[June 24, 2014] Inevitably the discussion turned to the question, “What is a warrior?” A small group of officers and sergeants were happily discussing this topic over a few near-beers the night before we were to fly into Baghdad, Iraq. For most of us, it would be the first time we would see combat. The “what is a warrior” question was always on our minds.
How would our military unit perform? How would we personally perform? Would fear overtake us? Would we dishonor our comrades, our family, our nation? So many questions were often crowded out by the many tasks we had to perform before boarding the C-130 USAF cargo airplane out of Kuwait.
We made a list of those traits and here they are as much I can remember and generally in the right order of importance. We decided all these are required and are thus interdependent.
- Leader of soldiers
- Mentally and physically strong
- Technically skilled in warfighting skills
- Adaptable and flexible
- Refuses to let fear conquer
- Reliable and predictable
- Loyal to the team and the unit. Supports and encourages the team
- Keeps self, equipment, and weapons clean and in working order. Insists others do the same.
- Fast learner
- Always prepared
- Curious and creative
- Willing to engage the enemy without reservations
- Works without detailed instructions
- Takes responsibility easily
- Never whines or makes excuses
- Does not tolerate laziness or sloppiness
- Communicates clearly
- Sense of humor
- Takes orders easily and does a sanity check on them
My personal opinion at the time was that this list was a bit long. It was asking a lot from our soldiers. Looking back, however, the vast majority of our men and women met all these criteria. They met these with ease.
Being under enemy fire is an event that is very personal. Strong people get stronger and more resilient. The majority are better people for it. The weak struggle, some improve. The list was rather good – we were to review our thoughts on it infrequently but never changed the list.
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