God in the Battle Space

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 10 months ago

W. Thomas Smith, Jr., has yet another great article, this one timely and encouraging.  It concerns religion on the front lines.  An excerpt follows:

… Combat soldiers and Marines prayed openly and unashamedly, as did their officers. Not all of them mind you, but a noticeable number. Even the ones who cursed, pardon the cliché and the reference, like sailors.

As I mentioned at “The Tank,? I never sat down to a meal with Lt. Col. Jason Bohm (task force commander of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines) that the man didn’t fold his hands and bow his head to thank God for what was before him. And there were always hundreds of his Marines and sailors sitting at tables around him.

Read his entire article at National Review Online.  I recently wrote an article in which I mentioned Lt. Col. William F. Mullen and Lt. Col. Jason Bohm, entitled The Warrior Scholar.  Apparently, warrior-scholar Lt. Col. Jason Bohm is not ashamed to deploy and display his faith, and in my e-mail exchanges with Lt. Col. William Mullen, he has encouraged me to continue my prayers for the Marines of 2/6.  Again, courage on the field of battle, courage in their faith.

Those less courageous wringe their hands over my disputes with Dave Kilcullen concerning insurgency and religion (and here and here), fearing that spirituality might somehow incite ‘holy war’ between countries.  Those who have no time for pedantic and silly disputes simply engage in faith and duty.  Smith further argues that:

I’m convinced this openly expressed spirituality is one of the reasons Army and Marine officers seem to be making greater headway in terms of ground-zero diplomacy with sheiks and tribal elders than the rank-and-file civilian diplomats. The Iraqis simply trust American soldiers, their word, and their sincerity, because of their spirituality.

Whenever Col. Bohm and other officers met with an Iraqi, it was always with an ever-so slight bow, a right hand over the heart followed by an extended right hand; a warm smile and a greeting, “Salam alikom, (peace unto you), my friend.?

The Americans meant it. The Iraqis knew it. And the Marines were taught to get into the practice of doing the same thing on foot patrols … but only if it was a sincere expression of “peace? toward another.

prayer1.jpg

Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Cavalry Division, 12th Infantry Regiment, pray prior to a foot patrol in Khalis, Iraq.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

prayer2.jpg

U.S. soldiers pray in a circle before leaving Camp Victory for their patrol mission on the streets of Baghdad July 7, 2007. REUTERS/Nikola Solic (IRAQ)




You are currently reading "God in the Battle Space", entry #607 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iraq,Marine Corps,Religion and was published September 12th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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