Can we get back to killing bad guys?

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Can we get back to killing bad guys?

There’s a lot going on for the Navy right now. We’re promised a sub­stan­tial increase in ships, we’ve got a new strat­egy that calls out our near-​peer adver­saries, and we’re finally tak­ing a hard look at how badly we run peo­ple into the ground.

But if you hit up Google News for some Navy news, you get a story crit­i­ciz­ing the Sec­re­tary of the Navy for wear­ing a gun.

In Afghanistan. While he was vis­it­ing Marines.

I can assure you he prob­a­bly didn’t wear it to look cool. Wear­ing a gun is a pain in the butt. It’s heavy, it catches on things, and in the hot desert you sweat like a pig on what­ever body part it hap­pens to be strapped to. You don’t wear or carry guns because you want to impress some­one. You wear them because they might save your life.

Afghanistan is still not a safe place. It wasn’t safe for Alexan­der the Great, and it really hasn’t improved that much since then. Our ene­mies have tar­geted high level per­son­nel before. I don’t blame Sec­re­tary Spencer for pack­ing some heat. If I were in his shoes, I’d do the same thing.

Now, the com­ment on CNN came from Bar­bara Starr, so I guess I shouldn’t be too sur­prised. She, like many oth­ers, seems to for­get the mil­i­tary is not really about being a “Global Force for Good.” While that might appeal to some­one young and starry eyed, the real­ity of mil­i­tary life is you spend a career find­ing ways to kill bad guys, who tend to want to make it hard for you to do so. Those bad guys don’t like you, and prob­a­bly never will, so you have to keep them at bay. Ide­ally, you make lots of friends along the way, and try to keep the bad guys sep­a­rate from the pop­u­la­tion they try and dis­ap­pear into. That being said, those bad guys, in too many cir­cum­stances, aren’t going to come to your side. They won’t be per­suaded that democ­racy is a good thing, or that iso­lat­ing 50% of your pop­u­la­tion based on chro­mo­somes might be hold­ing you back. Nope! These peo­ple want you dead, just for being an American.

We’ve been miss­ing this point for too many years now. Join­ing the mil­i­tary has become more about get­ting ben­e­fits and less about defend­ing the nation. My dad saw this years ago, when the gen­er­a­tion of reservists were sud­denly called up to go to Iraq (in the early 90s), many were ill-​prepared, hav­ing never really thought the Cold War would end and actual fight­ing would be required. That reserve inte­gra­tion was ulti­mately a suc­cess, but it paved the way toward rais­ing the deploy­a­bil­ity of reservists for the future.

We need to get back to basics, and in the mil­i­tary, the basics is killing your enemy. Ide­ally, we don’t use blunt mil­i­tary power, because it’s raw, nasty, and leaves a lot of destruc­tion in its path. But with­out that real capa­bil­ity, other nations will be quick to step into our place (see Ukraine, por­tions of Geor­gia, islands off the Philip­pines, etc.). A safe nation for its cit­i­zens depends fun­da­men­tally on the safety of its cit­i­zens from for­eign inva­sion, which requires a cred­i­ble mil­i­tary counter to threats from our enemies.

We shouldn’t shy away from that truth. In fact, we should study it and under­stand it, because only through under­stand­ing human vio­lence can we hope to have last­ing peace.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and NOT those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other ser­vice. But I did hear that Sec­re­tary Mat­tis might enjoy killing ISIS mem­bers on occa­sion

Please donate to Da Tech Guy. Let’s be hon­est, that 5 dol­lar latte at Star­bucks that sup­port Planned Par­ent­hood would be bet­ter off sent here instead.

There’s a lot going on for the Navy right now. We’re promised a substantial increase in ships, we’ve got a new strategy that calls out our near-peer adversaries, and we’re finally taking a hard look at how badly we run people into the ground.

But if you hit up Google News for some Navy news, you get a story criticizing the Secretary of the Navy for wearing a gun.

In Afghanistan. While he was visiting Marines.

I can assure you he probably didn’t wear it to look cool. Wearing a gun is a pain in the butt. It’s heavy, it catches on things, and in the hot desert you sweat like a pig on whatever body part it happens to be strapped to. You don’t wear or carry guns because you want to impress someone. You wear them because they might save your life.

Afghanistan is still not a safe place. It wasn’t safe for Alexander the Great, and it really hasn’t improved that much since then. Our enemies have targeted high level personnel before. I don’t blame Secretary Spencer for packing some heat. If I were in his shoes, I’d do the same thing.

Now, the comment on CNN came from Barbara Starr, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. She, like many others, seems to forget the military is not really about being a “Global Force for Good.” While that might appeal to someone young and starry eyed, the reality of military life is you spend a career finding ways to kill bad guys, who tend to want to make it hard for you to do so. Those bad guys don’t like you, and probably never will, so you have to keep them at bay. Ideally, you make lots of friends along the way, and try to keep the bad guys separate from the population they try and disappear into. That being said, those bad guys, in too many circumstances, aren’t going to come to your side. They won’t be persuaded that democracy is a good thing, or that isolating 50% of your population based on chromosomes might be holding you back. Nope! These people want you dead, just for being an American.

We’ve been missing this point for too many years now. Joining the military has become more about getting benefits and less about defending the nation. My dad saw this years ago, when the generation of reservists were suddenly called up to go to Iraq (in the early 90s), many were ill-prepared, having never really thought the Cold War would end and actual fighting would be required. That reserve integration was ultimately a success, but it paved the way toward raising the deployability of reservists for the future.

We need to get back to basics, and in the military, the basics is killing your enemy. Ideally, we don’t use blunt military power, because it’s raw, nasty, and leaves a lot of destruction in its path. But without that real capability, other nations will be quick to step into our place (see Ukraine, portions of Georgia, islands off the Philippines, etc.). A safe nation for its citizens depends fundamentally on the safety of its citizens from foreign invasion, which requires a credible military counter to threats from our enemies.

We shouldn’t shy away from that truth. In fact, we should study it and understand it, because only through understanding human violence can we hope to have lasting peace.


This post represents the views of the author and NOT those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other service. But I did hear that Secretary Mattis might enjoy killing ISIS members on occasion

Please donate to Da Tech Guy. Let’s be honest, that 5 dollar latte at Starbucks that support Planned Parenthood would be better off sent here instead.