A couple of weeks ago two really interesting things emerged in military writing. One is this story on the Marine Corps urination case in the Marine Corps Times (“Exclusive: Marine scout sniper in urination video controversy speaks out“). The other was an article from Military Review that was featured on Tom Rick’s Best Defense (“The Myths We Soldiers Tell Ourselves“). One an article based on an interview with one of the Marines being punished for the urination video, the other a scholarly article by two active and one retired Army Lieutenant Colonels that taught Ethics at West Point.
I read both of these articles within a day of each other and couldn’t help but notice how they unintentionally bleed into one another. I encourage you to read both articles in their entirety and make your own judgments. While you’re at it, you should also read this – “Warriors, the Army Ethos, and the Sacred Trust of Soldiers.”
I pulled these paragraphs from the articles, because they appear to be talking to each other:
From the Marine Corps Times:
What really led up to it is they desecrated one of our Marines,” Richards said of the video. “When you’re under that much stress and in that environment, your whole mental being changes. You’re no longer Joe the Family Man. You’re a warrior, and if you read back to biblical wars and wars since the dawn of time, men have been doing this to men for millennia.
The authors argued in a previous essay, “War is a Moral Force,” that the most critical considerations of human conflict are the moral ones. These considerations were as important to the Romans as they are now to us, not something new to modern war. However, the information age has amplified the effects. There may have been a time when mythologizing served a useful purpose in war, but only ignorance could make it work. Today, in an age in which information flies around the world at the speed of light, immediately bringing a great coherency and power to moral opinion, we can no longer assume such ignorance will last. We cannot long hope to be allowed to say we are one thing while actually being something else. Our spoken words (and values) must be indicative of our actions.