Friday, October 20, 2006


THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN!


Two very good friends gently suggested recently I suffer from an incomplete education because I’ve not watched very many movies in my life. Long lists of films I must see have been compiled over morning coffee at a local Barnes & Noble.

This episode may one day be made into a movie:

He'd been captured, released, and returned to the battlefield disguised, wearing civilian clothes. Recognized by a small squad of infantrymen, the man was recaptured. "We do not know exactly what happened in this encounter because of conflicting stories," but we do know the imposter in the battlespace was confirmed enemy, taken from a house and put to death

This is roughly, I believe, the tactical situation Marine Corps Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins and his men faced earlier this year in Hamdania. Sgt. Hutchins and his squad encountered, engaged, and dispatched an enemy on the battlefield not wearing a uniform, who was disguised to fool and entice the Marines into danger and demise. Although, following the links, you realize I’m not describing events on the ground in Iraq last April.

The comparison is not perfect but it’s clear enough to illustrate how twisted our treatment of Sgt. Hutchins and his Marines has been when an alternative explanation is presented, examined, and carefully considered. In my example there were no harsh imprisonments or junk-yard dog interrogations, no threatened courts-martial for the men who captured and eventually killed a known enemy wearing a civilian disguise in the badlands.

I’ve only just begun my cinematic journey but already one movie has worked to form and clarify my thinking regarding the workings of military discipline. Producer Fred Friendly’s grilling of two Air Force generals (George Clooney’s character) regarding the abuse visited upon a junior officer in Good night and good luck made me wonder who’s putting the same questions to Marine Corps generals about what happened in Hamdania last April.

Where is the Marine lieutenant company commander standing before T.V. cameras and microphone banks telling us about his men. Who stands forth and says, proudly, “These are my men. I trained them. They’re Marines who did their duty as they saw it. And I’m responsible for whatever they did. They are my men.”

I want to know why the Marine generals, and officer chain from company commander to convening authority, Lt. Gen. Mattis, do not believe Sgt. Hutchins and his squad. Who was in command? What is the chain of command? And what was reported up that chain?

Who wrote down what happened? What are the combat reporting requirements? Where are those after-action reports, reviewed, endorsed, and pushed up to ever more senior military governors? Where are the NCIS reports? Do these various reports jive with the version of events Bacos’ recently voiced at his general court-martial? Do they square with what accusers say happened?

Because I believe Sgt. Hutchins and his men, I demand to see and hear the government’s case.

I want to see and hear, as does Marine veteran Craig Roberts, evidence, that supports punishment of the remaining seven Marines facing courts-martial. I want to see the evidence that justifies punishment of HM3 Bacos

Bring accusers to the hearing room so they can tell us how they represent Sgt. Hutchins and his Marines comported themselves on that day.

The silence after Hospitalman Bacos’ general court-martial is so complete it dares contradiction. You see, I don’t believe the Marine Corps brass. I don’t believe Bacos’ version of events because his testimony was forced under duress of NCIS gangsters. The government has yet to bring a case, and yet, already there’s punishment. The Bacos court-martial is a fraud!

Doubt injected into this case by government operatives requires more than rational assurance. So allow me to register below a few extraordinary assurances.

Sgt. Hutchins is a combat-hardened Marine, trained, promoted, and placed in a leadership role of a tactical combat infantry unit. His men were similarly trained. It was Marines like Sgt. Hutchins and his men Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll silently prayed would and did come to her rescue.

There’s the assurance supremely manifested in the most fearful statement of national commitment a commander in chief may utter. An expression to enemies promising America's ultimate exercise of national power and purpose. Four words: SEND IN THE MARINES.

There’s the assurance, one to another among these Marine Corps band of brothers, the promise of recognized and shared transcendence. This mutual acknowledgement -- I can die of something or for something. The assured sacrifice of my life for yours. A sentient awareness that some things in life are worth dying for. It’s the ultimate assurance, commanded now from doubt, summed up simply, elegantly, powerfully in two words: SEMPER FIDELES!

It counts most to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your band of brothers when facing the most ferocious incoming fire, when the odds are impossible, and when chance of survival is bleakest. I stand now with these Magnificent Seven Marines. I believe them, not any military politico. And I call upon others to join me in demanding these fine men be released instantly while this mess is publicly cleared up.

SEMPER FIDELIS MARINES!

Here endth the lesson. The JAG Hunter 2006©



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