Godless Army—Thoughtless Army

America will lose its next war.

This was the conviction of a former boss of mine. The force, though well-equipped and well-funded, lacks heart. Commanders have no time to prepare their soldiers for battle as they tarry with administration and deal with the affliction of soldiers. Present skirmishes aside, the force dallies with much minutiae and political correctness as our soldiers self destruct and our enemies gather. We may continue in the low intensity conflicts of yesterday but someday, someone’s gonna rise up and punch us in the mouth. How will we respond?

The godlessness that has spread across the force has introduced another plague, thoughtlessness.

Thoughtlessness pervades.

And because thoughtlessness pervades, we scarcely scratch the surface of whichever issue and soldiers continue to die in their affliction.

An Indication

I sat in stunned silence, crestfallen. “That was it…?”

Our commanding general had assembled all the company grade commanders and higher for some professional development which I definitely looked forward to. I have always loved to learn. I have always loved to read and I love academically rigorous discussion. I arrived at the assembly with no small measure of anticipation.

The subject was…driver’s training.

Our division had experienced a rash of vehicle accidents and the division leadership attributed it to an improper understanding of what a driver’s training program should look like. Several hundred of us sat for a couple of hours while the Division Master Driver explained the standard to us.

“Okay, that was helpful, I guess.”

A particular colonel stood to speak.

At some point, a first among equals emerges. In my circle of battalion commanders, there was one officer who everyone already knew would be a Brigade Commander and eventually a general. It wasn’t me! Well, the same was true of the Brigade Commanders and he had my attention.

This was it. I was literally poised, pen at the ready, prepared for deep wisdom, enlightenment.

     “I like to think of it as the five ‘T’s’,” he started with.

          Okay.

     “You have to have the troops available to do the work.”

          Yes.

     “You have to have time to do the work.”

          That’s right.

     “You need the training for the soldiers to do the work.”

          Uh huh.

     “You definitely need the tools.”

          Say it.

     “And most of all…”

          This was it!

“You need the task. You have to have the task. These are what has worked for me, the five ‘T’s of vehicle maintenance.”

Again, I was crestfallen. Here was this man’s chance to impart wisdom and what he had for us was…’the five T’s’? 

I sat stunned, amazed at the surface-level, shallow nature of this thought. Now, this officer was unquestionably highly intelligent and extremely well-educated and I’m sure he participated in frequent instances of deep, higher-order thought. But this instance highlighted, in my mind, a rampant issue throughout much of the Army leadership that I observed: the absence of deep thought or higher order cognition or at least the open display thereof.

Of Transformed Minds

Christianity is a thinking man’s religion. The Bible calls the believer to be transformed by the renewing of his mind. (Romans 12:2) God calls us to question, to consider. If you truly believe what you say you believe, the blinders have finally been removed, the veil lifted. Your mind is no longer darkened and enslaved to sin, free to think clearly.

The believer is a thinking man.

If you ever find yourself doubting this aspect of Christianity, secure a copy of John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ—I’ve never actually met anyone who finished it—or spend some time in Romans chapters 9 through 11.

Thinking itself, reason and intellect, are a function of being created in the Image of God. God has given us the capacity for cognition, the capacity to reason, and the Christian is to implement it, to think.

Of Darkened Minds

After our second suicide, one of the senior division leaders called my boss who was deployed at the time, “Jim, we need to stop these suicides!”

My boss was speechless. How do you respond to something like this?

“Well we have, Sir. It’s been two days since the last. They are definitely stopped.”

As we confine ourselves to the secular, as we examine the affliction of the force, we are left with nothing to do but treat symptoms, or attempt to treat symptoms. We may have no real discussion of issues and solutions. 

Our division maintained a council that I was a member of as a brigade-level leader. The council sought to promote the health of the force and the community, and it consisted of several working groups. There was the suicide prevention working group, the crime prevention working group, the health and welfare working group, and the sexual assault working group among others. At each meeting, the group lead would present the status of their program, give updates, entertain questions, and perhaps discuss the way ahead.

The sexual assault working group always infuriated me.

