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).

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: The Sins of Generals

One only needs to serve for a short period of time before becoming intensely aware that our Army is an afflicted army. You may disagree with me concerning the source and that’s okay, but one may not deny the affliction minus some extreme intellectual dishonesty. Returning to the divisional Army after 13 years, nothing could prepare me for the reality of our soldier’s afflictions.

Aside from sexual sin and a vast misunderstanding of masculinity and femininity, numerous other afflictions scourge our armed forces today.

From the Top

I cannot address the sin of the rank and file without first addressing the sins of generals.

When the soldier partakes of the maddening wine of the whore of Babylon, the fallout might resonate across his unit or his family, but when a senior officer transgresses, the fallout can resonate across the legions.

In recent years, the United States military finds itself wrestling a surge in senior officer misconduct. From 2011 to 2014, the number of Army officers disciplined for misconduct has tripled. Why wouldn’t it? As godlessness pervades and the common grace of the Gospel is suppressed, unrighteousness penetrates to every echelon. Godless generals pursue godless affairs as do any fallible men.

The most widely-known account is the tragic fall of General Petraeus who got caught in 2012 in an adulterous affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. His fall stunned as Petraeus was a star, one of the most successful officers ever produced. “This is a man who has never failed at anything.” But fail he did, losing his job, his reputation, and damaging the nation’s war effort in the process.

He’s not alone. There’s the Major General who got exposed by an anonymous tip. Leading a licentious, “swingers” lifestyle, visiting sex clubs, having sex with multiple partners, for three years he betrayed his family and his profession. Then there’s the general who had a three-year affair with a junior officer.

A Brigadier General gets fired for assaulting his mistress. Another is busted using his government credit card at strip clubs. Still another general sexually harasses subordinates in a sex-and-bribery scandal.

One drinks on duty. Another accepts illegal and expensive gifts from foreigners. Another treats himself and his wife to a $750-a-night Caribbean hotel at the taxpayer’s expense. Another general takes numerous unauthorized, personal trips in government aircraft, also on the taxpayer’s dime.

Another general sends repeated, racy texts to a junior enlisted soldier’s wife. Still another makes off-color jokes in an email to other generals about masturbating to the ‘hot’ visiting congresswoman.

Epitomizing the affliction, Major General John Rossi committed suicide becoming the highest-ranking officer to ever take his life. A West Point graduate who was set to be promoted to Lieutenant General and assume command of the Army’s space and missile defense command, Rossi took his own life and left behind his wife and three children.

This is not the rank-and-file…but it sure sounds familiar. If you removed mention of rank, any First Sergeant would think this sounds like business as usual in a standard Army company of soldiers, certainly not those entrusted to leadership at the highest levels.

A New Level of Service

I fear this may be viewed as a hit piece. I’ve served for several officers who attained the rank of general officer and at this point, several of my classmates are starting to flirt with the general officer ranks.

The vast majority are committed patriots, intensely competent, highly-educated. For the record, Brigadier General is the toughest rank to obtain in the Army. A former commander of mine who became a Lieutenant General remarked that service at that level was, “a whole new level of service.” When you pin on stars, you literally sacrifice the entirety of yourself, every last vestige, to the defense of the nation. The company owns you…all of you. This particular officer was told once to report to Fort Drum, New York to be the rear detachment Division Commander with less than two-day’s notice. Pack a bag and go. We’ll send your stuff and family later.

I asked another general officer I worked for how much control he maintained over his career and profession. “About 10 percent,” he laughed, “and even that is an illusion.”

Reasons

No senior officers get fired for incompetence. The competition is fierce and most senior officers are driven and highly competent individuals. Senior officers generally transgress in one of three areas:

– zipper issues,
– bottle issues,
– money issues.

A cursory review of the individual accounts reveals every single one of these, especially sexual transgression. This invites some uncomfortable question. How does this happen? Where is the accountability?

At some point, the institution begins construction of the cult of personality as we build leaders into hyper-actualized images of their true selves. As you progress in rank, people begin to want to do things for you, edging into moral and ethical gray areas. Senior officers become increasingly isolated and insulated, with fewer peers, surrounded by affirming subordinates.

Did no one notice General Petraeus spending so much time with a younger woman, not his wife? Did no one have the wherewithal to pull him aside and ask what was going on?

These are fallible men, no different in their capacity for sin than any other men. Yet, the military puts them on a pedestal, gives them access to things that no other soldiers has, and removes accountability. Then, we are astonished when they fall.

In dealing with this issue, the Army is putting together new mental health, counseling and career management programs “to shape stronger, more ethical leaders.” These are mere secular band-aids on a gaping spiritual wound.

