The Spirit of the Bayonet

Big Red Car here.  Weather in the ATX has been a bit dicey.  Oh, well, it’s winter, I guess.

So the situation in the Ukraine is getting a bit murky but it is all based on a few very simple concepts.

In the last election debates, President Obama hectored Mitt Romney about the currency of the cavalry and the bayonet.  His chiding suggested that they were both outmoded military weapons.

Of course, if you had ever been in the Infantry you know otherwise.  The US Army and the United States Marine Corps not only consider them to be relevant weapons but essential weapons.

What is more important is the “spirit” of the bayonet.

The spirit of the bayonet

The spirit of the bayonet is to KILL!  Every recruit has learned that lesson and some Drill Sergeant has literally drilled it into the recruit’s brain by yelling it at him.

After all, a recruit is learning how to kill and not be killed.  There is no equivocation, you are learning to kill.  This is not like deciding which wine to drink with seafood, it is raw and fundamental.  Kill or be killed.

Even military cadets routinely are exposed to the spirit of the bayonet.  It is an essential transformational element in making a platoon leader.  He must learn to lead his men to victory and that means killing our enemies.

The Boss is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute where the cadets sleep with rifles and bayonets in their room.  If a cadet unsheathes his bayonet to attack another cadet, he is subject to summary discharge.  It is serious business.

These same cadets learn to box, wrestle and engage in hand to hand combat.  They also learn how to kill a man with a bayonet.

When the VMI cadets march, they march with bayonets attached to the end of their rifles.  On parade, the cadets live the spirit of the bayonet.  Swords for the Cadet officers and bayonets for everyone.

These same cadets will go into the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and learn how to operate more efficient killing machines but they will always carry with them the spirit of the bayonet — to kill.  The Army guys, like The Boss, will go to Airborne School, Ranger School and serve in combat units.  They will learn to kill our enemies through their leadership.  They will live the spirit of the bayonet.

The Battle of New Market

The VMI Corps of Cadets honors the legacy of their victory at New Market in the Civil War when they took a Union battery by means of a bayonet charge across a muddy field.

Observers watched as the cadets sprinted into fire with nothing but bayonets and swept those gunners from the field and captured those guns.  They lost lives and those names are forever enshrined in the story of VMI.

The VMI Cadets who lived had forever earned the right to ask — What is the spirit of the bayonet?  To Kill!

The power of aggression

Aggression has always played trump against those who are unwilling to condemn and defeat aggression.  World War II was really started when Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich having signed the Munich Agreement which ceded the Czech  Sudetenland to Hitler.

“Peace in our times” became the invasion of Poland, the invasion of France and ultimately the invasion of Russia.  Millions died because Hitler was not snuffed out at the first act of aggression.

Tyrants will not be satiated by a bit of land, they want it all.  If aggression is not opposed, then it will continue unchecked.

Putin is such an aggressor.  Giving him two provinces in Georgia and the Crimea will not satisfy his blood lust to rebuild the former USSR. A hungry bear is not satisfied with just a bit of meat, he will eventually want more.  He will want it all.

The next little country to be gobbled up may be a NATO country and this will require war in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty which requires NATO countries to rise to the defense of any member country when attacked.

So what does this mean, Big Red Car?

You cannot stop aggression by placating the aggressor.  At some time, you must invoke the spirit of the bayonet — the willingness to engage in combat to kill our enemies.

More importantly, our leaders have to invoke the spirit of the bayonet in the way they respond to naked aggression.  The aggressor will not be assuaged by being kicked out of clubs or other light and intransigent actions.  They understand cold steel.

When the US cancelled the ABM system to be forward deployed in Eastern Europe just because Putin growled, we lost any credible sense of  containing aggression.  Putin backed President Obama down like a school yard bully.

It is a terrible thing to say and I apologize before I even utter the words:  Putin has taken President Obama’s measure and thinks he is a pussy.  Not a man who embraces diplomacy, but a man who in his personal character is not capable of standing up to a bully.  Make no mistake, Putin is a bully and is cast in the mold of Hitler.  Give him something easily and he will mark you a coward and come for more.  The world did nothing in Georgia and thus Putin expects more of the same in the Crimea — which Russia now controls and is not giving back under any circumstances — and ultimately the Ukraine.  Putin thinks Obama is a pussy and there is no evidence to contradict that assertion.

Putin will not be persuaded by speeches, consequences, costs or mean faces.

Foodstamps v bayonets

A nation makes it decisions as to its values by the way it spends its money.  The budget introduced by the President this week clearly shows his priorities — more spending, more debt, more welfare state, more dependencies and less military capabilities.

We now have a President who has forced a shotgun marriage between a dwindling military capability and a compromised international credibility just when they are both desperately needed.  He suggests we should contract our military capabilities just when the Russians and other enemies are emboldened to be on the march.

This is the prelude to more aggression.  This is exactly how World War II started.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car.





15 thoughts on “The Spirit of the Bayonet

  1. @ErikSchwartz:disqus is correct, especially where the Russia producing/supplying oil to Europe is the current reality.

    Just doing the “plot made for a movie” bit, a Russian warship was (is?) docked in Cuba about 2 weeks back, possibly doing stopover on way to Venezuela. Wouldn’t it have been cool if that were the case, a convoy of our ships pulls up alongside. Our statement to the world would be our not knowing the possible hostile intent of that Russian vessel. At the same time, send something more than one vessel (planned way back) into the Black Sea.

