Morality

Typically, in a flurry, I write about what’s on my mind. Being my own editor, publisher, and CEO and the business manager of a blog that makes no money I can get away with it. My method will never endure me to professional pontificators or those who pretend journalism while reading scripts someone else wrote. But that’s okay. Life is good.

Writing in whatever form it takes is just talking to yourself. If you’re sitting in your favorite coffee shop nursing a cup of Joe, using the free WIFI, and pecking away at your laptop most will not think you’re crazy. Adding to the aura of genius, plug some ear buds into your phone, and every so often pretend to take a call responding, “Really, Hmmm, OK, got it!” Then pull out your pocket notebook that’s crammed full of notes (mostly meaningless doodles), scribble down something, stuff it back into your pocket and continue typing. But if you are sitting there having an oral conversation with the introvert inside your head, the barista (who has no clue what a cup of Joe is) might call the cops on you. That’s binding of course on whether the coffee shop allows cops inside. I don’t frequent coffee shops anyway, that’s just one of those literary metaphorical thingies. Krispy Kreme? Well now that is a different story. Just as a public service announcement, a can of compressed air will not remove doughnut glaze from your keyboard, but it does fairly well with confectionary sugar.

Some topics however demand more than a flurry. I started this essay a while ago. In progress, I received an invitation from the Army’s NCO Journal to contribute to a future Journal article on the Army’s Core Values. Nearly nineteen years past retirement I was somewhat surprised yet honored they asked. I stopped writing this essay and spent several days on the NCO Journal values contribution. It is an important topic for an extremely important audience. There was a little unavoidable spillover from one essay to the next. The NCO Journal contribution was a more focused response to questions posed by the editor while this one may run all over the ball park before it stops. Guess I’ll have to wait and see what survives the NCO Journal Editor’s pen. Here, it all survives.

With that completed, I came back to finish this. It intrigued me though. Out of the blue, while writing about values and morals for my blog I was asked to write about values for an Army audience. I do not believe in coincidence. Do you? I don’t believe we move through this life by happenstance. In the eyes of some I’m weird that way. Looking back over life, including my Army time, there are too many unexplainable right time right place occurrences. There are also too many unexplainable rescues from situations that could have gone south. I’ve had doors close before me that caused me to move in another direction only to find success in unexpected places. I believe there is a plan for each of us. I also believe in guardian angels, although I’m not too sure I merit one. And, if I do have one he or she (not certain about angel gender) is probably worn out. If in the middle of the snooty coffee shop I’d announced that, rolling eyes and snickering would abound. While aiming their pepper spray, they would have probably asked me to vacate the premises. And I’m not even a cop.

For the record, the last article I had published in the NCO Journal was somewhere in the 90’s and my last article published in any professional military journal was in the November-December 2000 issue of Military Review. It was an article they held for several years before publishing. Apparently, they needed some filler for that issue and plopped in the Reader’s Digest version of mine. With the exception of my book, The Three Meter Zone: Common Sense Leadership for NCOs, and the dwindling numbers of military members who still subscribe to my blog, I have been out of sight out of mind for nearly 2 decades. Being asked to write for an Army audience consisting primarily of Noncommissioned Officers is certainly an honor. I hope my contribution serves them well. For now, let me get back to where I was before I got where I am.

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Have you heard about the culture war? It’s the epic conflict whose first engagement took place in the Garden of Eden, not in the 1960s. Evil encountered good and set out to transform human culture into one that ignores bothersome things like natural law, civil law, and utterly detests moral authority. In the garden, the continual war for souls of people and nations began.

It’s a war where an unscrupulous force endeavors to live in the shadows removing borders and eradicating identifiable cultures, nations, and human freedom. It is a vicious and unrelenting war. If it is not countered, the most violent, ruthless, murderous and Godless of us will dominate. And then they will try to exterminate the rest. It is not the pined for utopian serenity constantly spoon fed to the emotionally vulnerable – like submissive school children. It is a quest for absolute power and dominance. The battle lines are ever present. Around the globe nations are being overrun. They are headed for moral abyss and their cultures are being consumed. Here in the land of the free, we teeter on the edge of descent.