This is a spiritual issue, the permeation of godlessness into the ranks of our senior leaders.

The force has no choice but to follow suit.

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

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

Apart from the Gospel, few things provoke the godless more than the biblical sexual ethic.

My military experience has offered me some unique insight into gender inclusion. The unit I served for many years never had women below the Brigade level though it has since been integrated. At one point, we literally had 13 women in an organization of over 3,000.

When I got sent to the Division, I found myself surrounded by women. I had female commanders, female 1SG’s, female lieutenants and a litany of female soldiers, and most of these soldiers were intensely professional.

More than a few of the young female soldiers were single mothers who had replaced their child’s absentee father with the Army. They had literally replaced the stability and support that the father is supposed to provide with the stability and support of the Army, and again many of them were great soldiers for whom I have tremendous respect.

As the rear detachment Brigade Commander, my S3, the officer in charge of running the entire Brigade, a position normally reserved for a major, was a female captain. She was one of the best officers I have worked with. Intelligent, physically fit, and motivated—I rated her as #1 among the nearly 30 officers I rated in her grade. I would proudly serve with her again.

A soldier is a soldier, or so goes the mantra.

Yet, when you remove all the other differences and treat everyone the same, sexual difference becomes the only thing you notice. As much as attempting to treat men and women the same could potentially damage the mission, its potential to damage women is even greater.

Is equality truly a virtue, something to pursue?

This is Equality?

The Army has stayed the course in attempting to treat males and females the same, something that was entirely shocking to me upon my reemergence into the force. In the field, we even share sleeping tents. There is no female tent. I found this highly unusual.

The Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) perfectly highlights the unavoidable.

In Combatives, there are no males or females, only soldiers. This means any male soldier could find himself grappling with a female soldier. Combatives looks like a cross between wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu and places the opponents in what could be considered very intimate positions. Bodies are pressed against bodies. Legs are wrapped around waists. Call me antiquated, but I found this to be very inappropriate. As we instituted a robust Combatives program, I frequently found myself confronted with the prospect of engaging with a female. (I would combat this by pretending to be too tired at that point and needing to sit out for a round or two.)

Aside from the inappropriate contact, one engagement I witnessed highlighted the absurdity. I had a young lieutenant built like Mike Tyson, thick and powerful, taking on a young female officer who was built like a typical female, small and frail by comparison. It was a joke. The male kind of toyed with her a bit, somewhat bemused by the situation and more than a little uncomfortable, and then at some point, he kind of grabbed her as gently as he could and pushed her to her back and achieved the dominant mount position. She even uttered out a little cry as he took her down. Though he did it as gently as he could, it looked like domestic violence practice.

This encounter highlights Army “equality”, a rather low view of women. Sexual assault and rape become the nasty by-products.

Absent a biblical foundation of complementarianism, young men are taught at home and reinforced by the military that she is no different from him aside from the fact that she possesses a vagina, not someone to be cherished and respected. Men take what they want from other men all the time, by force if necessary. Why not do the same with her?

So the military continues to perform cheetah flips to spit out it’s next poster child, but for every Haver or Griest we generate, how many women suffer? How many women must we sacrifice on the altar of equality to maintain this farce, this charade?

This is Equality

As men tend to sin by oppressing women, we actually denigrate women by placing them on the same level as men. We, men, should elevate the position of women.

My wife and I teach all six of our sons that you “treat a girl like a flower”—they can all recite this on command. If they hit one another then okay, “no blood, no foul,” but if they hit a girl, my granddaughter for instance, I come down on them with the full wrath and fury of the Lord God, Almighty.

Return with me once more to the Garden, to creation. Consider that God made everything—the heavens and the stars, the sun and the moon, the earth and the sky, the beasts of the field, the fish of the waters. God made everything by His spoken word, and then He brought forth man and put Him in the Garden to work it, to have dominion over it. He taught man His statutes, and only when all of creation was prepared and ready, poised, He brought forth woman. Adam then exclaimed, “This one at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.”

The Bible adamantly speaks to the elevation of women by men, lest they be oppressed by those very same men.

I return to my daughters. When I think of them and their prospective husbands, I don’t want for them equality. I don’t want a husband for them who treats them the same as he treats his buddies. My desire is that a man comes along and treat them as a Princess, that he cherish them and hold them in the highest regard, that he sees them as the weaker vessel, the ceramic vase, the butterfly that they are and conducts himself accordingly—gentle, honorably, with respect.

In striving for what we designate as equality, our nation and our Army endangers women, placing them in a lesser position than God intended. And, as we will soon be sharing a bathroom, shower facility, and locker room if our secular overlords have their way, it will only get worse.

