I took several years of Latin in preparation for even more years of French. It was a cakewalk as my mom spoke French better than English. While studying Latin, we also ended up with a heavy dose of Roman History and the comings and goings of Julius Caesar. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the Rubicon River and it’s significance. Quite simply, the resemblance of the Rubicon to the front gate of Fort Hood is phenomenal.
Every Roman General when returning to Rome was required to encamp his army outside the city and proceed unarmed to greet the Senate. Some scholars point to this as the beginnings of the Dog and Pony show. Under no circumstances was he to bear arms or his army across the Rubicon River. The Government, on the other hand, was allowed to keep a SEAL Team of sorts called the Praetorian Guard that was the police force and the sole military authority inside the beltway. It was felt that any show of military force by a general could be construed as a potential coup d’etat. Politicians are mousy types and they relish their power. It just wouldn’t do to have some brash, swashbuckling O-8 show up with his wrecking crew.
In the nineties, President Clinton, in a misguided show of attempting to control guns, opted to disarm military troops upon their return to the continental United States (CONUS) from overseas deployment. Imagine that. Troops trained in the art of warfare with cutting-edge M-240 Squad Automatic Weapons were summarily relieved of their ammo and shooting irons upon their return and the same were locked up to prevent bloodshed. M-4s with grenade launchers were now verboten in the barracks. Idle hands were suddenly the devil’s workshop. And much like the Rome of old, only the Praetorian civilian (rentacop) police were now armed with 9 mil popguns. This was the perfect petri dish to examine how real, true gun control could finally become a teaching moment. With no guns, perfect harmony could exist. Folks could disagree but they would be relegated to harsh words, fisticuffs or rocks. Decades from now, progressive politicians could look back with pride and say “See? We told you so. Not only that, we showed you how to do it by restricting possession”. Military bases are hardly a microcosm of society yet many politicians seems to think differently.
However, four times in the last five years, we have had a breakdown in the system and now it is in vogue to show up at Headquarters with a perceived complaint and settle it with a 12 gauge or a .45 ACP. This creates a big problem for the poohbahs in charge. What do you do? Paint even larger signs at the front gate re-reminding everyone that it is still unlawful to bring tools of mass destruction on base? What is the punishment? Double-double secret restriction a la Dean Wormer? The crazy folks aren’t getting the email. What in Sam Hill’s the repair order?
Well, let’s look back on history. Before Slick William instituted his new pogrom, we had zero instances of troops going berserk in large numbers on base. I respectfully submit that the mayhem they indulge in off base has always been a liability but one takes the good with the evil. Actually, there were few reported instances of even a single soldier/airman/sailor going off the reservation and returning with his bow and arrows. Crime on base seemed relegated to spousal abuse and DUIs. Soldier-on-soldier violence was pretty much a knock down, drag out fight behind the barracks or the NCO club. Plenty of guns and ammo and nary a mishap of the Remington or Colt kind. Had anyone so desired, they could retrieve their assigned assault rifle and take out a company or two-or not. The reason was because there were enough deterrents in the form of thousands of others similarly situated with the exact same capability. We used to call this a Mexican standoff before we had to quit the racial profiling gig.
Once again, our elected whizbangs are looking over the reports and saying “Where did we go wrong? How could we have prevented this?” The short answer is you can’t. Chaos theory does not account for this phenomenon in progressive military circles. The gentleman who recently disobeyed the regulations regarding armament on base was not entirely swayed or intimidated by the consequences of what might transpire if he arrived armed. No base security is so airtight as to prevent a crazy soldier who has sworn an oath to defend the US of A from smuggling a weapon in for some “I’ll show you” justice. I don’t know if the politicians are just incredibly dense or whether they understand that the cops at the front gate are tasked with keeping crazy, armed sand ranchers out-not our troops.
Boiled down to its essence, there simply is no defense against crazy. Witness suicide bombers or blue-on-green shootings over in Iraqistan. I fail to discern a difference. There is no mental litmus test to weed these unstable folks out just as there is no way to prevent one of them from arriving with a .223 chip on his shoulder. The proven repair order in any free fire zone of my youth was to arm everyone to the teeth and allow them carte blanche when anything (or anyone) goes south.
After the debacle at Fort Hood in 2009, I was almost sure they would review their myopic policy and rescind it. I was mistaken. Hence we now have a new military pastime akin to a video game. How many guys can I take out now that I’m down to one life?
Trust is something you earn. Trusting someone with a WMD like a grenade is a dicey proposition yet we manage to inculcate this ethic in hundreds of thousands of troops every year without the misfires we are coming to see more frequently now. The very act of collecting the weapons upon return to CONUS is an act of immense distrust on the part of our government. The term bitch slap rolls off my thesaurus tongue Whether they genuinely fear a concerted effort to overthrow the government as Rome did or whether it is an inherent distrust of the individual soldier and his proclivity to go berserk, the decision still communicates one thing- “We don’t trust you.”
We have recently seen the VA innocently trying to harvest information about guns in the homes of PTSD-afflicted Vets and a planned stampede to confiscate them. The similarity here is once again striking. That same distrust that surrounds those of us who have been taught the art of war recently or in decades past grows daily. Each new shooting at a military installation becomes a confirmation of why the policy was instituted and why it should be expanded on. Which brings the pot to a boil. Just how can you make it any more distasteful and undesirable to become socially maladroit with a gun? A lifetime at Ft. Leavenworth making little ones out of big ones with a Big Chicken Dinner at the end just doesn’t seem to have the desired effect. Either the military isn’t communicating or they are not reaching the target audience (no pun intended).
In the sixties, as we armored up and prepared for war, my daddy observed that there were two distinct types of men. This was way before women were allowed to strap on body armor so don’t paint me as sexist. He summed it up thusly. There are those who run to the sound of gunfire and those who run away. The former are almost invariably military or formerly so. The latter are those who are not and harbor no desire to ever investigate the subject. The former are committed to making a difference or to alter an unjust outcome. They are trained and trusted to make life and death decisions. Their bona fides are never in question. The latter are girliemen and lack testicles.
How then to extrapolate that these defenders of democracy potentially pose a danger once they separate or retire? Similarly, why would anyone who chose to enlist or serve America in years past somehow now automatically have the taint of untrustworthiness or the cachet of cuckoo about them?
Political correctness may yet hit a new high. We shall see. Executive privilege is on the rise. I eagerly look forward to a smorgasbord of Burma Shave signs as you approach military installations in the near future that successively reiterate a tale of woe to any who would even contemplate entering armed. Well, boy howdy. That would sure clear the air and end all this foolishness, huh? Well, yes- except we’ve tried that method and it still has a few holes in it (pun intended). The alternative of returning to the Neanderthal arming of everyone 24/7 seems so uncivilized-or does it?
That will be my one and only venture into political incorrectness this month. I apologise.