The descent to hell is easy, and those who begin by worshipping power soon worship evil. – C. S. Lewis

Beyond the supernatural skirmishes for our souls, there are mortal pawns in the battle for the morality of humankind – in our case the humankind that makes up the United States of America. There are religions of multiple varieties, atheists, anarchists, globalist patrons of the one world order, a failing education system, the entertainment industry, the media with the advent of social media, news media, the opinionated who have giant megaphones with which to spread their views, political activists purposely dividing the people into manageable groups, those who would brainwash children under the precept of educating them, people who earn their living through the human sacrifice of children … you name it.

Deceit, disrespect, name calling and profane language are the norm. Don’t like someone’s point of view? Riot and destroy half the town and college campus to prevent them from sharing it and then call them fascists while declaring that you are merely exercising your guaranteed freedom of speech. It is something you are unwilling to forfeit for yourself but are readily prepared to violently take from others.

Hollywood created a violent and sexualized entertainment culture then feigned disgust when it became public knowledge and a shock to no one that they were and are still living it – everything from casting couch auditions to alleged pedophilia. And they are the ones who complained about it? Sincere, you reckon? Between sex scenes and barrages of profanity, they put automatic weapons in the hands of every action hero and bad guy too and with never a thought about the impact their entertainment may have on our devolving culture.

How long has it been since you saw a cigarette in a movie or television program or even a commercial? I miss the Marlboro man. The flip-top box in my teenage shirt pocket was a symbol of individualism, also of ignorance and stupidity. Thankfully, I learned that, but only after someone I loved dearly died early from a lifetime of smoking. Dean Martin with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a smoke in the other wouldn’t be allowed on TV these days. Maybe the entertainment industry could apply the same standard to sex, language, and guns as they did to smoking. Nowadays, smoking pot is normal though – even glorified. People take it for medicinal purposes as alcohol was once prescribed:

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1 Timothy 5:23 (NIV)

We all know how that turned out.

Are we okay with the trends of the day? Are we trying to invent a new moral code to replace the ageless? Are we aiming to make the unnatural natural? As a nation, have we abandoned the idea of a higher moral authority?

The man [country] without a moral code, like the animal, is free from moral problems. – C. S. Lewis Christian Reflections

I don’t think we are trending toward a new moral code, but rather toward no moral code. A past President declared that we are no longer a Christian nation. Are we running as fast as we can toward a post-Christian America. Are we being pushed to accept new moralities. Is a post Christian America our national aim? If so, C. S. Lewis questions do we want to:

…neglect not only the law of Christ but even the Law of Nature as known by the Pagans. For now they do not blush at adultery, treachery, perjury, theft and the other crime which I will not say Christian Doctors, but the pagans and the barbarous have themselves denounced.

Are we casting aside natural human values and trying to invent new ones. On issues of human morality, C. S. Lewis (As you might have gathered, I am fond of Mr. Lewis’ works.), the most logical mind on the subject I’ve encountered, points out:

Let’s get two propositions written into our minds with indelible ink.
(1) The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum.
(2) Every attempt to do so consists in arbitrarily selecting some one maxim of traditional morality, isolating it from the rest, and erecting it into an unum necessarium [the one necessary].

Without suggesting concrete interpretation of the thoughts of Mr. Lewis, World War I Veteran, Philosopher, Atheist turned Christian Apologist, and prolific author with a gigantic brain I’ll offer my unassuming perspective. Human values are the common thread that runs through all cultures. It’s the firmware installed on the human package. Don’t murder, don’t lie, don’t steal…. A culture may choose to ignore them, but they cannot change them or invent new ones. Neither can they pluck one from the range of human values and declare this is the one, even if we discount all others, by which we must abide. The ones in which we choose not to abide are still there.

First… human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.

Secondly… they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in. C. S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

We know how to behave, but we don’t. We know the Law of Nature and we break it. We know, yet we allow societal influences and the human desire for acceptance to push us away from what is right. From the time we exit the womb, cultural influences begin to tinker with our firmware. Wayward parents raise wayward children. Unscrupulous educators along with other societal influences attempt to indoctrinate the rest. We are in a headlong fall into a lawless, valueless world ruled by the lawless, valueless, and Godless. History has proven time and again that it is a world where one group always tries to exterminate the rest. In our world exists the manmade power to send any nation back into the dark ages. It is a place where most of us will not survive. It is time for us to make a real value check and compass adjustment before we devolve into daily life of basic human survival.

