Friday, June 23, 2006

Calling It Like It Is

In the scheme of things, when faced with the uncertainty of death the decision to go forward or retreat remains in the hands of the one having to make the decision. For a civilian this means having to make a decision (in most cases) to face down a deadly situation alone. For a soldier, that decision is normally a shared one. Rarely, does a single soldier find himself alone in combat or under fire. Time and again, soldiers relate that under fire their thoughts were focused on bringing their buddies through the crisis. They knew that their life depended as much upon the boots on the ground next to them, as that soldier they were fighting to keep alive. Regardless of the big picture, the politics, the international policies, and the hierarchy of command which led these soldiers to face down death the bottom line each time was survival for himself and his buddies. They had a job and together they did it as a team. That is the bottom line for a soldier under fire.

Conceptually, the Military is no place for an individualist, a free-thinker, or a maverick. Going it alone by bucking the team mentality is an instant ticket to being ostracized. Putting oneself in a place above the rest, whether it is through acts in combat that are deemed reckless and endangering to the unit or by letting the unit down by being unwilling to support them due to cowardice covered by excuses is a couple of examples of how to fail as a soldier. The bottom line - the unit is only as strong as their weakest link.

There is always a weak link. Even in the hardest core unit, someone falls into that category. With luck, they are weeded out before engaging or under fire can be redirected and refocused to be an asset to the units team effort. In those situations where luck fails, the unit fails together. It is a CO's worst nightmare, second guessing his weak links and how they will react under pressure. Unfortunately, it happens daily in the Military. Afterall, regardless of how well trained the unit is, it still is comprised of individuals, who like all human beings have individual strengths and weaknesses.

For one group of deployed soldiers, their weakest link has removed himself by refusing to serve. That he is an Officer makes the situation even more deplorable. 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada was a member of the Fort Lewis Stryker brigade (the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division) deployed Thursday to Iraq. Citing the war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, Watada refused to deploy. It is the second time for his unit to deploy - his first. He says he would deploy to Afghanistan or elsewhere, where the policies of the US government engaging in war aren't questionable.

The burning question is - what will the Military do with him? A weak link definitely, of that there is no question. Whether he is an individualist, free-thinker, or a maverick is not the issue now. The Military has two courses of action they can take - either charge him with dereliction of duty or ship him out with the next unit to Afghanistan.

Either way for the Military it will be a no-win situation. The peace activists and anti-government idiots will scream bloody murder should he be charged for "standing up for his beliefs" (even though the underlying reasons behind those beliefs smell to high-heaven of cowardice). Should he be deployed to Afghanistan, those soldiers he would be assigned to work with would never trust him as a team player. They would make his life hell, for the duration of his time with them. "I know that my case has brought a lot of attention and scrutiny on me by my superiors," Watada said. "I'm probably very unpopular, if not the most unpopular person on Fort Lewis". Indeed. It is very unlikely that he would be popular amongst the boots on the ground in Afghanistan, either. In combat, weak links are deadly - not popular.

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 6:32 AM