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
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,
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
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
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.