December 01, 2005

The Interview X1

I must say that tonight is an exciting night for LOSLI. I recently asked two bloggers one from the left side of the political aisle one from the right to answer some questions from me.

What is so special about this? Both are Military veterans one Marine one Army, both have very different views on the state of the world today. Will we find common ground? Will we have an intelligent discussion? Yes, I believe so. The format for which this interview will take place will be that I have e-mailed both participants with a question, they have responded, it will be posted below. The answers you will read are not necessarily my opinion, but chances are I agree with a lot of them. The answers are presented to you unedited.

Q: You both are military veterans. Tell us a little bit about your time in the service and how it has helped shape who you are to this day. Politically, spiritually, or any other way that it has effected you.

Travis from Rainstorm who is the Blogfather of LOSLI and also the Progressive side of this debate. Answered the above question:
I started out as a Military Policeman. After 3 years I had the opportunity to move into the intelligence field and go to Airborne School. I jumped at the chance.

For the next 10 years I worked in various intelligence jobs in the special operations community. The people in Special Ops, in all four branches of the service, were, without a doubt, some of the finest people I have ever known.

From there I moved into various security and training positions, finally leaving the military in 1999 at the age of 48.

My body was pretty busted up by then. I couldn't run anymore and I needed shoulder surgery. But I wouldn't have traded those years for anything.

Of the people I served with, some (especially those who were in Viet Nam) have since died, some are now senior officers, at least one is with Delta (so I don't hear where he is or what he is doing).

How did my military career shape who I am today? Well, I got a shot or two of self-confidence along the way. There is learning I can't quite articulate that comes from knowing that your life depends upon the proficiency and professionalism of the people in your unit (and others -- pilots, riggers, etc). It requires a certain surrender, and it leads to a tremendous amount of trust.

As for its effect on me politically, I'll just say that my work in both the intelligence field and in special operations required a pretty steep learning curve in some very broad areas, to include geo-politics, military history, guerrilla warfare, conventional and unconventional warfare, and leadership. These are things that I eventually taught in the military. Much of my frustration with the current regime is its habit of ignoring the lessons learned from the past 300 years of military and political history, saying that the old rules don't apply anymore. Reminds of the mindset of stock traders in the late 1990s, just before the bubble burst and they lost their shirts.

The Question again.
Q: You both are military veterans. Tell us a little bit about your time in the service and how it has helped shape who you are to this day. Politically, spiritually, or any other way that it has effected you.

DC from Daisy Cutter who always welcomes me with grace and courtesy to his site, even if at times we disagree is the Conservative side of this debate answered the preceeding question this way.

Hey Jess,

Hard to boil all this down, because the USMC meant so very much and continues to mean so much in my life.

I signed up to go to OCS in January 1989. I actually decided to go to OCS while I was in law school at Texas. I did so because I came to believe that lawyers should serve the public good. A lot of my friends thought I was crazy. They were probably right but it was a good kind of crazy. I interviewed with the Army and Navy, but I found them unimpressive. Plus, Army and Navy lawyers are not regular line officers who can be assigned to any billet. The Marines were ho-hum about having me, and said they didn't like lawyers. I figured they must have their heads screwed on straight. The recruiting officer suggested I start working out with the Marine ROTC unit at U.T. During this time, I got in shape and I learned how to negotiate obstacles and climb a rope. These things would give an "old guy" like me (most of the guys at OCS were 4-5 years younger than me) a needed edge. Went to OCS, and then six months at the Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. Learned to do all the things a Marine platoon commander learns before going to justice school (9 week course in military justice) in Newport, RI.

After justice school, I reported for duty at Camp Pendleton, CA. My principal job for the first 18 months there was as a prosecutor. I loved it, and there was lots to do. I was in court the third day I was there. Many of us got deployed as part of Desert Shield/Storm, and we all thought we would go eventually. The war was over so fast that it never materialized. In May 1992, I was sent to Los Angeles as the OIC of a detachment of Marines to help restore order in the LA riots. That was a great experience, in retrospect. We made a difference there. The remainder of my time was spent as a defense counsel. This is where I really grew as a lawyer and a man in many ways. When I was a prosecutor, I thought they were all guilty. When I was a defense guy, I found that, yes, most of them were in fact guilty, but every body still had a story. Plus, I found it very challenging as the law and the facts were often stacked against you. The experience as a defense lawyer helped me grow up personally, and it also made me a much better lawyer. I got out in September 1993, after I was extended to finish working on a homicide case. I think the most rewarding thing about my service in the USMC was making a difference in some of the wayward young men I represented.

Joining the Marine Corps was the single-best professional decision I ever made. From my vantage point, I often saw the parts of the USMC that were not the best, but still ... I was just so honored to be a part of the Marine Corps. You just can't imagine the teamwork, esprit-de-corps, and commitment to serving the nation. I would do it again in a second, except this time I probably would have stayed in.

One final note, in the interest of full disclosure ... When I signed up, I toyed with the idea that being a Marine could "help me down the road", you know, in whatever I did, and especially if I decided to go into politicics. I am ashamed to say this, but it is true. One night, we were in our racks at OCS signing the Marines' Hymn, and tears were just streaming down my face, and I swore I would never do it. I had no idea what a special trust it was to wear the title " U.S. Marine". And I realized that almost any political office was a demotion from the lowest ranking Marine.

So, there you have it, Jess ... in a nutshell.

Semper Fi,


Well, there you have it. A preview of question #2.
The Iraq question.

On March 20, 2003 did you feel as though we were entering into a necessary conflict? On Decmeber 1, 2005 do you still feel the same way. If you were Commander in Chief what would be your plan of execution to end this conflict.

Buzzwords - To ponder

Iraq / Al Quaeda
Stay the Course
Troop Withdrawal
Slam Dunk
Terrorist Regime
Body Armor
Abu Ghraib
Justified War

If any of you have any suggestions for more questions feel free to leave them in comments.

Posted by Jess at December 1, 2005 08:52 PM | TrackBack

wtf does politics have to do with your "learning curve"??

Posted by: D-Max at December 2, 2005 04:13 PM

I did not stipulate what they could and could not say, I believe he was giving some background to the readers. Though you may not necessarily agree with one or both of my interview participants please refrain from attacking either one. If you wish to debate, please do it in a civil manner.

Thank you for commenting, please keep coming back.


Posted by: jess @ LOSLI at December 2, 2005 07:20 PM

In answer to D-Max's question about the connection between my politics and the learning curve involved in my work in the intelligence and special ops communities, I'll just say that I think well-formed political opinions should be based in reality.

Posted by: Travis Jefferson at December 29, 2005 07:48 AM
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