If God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah! Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham, circa 1965, wife of Reverend Billy Graham

In America, we claim to value freedom. From the beginning, we professed to believe freedom is God-given. It is a desire imprinted on the hearts of all people. We codified that ideal into our Constitution and made it the law of the land. Yet every day it’s a battle as freedom dwindles – not taken away but forfeited to an ever more smothering government. If you can believe the people who complete the surveys, most Americans profess belief in God and identify as Christian. Sometimes our Christian pacifism might be well blended with a little nationalism.

In our country, we cannot and should not be able to tell people how to live their lives. What we can and must do is insist by legal means granted to us by the law of the land that our government not write into law the unnatural. We cannot forever buck nature’s law endowed to us by our Creator. You can reroute a river, but someday it will return to its natural state. The result is generally devastating to those who chose to live where the river once ran.

Our country has been richly blessed of God, yet many are dissatisfied and cry out to be like other nations. Unimaginable, but not unordinary. The human race simply cannot be content. Why? It is because the heart runs after things of the world, which fail to satisfy; so the chase will continue until the end of time. – Reverend Billy Graham Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond

Until the end of time… This war does end. I plan to be on the side that wins. Eternity in asbestos underwear doesn’t appeal to me. But, I’m weird that way.

Don’t worry about me. I’m just having a nice self-chat. I can’t save the world. Ultimately, none of us can.   I do vow that my values including the God-given free will to choose my path can never be taken from me nor will I forfeit them. Even if that vow angers you enough to burn down your town.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry

 

 

God, Family, Country – Standing firm in the middle

God bless America
The land that I love
Stand beside her
And guide her
Through the night with the light from above – God Bless America, Irving Berlin

God Bless America. The land that I love. The land where hard won freedom is a birthright and cherished citizenship comes with an obligation to serve as freedom’s guardian. Those who do not understand our history, our Constitution, and do not embrace the American Spirit of Freedom can never be guardians of it. Here, there is a guarantee of freedom. There exists however, no guarantee of wealth or parity of wealth and no pre-destiny to poverty or serfdom. Each American is free to choose how to pursue life, liberty and happiness. And right or wrong they choose every day. Each of us, as individuals and a people, own the consequences of our choices.

We’ve traveled a great distance from the birth of representative government in Jamestown and from Plymouth’s Mayflower Compact. Jamestown was an economic venture and Plymouth a result of Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution. We’ve also traveled far from our founding and guiding documents, the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the 1788 ratification of our Constitution. Isn’t it remarkable that wealth and religion remain at the forefront of American life? Makes one think that we are not really in charge of anything. We are just bit players in a story for the ages. Maybe America is just another chance God gave us to get it right. It gives cause for us to question whether God or the root of all evil rests at our center. Our travels through time have also distanced us from our foundational pillars of God, Family, and Country. These pillars bind us together as the world’s first and only exceptional nation. Exceptional for one incredible reason. Our blessed nation’s bedrock of freedom and individual liberty.

We had a great start. We began by declaring, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and ended by “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions.” We appealed to God for the righteousness of our intentions to break from tyrannical government and stand as free people. Our founders set us on a path some have deemed miraculous.

“I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance [as the framing of the Constitution] … should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler in whom all inferior spirits live and move and have their being.” – Benjamin Franklin, quoted from The 5000 Year Leap– W. Cleon Skousen

Our founders sought the middle. They chose governance by the people’s law rather than government tyranny on one side and anarchy on the other. Today we find ourselves pulled left or right away from the sought-after middle. No one seems content with solving problems “in the middle.” In a process made dysfunctional by rigid ideologues each side claims to hold the mainstream while neither do. They always vow to improve life in the middle, but rarely do that either. It is not a political process, it is a power process. It sales what Americans long for, freedom and return of the voice to the people. Instead of delivering as promised it drifts farther away from each. Reality becomes which freedom or right the people must forfeit to satisfy the wailings of the ignorant encouraged by the goals of the powerful. When power is the goal, real people “in the middle” suffer. Americans that work hard for their families and serve the public and country understand this. When presented the opportunity to send a business minded America first political outsider to the Whitehouse the people discarded meaningless political identities and did it.

