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Archive for the ‘Marine Corp’ Category

This Memorial Day I took a bit of a personal memory lane.  A part of that was recalling other past Memorial Day.  And it got me thinking about one of the most powerful coverage on American service members’ death and their body coming back to their family that I have ever read titled “Final Salute,” a photo essay by Jim Sheeler of the Rocky Mountain News.  It was the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize.  I don’t know when it happened but my old link to the PDF that Rocky Mountain News posted no longer works but I found a way you can still see the photos and read the story here.  If you haven’t seen and read this before, you got to do it.

 

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Another weekend, another weekend leisure reading review.

thomas-jefferson-and-the-tripoli-pirates

Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates.  New York, NY: Sentinel, November 3rd 2015. 238 pp.

5 out of 5

I remember as a kid reading old books on Marine Corps history that talked about a conflict I rarely hear people talked about in which the Marines was at the tip of the spear waging a war against Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean and North Africa in the early part of the 1800s.  It sounded so exotic and I was fascinated with how the United States’ Navy and Marines as small as they were back then went about trying to execute their mission despite limited manpower and military capabilities.  It was during a time when the United States was still a new country and the leaders of the US was still trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.  So I am glad that over two decades later I came across this book on the United States response to the Tripoli pirates.

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My heart goes out to the loved ones of the four Marines who were killed yesterday during the Chattanooga Shooting.  I imagine Liberals and Democrats would want to take advantage of this unfortunate incident to cry for more gun control such as restriction on more weapons that could be purchased and also more areas that are legally gun free zone.

While I do think most gun-control activists are sincere I think many are mistaken at a fundamental level of understanding human nature.  One wonders if they understand the extent of man’s depravity.  I think “Gun Free Zone” that is not enforced with people who are armed is quite a naive concept; in fact it is dangerous and irresponsible on the part of lawmakers and bureaucrats who come up with such a thing.  The biggest problem I think is that it neglect to account for the reality of human depravity, that those who are wicked and sinful and want to carry out sinful terrorist acts are not going to stop when you merely have a sticker that says “No guns.”

Sadly yesterday’s shooting is a case in point:

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Original picture SOURCE

Having a picture and a sign that says no guns is just as persuasive to a depraved gunman as an “Obama ’08” bumper sticker is for a Republican in 2015.  It’s “irrelevant” to a simple criminal let alone a committed Muslim extremist.  Actually it is relevant for such gunman: it allows them to face lesser resistance to their wicked schemes.

 

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Note: For the next few weeks on Sunday we will feature a review of books outside of theology, philosophy and apologetics.  Each review of a non-Christian book will also have a section titled, “What’s in it for the Christian?” The Generals American Military Command from World War II to TodayPurchase: Amazon

This book is a wonderful study on generalship in the United States Army from World War two to the present with Iraq and Afghanistan.  The author has written in the past about the military before, most notably about the Marine Corps boot camp.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much the author Thomas Ricks has grown in his understanding of the military since his first book on the military in 1997.

The thesis that the author argues for in the book is that the Marshall concept of Generalship worked in World War Two.  To be more specific, the concept is on how the Army manages General, and how under the old Marshall system it was expected that generals would be relieved and fire in order for the system to work and battles to be won.  Under the Marshall system, relief from command wasn’t necessarily the end of one’s military career like how it is understood today; generals were moved to other command since sometimes those who were not effective in combat command but were better leaders in other area of the Army (logistics, training, etc).  The Marshall’s way of managing generals was very effective but since World War two the book argues that the US Army has deviated from this concept.  Today generals are never relieved by the military itself (though there are political removals such as the infamous case of Douglas MacArthur by President Truman).  The book argues that as a result of the neglect of the Marshall system this has led to a crop of many poor generals who negatively affected the outcome of operations, battles and entire wars, not to mention the waste of lives and money.  What’s worst is that there are often no repercussions for generals who failed; in the modern military a private who lost his rifle will face more punishment than a general who lost a war.

