January 3, 2010

When to Shoot the Colonels by Tom Baugh

from Web Warrior Online

Hat Tip to Western Rifle Shooters

A sobering essay by former Marine officer Tom Baugh, author of Starving the Monkeys.

Book review HERE

Books website HERE

"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?

To answer that, we need to understand the principles of military command and education. For veterans, this discussion is unnecessary. For the vast number of non-veterans, especially those who harbor that most dangerous and ill-advised fantasy of a Constitutionally-aware military, this discussion is essential to survival.

American military education is one of the most finely tuned and adapted mechanisms in the world for instilling knowledge into its students. No other school or university can come close to the efficiency at which military knowledge is imparted to novices. There are even courses, such as Principles of Military Instruction, for how to teach military courses. These courses even teach how to develop such courses from scratch. The famous John Saxon math courses, popular among homeschoolers, exhibit these techniques, courtesy of that former Air Force officer and academy instructor. Military courses developed along these lines tend to be highly effective at teaching motivated students. Students motivated to learn how to do things such as extinguish fires or shoot missiles. Or shoot you.

As a result, if it is worth teaching to soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines, it is worth embodying in a course. Captured as a course or in official manuals, such instruction is available to all for review and comment to make sure that the correct instruction is given, and given correctly. Conversely, if it doesn't exist as a course, it isn't being taught. And if it isn't being taught, it isn't even on the radar of the military mind. At least not the minds of those in command. Good luck finding a course such as "When to Shoot the Colonels" in a military instruction catalogue.

Even basics such as reading and writing and math are available as courses. But not shooting colonels. What colonel would even authorize such a thing? Only a colonel who realizes that one day he might have to shoot a general, of course. But that would require a separate course for command grades, entitled "When to Shoot the Generals." And who would authorize that? We can keep climbing this chain all the way up, if we like, but at some point the absurdity makes its point. No one in a position of command or power is going to surrender that power for something as irrelevant as your rights.

And what if a particular soldier scored highly on such a course? What colonel would hand out high efficiency reports on his potential executioner?

Another aspect of this problem that needs to be clearly understood is that all modern American military officers are political appointees. Surprised? You shouldn't be. As a practical exercise ask one to read his commission document to you. Pay particular attention to the "follow lawful orders" part, along with the "serve at the pleasure of the President" phrase. Oath of office notwithstanding, nothing in that document says anything about what to do about unlawful orders. Or even lawful orders, such as "seize all guns because Congress authorized it," which haven't yet stood the test of the judicial branch to adjudge Constitutionality. And like that 1stLt said, enough Congressmen can get together and change that Constitution. The Constitution itself says so.

Besides, if some uppity colonel out there decided to start authorizing instruction about when to shoot the colonels, you can bet that pretty quick the President would no longer be pleased. Because he or she would know where that path must ultimately lead. 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.

"But wait," you say, "I know Sgt. Soandso, and he would never go along with a gun seizure." Maybe not, but then again, you might be surprised. To "not go along" would mean that he has to violate orders. This violation would at the very least be a career-killer, or possibly get him shot in an extreme situation. Shot by who? By all the other sergeants who don't want to get shot, of course. After all, the colonel only needs a handful of sergeants who are in it for a career, and a raft of lieutenants, captains and majors who one day want to be colonels. For you to have your rights protected would require that a sufficient number of each of these decide, simultaneously, to put on the brakes. It is easier just to shoot you for resisting and go about their day. Say it again, "political appointees."

Besides, if all of these people decide in unison to protect you, and in so doing put their own careers, freedoms and life on the line, who is going to protect them? You? And if so, how? You needed them to protect you in the first place. And if Sgt. Soandso gets shot protecting your rights, what about his family? Retribution aside, who takes care of them with him out of the picture? Worse, after Sgt. Soandso gets shot, some corporal will be there ready to pin on those chevrons. And you can bet that to that guy, you are a minor inconvenience in his day. You wouldn't get lucky enough to get a chain of noble soldiers to protect you. When the day arrives, all of those political appointees will have scrubbed the ranks of those pesky oathkeepers anyway. Those oathkeepers who remain hidden in ranks will be in an impossible situation.