Most recently, they discussed a motorcycle ride to bring awareness to sexual assault. This spawned much discussion despite the fact that this will likely not prevent a single sexual assault. Did they actually think that the drunken soldier alone in his barracks room with his passed out drunken female friend would ignore his erection and think to himself, “Oh yeah, the motorcycle ride…I shouldn’t do this.”

Please forgive my sarcasm, but this type of activity does nothing to truly address the affliction of soldiers as born out by the facts. Sexual assault, if anything, becomes a greater issue each year despite the commands frantic efforts to display otherwise. Things like the motorcycle ride allow the command to say, “We are really getting after sexual assault,” which never fails to frustrate me.

At the monthly Sexual Assault Review Board (SARB), the Division Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) expressed a similar frustration, that they had been implementing the Army SHARP program for over three years and the trends continued upward. Young male soldiers continued to assault young female soldiers while under the influence of alcohol.

Unable to contain myself, I raised my hand and mildly suggested that as long as young men and young women were essentially living together with access to alcohol then there would be an issue. Why not segregate the young men and young women’s living quarters? The silence was deafening. I looked around the room to a few nodding heads but mostly blank looks. The Commanding General dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand and continued with the meeting.

Segregating the sexes would, in essence, acknowledge that there is a difference in the sexes…a thought that runs contrary to prevailing secular notions.

As we remain confined to the secular, we may only turn the red bubbles green.

The Thoughtless Charts

Charts! I can make some charts now.

The Army loves to codify things into charts, and over the last several years, stoplight charts became de rigueur. Each issue is denoted by a bubble and if it’s red, that means the issue is not being handled. It’s still a problem. If it’s amber, then it’s being worked. Green is good. The issue is addressed, no more problem. With a quick glance, the senior commander can pass instant judgement on a unit based upon the predominance of color.

The more a commander can brief green on his charts, the better for all involved.

At some point, the green bubble becomes the goal…aside from addressing the actual issue.

It is not as if leaders do not care or understand. Almost any military leader will acknowledge frustration with the approach and the limitations of programs. It’s just that they are confined to the secular and as such, have no other option than to focus on the bubbles, particularly because their boss wants green bubbles…as does his boss.

The Army standard for readiness is 10% or less, meaning that less than 10% of the assigned soldiers can be non-deployable. Our division solved this problem be declaring our standard to be 8%.

Genius!

By meeting our own internal standard, we effectively always met the Army standard though it changed nothing in reality other than the integrity of commanders forced to bend facts and manipulate data to obtain the requisite 8%. It reminded me of the band in This is Spinal Tap, talking about their speakers going to 11.

          “Well it’s one louder, isn’t it.

          “Why don’t you just make 10 louder and make that the top number?”

          “…these go to 11.

Again, the facts on the ground never once changed, just the color of the bubbles.

As we fought the war of the bubbles, the fact that soldiers actually languish in their affliction became secondary. If the bubble was the right color, all was right with the world. Never mind that soldiers continue to self-destruct independent of the color of the bubble, a side effect of pervasive thoughtlessness generated by an even more pervasive godlessness. 

For them, the bubble is always red.

The Brave Rifles Series 

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: Sex in a Godless Army (part 1)

Sex in a Godless Army (part 2): The Illusion of Gender Equality

Sex in a Godless Army (part 3): Do We Really Want Equality?

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

The Love of My Brothers—a Memorial Day Reflection

Everything is tainted these days.

Everything is corrupt.

A potpourri of dissonance floods our collective conscience. Some idolize veterans, making heroes of all who serve. Some equate the flag and the pledge with righteousness. Others find it necessary to desecrate that which others hold sacred. Still others denounce it all, scorning all displays of social, political, and even civic activity.

I ask you to set those things aside, however briefly…gaze upon the heart of Christ.

Ramadi

Michael Monsoor was confronted with a decision…him or his friends.

Ramadi, Iraq in 2006 was a nasty place. Al Qaeda, local insurgents, and straight up criminals controlled much of the city as the troop surge implemented by President Bush was still a year away, along with the Sunni Awakening of local tribes who would weary of bloodshed.

