“Alright troops listen up! Today’s lesson is on friendly fire. As Murphy’s Law of Combat states, “friendly fire is not friendly!” This simple rule applies to your military career and your civilian career, when you depart Uncle Sam’s Army.” My soldiers huddle together in the motorpool bay as I instruct them on the importance of positively identifying their target. “This is no joking matter. We are all brothers here, members of the greatest team ever assembled to fight our nation’s wars. If you can’t identify your target, you should not fire your weapon. To caveat on this point, if you get angry at someone for whatever reason, you take it out on the person who made you angry. DO NOT bring your anger here and take it out on all of us.”
My soldiers sit still, and no one is smiling.
“Friendly fire, more times than not, happens because someone fails to identify their target. You have time make a positive ID, there is no reason friendly fire should occur. Where should your finger be if you can’t positively identify your target?” My soldiers look at each other and finally the new guy stands to his feet. “Um, outside of your trigger guard Sergeant?” I nod my head in affirmation. “Yes Private, your finger should only touch the trigger if you have identified your target and you are firing your weapon. Otherwise, your finger should be outside of the trigger guard.”
“What does this point have to do with being angry Sergeant?”
I smile and look at my new soldier. He stands at parade rest, hands interlocked behind his back, standing tall like a paragon of truth and justice in a world without either.
“Well Private, let’s look at it for a moment. Let’s say I am dogged out by the Platoon Sergeant for something I didn’t do. However, because he has had a bad day, he continues to rail on me. Is this the right action to take?”
“No Sergeant, he shouldn’t be tearing into you for something you didn’t do.”
“Would you classify it as friendly fire Private? I am a soldier, and so is he. We belong in the same platoon.”
“Yes Sergeant, it is friendly fire.”
“Look guys, we are all guilty of hammering people who aren’t involved in the drama. It happens sometimes but it should be the exception, not the rule. How can you justify coming to work and tearing into people here, but you don’t have the guts to address the issue with the person who made you angry?”
Silence is my only answer. My soldiers shift uncomfortably in their seats, no one looks around, instead they look at the floor. Finally, Specialist Johnson stands to his feet and assumes the position of parade rest.
“Because we are married to the person who made us angry Sergeant.”
I shake my head and turn to walk to an empty chair. My lips pull into a tight grin, and I struggle to contain the mirth which threatens to become full-blown laughter. I can’t contain it; my laughter pours out and tears moisten my eyes.
“True story Johnson.”