And we haven't even discussed the false-flagging of dressing foreign troops in American uniforms to capitalize on the unwillingness of Americans to kill "our boys." I'll save that one for later.

So if the military doesn't exist to protect our rights and freedoms, why does it exist? The answer is simple. It exists to back our national will with force. Most of the time, that is a good thing, particularly when our national will is to not be attacked by jackasses who threaten us. But when the national will turns to taking your guns away, you will be the jackass who threatens "us." Then the military will execute that national will with cold, unthinking and bureaucratic efficiency. And wrap itself in the flag while doing so.

Want to have some fun? Walk up to any active duty serviceman you wish, shake his hand and thank him for his service. Then, before you release his hand, pull him toward you slightly, look into his eyes and tell him, "now when the time comes, don't forget what your oath really means." Do this ten times, and the reactions of that little informal poll will tell you everything you need to know. Having divested yourself of that little fantasy, maybe you will have a chance to survive that gun seizure for the real battle later. At the very least you will have looked into the eyes of some of the enemy, constituted of complacency and obedience, you may one day face.

...If this does not set off a debate firestorm nothing will. BUT, if you never look at both sides of a question or problem, and consider all outcomes, how can one say he has the answers? I pray we never get to find out how things come out if events ever take this truly terrible turn...


As I would prefer to believe, The troops showing their true colors...

from Sipsey Street Irregulars

If you treat a man like an enemy, if you presume him to be so, he will oblige you by being your enemy. To do otherwise would be foolish on his part.

I happen to know that despite Baugh's ominous presentation there are in fact many Oath Keepers in the military and police. As a matter of strategy, as well as simple civility - I want to win over as many people in our military as I possibly can. Needlessly insulting them and presuming they are all simply obedient Nazis will only make that supposed "truth" all the more true.

I have heard Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, make this observation before: "Sometimes people become what you expect them to be, and are as you treat them. If I treat them as if they are courageous, patriotic men of conscience who will refuse to follow evil and unconstitutional orders, they are more likely to be thus."

I refer you again to the Ranger's last comment above. It is not too late to cause that affect. THAT is what Oath Keepers is about.

We are in a war for the hearts and minds of our military with unconstitutional elements within our own government. Our task should be easier than theirs because, although they brandish the big stick of the National Command Authority, in an unconstitutional grab for power, they will be asking our soldiers to enforce the NCA's will upon their own brothers, fathers, cousins, sisters, friends and neighbors within our own borders.

While Baugh's warning is correct, it should not be seen as a reason to write off as likely enemies our own flesh and blood who are soldiers and police.

Rather, we should look at it as underlining the necessity of winning the hearts and minds of people who are predisposed to be won over. From the tyrannical-tending NCA-of-the-future's point of view, we are encouraging the loss of "unit cohesion, good order and discipline." Indeed, this was the hook upon which LTC Cunningham hung the necessity for his 29 Palms survey -- that subordinating Marines to UN control or giving them unconstitutional missions such as arms seizures would destroy unit cohesion.

Or, if you want to be absolutely cold-blooded about it, Oath Keepers is infiltrating the ranks of the formations the tyrant intends to warp to his purpose, undermining the conditioning of his otherwise obedient muscle, and causing strategic uncertainty in the tyrant's mind.

It is classic Fourth Generation warfare, attacking your enemy at the moral level.


Western Rifle Shooters

Reprise on 'When to Shoot The Colonels'

Got a good deal of animated reaction to this post, So here's my take, in several parts:

1) I am not .mil, neither former or current. I am therefore pretty darned ignorant of military culture, be it enlisted, NCO, or officer.