With temperatures approaching 100 degrees on a sweltering Friday, September 29th, SEAL Monsoor, three fellow SEAL snipers, and three Iraqi Army soldiers occupied a rooftop during a gunfight in downtown Ramadi. A local mosque broadcast a continuous call to arms as insurgents flooded the area.

The SEALs found themselves in a fight for their lives.

Monsoor, positioned near a stairwell, engaged the enemy. The others were spread out across the rooftop when it happened.

Grenade!

An insurgent below lobbed a grenade onto the roof, striking Monsoor in the chest. It fell to the ground at his feet. Monsoor, crouching next to the stairwell offering immediate cover, instead dove onto the grenade absorbing the blast with his body.

His friends, though wounded, lived. Monsoor, though evacuated immediately, died within an hour.

Michael Monsoor saw the imminence of death and in a split second, a fraction of time, made a decision that had to have been made in his mind, in his heart, and really in his soul some time before. There was simply not time to decide.

At some point, he had already decided.

He loved his friends more than himself.

Jerusalem

The scribes confront Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28)

Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy, responds,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (verse 30)

And,

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (verse 31)

Jesus tells us that the entirety of the Law can be summarized by these two commandments. Love God. Love your neighbor…with all you have. Who then is your neighbor? It is whoever God places before you…your friends, your family, your co-workers, your enemies even and in the case of Michael Monsoor…his teammates, his brothers-in-arms.

I have no idea of Michael Monsoor’s spiritual status, but on that dusty rooftop in Ramadi, Iraq on September 29th, 2006, he displayed the heart of Christ in loving his brother more than himself.

Laghman

Dennis Weichel knew who his neighbor was…and he loved him more than himself.

In March 2012, in eastern Afghanistan, the 29-year-old Army specialist was part of a convoy of MRAP’s (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles), 16-ton heavily armored vehicles designed to shield soldiers from IED’s, the weapon of choice of most insurgents.

Kids were in the road.

The soldiers dismounted the vehicles to shoe the children from the road. As they boarded up and began to move, one little boy ran back into the path of the hulking MRAPs to retrieve spent shell casings that he might later sell.

Weichel reacted, racing to pull the young boy from the path of the MRAPs. Just in time, he shoved the boy unharmed from the path but was himself run over, mortally wounded.

He died a short time later.

Weichel was survived by his own son, two daughters, and a fiance’.

“He would have done it for anybody,” said a friend, “That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”

Providence, Rhode Island

The Warrior Spirit, the true Warrior Spirit, not the one of fiction and pop culture, comes from Christ.

The fruit of the Warrior Spirit is a willing self-sacrifice, not to take life, but to give.

What would possess a man to sacrifice as such, a father. Perhaps it was exactly that, thoughts of his own young son, seared into his soul, that would compel him, without hesitation, to protect another young boy.

His own son, Nicholas, wrote a letter to him in his death.

“I really, really miss you,” read a portion of that letter. “I promise I will protect my sisters, Hope and Madison, like you told me to. You are my hero. I know you are in heaven watching over me. You are the brightest star.”

Yusufiyah

Wake up the night crews.

This command set in motion the chain of events that led to the death of two noble warriors, Major Matthew Worrell and CW5 Jamie Weeks.

There exists a sacred trust between gunship pilots and the ground forces they protect. Nowhere was this more evident than in the special operations community. The gunship pilots, as both angels of death and ministers of life, unflinchingly place themselves in harm’s way to rain steel upon the heads of those who would seek to harm their brothers on the ground.

“God will judge our enemies, we’ll arrange the meeting,”—an ominous motto of one such organization.

On May 14th, 2006—Mother’s Day—Major Worrell and CW5 Weeks were awakened from a deep slumber to the bright desert heat and their comrades in danger. A wicked gunfight had been stirred up in Yusufiyah, Iraq, the heart of the Triangle of Death. Several of their brothers had already been shot down. Out of ammunition, they limped their battle-damaged aircraft to the nearest base.