Shout it from the roof tops. It was Lexington and Concord. The beginning of the people’s rebellion against America’s dysfunctional and destructive establishment political class. It was the shot heard around the political swamp drawing ire of wild-eyed progressives on the left, smug neo-cons on the right and one world globalists from all points of the political compass. We are engaged in a battle for our country, this planet’s last refuge of freedom. A would be tyrannical establishment, ignoring the law of the land, is fighting for its life and waning power and it will not go quietly. There is no ploy or trick too dirty or underhanded for them in their pursuit of the first actual American political coup. Put your left or right worldview away. Understand out of the other side of what is taking place in our country today comes tyranny, anarchy or free people. The three choices cannot coexist. Whichever it is, we will all be in it together.

Out here in the middle, we must view our position with urgency. We must stand firm as the freedom’s guardians we were meant to be and have always been. We must hold the line and never waiver in the face of tyranny or anarchy. We must never forfeit any God given right.

Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me. – When I Die, Blood Sweat and Tears

© 2018 J. D. Pendry

It is not just about guns

I visited the courthouse a few days ago to pick up my concealed carry permit renewal. The permit must be renewed every 5 years. Here in Wild and Wonderful, that is a $100.00-dollar process. It’s $75.00 for the background check and our county sheriff charges an additional $25.00 when the card is issued. The Sherriff’s fee may differ from county to county. In the state of West Virginia, a permit is no longer required to carry a concealed weapon, neither is certification of any firearms training. There are age restrictions. Open carry of handguns and long guns without permit has always been legal. I keep the permit current to comply with the reciprocity rules of other states.

When I entered the office to pick-up my permit, there was quite a long line of people in the concealed carry permit line. Most of them were initial applicants. When I finally made my way up to the clerk, I commented that the last time I was there, 5 years ago, I was the only person in line. She told me that anytime there is a shooting incident there is a surge of concealed carry applications. Better late than never.

That did not surprise me. Americans are fortunate to have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It is fortunate we have the means to defend ourselves if we choose. We’ve seen time and again damage is done before the police can get there. In a self-defense situation calling the police is generally not an option. That is not a knock on the police. It is reality. Regardless of response time, which in most cases is only minutes, a marginally trained person with any type of semi-automatic firearm can do much damage to defenseless people before help arrives. Unfortunately, first responders too often arrive postmortem. Reality dictates that unless they are on scene when an attack starts or their action is preemptive, unprotected people are going to die.

Our world changed. It changed with the spread of international and home-grown terrorism. Both of which are likely here to stay. It changed culturally through abandonment of Judeo-Christian values and rejection of any moral authority or moral boundaries. It changed when both parents went to work and Johnny and Jane were left to raise themselves on a steady diet of graphically violent video games. It changed with a total societal immersion into social media turned social direction, turned social control and privacy thief with evil players to draw in the simple minded who may be prodded and groomed into doing the unthinkable. Johnny walks the school hallway and his delusional mind sees a video game.

Frankly, I think every adult American should seek firearms training and should arm themselves for protection. Background checks should be as thorough as possible, but I am concerned about mingling mental health records with criminal background checks. If you hear the words “Universal Background Check” that is a precursor to a national gun registry that is needed to track every firearms sale. This makes gun confiscation possible should any government ever believe that’s a good idea. With recent shooting incidents, mental illness has become an issue. I guess I don’t know how a background check might distinguish the severely mentally ill from someone who may have had a single episode. Is a variance in degree of mental illness considered? It is a complicated question. Certainly, severely mentally disabled people should not have access to firearms and for that matter any type of weapon if a formal psychiatric examination determines they are a danger to harm themselves or others. In work experience I’ve reviewed countless such examinations. I assure you different psychiatrists and psychologists frequently arrive at dissimilar conclusions for the same patient. Resolving this is not as simple as it is made to sound by politicians and media types and it will become more complicated when the mental health issues become intertwined with the legal issues surrounding privacy and access to a person’s health records. The problem for our country and our safety is a Congress that’s shown it cannot agree on any legislation to solve this or any other problem.

