"I worked through the packed streets toward the West Side and turned into a familiar doorway on Ninth Avenue. It had been over a year since I'd been to this babershop. The Hungarian woman cutting hair this morning stood rooted before the television set, flipping back and forthe from Peter Jennings to Tom Brokaw-trying to make sense of this nightmare.
I sat in the chair and used my hand to show her what I wanted. 'The sides right down to the skin. Leave just a little piece of hair on top. but short, really short.'
She looked at me doubtfully, but took the electric clipper and did as I asked. High and tight."
Former Marine Scout Sniper Pantano would work his way into Marine Officer candidate school, command a platoon in Iraq, be accused of murdering two Iraqis, face an article 32 hearing, and... Well, read the book. It moves back and forth between Iraq, California, 2005, 1991, 2003, February, August and so on . (I read it in six hours straight.)
What I want you to read now is this:
"Goddammit," I yelled. " Shit. Fire it again!"
The gunners knew what to do. Half the time the yelling was just to reinforce the lessons to the younger troops who were struggling to understand what the fuck was happening around them. They would be tomorrow's leaders if today turned out to be a bad one for the older guys. The Marine Corps was prepared for that. In the Battle of Montezuma we'd lost 90 percent of our sergeants and officers...a lost immortalized in song and the cut of our dress uniform with the red blood stripe on the pants of NCO's and commissioned officers. Everything has a reason.
My brain was swarming with information that I struggled to process in the priorities that had been beaten into me in TBS and IOC.
So much data, sights, smells, sounds, positions, locations, directions, angles, fires, rooftops, basements, windows, doorways, donkey carts, car bombs, human bombs, down , left, right, around corners, over walls, where are the friendlies?Wher is the 2nd Squad? Where are they pointing their weapons? Did the enemy get in between us? Was that us or them? Who's shooting? Why? Where? How much ammo? Who's hurt ? How much time? Where is the sun?
Was that a call for prayer or attack from the minaret? What's the difference? Was that a grenade landing at my feet? How many rounds left? Where is the corpsman? Why isn't that fucking building cleared yet? Who's taking so fucking long on the radio?
"Clear the goddamn net!" I listened. "What?"
What was that last bit about binoculars? Will these steps hold, is the staircase rigged? Is that a trigger? A booby trap? Where are the bodies? Look at all of these shoes! What's the head count? What did the tanks just see?
"Yes sir, we are finishing on the objective." What was the fucking brevity code for that?
Shit! Moving, grabbing. Tracer or laser? NVG's are foggy...Are they broke? Where is the handsest? Fix the fucking handset. Give the report. You know what the fuck is going on! Tell 'em. Pushing. Screaming. Firing. Shadows. Dawn light. Cooking fires. Oil fires. Bodies on fire. Dogs barking. Dogs chewing on bodies. Dogs getting shot. Corporals barking. I'm barking My CO is barking. His CO is barking. (snip one paragraph)
The Marine Corps hadn't become the ultimate fighting force by accident. Our combat tactics were born on the battlefield and honed over two hundred-some years of vicious and unforgiving classrooms. In the organization of a firhging unit, the simple leadership objective was to put yourself wherever the most friction or complexity arose. You didn't need to be leading the easy shit. You needed to seek out where your men were being challenged, either by a tough enemy or a complex problem. (emphasis, Smoothingplane) That was where your role as mentor, father, and example was combined to move the platoon along. To obtain results.