Matt and Jamie, the other crew, and the liaison officer did a quick huddle planeside and within minutes, they were kitted up, bringing the aircraft on-line. Confusion greeted their ears as the sounds of battle emanated across multiple nets.

At some point, they turned their aircraft west…toward the sound of the guns.

They ran to the sound of the guns.

Into the shadow of death they stormed, into the hornet’s nest. Their brothers were in the fight, with no gunships overhead. Without hesitation, in the full fury and righteous anger of a brother defending his brother from harm. With full assurance, fueled by the love of their brothers, they blazed into battle.

Within one pass of arriving over the objective, an insurgent round found its home and blew these valiant warriors from the sky.

Clarksville

The Bearded One once exhorted us at SERE School, “You gotta love your brothers!”

With eyes blazing like hellfire and brimstone, this bearded giant, the most intimidating man I’d ever met, implored us…to love. Not to fight, but to love. And for that love, for the love of my brothers, I would fight. For the love of my brothers, I would give of my own life.

Matt Worrell left behind a young wife and two young sons. Jamie left a wife and four daughters. For love.

They loved their brothers more than themselves. This is the Warrior Spirit, this is the Spirit of Christ. They loved their brothers all the way up to and including their own death and if we could ask them, any of them, I’m sure they’d do it again, with no hesitation. Perhaps they’d want to go back and love on their wife and sons, their daughters, a bit more when they had the chance, but I’m sure they’d not relent.

They died that a brother may live, and for this, I honor them this day, all of them.

A Memorial

Set aside your politics.

Set aside your nationalism. Set aside your obstinate resistance to anything righteous. Refuse patriotism in this moment and see.

See love, Christ-like love.

Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

There is no greater love than a man who would lay down his life for his friends. Our lives are the most precious thing we have been given, our very breath a gift of the Almighty, an undeserved grace. The hero willingly gives of his life, not to take life, but that others may live.

When I meditate on the sacrifice of men like Monsoor and Weeks, Worrell and Weichel, I stand in awe. Again, I have no idea if these men were of Christ or not and I’ll make the necessary caveat that apart from a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, all men stand condemned.

Scripture affirms to us that we, Christians, can be known by the fruit of our lives. Did we bear fruit? We will be known, most of all, by our love, our love for our brothers.

Just as these men gave their lives, so too did our Lord Jesus, saying this is how much I love you, as He stretched out His arms and died…for the love of His brothers, the love of His friends, and amazingly, while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8)

In contemplating the life of these men, the love of these men, let us consider the source of such love, the risen Lord Jesus and let us ultimately turn to Him.

Let that be our tribute this Memorial Day. More than fitting don’t you think?

The Brave Rifles Series 

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: Sex in a Godless Army (part 1)

Sex in a Godless Army (part 2): The Illusion of Gender Equality

Sex in a Godless Army (part 3): Do We Really Want Equality?

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

Affliction in a Godless Army: Suicide in the Heavy Rain

Few things consume a unit like a suicide.

My brigade had two in a span of months. One particular weekend, a young soldier full of heartache and alcohol hung himself in his barracks room. He and his girlfriend were having some significant relationship issues. Two months later, another young soldier hung himself with his belt. Hours before his death, he posted a picture on social media of him in his barracks room, alone…with a bottle of liquor.

Shockwaves roiled across the Brigade. Neither young man had previously displayed overt suicidal ideations.

Thankfully, they came from separate battalions, but in the immediate aftermath and for days and weeks following, the units were consumed. The chain-of-command was focused entirely, as it should’ve been, as it had to be, upon the care of the family and the unit. We sent teams to funerals, executed memorial ceremonies, and supported the families in any way we could.

More than that, we tore ourselves apart, seeking answers that never presented themselves. How could we have prevented this?

We were asking the wrong questions.

The Plague

As suicide proliferates the active ranks, it likewise afflicts our nation’s veterans. A popular narrative claims that 22 veterans commit suicide every day which translates to roughly one every 65 minutes. 22 suicides a day—politicians regurgitate it, veterans groups made it a banner, and sympathetic citizens demand answers.

Even one suicide is too many. Yet I wondered, if this is accurate, then this is an astonishing number!