Trying to decipher any government report is akin to gouging your eyes out with a stick. So, you don’t have to endure the agony, I looked over a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service on Gun Control Legislation. The report said by the end of 2009, there were approximately 310 million firearms available to sale to civilians in the United States: 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns. By that 2009 report, more guns are available than we have people. Those are firearms we profess to know about. Weapons for sale but not in the hands of people.

The report does not tell us how many firearms are actually in the hands of law abiding American citizens nor does it know how many weapons are illegally obtained and in the hands of criminals and gangs. Eric Holder, however, can tell you how many he fast and furiously exported to the Mexican drug cartels. The report did state a 1994 survey showed “44 million people, approximately 35% of households, owned 192 million firearms, 65 million of which were handguns.” Any way you slice it, there are many legally owned firearms in the hands of law abiding American citizens who would never forfeit their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. An unarmed and defenseless citizenry becomes North Korea. That amendment was placed into our Constitution as a citizen check against tyrannical government. It also reinforces our natural right to self-defense. It is not the deer hunting or target shooting amendment.

Another myth is that “Assault Rifles” are in the hands of American citizens. It is a myth or in many cases and outright lie perpetrated by anti-gun organizations and politicians. Common belief is that “AR” means assault rifle. AR is short for Armalite Rifle, makers of the original AR-15. AR 15’s are semi-automatic rifles cosmetically modified to look like military rifles. They are no more lethal than any other semi-automatic rifle. A military rifle would have either the capability to fire a three-round burst of ammunition or fire full automatic. Banning rifles because they are cosmetically modified to look like military weapons is not going to make anyone or any unprotected place safer. Besides, according to the FBI, blunt objects, knives and handguns are by far the weapons of choice for homicides. Rifles are well down the list.

Banned or not, do you think criminals will not be able to get these weapons? They are now able to get illegal automatic weapons or illegally modified weapons. Do you believe firearms manufacturers will stop producing magazine fed semi-automatic rifles capable of firing NATO 5.56 ammunition? They’ll just make them look docile by removing the scary military cosmetics. People will continue to buy them and continue to add their own modifications. Banning cosmetically modified semi-automatic rifles does not address the issue of gun free zones and soft targets like our schools. Terrorists and murderers of the type we’ve witnessed whether in our schools, theaters or night clubs are only going to go after soft targets. Soft targets are called that because there is no resistance and no one is likely to shoot back. These people are not going to attack a police station.

Gun control, gun banning, gun confiscation, and almost any other gun control law you can imagine is not going to stop incidents of deranged and delusional people from walking into gun free zones and committing atrocities. These laws or any other are not going to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. People who cannot pass the most vigorous background check will still be able to illegally acquire firearms if they are determined to do so. It is hard to cure homicidal maniacs so we must quit the hysterical politics and figure out a way stop them from hurting people either through intelligence and preemption or direct action.

On April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado, two high school seniors murdered 12 people and injured 21 others before committing suicide. For the record, they did not use AR-15s. They used Tec-9 semi-automatic pistols, a pump shotgun, a Hi-Point 995 Carbine, a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun, and explosives. Multiple school shootings later, not including other instances of mass shootings not related to schools, right up to Mary Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida February 14, 2018 where 17 students and teachers were murdered we’ve done nothing. As a nation, we have squabbled hysterically about gun control, beat the NRA senseless, but have never had the wherewithal to address the real issue – the security of our schools and public areas and the elimination of gun free zone soft targets. Nor have we ventured to discuss our cultural shortcomings.

Security is not simple and active shooter training is not enough when the shooter is going to pull a fire alarm and wait for people to enter the kill zone before shooting. Each facility requires a thorough professional threat assessment.

I am hearing advocates for placing armed retired police officers and military Veterans in our schools. That is fine for as far as it goes. But no one should be placed in a school and charged with the responsibility of protecting students and teachers without first completing a thorough training course on engaging armed assailants in a close combat environment with the potential of injuring many non-combatants. Local police SWAT could easily conduct such a training program.

I am also hearing let’s arm teachers. My first year retired from the Army was spent in a public High School. I am not an advocate of arming teachers with expectation they will primarily engage combatants. Teachers are the people whose priority must be safely securing and evacuating students. It’s something they must practice with urgency as often as they do fire drills. I am not opposed to teachers carrying concealed weapons if they are professionally trained in security and as last resort actively engaging a combatant. They also require periodic range time and refresher training with cost borne by local governments before trusting them with weapons in a school environment.

