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MUST I BE A KILLER?

 

 
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Dear Lieutenant Grose,
I have been reading your web page actively and noticed that you answer all mail. I am a sophomore in college and am considering the Platoon Leader Class (OCS). I have taken the physical, and am training for the physical fitness test, trying to overcome natural weakness.

I know that I want to serve in the Marines (although I do not think I want to make that my life's work). However, I have a huge problem - I don't think I could ever kill anybody. Does being a Marine necessitate killing?

Thank you for your time,

~Name Withheld



 
You bring up an interesting dilemma. While I do not savor the thought of ever taking anyone's life as a part of my job, I have been trained to do just that if called upon to do so. I have never killed anyone in the 12 years I have been in the Marine Corps so I do not know how I would react at the moment of truth.

I signed up to be a Marine and the plain matter of the fact is that sometimes Marines have to kill. Does this make me happy? No. But I think of it this way, I have sworn an oath to protect this country from enemies, foreign and domestic. Now I do not make the call about who those enemies are and would not care to do so while on active duty. I have faith and trust in my leaders that they will use the military in just ways.

I have a wife and kids and see the quality of life that they enjoy. If maintaining that way of life for my family means killing the enemy whose governing body would endanger that, I have no moral problem with fighting. I understand that my enemy might not have a clue what he is fighting for and might not care about me or my beliefs but if his government is using him as a tool for a greater cause that endangers America and therefore my way of life, then I must fight and win.

The next question that begs to be asked is if I mind being a tool for my government. In a way this is true, I must have almost blind trust in the decisions those over me make. Of course this has limits but look at it this way. You have an island and you have a population of 100 people on that island. You organize 50 of those people as the defense force against outside enemies. Now you let everyone have a say in every decision made. As a foreign ship approaches, you gather the inhabitants. Many of them want to attack while others want to surrender to what looks like a large invading force. Others want to wait and talk to them while still others want to go to the other side and leave the island. The entire affair results in infighting and chaos.

Alternately, you form a type of representative government where one representative for 25 people forms a committee headed by a committee head. As the ship approaches, the 4 people meet and decide what to do. Ideally, the majority of votes wins and they decide what is for the good of the entire population.

It is much easier to get 4 people to decide than 100 but this opens the door for abuse of power. That is why the leaders must understand the importance of the post and the people must support the decision once it is made, even if they may disagree on a personal level.

Now, back to the defense force. The committee decides that they must fight the invasion. Again, the individual warrior might disagree on this course of action but the rest of the force and inhabitants are depending on him to fight. If you let those personal disagreements interfere with your responsibility to fight, you jeopardize everyone and the situation reverts back to the chaos of before.

Additionally, there might be information that the 4 members know that they must keep secret or have no time to explain. In this case, waiting would jeopardize the success of the defense. What would appear to be a hasty decision without much thought put into it might just be a plan put into action using information not available to the lowest level of the force.


Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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