Peeling the onion reveals some problems.

The statistic, 22 a day, is based upon the Veterans Administration 2012 Suicide Data Report which surveyed statistics from 1999 to 2011 across 21 states and then extrapolated for the general population. The researchers themselves cede the lack of veracity of the conclusions. Further, the average age of the victim was 60 years old, effectively undermining the popular narrative concerning the afflicted Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans. A more recent and comprehensive survey yields that roughly one veteran commits suicide each day, still too many but a far cry from 22.

As a young officer, I scarcely recall a suicide, not a single one. What has given rise to this phenomenon among active and veteran ranks? Do the current wars truly afflict our soldiers to the point of desperation whereby they view suicide as their only source of relief? Perhaps. Paradoxically, today most active duty suicide victims have not yet deployed. How do we reconcile this?

Value and Hope

We can trace the origins of suicide to a singular condition, trauma coupled with a distinct spiritual bankruptcy.

Numerous factors contribute—the nature of the trauma, demographics, upbringing, resiliency etc. Yet it is the absence of Christ that underscores it all. The proliferation of the unchurched in the ranks effectively sets the condition for numerous abominable practices, including suicide.

As the Gospel is suppressed, men lose value. Secular, agnostic, or even atheistic thought systems deny the inherent value of men as the Imago Dei. Regressing to evolutionary constructs, men become merely the latest and most adapted of all purposeless creatures. Men possess no intrinsic value. Life has no intrinsic worth other than to satisfy base lusts. Absent that satisfaction, life loses all value.

Only a proper understanding of the Image of God produces in a man’s heart a respect and value for all human life. All men’s lives hold sacred value, including his own and as such, it cannot be taken lightly.

Along with an understanding of the sacred value of life, with the Gospel comes hope. No matter the desperation, the believer lives with a hope not found in himself, rather a hope found in the risen Lord Jesus. I have the hope of things not yet seen, the glory of a future spent in eternity with the Lord our God.

A Tough Word

It is a hard thing to say and to those who have been affected by suicide, I apologize profusely for the following statement, but I feel it must be said.

Suicide is an intensely selfish act.

The victim becomes absorbed by the affliction of their existence, completely hopeless and ill-equipped to deal with the trauma, whatever it may be. The Christian life calls the believer to the opposite, to be consumed first by God and then with the life and welfare of others. It is hard to imagine a believer focusing on himself enough to commit suicide.

But it happens. I knew a chaplain once, a man of God, a man who loved the Lord and his family. He took his own life. He had been caught up in sin and the devil talked him into it. He left behind a beautiful family. The tragedy of suicide emanates from its irreversibility.

What do I know?

During a time of heavy rain, the darkest in my own life, I no longer desired to live. I truly desired that the Lord call me home and end the misery and pain of my present condition. Bleakness and despair ruled and I tried to flirt with it, briefly…very briefly. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t even entertain the notion.

Thoughts of my God and my family immediately flooded my mind and my heart.

I serve a God who heals, a God who reconciles, a God who renews and revives and restores. It’s what He does. Knowing this, how could I not rest in His grace, His mercy, and His sovereignty? Further, how could I put those I love through such an ordeal?

To the Christian, certain thoughts become foreign, anathema to the regenerate mind. Taking one’s own life ought to bristle the believer’s conscience.

I acknowledge the generality of these themes, the moral and spiritual bankruptcy apart from Christ that generate the conditions whereby soldiers consider suicide as a reasonable course of action. I acknowledge the vast and infinite mitigating circumstances.

Yet, a direct correlation exists between the proliferation of the unchurched with the ensuing darkness and the increase in suicide and suicidal ideations both in our nation and the nation’s Army.

Frustration

I sat and listened in increasing frustration, scarcely able to contain my anger. My soul broiled in a near rage.

I seethed.

It was the quarterly Community Health Promotion Council or CHPC (pronounced Chipik for the layman). Here we sat and listened to all of the functional area reps speak to their programs and how we are “getting after” the various afflictions of soldiers, from obesity to misconduct and everything in between.