How bad can it be? On September 1, 2004 Chechen Islamic terrorists arrived in a police van to a school in Beslan, North Ossetia of the Russian Federation and took 1100 people hostage. At the end of the three-day siege, 334 people were dead including 186 children. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School enrollment is 2,972 with 129 full-time teachers. Our schools are soft targets. Suicidal terrorists likely already in our country know it.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry

Enduring principles

Recently I read the Army was retooling basic combat training (BCT). Having graced the retired rolls since October 1, 1999, I try to stay abreast, but admittedly I am not up to speed on the current state of BCT or its product. For a time, following retirement, I actively observed, read about and wrote about these topics. For much of my life, they were near to my heart and often a cause of anxiety. Concern might be a better descriptor, but every Noncommissioned Officer worth their salt will admit to periods of anxiety when thinking about whether they’ve done the right things to prepare Soldiers to face the day’s challenges. Anyone who has retired from service will tell you that you are never fully weaned from such thoughts. But as time wore on, and it always does, I thought I’d leave discussion of those important issues to people on the ground. That is how I preferred it when I was serving. After all, they were living it and the Army I knew and loved always found it’s way home. Back to the enduring principles that sustained it throughout history.

Still, having spent several years of my life as an Army Drill Sergeant, I was curious about how and why they were remaking BCT. I read they are going to require among other things weapons qualification with iron sights, increased emphasis on discipline, increased emphasis on physical training…. I wondered, out loud actually, what had they been doing? In BCT, ground zero for instilling discipline, how do you let it slip to a point where indiscipline becomes a problem? Guess I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.

We’ve tinkered with enduring principles over the years. Some person of influence will come along thinking there is a better way, a better wheel, and try to lead us away from what never changes. Our enduring principles. People change, times change, equipment changes, but principles do not. You cannot fiddle with discipline. Either you have it because you demonstrate it, live it and enforce it or you do not. Training must be to a standard and driven by essentiality not time or resources. The Soldier must meet the standard. The standard cannot be modified to accommodate the ability of the trainee or in some cases the supposedly seasoned Soldier. All things Army have standards. The Army has standard bearers. They are Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs). If NCOs are brought up in the Army where enduring principles are laid aside or tinkered with for expediency of making Soldiers “ready”, it could be a long march back home. The only people who can lead an Army back, are the standard bearers.

Old fogies like me have seen a thing or two. Even though it may skip a byte here and there, I searched the cranial hard drive. Sure enough, I’ve seen and lived it before. I came into the VOLAR (All Volunteer Army) Army in 1971 nearing the end of the Vietnam War. By the time I finished training in the spring of 1972 and was ready for my first permanent duty assignment, Vietnam was in full draw down. My first duty station was Camp Red Cloud, Uijongbu, Korea. It is also where the smell of marijuana permeated the barracks and it was the first place I watched a senior NCO shotgun a couple of beers for breakfast to stop his hands from shaking – before he went to work. A great example he was to a brand new Private First Class, but also a vivid memory that helps one stay on track. Vietnam was a long difficult trek for our Army and our country. It was a time of repeated combat tours – sound all too familiar? The NCO Corps was worn down, depleted and practically defeated. Depleted to the point that the Army found it necessary to create a “Shake and Bake” Noncommissioned Officer’s Candidate Course (Educating Noncommissioned Officers, CSM Daniel K. Elder, © May 1999) that took young men from street life to Vietnam NCO combat leader in 22 weeks.

