You may recall from my blog post “You’ve Got Mail: Initial Feedback” me saying: Much like there is competition and healthy banter between members of the different Services, there is even more “contention” between Special Forces Units and Navy SEALs.
Well…you can’t have an exchange between an Army Ranger and a U.S. Marine without running into some points of contention either. Thankfully, both AG and I are officers. Besides the trash talking between services, the no love lost between the SOF communities and SEALs, the differences between women and men, nothing gets more lines drawn in the sand like discussing the differences between enlisted and officers.
Anyway, AG has interacted with and admits liking Marines, but he is definitely proud of being an Army Officer (West Point Grad) and especially of being a Ranger. He started out as an infantry officer before going to Ranger school. I respect his background, although I don’t completely understand how strenuous and difficult his training was or what he has done so far in his career. He has made some separations between his reality as a Ranger and what he puts it as “Big Army.” Meaning, Rangers aren’t like Big Army…but to me, at the end of the day, he’s part of the big green Army machine, and has to claim them as his own, as much as his elite section of the bigger monster.
Last week, I saw a post on Facebook that said “God Made Marines. So Soldiers Would Have Heroes.” I sent it to AG. Thought it would get a much deserved snide comment back that would give me a good laugh. However, what I did is clearly hit a nerve. One I was recommended not to hit again. I was taken back, but I apologized, and promised to not poke the bear again (as tempting as it might be)
No harm done. The Ranger and Marine could go on collaborating. Our exchanges continued.
But then two nights ago, AG hit one of my nerves…or two. I was having a hard time with the conversation between Josh and Ava. I couldn’t get them into any sort of small talk (see yesterday’s post) so I asked him what he thought about it. Part of his comment, rubbed a sore spot:
…the one thing that’s challenging about this is she is signal, correct? That creates some challenges. There’s definitely a difference in mindset between combat and support troops… I know marines are supposed to be marines first… yeah yeah ok. Believe it or not, officers of every branch went through a course designed to teach basic combat skills before they went to branch specific training. It didn’t matter… the signal dudes were still bitches and the infantry guys ran shit. It’s the mindset that’s different. I (and guys like me, and I guess Josh) chose this work because we’re willing to close with and destroy the enemy to get the job done. That doesn’t apply to a guy who picked logistics as a career path.
And there lies the biggest difference between the Army and Marines. Every Marine joins with the mindset to close with and destroy the enemy. I didn’t join to play with radios, and setup communication networks, I joined to fight and win battles. That’s what Marines do, we make Marines and win our Nation’s battles. We’re war fighters, it’s our history, our ethos, it just is who we are. Sure, Marine Infantry talk trash about Marines in other MOS, and all Marines talk trash about Marines in the Wing, but we’re allowed. No one outside the family can say, a Marine isn’t designed to ultimately close with and destroy the enemy.
Ava just as much, as Josh, is trained as a war fighter and would hold up her own in any conversations about combat…especially with the experiences I’m putting in her background. I definitely have a close with and destroy the enemy mindset…I don’t recommend putting that to the test.
I went all Marine and replied to AG, and pointed out that he’s forgetting the Marine Corp is much smaller and a lean fighting force – all members, are designed to either be infantry or in direct support of the infantry, but we all have the same mindset. I went on to say much more about the difference between a signal officer in the Army and a Marine Corps Communication Officer (CommO). The challenges of being a CommO compared to a straight line infantry platoon commander – another touchy subject for me.
He replied in his annoyingly, on point, accurate way (I really have the highest of regards for him):
First by saying “hahaha I knew that would get you going” Got it, a little pay back, well done.
(omitting initial part due to nature of language)…if there’s one thing the soldiers are good at it’s finding the army’s faults. Sometimes I think marines look at the corps with rose-tinted glasses. I went to airborne school with a few marines… as usual, some were good and some needed to be reminded of their place. I don’t want to continue to needle you, but think about possibility including it as a discussion… Josh is obviously going to see the corps differently than Ava. That’s not to say he doesn’t respect it (or that I don’t), but being on the outside typically reduces the attribution bias inherent in being a proud part of an organization.
His point is exactly why while there are lots of Marines I could bring on this project to help me, and many of them will get enlisted to help down the road, none would bring the kind of perspective AG brings. They too, are cut from the same familiar cloth of being Marines, and we do sometimes wear rose-tinted glasses. The perspective AG offers is unique and priceless.
Our discourse continued for a bit…more about the difference between communication (support MOS) and infantry officers – but that’s a conversation/contention I’ve had with Marines as well!
So we found some kinks in each others armors…some sore subjects best left alone. I’m sure we’re not done with finding those…