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By Geoff Metcalf

July 28, 2007

�Integrity becomes a way of life�it must be woven into the very fabric of our soul�� --General Charles Krulak

A recent Washington Times Bill Gertz piece noted, �A U.S. military officer said the Army is still putting out rules of engagement (ROE) that are dangerous and could cause U.S. soldiers to get killed in the war on terrorism. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, recently expressed concerns that soldiers fighting insurgents and terrorists do not have clear guidance on the use of force.�

Confusion or any ambiguity over rules of engagement is deadly. The Army is doing a gross disservice to its troops on the ground with inconsistent policy and direction. The Marines, however, seem to have �got it�.

This is a difficult situation which requires a synthesis of apparently mutually exclusive concepts. Frankly, I�m still struggling with adequately being able to articulate the concept.

Jack Hoban has become a dear friend. Jack is a former active duty Marine Captain and �subject matter expert� for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). In addition to being a long time martial artist he was a student of the late Robert L. Humphrey, who, like Jack, worked with the Marines as a civilian. Dr. Humphrey was also author of �Values For A New Millennium�.

Jack touched on the �Ethical Warrior� challenge in a February Human Events piece.

�The U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) is�an ethics-based combatives program consisting of three main elements: (1) character (Ethical Warrior training), (2) mental (military skills and mindset training), and (3) Physical (martial arts and combat conditioning).� Interestingly, �the Ethical Warrior Training is considered to be the core of the program.�

The hard part of creating and deploying an �ethical warrior� is the two apparently mutually exclusive necessities.

1. Respect for the �Life Values� of other cultures.
2. The need to close with and kill the enemy.

Once upon a time, when Special Forces troops were primarily tasked with teaching and advising indigenous insurgents, a lot of time and attention was devoted to establishing rapport and acclimating to local customs and culture. What Humphrey and Hoban would call �Life Value� stuff.

A recent Army Judge Advocate General�s Legal Center and School had an instructor who actually taught one class that �we must hesitate and be careful when we pull the trigger.� WRONG!

Soldiers must never hesitate in that split second of shoot-don�t shoot. The �instinct�, the �feeling�, the understanding of the situation at that moment must be inculcated into the essence of warrior. If the ethical warriorship has been properly taught, the troop will know when to shoot and not shoot. Hesitation can and will get troops killed.

To teach that following rules of engagement �may not be a good idea� blows off the whole idea of �rules� and is bureaucratic brain flatulence of epic (and deadly) proportion.

All the �hearts and minds� rhetoric is about the indigenous civilian population, NOT the recalcitrant terrorist extremist.

The Marines are doing something very right; and the MCMP seems to be their vehicle for clarifying and teaching Warrior Ethics. Again, this is a difficult concept but interservice rivalry notwithstanding, if something works, it should be embraced regardless of the source or credit.

A classic story involves a young Marine Lance Corporal leading a patrol in Fallujah. It was �Dodge City� time and bad guys were like mosquitoes in a Louisiana swamp. The patrol was walking the streets when they heard gun fire and the �pucker factor� was intense. However, that young Marine instructed his troops to remove their helmets, sling arms and take a knee as the funeral procession passed them.

That show of respect by a young ethical warrior did more for �winning hearts and minds� that a gross of soccer balls.

Was it dangerous? You damnbetcha! But the benefits were huge. The Marines could have shot back at anyone and everyone firing a weapon. However, they didn�t. Instead they demonstrated to the locals in Fallujah that �Honor, Courage, Commitment� was more than just a bumper sticker. Those young men, were living and demonstrating by example the three main elements of the program:

1. Character (Ethical Warrior training)
2. Mental (military skills and mindset training)
3. Physical (martial arts and combat conditioning).

Conversely, there are enemy who really need killing. The al-Qaida and assorted terrorist fundamentalists cannot be reasoned with and no amount of empathy, or diversity training is going to alter the empirical reality they want us and our way of life eliminated. The rabid dogs need killing.

I confess, I don�t know how the Marines have been able to blend the spirit of �The Ethical Warrior� with the spirit of the bayonet (�Kill, kill, kill). However, they are doing something right.

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Whatever the Marines are teaching in MCMAP should be embraced by the Department of Defense as a policy model, and it should be integrated into all branches of the service.

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Confusion or any ambiguity over rules of engagement is deadly. The Army is doing a gross disservice to its troops on the ground with inconsistent policy and direction. The Marines, however, seem to have �got it�.