Clarification

Before proceeding, I am led to clarify a point. Lest you misunderstand, I am advocating for the distinction of women, the opposite of degradation. I am an advocate for women in the service. I have served alongside amazingly competent women, officers and enlisted, every bit the warrior and patriot of their male counterparts. However, perhaps we can do it better, honor both the unique nature of men and women while simultaneously utilizing their requisite skills for the defense of the nation.

Solution

It is here that my assessment falls admittedly short. The most obvious answer is, “Repent!”

Collectively, as a nation, the only solution is revival, to abandon the secular slide and turn once more to the ways of the Lord. Apart from a dramatic supernatural intervention in this fashion, the question must be framed appropriately, an exceedingly difficult venture.

“What do we do?” becomes,

“How do we generate godly sexual behavior while still clinging to and teaching a godless sexual ethic?” which specifically translate to,

“How do we teach our young men to respect and cherish young women while still teaching them that they are the same, minus the presence of a penis or a vagina?”

We should immediately abandon the farce that men are the same as women. Allow men to be men and women to be women. Re-segregate basic training. Re-segregate billeting. Re-segregate sleeping quarters. Segregate Combatives training. Inject a manner of separation and quit trying to teach men and women that they are the same. Quite the opposite, we ought to honor and celebrate our God-given sexuality, male and female, instead of foolishly pretending that once a person slaps on a uniform, they somehow become asexual.

Second, we should at least teach a godly ethic as an option. At least tell them the truth, that there is another option, another way.

Third, we should seriously reconsider the introduction of women into ground combat and their inevitable inclusion in the Selective Service. Can women fight? Of course. I think of Stalingrad and Kobani, yet these were unique circumstances for a desperate time. Description is not identical to prescription, and we need to be able to differentiate. A better question that we must ask is “ought a woman to fight?”

Should we intentionally send our women to do the dirty business of ground combat?

As I know that these things will likely never happen—we’ve drifted too far—I return to my original plea for America.

“Repent.”

The Series

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

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

Brave Rifles: The Problem of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Danger of a Godless Army

Brave Rifles: The Theology of War

 

 

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

No Ticker Tape—Burn in H*** Little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes

The email hit my inbox with the subtlety of a GBU-56. “CIF appointment Monday at 12:30.” Boom!

Panic set in. Monday, gulp. It was Friday.

Over the last 18 years I accumulated a veritable mountain of kit. My cage was crammed with bags of gear. Woodland BDU’s, a barrack’s bag issued in 2000 that I’ve never opened, heaps of pouches and boots and sunglasses, UCP stuff, OCP stuff, FREE system, ICWCS, maybe ten jackets—the summation of Uncle Sugar’s two decades of lavishing.

His pockets run deep.

How could I ever sort, organize, account for and even clean (yeah right) this abomination of desolation? The task seemed insurmountable.

CIF beckoned, the detested Central Issue Facility, the source of so much angst and corporate ire.

The dreaded little old lady in tennis shoes awaited.

The LOLITS

The Army, like all government institutions, is awash in red tape. The priestess of the red tape is the little old lady in tennis shoes.

While negotiating any Army system, in-processing or whatever, she is the arbiter, the gatekeeper of said system, a figurative character, a nasty civilian who’s been doing this singular job longer than you’ve been alive. She’s seen soldiers come and go, heard all manner of excuses, seen all manner of absurdity, and maintains little sympathy for your lot in life.

Don’t cross the “I”s or dot the “T”s and she’ll not render you the desperately needed stamp or signature or entry into the appropriate database. In out-processing the Army, I’ll negotiate a battalion of little old ladies in tennis shoes.

Now I had to face the nastiest of them all, the CIF little old lady, a stickler for those three dreaded words: accountability, serviceability, and cleanliness.

PCC’s/PCI’s

I did what I had to do, I called for back-up.

I issued a FRAGO to the spousal unit, jumped in my truck, and headed for the compound. Heavy D in the unit issue facility hooked me up with a list of what I owed—I didn’t recognize half of it—and I headed for my cage to see how to avert the impending train wreck.

I had to go systematic. I started by sorting according to decade. Old woodland stuff over here, Smurf-colored junk over here, actual modern and useful OCP stuff over here. Stuff that I had no idea what it was, over here. Unopened and unused stuff in this pile.

At some point, I surveyed the growing piles and compared them against the typically-odd language of the Army inventory list and began to panic a bit.

I called Ami to inform her of the potential blood-letting. She exhorted me to get back to work. I briefly contemplated who I might pay to get me out of this mess and then girded up my loins and got back to sorting.