Students of military history would love the author’s discussion about how General Eisenhower balanced the various charismatic generals during World War two such as General Patton, British General Montgomery and General Bradley.  The book also surveyed the Generals in the Korean War as the first war that failed to implement the Marshall system and how various Generals blundered but were not relieved.  This would continue on into the Vietnam War where it was even more pronounced with General Westmoreland and other lesser known generals.  The book also surveyed the more recent Iraq War and I agree with the author that the beginning of Iraq the military had some pretty bad generals (personally, General Sanchez comes to mind).  The book even covered the Iraq War right up to the surge (the author focuses on the surge in two other books after this volume) with General David Petraeus and notes how long it took before the right generals were in place leading the war effort was also the same duration that the US military took to win World War two in the Marshall system.

While it was not the main focus of the book, I did appreciate the author’s contrast between the Army’s handling of general officers versus that of the Navy and the Marines.  The Navy holds their officers to higher accountability and how they regularly relieve officers for ships that hit ground and get stuck.  Unfortunately, the author said that the sample size for the Marine Corps was too small, but Ricks does note how the Marine generals led their Division out of Chosin Reservoir as a combat effective unit while an adjacent Army unit with poor leadership ended up being hammered.  Ricks also talked about how during the Iraq War the Marine General Mattis who commanded the first Marine Division relieved a regimental commander of the first Marines for going to slow during the invasion and that this became international news.  However, during world war two such an event was frequent occurrence and not even worthy of being international news since it was assume the goal of victory was more important than allowing commanders to save face.

This is an excellent book for civilians and military like.  I think those in military should read this book, whether officers or enlisted so one can get the bigger picture.  In summary, the book presents a strong case to modify the maxim that “Amateurs study strategies, professionals study logistics;” we may add, “The Army leadership must study management of personnel.”

What’s in it for the Christian: A big theme in the book is accountability.  Christians have stressed the importance of accountability, given our fallen nature.  Accountability is something that is needed even outside of the military—and especially in the ministry, which is concerned with matters of eternity.  The author notes how different officers have different abilities, and just because one might not be able to lead in combat command that does not mean they are not useful for the military elsewhere.  Christians who are familiar with the Bible’s teaching of spiritual gifts—that we all have different gifts though it is different from each person to person.  As a Christian, this book was also insightful concerning human nature and the art of balancing different personalities in a group or a church that one leads—it has challenged me to appreciate how being a team player is a virtue.

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Marine Graduation

Went to a Marine graduation the last few days, hence I’ve been slow in posting on here.  Some of you may know that I served in the Marines and I’ve been out for a few years now.

The trip was sentimental but it also made me think tangent to the Christian faith and specifically with discipleship.  Here were some thoughts I found it stirred within me to continue being biblical in discipleship of believers:

1. Don’t compromise the faith and teaching the hard things of the Christian faith.  If our goal is make disciples and teach them all things that Christ want us to teach from His Word, we best not compromise.  Compromise will definitely lower the quality of the disciples we forge within the church.

2. The Goal of discipling Christians ought not be to get rid of suffering in their lives but to explain and make sense of it biblically.  If we don’t teach them to expect suffering, we should probably expect them to suffer seriously in their Christian walk.

3. We must not forget our spiritual roots and also ensure that we past them on to the next generation.  We must show them that each one of us have an obligation to not just subscribe to what we believe but pass it on to the next generation while realizing the world around us would slowly reflect values different than our own.

4. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 in the ESV is an imperative for all of us: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

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I just recently watched this movie for the first time about a year ago.

As a Marine the theme of sacrifice and combat loss made me think about how the human condition of the Marines had some similiarities then with the conditions today.  That’s not to say that everything is the same–obviously the Old Corps faced much more difficulties.  But I appreciated the film capturing the times.

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I am a bit reminiscent about the Marines tonight after reading up about the first living Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor for this century.  You can read more about Sgt. Dakota and his story HERE.

This was from his citation:

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

CORPORAL DAKOTA L. MEYER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

For service as set forth in the following

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer’s daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy’s attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

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