April 5, 2012

Opinion: Mainting a combat mindset in the face of complacency

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff
Courtesy photo Sgt. Elyssa Quesada

As I return to the office from a week honing my skills with a rifle, I am reminded of how much of a desk jockey I have become, wasting away, staring at a computer and worst of all, complacent.

I sit with my back to the door, staring at a computer screen, listening to whatever music my coworkers are playing, and generally not aware of, or caring about what is going on around me.

In what I like to consider my previous life before the Corps, I worked as a cop. The mantra, “complacency kills” was drilled into my head to a point of almost hyper-awareness of my surroundings. I kept an eye on everyone and everything around me, both on and off duty, because for all I knew, one of them was trying to kill me.

I assumed they were out to get me, because I prepped for the worst and hoped for the best. I ran through scenarios in my head just in case things went sideways, that way I couldn’t use the excuse, “Things didn’t go as planned.” I had a plan for every situation I could think of, and if something came up I hadn’t thought of, I had a well-established base of contingency plans to pull from and adjust to any situation.

In short, I used my brain a whole lot more effectively then. I was always out on the road, writing tickets, hooking and booking. In a sense, I was always in harm’s way, in face we used to joke that it wasn’t a badge on the door of our patrol car, it was a bull’s-eye.

But now, I sit in the relative safety of an office, worried more about upsetting the leadership than the possibility of defending my life.

It was nice to get a reminder of what it’s like to be in a combat mindset again during the classes for the Table 2 course of fire during annual qualification.

As a Marine, I may be called upon to deploy at any time. As a combat correspondent, I could be serving with the wing, or going out on humps with a line unit, carrying all of the gear the grunts are carrying plus all of my camera gear. I could very well end up in a combat situation, fighting for my life and those of the Marines around me, not sitting behind a desk.

It is up to us to maintain a combat mindset, even though the vast majority of us here sit behind desks or work on jets. You never know what kind of situation you may find yourself in. You could be fighting for your life, or you could be the first one to an accident scene, fighting to save someone else’s life.

While I feel I must be honest and say some of the training we receive in the Corps isn’t exactly useful, the combat and medical training we get could definitely come in handy, at the most unexpected of times. There have been Marines that have used their combat training to stop shootings, and some that have used their combat lifesaver training to save victims of car accidents.

Take any opportunity you have to advance your level of training. Run scenarios in your head, using a “When this happens, I’m going to do this,” not an “If this happens to me” mentality. Be prepared for any situation.

I’m not saying forget about the job you do every day, it’s important too, but honing our skills as warriors is just as, if not even more important.

Marines train to fight and thrive. We do not rise to the occasion, we fall to our level of training.

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