Sometime in 1985 or early 1986, I was given a draft copy of a not yet published article written by Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Larry H. Ingraham, Department of Psychiatry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. I came by the draft article honestly via the United States Army Europe (USAREUR), Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations’ (DCSOPS) Sergeant Major Ned Deveraux who received a copy from Command Sergeant Major (CSM) James C. Ligon who at the time I believe was then or eventually became V Corps CSM. It was a leadership talk from CSM Ligon that inspired the title of my book, The Three Meter Zone: Common Sense Leadership for NCOs

LTC Ingraham’s draft article was titled:

“Fear and Loathing in the Motor Pool: An Historical Context for Framing Leadership in the U.S. Army with Special Considerations Given to the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers”

I still have that yellowed draft copy, with my highlights and notes. There are multiple staple holes in the corner from the amount of times I pulled it apart to provide someone with a copy. The article became a guide of sorts. It was a place in time for me to look back upon and never forget. To see where we’d been, how far we’d come and what we NCOs needed to do to sustain. It was a constant reminder during my time as a First Sergeant and CSM of what NCOs and the Army could never let go of – enduring principles and NCO leadership. It was a place in time important to my life. It was a place I did not want to see our Army return.

I am sharing the first couple of paragraphs as they appear in the draft, because they did not make it into the article published in Parameters magazine, December 1988 to which I have linked. In the draft introduction, LTC Ingraham wrote:

The U. S Army theme for 1985 was “Leadership.” Before we declare the year a success and move on to our next challenge, I would like to set the historical context in which all contemporary discussion of leadership must be framed.

My remarks are based on tape recorded career histories of 20 senior NCOs representing most of the Army’s career fields to include division level CSMs. These were collected in 1983-84. The interviews ranged from 10 to 23 hours each, but transcription takes 10 to 12 hours for each hour of tape. Transcription is still in progress, so the following account is my story of their stories.

I came away from the interviews with profound admiration for the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers. The sheer native abilities of these NCOs was very impressive, their understanding of soldiers and the army profound, and their loyalty to the army and the country unquestioned. I also came away with grave misgivings that, in our NCO professional development efforts, we are emphasizing the wrong things. I fear we are likely to end up with senior NCOs decidedly less capable than the NCOs I interviewed—soldiers who had achieved so much with very little in the way of school training. But let me tell the story.

LTC Ingraham’s article, Fear and Loathing in the Motor Pool was published by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 1986 and in the December 1988 issue of Parameters. The Parameters article linked here is titled Fear and Loathing in the Barracks – And the Heart of Leadership.

Before you read it, whether serving or Veteran, try some introspect. Think of your own leadership. Recall the leadership you’ve observed during your time or in recent years. As you read, temper it with a serious look at the current state of our Army. An Army that sees the need to retool basic training to improve among others the most basic thing – discipline. Consider multiple years of repeated combat deployments, consider years of limited resources affecting training and equipment maintenance.

It was NCOs that brought our Army back from the trials of the Vietnam Era. It is NCOs that ensure adherence to enduring principles. Let me leave you with links to a couple of other articles. In 1999 as I was transitioning out Field Artillery Journal, having received and advanced copy of The Three Meter Zone, asked me to write an article. Leading in the Three-Meter Zone was published in their May-June 99 issue after I was already on transition leave. The focus of the article is about the most enduring thing – on the ground leadership of Noncommissioned Officers.

In August 2017, I wrote a series of articles titled Social Engineering and the Military. I provide the link also, because I believe all these issues are intertwined.

NCOs still lead the way.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry

Joy Behar believes Christians who speak to and hear Jesus speaking to them are mentally ill

Well Joy, the Christian thing for me to do is pray that you will come to know and have a personal relationship with Jesus, our Risen Savior. Jesus speaks to each of us continually. Some of us, unfortunately, are so enamored with ourselves that we cannot be quiet long hear Him.

When I see the morning sunrise and am serenaded by a songbird symphony, I marvel at creation. All that we see was created by One. One who became man and walked among us. He spoke to us then:

“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

Jesus speaks to us Joy. Each time we look around, each time we count our blessings, and each time we open the Bible and read, his words are there speaking to us. He said the second most important commandment is that I must love you as I love myself. That doesn’t mean that I embrace your thoughts or your behavior or that I have to like it when you express your belief that I am mentally ill nor does it prevent me from blowing you up should you present a threat to me or mine. It does mean that I desire the same good things for you that I do for myself. I wish you no harm, no ill will and that I pray the Lord will fill your heart with joy. Interesting isn’t it that your name implies that you are filled with happiness yet the words that come from your mouth certainly offer a different perception.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45

Joy, I hope you find happiness and contentment in this life. Jesus speaks to all of us. In fact, he’d prefer to speak to you.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:17

May God bless you.

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