2) I yield to no one in my admiration, respect, and support of Oath Keepers, its members, and its mission. Its function as an educational organization in the pre-conflict environment is indispensable, and its C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) interruption function once certain unconstitutional orders are given may well be decisive, if there are enough actual Oath Keepers come the issuance of those orders.

Therefore, if you want freedom to have the best chance, help spread the Oath Keepers message and support its mission.

3) Now, using the same generic "oath breakers (OB)" and "oath keepers (OK)" nomenclature from the comment string above, it is reasonable, I believe, to assume that there will be a very large (>50%) of Constitutionally-sworn non-military personnel (legislators, executive branch leaders, lawyers, judges, and law enforcement officers) who will continue to violate the Constitution. These OBs are responsible for, among other things, the unconstitutional bankster-bailout of the 2008 TARP plan, the federalization of GM and Chrysler, the 2009 stimulus I program, and the upcoming nationalization of health care. Once the legislative OBs enact each of these violations of the Federal government's basic charter, executive branch OBs sign the bills into law and then enforce those laws, while their oath-breaking comrades in the judicial branch affirm each law's alleged "constitutionality". In addition to their role as Constitutional violators via impermissible legislation, these same Congressional OBs control the budgets of all branches of the military via the House and Senate armed services committees.

4) That same Congressional purse power also affects the oath-keeping probability of every department in the Federal bureaucracy, as well as much of state and local government activity as well. Look around your home jurisdiction and ask yourself honestly how many government functionaries -- at the Federal,state, local, and tribal levels -- are ready, willing, and able to act in accordance with the Constitution's limitations, as written, on legitimate government activity.

Be honest with yourself -- is it 20%? 10%? Less? More?

And if you say more, be prepared to give supporting hard data in chapter and verse, because I am calling Bravo-Sierra in advance on any such claim.

5) Now, does the fact that the Congress has a massive proportion of our nation -- including the military -- by the financial short hairs mean that all is lost, even given that Congress is in the thrall of their party comrade, the socialist Comrade Soetero?

No, not at all. But it does mean that we have one hell of a problem, regardless of the clothes and insignia worn by each of us.

I have never said, nor would I ever say, that every police officer and every lawyer is an oath breaker. But, based on my experience in metropolitan New York, I am willing to bet that 50% or more will act unconstitutionally against their fellow citizens come the Crunch.

They are doing so today in New York, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, and elsewhere, so why would they change as the ratchet tightens?

That is a hell of a problem.

Conceding again my ignorance of American military culture, I too would never say that all -- or even most -- currently-serving military personnel will follow unconstitutional orders. Given what it takes to join and stay in the military, that actual ratio of OK to OB may go as high, as some have claimed, as 80/20.

But ask yourself these questions as you ponder the OK/OB ratio:

-- How many Navy ships will remain under civilian command once unconstitutional orders are given?

-- How many fixed-wing Air Force aircraft will remain under civilian command under those conditions?

-- How many rotary Army aircraft?

-- How much armor?

-- How many support, communications, medical, and intelligence assets?

-- How much logistics?

-- How many personnel?

In other words, assuming bad things happen and illegal orders are given, what amount of force will be able to be projected by the Bad People against the side of freedom?

I submit that the honest answers to those questions pose one hell of a problem, even if the OK/OB ratio is 80/20.

Once again, I am not suggesting any freedom advocate roll over onto his back, wet himself, and quiver. What I am suggesting is that people begin to wrap their brains around the actual size of the problems that we confront.

That was the rationale behind posting the "Colonels" essay. Can anyone, specifically and in detail, refute Baugh's premise that current military education at all levels does not adequately address the Constitutional issues to be faced by today's soldiers/Marines/airmen/sailors?

If so, I would be more than happy to publish that rebuttal.

In my not-so-humble opinion, the worst possible thing that the FreeFor could do is to assume that major elements of the .mil will not support the executive branch that commands it and the legislative branch that funds it. Notwithstanding the stellar character of all of the .mil folks that each of us know, we simply will not know how the armed services -- as a whole -- will jump until the event itself. It is a classic strategic planning error to simply dismiss contingencies that are unpleasant or difficult to counter, and I fear that many patriots are falling into the same trap.

