By Jeff Edwards
"Boots on the Ground" has become somewhat of a catch phrase lately.
I mean, it has always been around I guess, but I don‘t personally remember it being as present as it is currently. This is due largely in part to its recent use by politicians to describe and debate America‘s current strategy against ISIS. One side of the political spectrum promises no boots on the ground while another insists it is the only way to win. Meanwhile, very few people have really stopped to ask the opinion of those whom actually wear those boots. Now, I can‘t speak for everyone in the military. I can, however, give you a little insight into what the common Marine thinks about boots on the ground against ISIS.
They Love It
Now, before you think I am just spewing some motto due to being a Marine myself, stick with me and let me explain. I am serious. They love it. Genghis Kahn himself hates it compared to how much the Marines love it. You see, I joined the Marine Corps at age 17 in 1997 as a reservist grunt. I was always college bound and the reserves simply seemed like the most reasonable route.
If you don‘t remember the mid to late 90‘s, then let me remind you that it was an absurdly peaceful time for America. I mean, we had a little thing going on in Kosovo and occasionally we would send a cruise missile down one of Saddam‘s palaces, but that was about it as far as I remember. I know this because my older brother was an active duty Marine Grunt during this time period and he never got to deploy. Not his fault, those were just the times.
Then 9/11 changed everything. Enemies of America needed to feel the wrath of an angry nation and the Marines were sure to be involved in that fight. Consequently, I deployed to Iraq with 3rd battalion 23rd Marines in 2003. Now, I must also mention that my active duty grunt brother would rarely miss the opportunity to remind me that I was a lowly reservist and he was an active grunt. Thus, I would just like to take this opportunity to remind him and the world, I got my war in and he didn‘t. Suck it brother, see you Thanksgiving.
A Dog Without a Bone
A Marine without war is honestly like a dog without a bone. Yes, you can live a purposeful life as a Marine without war, but you will always feel like you are missing a purpose for which you were made. That is what makes it fun to jab at my brother a little bit. He is an excellent cop in a dangerous city, but if you ask him, he hates it that he missed war and he is by far not alone.
In fact, I can remember a good number of prior service Marines joining my unit during the time between 9-11 and our deployment in 2003. Why? Because a Marine is made for boots on the ground and they missed out. So, when I am telling you that Marines love it, I am not just spewing out some patriotic motto. Rather, I am just testifying to what I have seen with my own eyes.
Moreover, consider this. The ranks of the Marine Infantry have been filled this past decade by young men whom knew of the certainty of combat and they chose the infantry. It is a myth that only those with low test scores get put in the infantry. In the Marine Corps, the infantry is the pride of the service and all sorts of little Einsteins who want a fight join it willingly. And those that did it this past decade, did so knowing full well that combat was imminent. Marines are made for war and I ask America if they would really want their Marines any other way?
Boots on ISIS
So now we have come to the next chapter of the war in Iraq and it appears that boots on the ground are imminent. Look, all I can tell you is that the Marines are ready for it. Not only ready, but excited might be a better word. Just like I witnessed prior service Marines join my unit in 2003 to get the opportunity to go to war, you are now seeing many current Marines who missed a combat deployment reconsider getting out. That‘s right, they are willing to sign back up for another 4 years in the Marines to get a chance to try their hand at war. Picture Jim Carey from Dumb and Dumber gleefully stating, so you‘re saying there‘s a chance!
Look, I am not going to get into the political and historical ramifications of a war on ISIS. But can we all just go ahead and agree that ISIS deserves the full weight of retribution that is about to befall them. Rarely has evil been on such full display as what we are seeing out of ISIS. Consequently, while we always know the Marines will proudly march into combat, this might be one of the few times in history where you see Marines gleefully skipping to the front lines. Get some, Marines. This is your time now.