Skip to comments.When To Shoot The Colonels
Posted on 07/20/2010 1:18:37 PM PDT by VR-21
At ease, Marines, and be seated" orders the gruff Gunnery Sergeant. "Now turn to Chapter 8 in your Military Constitutional Law text," he continues. "Today we discuss the appropriate conditions for shooting a colonel who is issuing an order which would violate the Constitutional rights of American citizens. Our first scenario involves gun seizures..."
Absurd, isn't it, to think that this sort of education is conducted among our armed forces? Yet, millions of citizens indulge this unspoken fantasy each time they imagine that the military exists to preserve our freedoms.
When I was at the Naval Academy in the mid-80s, and a Marine officer in the late 1980s and early 1990s, discussion of such issues was considered taboo. One fellow junior officer even scoffed that "Congress can change that Constitution any time they like." This isn't to say that there wasn't an undercurrent among most of the warfighters that issues such as gun control and preservation freedom of speech might one day pose a crisis of command. Yet this undercurrent was kept carefully concealed, and tended to become a more and more uncomfortable subject as the ranks of one's company became more elevated. Fortunately, with the Soviets and the threat of global thermonuclear war, these issues seemed far removed and safe from serious discussion.
Not so today. In the aftermath of Katrina, armed and uniformed soldiers patrolled the streets and disarmed Americans. Some uniformed soldiers were captured on film lamenting that "I can't believe that we're doing this to Americans." Yet, they did it anyway, lamentations notwithstanding. But why?
(Excerpt) Read more at webwarrioronline.com ...
Worth reading ping. Maybe even worth a ping list ping.
Marking this thread.
This has always been the case throughout history. Soldiers and cops will always obey the orders of those in charge except in certain very narrow circumstances and I can only think of two that come to mind.
During WWI the French army told the officers to shove it and rebelled for a few weeks, didn’t kill any of the officers but refused to go into combat. It took the deaths of hundreds of thousands of French soldiers to cause this and it was pretty much obvious to all that their lives were being literally thrown away by the French general staff. After a few weeks the Americans were pouring in as replacement cannon fodder and the French killed the leaders of the mutiny.
The other was the break up of the Soviet Union, the soldiers were given the order to fire on unarmed civilians and they refused. I think it was partly because even the soldiers at that time could see the writing on the wall but even well trained soldiers will have a hard time obeying an order to shoot their own UNARMED countrymen. If those countrymen had been armed it would have been another story, they would have mowed them down without mercy.
Eventually every democracy degenerates into a dictatorship either through popular choice (Venezuela - Chavez), internal usurpation (Rome - Caesar) or external force (Athens). That’s why the founders made the central government weak and did not want a direct democracy. Well Lincoln/FDR changed the first and technology has pretty much changed the second.
Two points of contention with respect to the article. First, An officer’s oath is to the constitution, not the president, not the flag, not the branch of service, but to the constitution. Second, congress cannot change (amend) the constitution without ratification by 2/3 of the several states.
The guys that took this one will be the ones shooting
True, but the officers giving them their orders will have taken the other version, the one that hasn't been changed since 1868.
I, A.B., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
The Enlisted Oath was changed in 1950 to add the UCMJ referance (UCMJ only existed after the creation of the Defense Department) and again in 1962 to make it more nearly conform to the officers oath, adding the oath to support and defend the Constitution.
I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
As I now read the oath, and realize how much contempt the present Executive (and legislative for that matter) branch of our federal government (and the modern American political class) has for our Constitution, I'm left with a quandry about "defending the Constitution" and obeying the orders of the President of the United States." of our government have for the Constitution...
I was a 4.0 sailor back then, but a very young man, with little understanding of the value of his money...or his trust.
“Which is why uppity colonels don’t stay colonels for very long. Political appointees, my friends. That vision you have in your head of the noble military protecting your rights is just a dangerous fantasy. A fantasy you have to get rid of right now, before it gets you killed.”
Bravo Sierra. The only way to un-colonel a colonel is through a dismissal adjudged by a court martial or by a grade determination after an involuntary discharge. This guy’s full of crap. I’m not a political appointee, I am appointed by the commander-in-chief (the one holding the office on my commissioning date), not by a particular person.
Colonel ( :-P ), USAFR
“according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice”
That’s the part that provides for refusal to obey an unlawful order. You disobey an order at your peril, but an unlawful order violates the UCMJ and need not be obeyed - in fact, the recipient of the order is under an affirmative duty to disobey it.
Unfortunately, sometimes the line between lawful and unlawful isn’t a bright one.
That is a contradicting oath, no? What if the domestic “is” the President?
I doubt that very many officers are going to be willing to give up their careers in defense of the Constitution. They are more political now than our politicians.
I have a very good friend that is a retired Army Colonel and he thinks that only about half the military would refuse an order to attack US citizens. If that is the case, we will have them outnumbered!
Respectfully Colonel, I think the authors point was that the upper echelons of our military can be politicized. My point was that I think there’s an ongoing effort to do so. The author (and certainly I) might very well be full of crap, but in these times, given the character of our Executive and his henchmen, and their fidelity to the Constitution, one can’t help but wonder and fear how many more Wesley Clarks are out there.
I seem to remember the word “lawful” being in that oath. As in obeying lawful orders.
Finally, someone with the eyes to see the truth and the guts to tell it.
You're fooling yourself. The training and indoctrination used in our armed forces is essentially foolproof. Our guys will follow orders, period. If the order is to shoot you or me, you or I will be shot.
Whiskey Rebellion, Bonus Army, Kent State, Waco...
