30 July 2015


by Andy Weddington
Thursday, 30 July 2015

"Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves." Henry David Thoreau

Quite the response there's been to the two recent commentaries - one non-fiction the other fictional non-fiction - about Marine general officer testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).

They struck a chord with Marines, and others. 

I've been mulling over the sundry thoughts and a note this morning moved me to sit and write this unplanned short comment.

The sender passed along a note from another who had written him recalling several appearances testifying before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and SASC. 

He shared advice he remembered offered him by General Robert H. Barrow, USMC (27th Commandant of the Marine Corps), "Just put your hands on the table and answer the questions ... no need for charts or written statements." He considered General Barrow to be the "most polished, artful and best speaker." Continuing, "He never went to testify followed by a [sic] entourage of staff and charts."

Admittedly, I am a simpleton. A staff would confuse me. And I do not understand most charts - created to confuse. I prefer simple. In everything. I prefer to simplify. Everything. And in looking at any and everything I do so from the simple, a core foundation. It keeps things simple. Easy. But never forget simplicity is at the heart of complexity. 

From my infantry days I remember learning to man what was then called the M-60 (today M240G) machine gun - a 7.62 belt-fed weapon with awesome destructive power. 

That machine gun can be fired from the hip (as seen in Hollywood) and in so doing it is essentially ineffective (useless). It can be fired using a bipod which improves accuracy considerably. But the gun is most devastating when mounted on a tripod and attached to the traversing and elevating (T&E) mechanism. 

The tripod - foundation for unleashing the absolute best destructive firepower against bad. 

Marines, as I simply see it, need a tripod - a foundation from which all else honorable fires - to be most effective. That is, to lead. 

And those tripod legs are three of the 14 leadership traits.


For how good and effective can any Marine be if not able to be depended upon to exercise the courage, the intestinal fortitude, to do and say the right things?

What does an oath, sworn mind you, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth mean?

Would a chart help? 

Do these concepts matter?

In my simpleton mind, a chart is worthless and, yes, they matter.

This morning during rigorous PT a sobering thought, based on the third stanza of The Marines' Hymn, for a raised glass struck...

A toast to our Corps, Marines, for our Corps is toast.

I hope I am simply wrong. 

In closing...

I, too, remember advice offered by General Barrow, "Keep the faith!"

I think about it daily. And the more difficult it is, to tell you the truth. 

Testifying before the SASC, General Barrow once opened, "I may be old-fashioned...". 

Me too. 

Post Script

U. S. Marine Corps Leadership Traits



Author's Endnote



Fictional non-fiction


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