Will individual soldiers/Marines/airmen/sailors defy illegal orders?

You bet.

Will many, from all ranks, resign or desert?

You bet. A whole lot.

Will others "strike in place" or sabotage illegal actions by the chain of command?

And how.

Will senior officers relieve subordinates and keep doing so until they find someone who will execute illegal orders?

Bet on it.

Will there be enlisted personnel, NCOs, and officers who place job security and advancement over fidelity to the Constitutional oath?

Sadly, yes.

And absent a lot more effective education to today's serving military and police on the topics of duty, obedience, and freedom, that fact is not going to change.

Please understand -- this is neither a theoretical nor a future consideration.

Unconstitutional legislation has been passed by this and prior Congresses, and signed into law by both the current and former Presidents.

Unconstitutional executive orders have been signed by this and former Presidents.

All of these unconstitutional orders remain on the books today, administered and enforced by the executive branch, which also commands the armed forces.

More unconstitutional legislation and executive orders will be forthcoming in the near future.

Those laws and orders will also be enforced by the agents of the executive branch and approved by the judicial branch.

To date, American citizens both in uniform and in mufti have done little or nothing but talk.

Why wouldn't Leviathan continue on the same course and speed?

Why indeed?

Ask Michael New.

Leviathan ruined him over a powder-blue hat.

What do you think they will do to an enlisted man who refuses to man an "anti-terrorist" roadblock in rural Georgia?


Rhod said...

Almost every notable revolution since 1775 has involved the use of the standing military or paramilitary against organized resistance to the regime. Each instance has been a blunder, and the 1917 revolution in Russia succeeded in large part because the military later went over to the revolutionaries' side.`

There are enough dullards and heel-clickers in any military, including ours, to follow orders to curtail civil liberties. That's true now and always has been. The content and character of any military is in proportion to the population that feeds it.


Anonymous said...

When the military becomes a career choice and an attractive alternative to the private sector, we're screwed.

Rhod said...

Absolutely, Nickie.

Chris W said...

Very sobering viewpoint, something to really think about.

Costello said...

Very interesting read.

sig94 said...

The phrase "complacency and obedience" may return to haunt us in the long run. I spend a bit of time with cops. Don't expect a lot of them to question orders either. For both sides, too much is personally on the line, that is one of the problems with a professional military or police. With volunteers, they realize that once the s**t has been wiped off the fan, they then will go back to their civilian lives. That is not an option for a career soldier or a police officer. They realize that their meal ticket is about to be cancelled if an order is disobeyed.

The Declaration of Independence states that "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." The Creator is the source of our freedoms.

Do not look to men who refuse to hold fast to that statement to guarantee our rights because they are the problem. To atheist/opportunistic judges,congressmen and bureaucrats there are no absolutes and no rights will remain inviolate. That is the curse of our time and the bane of our Nation.

The original Constitution was largely crafted on the basis of the Virgina Plan and James Madison had an important role in this document. But the Constitution did not contain enough language to guarantee civil liberties that would satisfy states representatives.

Both Rhode Island and Virgina refused to accept the Constitution on the grounds that the language granting religious freedom was not strong enough. Look into the influence that John Leland, a Baptist preacher, had on the Bill of Rights through his contact with Madison.

This is why the Bill of Rights was crafted by Congress in 1789, over two years after the final draft of the Constitution was sent to Congress. The Constitution was finally ratified on June 21, 1788 and went into effect on March 4, 1789. The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791.

These godly men knew what they were doing. The clowns are in charge now.

Anonymous said...

Sig... thank you. That was a thing of beauty.

Opus #6 said...

Sig, that brings me back to a tag I often use when blogging about Obama. Gosh Darned Clown!

Robson Aguiar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicente Farias said...

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LL said...

It's a chilling prospect.