Why do you think Strategic missile crewmembers carried sidearms when they were locked safely 150 feet underground behind a blast door? Not for their own protection from intruders. If one crewmember refused to follow an authenticated EAM, he might be persuaded to carry out his duty, or vice versa.
If the military or the law enforcement community launch an assault against the civilian population, (not the traffic stop tasering of old women that seems to be the rage now a days), then the oath that I took on August 10, 1966 which has not been renounced in any form or fashion, allows me to use whatever means necessary to protect the Constitution. I sincerely hope the grievances that we have against the government will be resolved peacefully, and to a happy conclusion, but now is the time to firmly rehearse in your mind just what actions you will take if and when the worst case comes on us.
Nope, not even that: 2/3 majorities of both houses of Congress need ratification by 3/4 of the several states to change the Constitution.
Come on Trapped in LA,
“If those countrymen had been armed it would have been another story”
You been to south central lately?
How about San Fernando?
Hey Senior Chief,
And GOD bless.
Ya old fart/
Only a grunt really understans the meaning of, "better you than me Mike Foxtrot". Regards
Thanks Froedrick, I haven’t seen most of that, and it reminds me of the old saying...”When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Many would be gung-ho at first...and many, over varying periods of time would decide to abandon their posts to go home or join the insurgency.
The KEY to such movement would be the insurgency would have to be perceived as as holding the high moral ground.
No women, no kids. Don't damage the means of production/distribution. Focus on the apparatus of government ONLY. Reach out to the cops...allow them to patrol the streets to keep the peace IF they "look the other way".
Punish only the forces of oppression. Win the hearts and minds of the people.
True enough, but back in '72 I was at an official briefing on Guam where an Air Force BG said "I cannot imagine I would ever be given an unlawful order by my superiors." So the theory might lack something in practice.
I bounced on Andy’s runways a time or two that year. Agana’s as well. One gallon duty free.
LOL! Do you remember seeing the 'dip' in the runway at Anderson for the first time? Migawd, B-52Ds on their takeoff roll would lose ten knots of airspeed when they hit the uphill part.
There are orders we will not obey. I suggest all who are interested visit the Oath Keepers website.
Keep your head down my friend.
I've long sensed an interesting dichotomy sometimes between the attitudes of active duty and separated.
Come to think of it I do, though I wasn't a pilot (I was an enlisted aircrewman). The last time I landed at Anderson, we brought blankets, food and supplies for refugees in mid 74 (I think). What a tumultuous time that was.
Those who live up to the ethos of the Oath Keepers will always have my respect and gratitude. Theirs will be a path fraught with danger, and their legacy will be that of the men who flew B25’s off the Hornet, and the men from Gonzales.
Your post is interesting as I have also wondered the same thing.
Not only is there the dichotomy I mentioned, I think there’s often a fork in the road where ideals and human nature can part.
It's not there, but it is understood. I once briefed that very subject, as the most junior officer in my Air Guard E&I squadron.
Whiskey Rebellion was before the Posse Commitatus act, and the perfectly lawful use of troops, mostly militia, was led in the field by President Washington himself.
Bonus Army action was shameful and likely illegal, but there were unintended results from what was supposed to be merely a crowd control action. I'd blame MacArthur mostly.
Kent State was national guard acting under *state* orders, where their use to enforce the law is perfectly legal and exempt from Posse Commitatus. (See Art. 1 section 8 which reads in part: Congress shall have the power ... To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions
Waco was Texas Guard equipment operated (mostly) by FBI, under false pretenses. (IOW the governor was lied to by the FBI, who was lied to by the BATFE).
This is the one issue that I’ve had a real difficult time getting a handle on. Yes, the military can jack their hand up and take an oath. A real important oath.
But during my 20 years in uniform, I received ZERO training on the practical application of that oath. That includes formal Professional Military Education and non-formal. No discussions, no case studies: nothing.
I seriously doubt there will be an extreme example on the horizon, but if history is any example, the erosion of freedom happens gradually until it reaches a point of unreversable momentum.
From a practical standpoint (we can talk about problems until we are blue in the face), but how do conservatives push the issue so that it does get into service academies, up to and including the non-commissioned officers? Name the PACs and other orgs that have skin in the game.
I understand your concern - my point was that we (officers) take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not the President, and having represented both the government and a bunch of defendants, and advised commanders, intel folks and civilians, I have a great affection for, and loyalty to, the Constitution, not any particular President. Unfortunately, there are too many who become senior officers by concentrating upward, rather than protecting those below. That’s careerism, not leadership.
If the JAGs are doing their job, there is instruction at every level of PME (now DE, developmental education) about the Law of Armed Conflict, which specifically includes the circumstances under which an order is considered unlawful and must be disobeyed. We don’t just parrot what the mucky-mucks want us to teach, we use the UCMJ, the Hague Convention and the Geneva Convention as our guide. There’s a reason JAGs are officially authorized to have “non-conversations” with each other - to discuss the legal ramifications of any particular action, whether of a JAG or of a commander, and to seek and give advice on how to handle a commander who states that he intends to give an unlawful order or pursue an unlawful course of action.
Thanks for your reply Colonel. I was an enlisted aircrewman in the Navy in the early 70's, and as such I worked with a lot of officers both junior and senior. Most of them were top shelf guys. I also appreciate your distinction between leadership and careerism. I hope your ethos is the prevailing one among our modern officer corps. They're a group I desperately want to believe in. Living as we do in a time when even sports teams are politicized, it's difficult not to be paranoid.
I don’t think the founders had that in mind. They made provisions for the President to be a natural-born citizen.
I think it’s still unsettled as to whether any orders are now lawful now. At least it’s not clear to me.
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