On learning from the Iraqi that Secretary Rumsfeld was stepping down, the sergeant went to tell his Marines.
The sergeant went upstairs to tell his marines, just as he had informed them the day before that the Republican Party had lost control of the House of Representatives and that Congress was in the midst of sweeping change. Mr. Menti had told them that, too.I love it: Who's Rumsfeld?
“Rumsfeld’s out,” he said to five marines sprawled with rifles on the cold floor.
Lance Cpl. James L. Davis Jr. looked up from his cigarette. “Who’s Rumsfeld?” he asked.
If history is any guide, many of the young men who endure the severest hardships and assume the greatest risks in the war in Iraq will become interested in politics and politicians later, when they are older and look back on their combat tours.Do read the full piece; it's worth the three minutes.
But not yet. Marine infantry units have traditionally been nonpolitical, to the point of stubbornly embracing a peculiar detachment from policy currents at home. It is a pillar of the corps’ martial culture: those with the most at stake are among the least involved in the decisions that send them where they go.
Mr. Rumsfeld may have become one of the war’s most polarizing figures at home. But among these young marines slogging through the war in Anbar Province, he appeared to mean almost nothing. If he was another casualty, they had seen worse.
“Rumsfeld is the secretary of defense,” Sergeant McKinnon said, answering Lance Corporal Davis’s question.
Lance Corporal Davis simply cursed.
It did not sound like anger or disgust. It seemed instead to be an exclamation about the irrelevance of the news. The sergeant might as well have told the squad of yesterday’s weather.
Another marine, Lance Cpl. Patrick S. Maguire, said the decisions that mattered here, inside Company F, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines, were much more important to them than those made in the Pentagon back home.
There are daily, dangerous questions: When to go on patrol, when to come back, which route to take down a road, which weapon to carry, and, at this moment, which watch each marine would stand, crouched up on the roof, in the cold wind, exposed to sniper fire.
His grandfather fought at Iwo Jima, he said, and his father was a marine in Vietnam. This was his second tour in Iraq. “Here’s the deal,” he said. “Someone points a finger at you, and you go.”
“The chain of command?” he added. “You know how high I know? My battalion commander is Lt. Col. DeTreux. That’s how high I know.”
And, I'll add my two cents: the Corps does much right; we could all learn a thing or two.