Me either. The Iraq War has brought us a whole new generation of heroes, from all of the branches of service. I have watched and read many of these accounts with pride and amazement. I want to preface my remarks in this post by saying: Nothing here is meant to denigrate the service of our Army, Navy, and Air Force. However ...
There's a reason why young Marines don't face down the Secretary of Defense like Army Spc. Thomas Wilson did yesterday. Marines are taught ... from the first day they arrive at either boot camp or officer candidate school ... that they are lucky to be assigned a freaking weapon and if they need something, then Uncle Sam would provide it. If Marines don't have it, they don't need it. That's the message.
I exaggerate somewhat, but this message will sound familiar to my former Marine readers. But there's more. Marines are also taught that it is a privilege to be in that uniform and to wear the title. As such, there is really no reason to complain -- about anything. Every day is a great day in the Marine Corps. The greatest benefit to being a Marine is being a Marine. You may think this is a bit simple, but it's a pervasive -- and practically effective -- attitude. And this Marine attitude has for 229 years led to winning results in the most difficult and dire circumstances.
Marines also know there is certainly no reason to complain to sniveling reporters who are seeking to undermine the commander-in-chief ... and perhaps even the mission itself. Think back over the war coverage and ask yourself about the disgruntled troops who have taken their complaints to the media. How many of them were Marines?
Marines' gear is typically the worst. As the smallest of the four military services, Marines get the last pickings in appropriations. To compound this situation, Marines pride themselves in adapting, improvising, and overcoming. So, this very problem becomes part of Marine Corps' lore, laughter, and private (and I stress private) bitch sessions. I know a lot of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen operate with the same attitude. But for the Marines, it's in the DNA.
A word of advice to our sister services ... If you must address your chain of command about legitimate combat needs, then by all means do so. However, do it in private. That's they way respectful team members do it. And ... if you don't get what you perceive you need from the chain of command, then salute smartly, pick up your pack and get back to the battle. It's a privilege to serve.
Update: Apparently, Spc. Wilson's question of Sec. Rumsfeld was suggested/prompted by a reporter, according to Drudge. We should be not be surprised when reporters don't play by the rules (only soldiers were to ask questions) and try to send their questions vicariously to the secretary. However, the military should have a different -- and higher -- standard of addressing grievances. The fact that the Wilson's question was suggested to him by a reporter should have given him great pause.