The suicide prevention team lead informed us of the existence of the imminence of the Suicide Prevention Walk. Here we would walk to bring awareness to suicide. There would be booths with handouts and reps to discuss suicide. We would A.C.E….Ask, Care, and Escort our buddy if we thought he had an issue that needed to be addressed.

“We’re really gettin’ after it, Sir,” the rep confirmed.

“That was it!” I thought sarcastically to myself. If only SPC XXX, who walked out of my headquarters, direct to his vehicle, drove to a parking lot and shot himself in the chest with a .22 caliber rifle, killing himself…if only he had participated in the Suicide Awareness walk!

My anger stems from the obvious treatment of symptoms. Intrinsically, nothing wrong with a Suicide Awareness walk until it’s treated as an actual solution. My frustration stems from the moral cowardice of a willfully blinded Army, unwilling to understand the issue and seek real solutions. Our secular overlords forbid it.

And so we are left to treat symptoms as men die by the dozens. Tragic.

And pragmatically, the Army still calls upon commanders to account for and deal with this plague at the expense of preparations for war.

I had another soldier, on the brink of being separated from the Army, who informed us that he fully intended to kill himself the first chance he got. Nothing personal, nothing against us. He just did not want to live any longer and no amount of counseling could convince him otherwise. We put him on a cot at the CQ desk for nearly a week until we get him enrolled in the Warrior Transition Unit. His company commander slept on a cot right next to him, refusing to leave his side.

This is what a commander ought to do but how could he train his unit for warfare with such an obligation? Were this an isolated situation, it’d be no factor but across the Army, commanders and 1SG’s are overwhelmed dealing with administration and the sins of soldiers leaving scant time to actually prepare for battle.

I long for the soldiers of this great nation to know Christ, to know the hope found in Him, that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This hope is unshakeable, immoveable, unchanging, and never fading.

I pray that the Spirit would move within these darkened ranks and call these men out of the darkness and into His marvelous light…what a blessed hope that would be.

The Brave Rifles Series 

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: Sex in a Godless Army (part 1)

Sex in a Godless Army (part 2): The Illusion of Gender Equality

Sex in a Godless Army (part 3): Do We Really Want Equality?

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

Affliction in a Godless Army: An Army of Junkies

Our godless Army is an addicted army.

The ever-present demon of chemical addiction exacerbates the plight of soldiers. Alcohol and drug abuse scars the souls of these young men and women. With ease, I envision one of my young soldiers in his barracks room all weekend, alone with Satan himself. Satan, always whispering,

       “Do it, there’s no hope. Do it. It’ll make it better.”

     “I don’t want to.”

       “It’s the right thing.”

     “I’m afraid.”

       “They’ll call you brave.”

     “I don’t want to.”

       “Have another drink.”

I mourned at the consideration, that the blackness in a young man’s heart was deepened by the consumption of alcohol to the point whereby the demonic could convince him to cinch his belt around his neck, secure it over the door jam, and literally sit to his death. I still mourn at the sheer emptiness that led to such an act, the spiritual bankruptcy enabled by chemical enslavement.

An Epidemic

I felt compelled to write my inaugural work, Scourge: Confronting the Global Issue of Addiction, before ever setting foot in the Division. I noticed, via the foster care system, the surprising prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse.

We live in the Bible Belt yet, every single foster child we’d sheltered over the course of eight years—numbering nearly 30—dealt with the impacts of addiction. Many were taken into custody due to the sins of their birth parents in terms of addiction. Some birth mothers afflicted their children in the womb, consuming drugs and alcohol while pregnant. My seven-year-old son, our first foster child nearly seven years ago, suffers from a litany of physical ailments due to his mother’s crack use during pregnancy. Another of my sons suffers from partial hearing loss due to his mother’s prenatal alcohol abuse.

Physical and emotional abuse frequently accompany addiction. One of my sons witnessed drug abuse and drug related violence…against his mother. Another son of mine spent time in a crack house with his biological parents some years ago. It’s a wonder he can even function.

