He’s a rare man, who manages to overcome so many obstacles, the greatest of which are within himself, to achieve a place in our nation’s Special Forces. I’ve had the privilege of knowing several of these men over the years, and knowing two of them before they even entered into military training.
It is easy to think of all military combat personnel as ruthless, goal-seeking automatons, directed and commanded by their superiors. But these are not stupid men – not in the least.
They are very intelligent. You cannot achieve acceptance into our Special Forces by simply obeying rules, or just being very determined. It is only a caliber of person who achieves this, someone who has as much fortitude of mind, as body. Someone who is inordinately disciplined and motivated toward utter self-control.
They are far from emotionless – and are, in fact, some of the most passionate people I’ve met. They often have a love and respect for their fellow men, demonstrated outwardly in a way that few men can, that places them literally on a whole new plain of love, loyalty and self-sacrifice.
However, there is no doubt that the repetitive and regimented disciplines they have passed through over their years leaves is mark upon them. The intellect is more often than not very sharp, yet narrow in its focus. A vast amount of knowledge and understanding lives within, yet it is constrained within their purpose – and those few who have a broader experience of the intellectual, particularly in the humanities, find themselves always caught within their own internal struggles of reconciliation.
There really is no going back from such a thing, once you’re there. Like many things we imagine we want, when have them, we find ourselves transformed and caught up — one more evolution in our unfolding story within this world, and no returning to the innocence of childhood.
These men are generally not easy to disturb, yet swift to judge. Doubt is a weakness, even a killer.
There is an old saying, the more you learn, the less you know. Among the wise, a man without doubt appears a fool.
Yet this are exceptionally intelligent men. I was just doing my job. It’s not personal, it’s just business.
I don’t mean that in any way to disparage.
These are the radically exceptional men in our armed forces – the tiniest tip of the great iceberg.
When I first visited Rome, my first impresson was how close men were to each other, physically. I was not ready for it. It made even me uncomfortable.
My second impression was after walking out of the train station, this long before any terrorist scare, and seeing, as I walked down these ancient streets, men in military uniforms, carrying semi-automatic weaponry, guarding many, many buildings, and even just on the street.
The throngs of people moved around them, going on with their daily business of working, shopping, dining, and romancing. But to me, they were a bizarre and powerful juxtoposition – a harkening back to the earlier fascist mentality of Rome. Or perhaps it was just my ignorance in the greater depth and intricacies of Roman history.
Nevertheless, being an American, and even having lived in England, I was not accustomed to having armed military personnel standing guard in the periphery of my vision as I sat down to have coffee with a friend, or simply read a book.
So it is with interest that I read a recent Department of Defense document entitled “Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support”.
The DoD is considering ways to increase its presence and effectiveness in our “homeland”. Historically, we Americans have an aversion to such things, as demonstrated not only in the Constitution, but subsequent law, such as the Posse Comitatus Act.
In particular, the Posse Comitatus Act severely limits the use of our national armed forces for any domestic purpose, and even specifically targets the unlawfulness of using armed forces to promote an industry. However, it, and some other laws, do allow armed forces to be used domestically for such things as putting down insurrection or responding quickly to sudden disasters or attacks.
HR 1986 recently passed the House of Representatives which exapands upon the authorized use of our federal military forces within our borders. It still specifically limits the role of military forces in search and seizure and in trials of civilians. Some Senate versions of similar legislation interestingly authorize the use of unmanned drones for use on domestic soil.
We all are aware of the growing chatter around the continued erosion of our Constitutional rights. Prior to the destruction of the World Trade Center, we always seemed to err on the side of allowing us freedoms whenever a question of intent or interpretation was raised in an aspect of the Constitution. This is no longer true. Interpretation is beginning to cut along the side of the People rather than the State. This is justified because We the People now live in fear and danger, and the State protects us.
In the DoD document, under Core Capabilities, Tier 3, they say the following:
If circumstances warrant, the President or the Secretary of Defense may direct military forces and assets to intercept and defeat threats on US Territory. When conducting land defense missions on US territory, DoD does so as a core, warfighting mission, fulfilling the Commander in Chief’s Constitutional obligation to defend the nation. To fulfill this responsibility, DoD will ensure the availability of appropriately sized, trained, equipped, and ready forces.
It is encouraging that they see the Constitution as important. It is reassuring to know that someone is looking out for you. I have had a taste of what it’s like putting your life on the line for someone else. I have also seen how some men can feel so much better about themselves (superficially) by dominating something.
I love when we can put our money into research and development, and particularly into education – in the broadest sense. Then again, I have been lied to many times, not only about facts, but about motives. I have information withheld from me (for my own good).
But like I was saying, I have a lot of respect for these Special Forces guys. I have a lot of respect for people who hold honor in high regard – not just speaking it, or following any set of rules, but honor – a very personal thing, that paradoxically is meaningless without other people around you.
In many ways it is the difference between doing what you are supposed to do versus what you ought to do. That also can cut both ways, and emphasizes the importance of education and critical thinking, not to mention, strength of character.
I have to also wonder, in all this that we’re doing, why it is, that we are. What has brought us to this point? What are we really doing to solve things, to diffuse tensions, and to reach understandings. Or is that just the naivite of idealism?
At what point do we stop to realize that we’re all standing here now, being pulled to the common center of mass, that is the warping of space and time?