By Tracy T
I read this blog often though I rarely post. Perhaps I should participate more. Mr. Creekmore has done a great service by offering this forum and creating a place where like minded folks can interact. There is always good information here and many of the posts and articles are extremely well written and represent not only some terrific ideas but are indicative of the higher caliber of reader and contributor who visit this site. That being said, I would like to get down to my purpose in writing here which is the subject of Militias.
I am a retired U.S. Marine. Twenty-one years spent of ones life ingrains certain ideals, habits, and perspectives in a person. After I retired I was approached by a few militia representatives and invited to join their groups. I didn’t know much about the militia movement other than what I saw on television and knowing to take what the media portrays with a very large grain of salt I was still open minded about it.
I want to make clear here that I am not bashing the militia movement at all. I believe that the principle is sound and the desire to form a unit of cooperative effort is a natural tendency. Our ancestors knew that safety and security is found in numbers. The tribe, or the pack as it may be, is the family and all work to the greater good of the whole. Safety, defense, sustenance, and camaraderie, are all important aspects of human life.
I would like to offer here a description of my first encounter with a so called Militia unit.
I was at a public shooting range in California (yes they still have a few), where I noticed a group of about ten individuals wearing various stages of camouflage uniforms.
There was a large pot bellied man drinking coffee from a canteen cup wearing cammies and apparently enjoying a position of authority next to the tail gate of a pick up truck. He wore Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant chevrons on his collar and was being addressed by his subordinates as “Gunny”. Since I was a “Gunny” myself, and quite capable of recognizing a fellow Marine whether active or former, I decide to engage the man in conversation. I watched for a moment as the rest of his clan ran around the area with weapons at port arms. One young man, of active duty age wore heavy cammo paint on his face and a booney hat. He yelled at the others as if he were a drill instructor. It is difficult to describe the scene correctly. Picture a group of over zealous boy scouts with no adult supervision and live rounds.
The “Gunny” welcomed me to his “C.P.”. I asked when and where he served. His face turned red. He never had served. I expected that, but I intended to give the man a chance. “Why are you wearing Gunnery Sergeant chevrons?” I asked. He described his unit’s chain of command. The “Gunny” was an elected office and was the unit’s immediate senior enlisted rank. There were officers, of course but none were present at the time. Biting my lip, I introduced myself -with rank- and asked if I could observe the goings on of his unit’s training exercise. Although, I didn’t see the going on of much actual training. He replied with a nod and said if I had any questions to just ask.
There were a few individuals on the firing line shooting their weapons into the dirt berms. One individual was armed with a Marlin .22 rifle. He was firing at some cans that were placed maybe twenty-five to thirty yards down range. He fired from an incorrect kneeling position and hitting maybe one out of three shots. Having been a marksmanship instructor I couldn’t watch this young man very long before I had to intervene and attempted to explain to the him in a polite and helpful manner the correct firing position and forward support required to improve his shooting. I knelt down beside him and demonstrated a proper kneeling position and explained how and why it would help him. His position was backwards from what it should have been. He looked over at me from his awkward position with a smirk. “I know what I’m doing!” He snapped. The “Gunny” instinct in me wanted to snatch his smart ass up from there, but that sort thing is considered unacceptable in the civilian world and probably equally so in the militia. I decided to leave the young ‘rifleman’ to his own accord and hoped that he would figure it out himself.
I was conversing with the units “gunny” while a handful of the ‘troops’ were practicing what he described as squad assault tactics. It looked more like a special olympics Easter egg hunt, -with rifles-. (I mean no offense to the special Olympics) The young man with the cammo paint came running up. He popped to attention and saluted. The gunny switched his canteen cup to his left hand and slung an ‘F Troop’ type salute in return. The young man wore Marine Corps Sergeant chevrons. He complained that some of the other militia members weren’t listening to him. The gunny smiled as a father to a child and promised to have a talk with the offending ‘troops’. The gunny assured me that his unit was a force to be reckoned with. I asked if while he was conducting all of this training if anyone there had any training themselves. “Well … we have the manuals and we improvise where necessary, we train to be flexible.” He said. I took the word “flexible” to mean they made it up as they went. I had enough of my visit.
By this point I had grown from curious to angry to downright disgusted. I turned to go as the gunny asked my thoughts on his militia unit and extended an invitation to join. It was not a pleasant conversation from that point on. My skin was crawling as I walked away.
This particular militia unit was a fallacy of the militia movement. A misconceived group of yahoos and goofballs that I’m sure is a prime example of groups who give the entire militia movement a bad name. I did attend a couple of other units ‘exercises’ and found that they were better organized and more mature than the first but reeked of para militarism and full of wannabe soldier of fortune individuals, arm chair tacticians, and false bravado.
My personal experience with the militias has been negative to say the least. Yet, I still hold to a belief that the militia can be a good thing if properly organized, trained, equipped, disciplined, and held to a standard of positive conduct. I’ve no doubt that there are good solid militia units out there. I however do not choose to participate for many reasons.
Joining or creating a militia is a personal choice based on an individuals needs and his or her thoughts on how to best survive, serve his community, or how to best take a stand against the wrongs that are being legislated over us. I certainly don’t fault anyone who feels a need to join a militia group. I do have to stress here that the premise of a militia engaging a professional, armed opposing force will not likely have the possibility of ending with a favorable outcome. We made it work in 1776, and I hold strongly to the same spirit and belief those men had, but technology has come a long way since then. Resistance may have to be rendered in smarter ways.
Preparing for the worse is something all Americans should do. Knowing how to make do with a lot less than what we enjoy now is something that we should all practice. Home defense, self protection, helping your neighbor, and learning how to survive are things that we should all learn now before those lessons are forced upon us by actual circumstances. Associate with like minded people. Get to know folks who live in your area. Learn their strengths and shortcomings as well as your own. Work to improve areas where you may be lacking, be it a particular skill or your physical condition. Networking and having a plan is always a good idea.