Monday, September 17, 2012

Marine Genes

In my family my father is a mysterious figure of legend. Known to most of my kin as "Uncle Bob", he was bigger than life and a particularly lethal individual. He was the dangerous, mysterious uncle who came and went intermittently, pausing long enough to regale everyone with harrowing tales of valor or tragedy. Uncle Bob stories are often told around the dinner table and usually good for a laugh.

One of my Aunt's favorite tales is Uncle Bob vs the Soda Can. Imagining my Jarhead father assaulting the stubborn can of soda which refused to yield its nectar to him never fails to entertain.

The story goes my parents were visiting her sister and had the run of the house while my aunt and uncle were at work. Spying a can of Coke in the fridge my dad asked my mother if she wanted any. The impudent can immediately defied him by not opening in the traditional manner. My father, refusing to be rebuffed by an inanimate object went to work with a can opener. It was merely a can of soda after all; it would open for him.

My aunt returned home from work and dad remarked he couldn't figure out how to open the stupid can of Coke. My aunt replied they didn't have any coke. Dad said she sure did and it was on the counter in the kitchen. So she entered the kitchen to find a mangled and abused can of Coke sitting on the counter.

"Bob, that's not a soda, it's a can safe."

It is regrettable no picture exists of the surviving soda can safe itself.
I'm not sure when exactly it was I became my father. My aunt says whenever I am particularly stern or angry I look just like him (of course, when I roll my eyes at her she notes I look just like my mother). Once I was crossing a street and looked up into a pane glass window. For a split second it looked like my dad in the reflection. That's when I knew the transformation was complete.

It follows I have inherited my father's complete and utter hatred of inanimate objects which refuse to obey me. My old company XO lamented time and again he never had a notebook handy whenever I would denigrate my office computer for the loathsome paperweight it was. This was generally any time I pressed the "ON" button. My computer ninjas have had to advise me time and again that waving tomahawks in front of printers will not actually make the print anything. I disagree.

This would so make you print in your pants.
 They might make phones smarter than I am but never as violent.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj

*UPDATE* As soon as I posted this my battalion Gunner had a catastrophic incident with the coffee pot resulting in shattered slivers of glass in and around the coffee mess. Fortunately, none of the precious nectar was lost in the incident. The inanimate objects are rebelling!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Marines Disarmed? Unlikely

Ok, so everyone seems up in arms over alleged reports of Marines not being allowed to have live ammo while guarding the embassy in Cairo. I am highly skeptical of these reports.

About a year and half ago, FAST Company sent a platoon to reinforce security at the American Embassy in Cairo. I had the opportunity to visit the Marines for a few days during the mission. All the FAST Marines as well as Marine Security Guards were armed and were carrying live ammo. I have a hard time believing this would suddenly change a year later.

Embassies are generally not guarded by hordes of heavily armed infantrymen. Marine Security Guard's primary duties include the protection of classified material. They are well armed but they are armed for an internal security mission and not to repel enemy assault by fire and close combat.

I actually met a Marine who was at the embassy in Iran back in 1979. He taught a class at what was then Marine Security Guard School in Quantico in 1995. Marine Guards were instructed not to engage the Iranians as they were coming over the wall that day. Why? There were only seven or so Marines and about a million Iranians. 

As far as ROEs in Cairo I can only speculate. Security personnel were most likely instructed not to engage anyone hopping over the walls. I imagine most of the Americans were in the main building at the embassy which is built like a keep.  Again, Marine guards are armed for internal security and were more than likely standing by to repel invaders from the main building. Since I wasn't there I can only guess as a former embassy guard and FAST Company 1stSgt. Even if I knew I wouldn't say it here, so there you have it. 

Another thing to keep in mind when you hear about security personnel not being armed is that outside the American compound, we all have to follow the laws of the host nation. If they don't allow the carry of firearms then guess what? We obey the local laws.

Anyway, if you see a Marine overseas, he is probably armed. More than likely with bullets too. Don't let the hype of your preferred political spectrum spin you into believing something untrue. I think it's good advice no matter where you fall.

Semper Fi,
America's SgtMaj

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ask America's SgtMaj: Recent Unrest

In the comments of my last post Paul asks: "Is that your previous outfit that's being sent to Libya? What do you think about the White House leaking the info about them going?"

In answer to the first question, maybe. I was with FASTCENT, meaning FAST Company Central Command. Libya would have not been in of our AO.  Egypt was the easternmost nation in our AO. So they could be coming from FASTEUR or even from Marine Corps Security Force Regiment directly. Since I am no longer in the regiment I can only speculate along with everyone else. I imagine by the time this gets posted we'll know more.

Here is the coffee mug I got while visiting one of my FAST platoons in Cairo during the "Arab Spring." They never got over the wall on our watch.
Now, if America's SgtMaj were running the show, we'd strongly condemn recent attacks on Americans through the liberal use of various munitions, a Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a couple of bulldozers.  This is also the very reason our country is run by civilians and not the military.

In answer to the second question, I would suggest sometimes you want the bad guys to know the Marines are coming. Nothing causes a change in behavior like a heavily armed platoon of Marines praying for a reason to fire machine guns in all directions. During the "Arab Spring" one of the Regional Security Officers in Cairo remarked to my platoon sergeant: "Your men look like fighters." If the presence of a few predators keeps the rest of the animals in line without bloodshed,  I'm ok with that.

Another picture of my Cairo coffee mug. Notice how peaceful it seems?
What really drives me bonkers is merely months after I left the Middle East behind they decide to lose their minds. Marines are going into harms way and I wish I were among them, as do all right minded American warriors I think.

Semper Fidelis,
America's SgtMaj

Monday, September 3, 2012

I am not dead.

My recent absence here is not a result of violent injury or any type of bodily harm or illness. So don't worry. It's this silly day job I have which keeps me from post as regularly as I'd like. This I&I gig keeps us on our toes with plenty of business but stand by for more action in the near future!

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. In the meantime, as All Hallows Eve is approaching, it's time to decide who you are going trick-or-treating as. Feel free to go as your favorite super hero. I know who I'm going as.

Semper Fidelis!
America's SgtMaj