Column: Do the right thing and be accountable


President Joe Biden did not address the American people on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. But, former president Donald Trump did, while meeting with New York first responders. Think about that!

The Biden administration just directed a complete disaster in Afghanistan. The president, military leaders and the State Department have demonstrated complete incompetence and cowardice on a national stage. And, it's not over.

Yet, nobody has resigned or has been fired! The administration is doubling down and lecturing the American people who question these disastrous decisions.

Thousands of non-vetted Afghans have been flown directly to the U.S., while private citizens and U.S. Afghan veterans are working to get qualified people and U.S. citizens out. No one was left behind! Right? The truth about what's going on would help. But, that won't happen.

There was such a rush to get people out that many unqualified Afghans were brought over, or flown to other locations. Where are these people going to live? Are they terrorists? Have they been vaccinated? COVID-19 is not the only thing to worry about. Measles has broken out in one group. Maybe they could go to Martha's Vineyard or Delaware. The situation is the same as it is on the southern border. One congressman said the State Department seems to be in the "human trafficking business."

On the anniversary of 9/11, the administration has managed to abandon the efforts of our allies, destroy NATO and arm the largest terrorist organization in the world. They would prefer I don't have a gun but just gave the Taliban $80billion-$90 billion in guns, aircraft, special vehicles, drones and technology. These are the same people who want to defund the police. And, we have to pay for it. Now, our taxes are going up, so more money can be wasted. Personally, I'm not OK with that!

There is no accountability.

Why do the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State and Gen. Mark Milley still have jobs? Milley tried to form a coup against Trump. His actions were treasonous then, and he is still here participating in dangerous decisions. More has just surfaced about his actions. And, it's embarrassing to think that Gen. Kenneth McKenzie is a Marine.

With leadership, moral courage, responsibility and accountability in mind, I brought up YouTube and listened, again, to a speech given by then-Lt. Gen. Chuck Krulak at a leaders forum in 1993 at the Naval Academy. Krulak is a 1964 graduate of the academy. He would later become commandant of the Marine Corps. This is one of the best speeches on the subject. The application of these principles applies to any profession, not just military commanders.

Krulak comments on situations at the time that resulted in major operational failures, but no one was really held accountable. That was troubling to him. I wonder what he thinks today? He wanted leaders who possessed ethics and moral courage - do the right thing. Be accountable!

He recounts two situations early in his career that brought home these characteristics and how they shaped his thinking and leadership.

In 1966, he was a first lieutenant company commander in Vietnam. They had been dropped by helicopter into a landing zone near the DMZ. One of the four platoons was somewhat separated from the other three and immediately came under attack by an enemy machine gun position. A lance corporal squad leader ran forward, firing on the position, was wounded and down. Lt. Krulak ordered one platoon to advance in order to flank the gun and take it out. In the meantime, the lance corporal who was down got up and advanced on the gun, taking it out. When the unit got to the position, they found nine dead NVA enemy and the lance corporal's body literally draped over the barrel of the 50-caliber machine gun. Why did he do that? He could have stayed down and probably been treated. Possibly gone home. Six months later, Krulak attended a ceremony in Washington, where the dead Marine's family received the Navy Cross, in his honor. He stepped up. Would you?

Later, Capt. Krulak was at an airport in California waiting on a flight to Vietnam for his second tour, as a company commander. While waiting for the flight, he talks with a young Marine private first class and provides him assurances. After reaching his new company in the northern part of South Vietnam, Capt. Krulak is introduced to four new enlisted Marines joining the unit. One of them is Pfc. Cameron, whom he had encountered earlier. He had his first sergeant assign Cameron as his radio man. They would spend the next nine months side by side. While on an operation, Krukak has his units in place. They encounter gunfire, and Krulak turns as a round just misses his head. He falls back and notices Pfc. Cameron is down. He has a serious chest wound. He pulls Cameron next to him to attend the wound and reassure him. A helmet hits him in head, as his 6'4" first sergeant is yelling, "What the hell are you doing?" "I'll take care of him, you go up the hill and take care of the company." They get control of the situation, with no other casualties. The first sergeant said Cameron didn't make it. He had tears in his eyes. He also apologized to Krulak for reacting and hitting him with his helmet. Krulak said he didn't owe him an apology; he was right. Krulak had let his emotions get in the way of his overall responsibility at that moment. He was accountable for his actions. Capt. Krulak had lost a trusted young Marine, who had grown to be like a son. That would prove to be a difficult letter to send his family. He would visit them upon his return to the U.S.

Krulak emphasized the need to recognize the difference between people and things. You lead people! You are accountable to them. They will be the first to recognize your leadership failures.

The speech ends with a reference to one of my favorite poems. The author is unknown.

Gen. Krulak usually addressed the lieutenants assigned to The Basic School at Quantico. (I graduated from the six-month course in June 1966). He said he would advise them to "Be like eagles." On a recent visit there, a young lieutenant gave him a copy of "The eagle and the wolf story."

"There is a great battle that rages inside me.

"One side is the soaring eagle. Everything the eagle stands for is good and true and beautiful, and it soars above the clouds. Even though it dips down into the valleys, it lays its eggs on the mountaintops.

"The other side of me is the howling wolf. And that raging, howling wolf represents the worst in me. He eats upon my downfalls and justifies himself by his presence in the pack.

"Who wins this great battle?

"The one I feed.

"Who do you want to be? The eagle or the wolf?"