    Doing something like surrounding that Russian ship that IS on our side of the world could have allowed the control of exchange of words.

    • .
      There was a charming little piece of US foreign policy known as the Monroe Doctrine from 1823 (check the date, memory at work here) which we have effectively disavowed to our own peril.

      The Russians are reassembling their former “Union” while casting their shadow far afield.
      Not only do they seek to use Venezuela as a forward base, they are also using Cuba while vigorously reinvigorating Cold War coastal flights along the US eastern seaboard.

      They recently slipped a Boomer into the Gulf of Mexico undetected for over a week. Count that as 144 nuclear warheads off the surf at Galveston and capable of destroying 144 American cities.

      In response to this, we consider contracting our military capabilities, taking on more debt and expanding social programs.

      In any conflict, it is vitally important to remember that the enemy always gets a vote. We may think the Cold War is over but we have not yet fully considered Mr Putin’s ballot.


      • Being this early in our President’s second term has me worried. We have forgone the ability to handle two major conflicts at once. We see what can happen with China moving over off East Asia while all of the focus is on a piece of paper with Iran (once again, we’ll figure out what it says later).
        Unfortunately, the realities will be fogged when the Right Wing produces hawks who don’t truly know what is happening and become fodder in whatever debate.

  2. My friend gave that exact order. He passed away last week.

    “By June 9th Walt Ehlers’ squad was far ahead of most other Allied troops, and Sgt. Ehlers himself was at the head of his men. In an early morning attack his company was pinned down in an open field by fire from machine-gun nests and two mortar pits. Without orders Sgt. Ehlers jumped to his feet and headed towards the first machine-gun nest. Suddenly a patrol of 4 enemy confronted him. Quickly the Sergeant killed all four, then proceeded to advance on and single-handedly destroy the machine-gun nest and its crew of eight enemy. He called to his squad to move up and join him as he turned his attention towards the mortar pits that threatened to destroy the company. Before continuing the advance he gave an unusual order….”Fix bayonets”. Later he recounted, “It had a psychological effect on the Germans. They looked horrified and started running.” Ehlers knocked out that position, then his men started taking fire from yet another machine-gun nest. Again, at a point ahead of everyone else, Sergeant Ehlers advanced on and single-handledly knocked out that enemy position.”

  3. I keep waiting for someone to make a proposal instead of just whining. What shall we do?

    FWIW, we’re at the invasion of Poland now. The Neville Chamberlin moment was in invasion of Georgia.

    • .
      There is much we can do, Reagan broke the back of the Russians by escalating military spending, capabilities and credibility. He took action. We can take similar action.

      Pres Obama wants to increase food stamps, taxes and dependencies. He wants to reduce the size of the military. We can get our financial house in order and reorient our spending priorities.

      We can reinvigorate NATO and position troops permanently on the eastern edge of the NATO – Russia border in much the same we positioned troops in the post-WWII era against the Iron Curtain.

      We can build the ABM system in Eastern Europe. Screw Putin if he doesn’t like it.

      We can act with vigor in regard to Syria and Iran.

      We can increase the size of our military and invigorate our space based and cyber warfare capabilities.

      We can increase the number of carrier battle groups to fifteen. Reagan had 15 and now we have 8 with one more on the way but with two planned to be mothballed.

      We put on sanctions and keep them in place when they begin to work. The cancellation of the Iranian sanctions was a terrible move. It cost us any credibility we had.

      We can isolate the Russians financially. Let them try to prop up the ruble. Get our European allies to do the same thing.

      We can put people in charge who are veterans whose service was at a high level.

      We can talk like we pee standing up and stop placating and apologizing.


      • …and how would you like to pay for all this? Reagan had a top tax rate of over 50% for most of his presidency.

        Our real loss of credibility was Iraq. That’s why the world chuckles when we tell other powers that invading on a pretext is wrong.

        • .
          I am no apologist for Iraq though I disagree as to the implications as it relates to credibility. The credibility at issue here is that born of “red lines” and other oddities.

          On the other hand, the decision to attack Iraq lent credibility to America’s threats.

          The top tax rate for Reagan after 1981 was 28%.


          • .
            Good source and I stand corrected.

            Those are, however, marginal tax rates meaning those rates applied to only the income within that slice. Therefore total rates were much lower.

            The military build up is what broke the Russians and destroyed the USSR. They went broke.


          • We played financial chicken with them and we barely won. Since then they’ve ditched that communism thing and become a huge oil exporter. Do we want to play the financial chicken game again? Can we afford to?

          • In my post, I show agreement per the oil thing.
            What JLM is leaving out is your responsibility as President to anticipate probabilities and take steps to be somewhat ahead of your foe. Now Russia has Crimea (unfolding in their Parliament today) and Europe has basically surrendered the Ukraine so there will be no disruption in the flow of oil. Your statement regarding our being at the Invasion of Poland is right on.

          • .
            Our human intelligence on Russian capabilities and tendencies is virtually non-existent.

            We have gone all in on technology — NSA, et al — and have lost the earthy necessity of wandering through the train yards counting how many tanks have been loaded.

            One does not move 900 tanks using Fed X.


          • This is what is sad. It is almost like our Ariel surveillance isn’t truly being monitored.

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