Lessons from our troops, January 3, 2007

TigerThis recent posting from Michael Totten got me to thinking about some of the lessons we can learn from our Masterful Marines.  Mr. Totten’s another independent imbedded journalist in Iraq. 




Before I get to the “lesson”, let me say I enjoy these guys’ insights because their independent status gives them the leeway to be brutally honest and non-agenda driven.  Pat Dollard and Michael Yon are also good sites to have bookmarked for this purpose.  Other than the personal friends I have in theater, I count on these reporters’ postings for good and factual on the ground news.


Again, I was linked to Mr. Totten’s site by FoxNews.com’s “Latest News” link. They continue to be the only source for these reports in the major news organizations.  The other networks/newspapers continue to ignore these and for good reason (in their editorial bent minds).  They invariably report GOOD news.  Not intentionally and they’re all clear that much work needs to be done and the situation is dynamic, but they have a clear understanding of the importance of this work and why it MUST be done.  They don’t get into any of the “why are we here?” and “President Bush is evil” chants.  Not to mention the fact that they are respectful and honest about our forces, yes our Masterful Forces’ efforts.


Now to the lesson.


This latest posting focuses on the issue of complacency and how our Marines are countering this mindset.  I addressed this issue on another blog in our own lives within the “relative safety” of our mainstream USA streets.  Mr. Totten was having difficulty with this concept, but he seemed to get the point.  Admittedly it’s a fine line to walk, the difference between situational awareness and rampant paranoia.  I like the joke axiom “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean you bastards AREN’T out to get me”, because it’s just funny.  But the opposite is also true (not being paranoid doesn’t mean you bastards AREN’T out to get me). 


Mr. Totten pointed it out when, looking at an Iraqi, who in his mind clearly presented no danger, he imagined smashing the man’s face in.  Some may be appalled at this but it is an exercise I engage in regularly throughout the day.  As people walk up to me I switch off between two imaginary scenarios.  One, what would I do if this person (regardless of their physical appearance) all of a sudden upped and surprise attacked me (armed, unarmed etc.).  I mentally prepare a counter for each of these scenarios.  I focus on quick and deadly, mostly gross motor movements. 


Second, I also imagine how I would attack them if I wanted to all of a sudden surprise blitz them.  In a million years I would not do this for real, but it gives me an insight into the thought process of an attacker.  There are countless scenarios that I alternate in both exercises (quick and deadly, defensive and non-lethal, immobilize, one-two-three strikes etc.). 


One of the major benefits of this type of mental training is that you create a mindset of situational awareness that continues to churn in the background of your mind even when you’re not engaging in the exercise. 


How is this useful? 


Surprisingly, a MAJOR benefit is subtle and intangible, but very effective.  It counters prey behavior.  In other words, your heightened state of relaxed alertness delivers an unspoken message to the attacker (predator) that you are NOT easy prey.  They don’t know why, but they can just sense it.  Here’s the beauty of it.  The message in most cases is effective REGARDLESS of your physical appearance and/or training.  Remember, you only have to physically defend yourself when your actual personal security plan has failed.  You want to avoid that because there are some evil sons of bitches out there.  Ironically, even the toughest of them are inherently cowardly and will only target easy prey.


Secondly, should you have to physically defend yourself you will leap into action almost immediately with canned physical techniques that are subconsciously driven..  We all have some of these that are already neuro-muscularly innate.  Throwing your hands up, crouching your head, closing your eyes etc.  The first few seconds of an attack are CRITICAL and are almost always wasted by the shocked reaction of people who first go into a state of denial (often voiced aloud).  “I can’t believe this is happening to me!”  Remember, the attacker has had the benefit of planning and victim selection. They are also already highly adrenalized into action.  You’re playing catch-up.  The above exercise will expedite this paradigm shift.


Do not misunderstand me here.  I’m not advocating a state of paranoia about your fellow man.  What I advocate is preparedness, physical and mental, but the mental state is the key to avoidance.  It’s amazing to me when I hear my single, slightly older, female students talk about the myriad of emotional defensive mechanisms they have in place when they go out on a date for the first time with someone.  They have these because they’ve been burned before and they carry them into the first few dates.  Yet when I talk to them about the above exercise they express shock and dismay that they should have to live like that.  Ironic.  The mental state I’m talking about here is actually quite a liberating and empowered one.  Particularly if you’re not innately security minded.


Of course to me the exercise is also a bit fun.  Sue me.  My juvenile proclivities aside, as Joe Pesci’s character says in My Cousin Vinny, although I could probably use a good ass whuppin, I’m not volunteering for one anytime soon.  For more of this type of information, go to my “Surviving a mass shooting” blog. It’s in 4 parts but I’m pretty proud of that post.

One Response

  1. Anthony,

    Are you still blogging?


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