Generation Kill - Episode 4
Episode 4 - Combat Jack
March 28-31, 2003
We open with the Marines again working on their equipment and talking about how SSgt Colbert is going to get railroaded because one of his Marines shot and killed a civilian child. Capt Encino Man and Gunny Griego approach some of the Marines and make the biggest mistake that a commander can make. He asks the Marines to speak frankly and forget about his Captain’s bars. This never ends well and usually; the enlisted Marines get in trouble for speaking their mind. In this case, they talk about how incompetent the Captain is as a Company Commander. You can guarantee that the Navy Corpsman will receive a stern talking to about his comments to the Company Commander. You can bet that SgtMaj Sixta will be all up his ass at some point.
I know that if I were put in that situation, I would not comment, but I know that I would be pissed off at how fucked up the leadership is.
This episode mentions the loss of the Battalion colors which were in the supply truck that LtCol Ferrando ordered to be left behind after it got shot up, by friendly fire. Each Marine Corps unit has a unit flag, known as the unit colors, which goes wherever the unit goes, including in combat. On the top of this flag are streamers that hang down that are awarded to the unit. In the case of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, their battalion colors had streamers like one from WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, and others. Yes, the colors can and will be replaced, but it just isn’t the same. Now the entire call of leaving the supply truck behind is 100% bullshit and at a minimum someone in leadership should have asked what is on the truck that they are going to leave behind.
If you recall, SSgt Colbert asks the driver, what is he carrying and the driver rattles off with “Battalion’s chow, M-16’s, ammo, four hundred pounds of C-4, couple of cases of Claymore mines, all kind of shit like that.”, and then SgtMaj Sixta jumps all over the truck driver and suddenly we leave important supplies behind. Because of piss poor leadership, the Marines not only lose their colors but are made to eat only one meal a day because re-supply isn’t possible for a while. The unfortunate thing is I’m sure that no one in leadership received any punishment for this, but you can promise if it were an enlisted Marine, they would have been NJPd for sure, not to mention abused by just about every Marine in the unit. This double standard shit is so fucked up and this is a HUGE reason why Marines don’t re-enlist.
Often, Officers are not installed as unit commanders, based on their merit or leadership abilities, in fact, in my experience it is the exact opposite. Most often officers are put in charge because their career needs to show leadership to get promoted. So you can be a total dumbass and still get to be a leader of a unit and more, just for being a dumbass.
You can be an effective leader if you do NOT live in a bubble. You need to surround yourself with Marines that know what they are doing. As you watch the entire miniseries, you will see that Marines like SSgt Colbert are strong leaders and know what they are doing. But often officers will not even give an SNCO like Colbert a chance to ever speak. There are some really good enlisted Marines out there like “Iceman”.
There is a scene where the Company Commander Capt Schwetje is addressing the Marines and trying to convince them that it is the enemy that destroyed the supply truck. He tells the Marines “And I know you’re mad at the battalion. Because as you know, I’ve been talking to you and I’ve heard you. And I know you’re angry. I know you’re angry that the supply truck was burned and you don’t have that food to eat. You told me this and I heard you. But you shouldn’t be angry at your command. If you’re angry at your command, then you’re saying it was our fault that the supply truck was burned. But we didn’t burn the supply truck. The enemy burned the supply truck. They took your food from you. That’s the important thing to remember. It was the enemy who stole your food from you and you should be mad at them. Before we step off on this next mission, I’m reminding you of who your enemy is… the enemy.”
This shit happens all the time, where the leadership tries to distort the truth and it sadly works. A handful of Marines will receive the message and believe it, and that is enough to put the now two stories against each other and they are both polar opposite of each other. In the long term, the story is so mixed up that if and when someone investigates they can’t determine the official truth.
The enemy did not destroy the truck, the Company Commander ordered the truck destroyed.
There is a scene when the convoy is stopped by gunfire. They call it a Zeus, which is a ZSU-23, which is a Soviet-era self-propelled, radar-guided anti-aircraft weapon. which several large 23mm autocannons. A ZSU can put some rounds down range