But it's one that we live with every day in the Obama Nation.

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Not a good scenario at all. But another would be all out civil war including pitting service personell against each other DUE to family under duress. Either way bad news.

Keep your powder dry folks.

Anonymous said...

Certainly the vast majority of civilians would be outgunned and without body armor to boot. Those relatively few with a Class III could each be assigned to a SEAL team to neutralize. The only real hope of the civilian populace would be a scenario similar to Rhod's above where the military sides with those opposing the tyranny, and that is not out of the question. I pray that it does not go to an extreme such as this, because frankly I think the Domestic Islamist population is armed and ready for such an occurence, and likely praying for it to happen as they bend toward Mecca five times daily.

Christina-Marie Wright said...

Great read! I've linked it on Citizen Gonzo.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Very interesting indeed. I've been wondering about this, as I'm sure many other have, as well. And this isn't good news. It's not surprising, of course, and perfectly understandable, but it's not good. Underscores the import of making our democracy work the old-fashioned way . . . in the voting booth! We can do it, it's finally 2010!! Woohoo!!

Toaster 802 said...

Underscores the import of making our democracy work the old-fashioned way . . . in the voting booth!

It is always the preferred way, period. BUT, like I have warned before, we are seeing more and more questionable behavior during vote counting. This makes it important to think about what could go wrong if the electoral system has a meltdown, or is "canceled" due to "X". "X" being anything from bad weather to economic crashes to "I lost therefore the election does not count."

As prior service myself, I know there is every sort of person in the military from patriotic Iowa farm boys to gang members doing a hitch to learn skills to bring home to the hood. Lifers to folks who just want to get money for collage to "join or go to jail crowd". There are many reasons to be in the green machine. Our military is a cross section of our nation, The good and the bad. The service members always get the benefit of the doubt from me. But my own experiences with people who would sell out their own grandmother for another strip/bar, and those who are just shitbirds beg me to think about things in this article, depressing as it is.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Agreed, Toaster. On all counts.

Toaster 802 said...

This was an Anonymous post at the site where this article came from. bares repeating...

If the tipping point unConstitutional order is given, citizens should not wait for the police or military to show up at their doors and engage them. Citizens and like minded soldiers and policemen should shoulder their arms and begin the search for the politicians who gave the orders, for THEY will have become the enemy.

Things that make you say hmmmmm...

sig94 said...


Anonymous said...

Nice post & nice blog. I love both.

Anonymous said...

You people are some scary folks. Th Constitution is a great document but it is fallible. The founding fathers knew this and that is why they allowed for its change. The world is a radically different place than it was 235 years ago and our government needs to adapt to that.

There is a chain of command and it goes up through the military to the president and congress and then to the people that elect them. If these people vote for and allow any of your fear-mongering nightmares to come true against some of those people then that is the will of those people and not for you to judge.

Furthermore, the idea you have to shoot your superior rather than just abstain from something you think wrong is what really make your attitudes a joke. You talk in the context of having to disobey unconstitutional or "fascist" edicts but anything ever done at the point of a rifle is fascist by definition. You need to learn humanity and relearn history because the most inhuman things ever done have been done with the point of your gun.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Anonymous, you're kidding, right? Our "fear-mongering nightmares," as you so dismissively put it, cannot come to pass because people, even those in Congress, vote for them. That's the point. Congress can, and has, voted for things that have been struck down by the Supreme Court (i.e. that have been deemed unconstitutional). Surely you know this?

What is truly scary is someone like yourself who seems to think that something unconstitutional is A-OK as long as it's voted for . . . that is not how it works, nor how it is intended by our founders to work. Thank God. There is a reason that we have three branches of government and not one.

The worst, most heinous acts in history have occurred with full consent of government, if not of the governed. Your blind faith in government is the sort of dangerous lack of understanding not only of our Constitution but of world history that allows for the sort of fascism that you support, however tacitly, in your foolish statements.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, kind of drawn out though. Really good subject matter though.