One Warrior’s Creed – A Philosophy to Live With
Warriors are natural leaders. When times of crisis appear they are naturally looked to by those for whom the situation is overwhelming. As a wise mentor once told me: “We don’t pay you for the day to day, we pay you for that occasional time of crisis where preparation and action are combined to form a resolution.” In order to be constantly prepared, warrior leaders must be committed to something far beyond themselves, something that clearly both separates and defines them, something on an order of magnitude well beyond normal lifestyles. I penned the creed during the closing days of my first military tour in Iraq as a Counter-Terrorism Advisor to Iraqi Security Forces. I was reflecting on those I had known over my time in Special Forces and S.W.A.T., the truly dangerous and deadly men with whom I had shared fear, sweat, and blood. Men committed to the cause of liberty, who believed that it was worth everything they had to give–even their lives. Men who exported their capability to faraway places in the world where terror and tyranny reigned, and who–within the confines of the cities and jurisdictions of the greatest nation on earth, the United States of America–utilized their dedication and skill to protect the rights of those unable, or unwilling, to protect them for themselves. Men and women (I personally know that courage is not limited to one gender) who truly represented the commitment to selfless service and willing sacrifice honed by previous generations of warriors.
I had been reflecting on a recent operation where a good friend had perished. He left behind a young family and numerous tears were shed in the days following his death. At a memorial ceremony, words had been spoken, words indicating the special nature of his service and later causing me to wonder, “why do we do this?” Why do we, the “rough men” of whom Orwell speaks, voluntarily subject ourselves to the lifelong efforts required to be the warriors, to become one of Dave Grossman’s “sheepdogs?” As I reflected, I began to recognize some consistent underlying and foundational values among police and military special operations personnel with whom I had served. The recognition of the constancy of those values as well as an attempt to verbalize the values of the warriors of our great democracy resulted in the writing of “One Warrior’s Creed.”
Explanation of Poem
If today is to be THE DAY, so be it… We do not know the day or the time when we will be called on and we do not care. By living (not just practicing) the creed, we will be ready no matter when or where. The day, time, or place matters not. Stephanie Shugart, wife of MSG Randall Shugart, recipient of the Medal of Honor, said, “It takes a real man to live a creed, not just say it.”
If you seek to do battle with me… We of the creed do not go looking for the fight, those purveying evil must bring it to us. We, the “quiet professionals,” have nothing to demonstrate, nothing to show, no need to brag; we just quietly go about our lives. We represent, as stated by the wife of one who lives the creed, “The most dangerous nice guy(s) you’ll ever meet.” But if you bring the battle to us, you will receive the best that I am capable of giving. We are committed to fighting you, to defending ourselves and those for whom we feel responsible, and we will give it our best effort no matter what.
It may not be enough… We recognize that we do not control the tactical environment enough to ensure the outcome, …but it will be everything that I have to give and it will be impressive, for I have constantly prepared myself for this day. We recognize that the commitment and responsibility we took upon ourselves by oath requires that we put forth daily effort to ensure our skills are at their utmost when called for. I have trained, drilled and rehearsed my actions so that I might have the best chance of defeating you. Never knowing when, where, or how, we accept the standard of being constantly ready. We daily sweat, strain, and push ourselves far beyond the boundaries of mere mortals, then smile and prepare to do it again tomorrow. If the call to action never comes, we are okay with that, but we are not okay with the potential for failure due to a lack of preparation. I have kept myself in peak physical condition… for a warrior not highly fit is less than half a warrior, … schooled myself in the martial skills… for we recognize that to be truly ready means that we must be capable of the use of the complete range of weapons, including firearms, blunt and edged weapons, personal weapons such as hands, elbows, knees and feet, all connected by that greatest of weapons, the mind, … and have become proficient in the application of combat tactics…. We understand that, since we don’t know where or when, we must understand the range of variables existing on any terrain and we must have prepared our strategies for fighting there.
You may defeat me… We know that we are mortal, we have no false illusions or ideas of being invulnerable, … but you will pay a severe price… we will inflict upon you whatever pain and injury is necessary to insure your defeat, and you will be lucky to escape with your life… we will take your life, without remorse, if you force us to do so. We do not enjoy killing, but we recognize that the taking of the life of an evil predator may be necessary in order to ensure the safety of ourselves, our loved ones, our cherished way of life and our nation. You may kill me, but I am willing to die if necessary. We recognize that great sacrifices have been necessary in the past, in order to maintain the cause of freedom and to ensure a free society, and we honor those who have died in the cause of liberty. We also recognize that warriors must be willing to do so today and in the future, or the sacrifices of those who have paid the ultimate price in the past will become nothing more than a historical anecdote. I do not fear death, for I have been close enough to it on enough occasions that it no longer concerns me. We recognize that all who have received the God-given gift of mortality die, that it is nothing to be feared for it will come to us all. We do not get to choose the place or time of our demise, but we revel in the Roman proverb: “It is better to have lived one day as a lion than one hundred years as a sheep.” We have been present when death has occurred and some of us have caused it. We have known warriors among us who have perished. We have honored them, paid tribute to the families who raised and supported them, and thanked God for the privilege of knowing them.
But I do fear the loss of my Honor… To live honorably is the root of our zeal, it provides the fuel for our efforts, which is why the word is capitalized. We, like the great warrior classes of old, recognize that a life without honor is a life wasted. We are committed to greater things than ourselves. … and would rather die fighting than to have it said that I was without Courage. Courage is the exemplification of all that we hold in great value, of all that we feel is worth the ultimate price. To be ever found without Courage is to truly be unarmed, unprepared, and easily overcome. We can never overstate its importance, which is why it is also capitalized.
So I WILL FIGHT YOU… We strongly commit to that and exemplify it with how we live the creed…. no matter how insurmountable it may seem and to the death if need be… We care not what the odds are or what the probable outcome may be. What is important is that we are there and ready. … in order that it may never be said of me that I was not a Warrior. To live in the shame of knowing that we capitulated, that we surrendered to fear, that we failed to exemplify the creed, that we have dishonored those before us, is a shame and humiliation beyond comprehension. This is the only thing we, the Warriors, truly fear.