Ignorance and brute force …
… will get the job done every time.
Marines will do anything you need them to do. It’s a true statement. If you give Marines a task they will figure out a way to accomplish it one way or another.
While a Sergeant I attended Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense School in Fort McClellen, Alabama. Ft Mac was an Army base which housed their NBC schools at the time (it has since closed down) as well as one of their basic training facilities. The Marine detachment there ran Marines through NBC school and Military Police training. It was summer of course. How I always seem to end up conducting CBRN type training under numerous layers of protective over garments during the volcanic months of summer remains a mystery I file under Cruel Twists of Fate.
As the senior noncommissioned officer attending the course the envious job of class commander fell to me. The majority of the class were mostly fresh out of boot camp which meant every stupid thing they did was my fault. It also meant I was the first bulwark against which their various melodramatic issues crashed heavily upon. These ranged from bed-wetting, marriage, monetary debt, mommy issues, unrequited love – sometimes all at once.
One afternoon we were receiving a period of instruction outside of the school house on the front lawn. Scattered about the lawn on slabs of concrete were tanks of various makes and models on display. Some were American and others were enemy tanks captured in various conflicts across the globe.
As the instructors turned us loose on a quick break I told the class in jest I wanted one of the tanks picked up and moved over to another slab. One of the instructors, a fellow sergeant, pulled me aside.
“Bro, you can’t tell the boots stuff like that. They’ll do it. I once joked with a class I wanted one of those Army Drill Sergeant hats to use for a potted plant. Next thing I know one of them handed me a drill sergeant’s cover he swiped from the dining facility.”
“Come on,” I said. “No way they actually believed I was serious about moving one of those tanks.”
He raised his eyebrows and inclined his head in their direction. I turned to see about fifteen or so Marine PFCs standing around a tank scratching their heads as if cogitating a solution.
“Get away from that tank, clowns! Lay one finger on it and I’ll break your arms off!”
Another example of being aware of the impact of your words.
So be careful what you ask for, because your troops will surprise you when they strive to deliver.
America’s Sergeant Major
Editor’s Note: Sgt. Maj. Michael S. Burke has served throughout the U.S. Central Command area of operations with 3d Battalion, 3d Marines and Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company Bahrain. He currently serves as I&I sergeant major with 3d Battalion, 25th Marines in Brook Park, Ohio. When not motivating Marines, he writes for his blog site, http://castrapraetoria1.blogspot.com/.