Prescription drug abuse flourishes. One of my sons lost his father to prescription drugs. We took in another young man who had just turned 18. For several weeks he just kind of moped around the house in a funk. At some point, I took him to the doctor for a checkup. He walked out shaking a bottle of pills at me.

     “At least I got these.”

     “Anti-depressants?”

     “Yep.”

     “You ought to flush them down the toilet.”

A wretched physician had prescribed anti-depressants based upon him merely saying he was depressed. No follow-up with a psychologist or otherwise. Just a, “here’s yer pills, now go away”. Ridiculous, but common. A week or so later, he got a full-time job and the change in his demeanor was palpable. He no longer had time to be depressed.

As he and I later discussed, he wasn’t depressed. He just was not fulfilling his God-given desire to be productive, to work. Yet, our entire system revolves around treating symptoms, often with narcotics.

Is it any wonder we have a nation of addicts?

Is it any wonder we have an army of addicts?

An Addicted Army

As such, I should not have been surprised to find the same issue in the Army. I’m not even sure how to adequately capture the extent of the issue, how to adequately do it justice. I recall reading about the ‘Hollow Army’ of the 1970’s and the rampant drug abuse that permeated the ranks.

Binge drinking was the order of the day in my younger Army years. I showed up to Korea in 1996 and the first night found myself doing naked carrier landings in the O-club…with my battalion commander…and all the other officers…while drinking heavily. I distinctly remember the Top Gun theme song blaring loudly. Some from my generation look back fondly upon such antics. Yet, I wonder how many closet alcoholics later self-destructed.

Things have changed.

Consider that the Army is sending kids as young as 20-years-old to in-patient rehabilitation. Consider that the vast majority—not all—of rapes and sexual assaults occur within the context of binge drinking. Cocaine, marijuana, spice, prescription drugs—they are all present and prevalent. The statistics paint a surprisingly bleak outlook concerning the widespread abuse of chemicals in the ranks and as I said, it normally accompanies other afflictions, weakening minds and eroding the will. People will simply do things under the influence that they might not otherwise do.

The van ride to Fort Leavenworth must’ve seemed to take an eternity for my young sergeant convicted of raping a junior soldier. He was drunk at the time, as was she. Three young soldiers, two males and a female, return to the barracks in a drunken stupor and have a sexual triste. The next morning the female cries, ‘Rape’ while the young men cry, ‘Consensual’. Either way, lives are ruined.

Another young soldier, on more psychotropic medications than any man should be, due to a laundry list of behavioral health diagnoses, weeps feebly at the slightest demand. He is literally, incapable of working. A young sergeant shoots up a local nightclub. Cocaine and alcohol are involved.

The deviant creativity of the enemy ensures soldiers will remain one step ahead of the authorities. As fast as the army responds to one type of abuse, someone invents another. Recently, soldiers started spiking their ‘vape’ e-cigs with all manner of chemicals in pursuit of the high, undetectable to any current methods.

Multiple Issues

Other than the obvious destruction of young lives, chemical abuse wreaks havoc in another way.

Chemical abuse weakens the force.

The moral bankruptcy in the hearts of these soldiers drives their pursuit of worldly satisfaction. Apart from Christ, godless soldiers—godless men, really—will seek the high in any way, including chemical abuse.

Every soldier battling drug and alcohol abuse is a soldier not available to close with and destroy the enemy. Every Commander and First Sergeant spending inordinate amounts of time dealing with soldiers battling drug and alcohol abuse is a Commander and First Sergeant not training their men to close with and destroy the enemy.

This problem will only continue to worsen. The increasing godlessness of our soldiers should cause great concern as the scourge of addiction will likely continue to grieve the ranks for the foreseeable future.

For this reason, I pray that our civilian masters keep us from the high intensity conflict that would demand so much from our Army, perhaps more than we could ever again muster.

The series

Brave Rifles: The Theology of War

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: Sex in a Godless Army (part 1)

Sex in a Godless Army (part 2): The Illusion of Gender Equality

Sex in a Godless Army (part 3): Do We Really Want Equality?

Affliction in a Godless Army: The Sins of Generals

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

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This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

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