Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My Mind...My Weapon

Sleep is always elusive on the eve of a mission. On these nights, my mind is constantly going over scenarios, "what if's", IA (immediate action) drills...and over and over and over. It is a cruel combination of my survival instinct and training, and it can be extremely frustrating. But one thing is certain and will be for as long as I am over here: I will ALWAYS be mentally prepared. It's the intelligent warriors who win wars; those warriors who study their enemy's techniques, tactics and procedures; who have mentally prepared themselves for any number of circumstances and who are never, I repeat never caught without a contingency plan and a backup for the contingency.

Our minds here are the most valuable weapon that we have and are also at times, the most difficult to maintain. It's almost a battle within a battle. You fight to maintain focus, clarity of thought and mental acuity so that you will be an effective weapon on the battlefield. The world we live in, like any combat zone, is filled with life-or-death situations which require split-second decisions that must be made under the most demanding of circumstances. The time to prepare your mind for this eventuality is not when the first round cracks, for by this time, it's too late. The time to do this is when you're lying in bed staring at the ceiling replaying routes, actions on the objective, contact drills and evacuation procedures over and over and over in your head. This is what keeps your most valuable weapon in the fight when the rounds fly and what will eventually get you and your brothers home.

I will be the first to tell you that this takes its toll. I return from every mission mentally exhausted. Even after the mission is completed and I have returned to the relative safety of the wire, my mind replays the mission's events like a broken record. Every step along the way to the mission's completion is filled with lessons, reminders and unfortunately at times, mistakes. Snapshots of choke-points, possible sniper hides, rubble piles, rooftops, freshly unearthed dirt...the list goes on and on. If ignored, these images will become nothing more than mental clutter which will dirty your weapon and leave you less prepared for the next mission...if you make it to another mission. Organized however, this collage of images can assist you in becoming more cognizant of your surroundings and allow you to have an incredible amount of focus.

It's an incredibly tough task attempting to put into words the mental processes involved in fighting a war, and this may prove to be one of those entries better suited to be included in the personal journal. The reason I chose to share this, albeit somewhat ineptly, is because I feel there is a great life-lesson to be learned from my experience here...although I fear it may have been lost in my rambling. At any rate, in everyday life we all have our own battles to fight, we all have our own "missions" to accomplish. Mental preparedness coupled with ferverent prayer are, I believe, the most important ingredients to being successful on the battlefield here, and on the battlefield of life. They have both worked for me thus far, and I pray that they will continue to do so.

-Just the thoughts of a simple man.


Barb said...

No doubt it must be very hard to translate the mental mesh you've built up through training and experience into words we civilians can understand. Your brain is functioning at a whole different level, and it's pretty amazing.

Of course, I do similar night-before worrying - but if I screw up a meeting or an email at work, no one is going to get hurt!

Simple? I don't think so! Neither you, nor the tasks you all perform every time you exit the wire. Warfighters are amazing people ... really!

CJ said...

Great to hear from you again sir! Your words are well-spoken and get your point across aptly. God give you the strength you need to continue to keep your 'weapon' in fighting order. Be safe Marine!

Karin said...

I would not say "simple words" but rather they are profound. Always good to hear from you! I appreciate your sharing and have a deep abiding respect for all you do! Stay safe warrior and know many prayers cover you.

S said...

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us and Thank you for your service to keep us back here at home free. Stay safe. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Dennis said...

God bless you and may you come home safely to your family. You are a Great American, Marine!

Linda said...


This is one of the most cogent descriptions of the mind of the modern soldier in a war situation.

The USA is likely to have men like you and your colleagues.

Huntress said...

At any rate, in everyday life we all have our own battles to fight, we all have our own "missions" to accomplish. Mental preparedness coupled with ferverent prayer are, I believe, the most important ingredients to being successful on the battlefield here, and on the battlefield of life.

Prolific in its simplicity yet powerful in its meaning.

Be safe.

djinaz said...

Great post!
I tried (unsuccesfully) to paint/write/discribe several images of the true nature of the mundane yet so important daily rituals of war. You have done better than I could have. As a scout/sniper I allways relished being attached to rifle companies so that I allways knew what the next day would bring (or at least the choices of duties were not as varied)
I will caution you with the word "random" I allways chastised those that thought too much and simultaniously chastised that that never thought. there is allways an even keel........find it!
Good luck and best wishes Marine!
Semper Fi