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.