It’s not often I drag out the soapbox, stand on it, and toss my two cents out into the void, but here we go.
Recently I read a statement that said that ex-military make poor police officers. The writer stated that soldiers were trained for combat, not police work.
Here’s a direct quote from the article:
One primary focus of military basic training is to turn a recruit into an efficient killing machine that can survive and function purely on instinct in a primarily hostile environment. This conditioning, which molds the soldier into an aggressive mindset and prepares them for the battlefield, is necessary for the mission. But these skills do not necessarily translate well into a law enforcement role, where good judgment is more important than swift and lethal instinctive action.
Well, I’m not going to stand around while two professions I’ve been in and loved are assaulted like a drag queen at a tractor pull.
First, not everyone who goes into the military is a killing machine. Yes, we’re all taught to use weapons. We’re all taught how to survive on the modern battlefield (with terrorism you never know where that is). But not everyone is at the tip of the spear, so to speak. For every person who is a front line combat soldier, there’s a whole bunch behind the lines supporting him. I guess we need to be careful of those Army cooks, for instance. And here all along, the only thing I thought was dangerous about them was whatever was served up on the plate.
Now, let’s talk about training the person into an aggressive mindset. An infantryman needs to be aggressive in order to survive. (No where is it written you have to die for your country).
With that in mind, let’s talk about one the greatest Infantrymen of all times, Sgt. Alvin York. Sgt. York was born a pacifist. Indeed, he fought tooth and nail against the very idea of combat. Yet, this gentle man ended up becoming one of the most decorated US Soldiers of all times. And if you follow what he did, very little of what he did was done without thinking things through.
Want an example? He was in a foxhole. Six German soldiers rushed his position. He had six bullets. Instinct would say start with the guy who’s closest. That’s not what he did. He started with the last guy in line and worked up. Why? Because he knew if he dropped the guy closest to him, there was a chance the others would dive for cover, outflank him, and kill him.
Another example. This killing machine got an entire enemy company pinned down. He then talked them into giving up. And they did. Can you imagine the sight of a single American soldier bringing in an entire company of POWs?
He could have easily killed every one of them. The point is, he didn’t. Everything he did was filtered through his religious and moral compass.
Where does that “Moral Compass” come from. It comes from our upbringing. We learn it from our parents. We learn it in our churches. We learn it from the people around us. And we learn it by being held accountable.
We learn to be good people when we’re young. If we’re raised with a respect for others, nothing is going to take that away. Alvin York proved that.
Still not convinced? Let’s talk someone who’s still alive (me). One night myself and two other MPs were patrolling the Military Community of Ansbach. It’s after midnight and we get a call to one of the Kassernes. We have an out of control soldier with a hunting knife. We roll on it. I’m first through the gate. The guard is frightened and points. “He’s over there in the parking lot.”
I drive over, and in my headlights I see a shirtless man. He’s holding a big hunting knife in his hand and is covered with blood. He’d cut himself several times with the knife, as well as cut himself while demolishing a Ford F-150 pickup with his knife and hands. I later learned that he’d had a go at gutting his Platoon Daddy.
By every rule of engagement, I was within my rights to shoot the man.
Wait a minute, a man, ten yards away, and I can shoot him? A man ten yards away with a knife is just as dangerous as one with a knife who’s right on top of you. He already had a weapon, and if he’d charged me, that knife would have been in my heart before I ever broke leather with my pistol.
I’d already analyzed the situation and knew deadly force wasn’t much of an option here. Unarmed self defense and trying to talk the guy down was the best option I had. So much for being a killing machine running on pure instinct.
Here’s where being an efficient killing machine falls down. I have this thing in me that says people are made in God’s Image. Each and every person is someone valuable and unique. They’re someone’s son or daughter. They’re someone’s father or mother.
And nothing in basic training or any of the countless schools I went through afterwards can burn that out. I learned that at home. I learned that from the priests I served under. I learned that from my teachers. And I learned it from people around me.
In fact, the military never tried to burn it out of me. Those are the traits that made me a leader of men and women, and the Army valued them.
Truth is, the military doesn’t make one a killing machine. It’s one’s upbringing that makes them that. If you’re raised not to respect others, you won’t. If you have no regard for authority, you’ll have none.
You can change that, and what I learned is Jesus is a great way to do that. Problem is, you’ll still fight with who you used to be on a daily basis.
And before you try to argue that, let me remind you I have the scars to demonstrate what people without a moral compass can do. Some are visible, some aren’t. Everyone of them had upbringing that was “questionable” at best. And not a one of them ever went into the military, and yet they were in every respect a “Killing Machine.”
I know. They tried to take me out. And yet I allowed them to live. Some of them got a second chance and took it. Some killed themselves with drugs and booze. Others will die in prison.
If the Army tried to make me a killing machine, maybe I owe the taxpayers some money back. Maybe I should have killed each and everyone of them and saved the world the hassle.
Sorry, they’re still someone.
So what happened to that soldier?
He decided the only way out was to put the knife to his chest and drop on it.
He never reached the ground. I hit hime like I was an offensive tackle sacking a quarterback.
My “Moral Compass” wouldn’t let him die. He was valuable if to no one else except himself, and I wouldn’t let kill himself. He went to prison, but he’s still alive.
They praised me (I was the lead on this incident) and the other two MPs because we didn’t kill the man. They gave us medals for it. And I’m still a veteran of that specific psychic war.
I pray for that young soldier often, and I hope life turned around for him.