

Yeah, well, the Colonel will proudly state for the record that he is incapable of producing anything but male progeny (and, so far, male grand-progeny).  Two boys joined the family in rapid succession and it became clear that if the Colonel and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda were going to include a little girl in the gang (per the set-in-concrete life goals), it was going to require actions outside of the traditional birds and bees route.

The Colonel and his Lady decided to adopt.

A year later, 29 years ago -- today, a precious four and a half-year- old little girl joined, and completed, the family.  

Her Chinese name was unpronounceable, so the four voted on a 'murican name for the fifth.

Jessica Ann.

The Colonel likes to think that God had that planned all along.     


Monday, November 02, 2015

Finding Soldierly Solace

The Colonel has been officially retired from the United States Marine Corps for an even dozen years now. 

After spending the better part of three decades immersing himself completely in the role and mindset of a warfighter, the first several years out of uniform were..., well..., difficult.

The Colonel spent the first year -- the entire year, everyday -- fishing.

He was living in Panama City, Florida.  What else could anyone expect the Colonel to do?  The Colonel and his boat, SemperFish, became as one.  They glided the bays and bayous in self-imposed solitude, seeking elusive finned quarry and finding a measure of solace the need for which the Colonel was initially unaware.

In fact, as excited as he was to finally take off the pack, the Colonel grieved for several years after leaving active duty.

He grieved loss of daily contact with Marines -- men and women with whom the Colonel shared bonds unfathomable to the uninitiated.  

He grieved loss of a worthwhile mission.  There was nothing in his new civilian life that provided the meaning and adrenal gland workout of preparing young men for battle -- on any battlefield. 

He grieved loss of identity.  The Colonel had achieved rank and authority far beyond his wildest dreams and further beyond the wildest imagination of anyone who knew him in the less-than-stellar early years of his career.   When he put in his papers, the Colonel was commanding a regiment of Marines recruiting a new battalion of young men and women for service as Marines every month.  The Colonel went from the dead sprint of that challenge to the slovenly loaf of a fisherman overnight.  He soon began to wonder who he was.   

And, then, when he got most of the way through the grieving process, the Colonel re-engaged.  He was too old and set in his military ways to learn to be a true civilian, but he figured he could mold and shape enough of his military mind and mindset into acceptable thought and behavior for success in the civilian world.

It worked.  To a point.

But, the strain of adapting to the slovenly thought and behavior widely acceptable in the civilian sector, and the constant stress of navigating the minefields of political correctness and others' "feelings," proved too much for the Colonel's self-discipline, and when the cracks began to appear they rapidly widened into chasms from which toxic anti-social molten ejecta spewed and set fire to so many of the Colonel's carefully crafted military to civilian bridges that no retreat back to normalcy was possible.  
So, the Colonel withdrew from the civilian battlefield.

And, now, he finally thinks he's found his place.  He doesn't fit in anywhere and he doesn't care.

Don't pity the Colonel.  Or do.  He doesn't care.

The Colonel doesn't hate you.  He just doesn't care.  He hopes and prays the best for you, but he doesn't care what you hope and pray for him.

The Colonel doesn't even care what you think about what he writes...

...just don't stop reading, okay?