“Sort and pack your gear in reverse order of the inventory sheet,” was the CIF guide’s bland instructions. I opted for packing by pile. After determining that I had a large portion of the gear and then some, I contemplated cleaning…cleaning?! How do you clean a pouch? A rucksack? Do I really need to paint my E-tool (folding shovel for you laymen)?

I quickly formulated a three-fold strategy:

-I would first present my copious amounts of unopened, unused OCP kit. Surely that would ingratiate me to the demons at CIF.

-Second, I would present the most outdated equipment to include the unopened barracks bag. Perhaps the humor of the situation would further soften their hearts.

-Finally, I would overwhelm them with volume, praying that the sheer amount of kit I showed up with would mitigate their attention to detail. Along with that, I’d ensure they knew I was retiring, not some flunky merely PCSing to another assignment. Maybe I’d get another retiree as an inspector, possibly receive some thanks-for-my-service-type charity.

At this point I was not beyond leveraging any angle.

One Last Drag

Whoever invented the Army kit bag is a devil straight from the pits of hell. For those of you unfamiliar, the Army kit bag is roughly a large cube, capable of holding approximately 200 pounds of equipment (hyperbole, somewhat), with two comparatively tiny handles. Human ergonomics were definitely not factored into it’s design.

It’s almost as if someone intentionally designed a bag to be difficult to handle.

Unless you are of professional basketball player dimensions, there is no good way to carry them. You could do one in each hand though you hit either grip or trapezius muscle failure. Some would sling one onto their shoulders Atlas style. Still others would even drag them…hence the coining of the apt though not entirely accurate label, “The Duffel Bag Drag”.

I had done the Duffel Bag drag across the globe. From one garden spot to the next, always dragging more kit bags than I could ever carry. In the desert heat, the middle of the night across some dusty tarmac, sweaty and worn from hours of travel, still wearing the same underwear after 36 straight hours—you know the drill.

This day I did one last Duffel Bag Drag, 10 bags from my cage to my truck.

The Engagement

“Smith, Inspector X,” came the call.

I presented as friendly of a smile as I could muster and turned to greet my inspector with just a hint of a carefully-crafted, self-deprecating countenance. Here was the noble warrior riding into the sunset after years of warfare. So what if his kit was a little disarrayed, maybe not as clean as it should’ve been? At least that’s what I hope I portrayed.

The inspector rounded the corner and stopped short, surveying my pile of 10 stuffed bags. I looked around and scoffed at the neatly-packed two to three bags of my fellow inspectees and looked back to the inspector hopefully.

“This all yours?”

This was it, the watershed of my military career, nearly two decades of persistent conflict and all that stood between me and freedom was this man and his good graces.

He called for back-up. Uh oh.

Thirty minutes later and my plan was working like a champ. My still-packaged kit had clearly greased the skids. We joked about retirement—praise Jesus but my inspector was himself a retiree. I made a show of inquiring about his service, his family…make it personal, keep it friendly.

The pile surrounding me grew and so I moved into phase 2 and presented, with much aplomb, my unopened barracks bag. A Kevlar! An old-school LBE! A web belt. The inspector(s) gleefully examined each pristine relic from a bygone epoch, even reminiscing about when they had donned such fine gear.

It was happening perfectly!

I audaciously moved into phase 3 and began presenting my highly-used, but not exactly clean gear, obscuring it intentionally in a mountain of excess gear. The inspector(s) at some point exchanged a knowing look. Were they onto me? Was bottom about to fall out?

Thirty minutes later and the inspector(s) handed me the completed inventory. After 22 years and 9 months, I owed precisely a 1-quart canteen, a brown fleece jacket, and a belt.

Victory was mine.

I practically danced a jig as I swaggered out of the facility. I had vanquished the little old lady in tennis shoes forever.

Final Fires

The rest of out-processing was a relative breeze and try as I might, I couldn’t summon one shred of sentimentality.

Driving around the compound, I recalled the first time 18 years ago that I walked into the hangar, a brash young officer full of zeal and naiveté.

My mind drifted to my earliest days, to the first 10 days of Cadet Basic Training that I didn’t take a single crap. No kidding. I recalled the day I assessed favorably for the unit and drove from this very gate, whooping in delight and pounding the ceiling of my rental car. I recalled the day I waited seven hours to get onto the compound, the day our collective lives changed irrevocably, September 11th.

Driving from the compound was as anti-climactic as it had to be. No ticker tape parade, no fireworks, no flyover. Maybe I should’ve requested the Division band. All entirely appropriate.

The quiet professional, the noble warrior, requires neither the affectations of men nor the worldly praises coveted by others. When his work is complete, the final role call taken, the warrior is content to drift into irrelevancy, to fade into obscurity.

It was never about him anyway.

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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