By John Farnam
On a History Channel presentation, entitled "Shootout-Iwo Jima," it was revealed that, when the battle was supposed to be won and over, somebody forgot to update the Japanese! While exhausted US Marines slept in tents, having been assured that they were "perfectly safe," a group of Japanese soldiers, armed only with knives, entered the tents and began systematically butchering the sleeping Marines.
A Marine lieutenant awoke, saw what was happening, and fought back boldly with his K-Bar knife. Because of his courage and audacity, he lived through it. Many of his comrades didn't! Curiously, this embarrassing chapter is customarily omitted from most Iwo Jima battle accounts!
Someone up the food chain had withdrawn all ammunition and most weapons from these Marines, afraid that they may have accidents, shoot locals, etc. At least, that was the cover story. In the final analysis, a general, whoever he was, didn't trust these men with guns. "Safety" was used as a convenient, and innocent-sounding, prevarication, much as it is today.
Something similar occurred forty-four years earlier at Balangiga, Island of Samar, Philippines, again to unarmed Marines. And, again, it was the direct result of arrogant, self-righteous officers, afraid of guns, afraid of their men. The same thing happened to an entire battalion of US Marines in Lebanon in 1982.
All that is needed to convert these pathetic massacrers into brilliant victories is that soldiers and Marines be continuously equipped with tools they need to accomplish their mission and protect themselves.
Yet, military "leaders " still casually put men and women in harm's way without the necessary tools of their profession. It infuriates me every time I hear of our brave servicemen and women who are ordered to disarm in combat zones, so that they are all "safe."
The second point greened from the Iwo Jima incident is that, no matter what the odds, victory is still within our reach, when we make it a habit of always looking for a way to win.
All true Operators need to be able to instantly bring about a change in intensity and attitude, to "switch"from defense to offense, and to make this switch in an instant, accepting everything that comes after.
Operators must always be pessimistic, even cynical, with regard to their " safety" at any place and at all times, accepting that deadly danger is never more than a second or two away. Indeed, naive assurances of "safety" are, and ought to be, objects of contemptuous laughter!
However, while always being armed and on guard, Operators need to be simultaneously sanguine, confident in their own ability and will to do what need to be done and accomplish what needs to be accomplished.
Having great faith in ourselves and none in circumstances, we go always forward, boldly!
"Never give in to adversity. Never trust prosperity. And, never fail to take full note of fortune's irritating habit of doing exactly as she pleases!"