An Officer Reflects On Escorting Home The Body Of One Of His Marines

The Long March
U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Elijah Abernathy

Editor’s note: The Long March will be closed for inventory the month of August. We regret any inconvenience this causes our loyal customers. In an effort to keep you reasonably content and focussed, we are offering re-runs of some of the best columns of the year. We value your custom and hope you will stick around for . . . the Long March.

An article by Capt. Brian Worley in the June issue of the Marine Corps Gazette has the quality of good fiction. FWIW, the Marine had been killed by a drunk driver, not in combat, and Worley had spent days in the hospital as the family arrived to say goodbye and the comatose patient was disconnected.

After delivering the corpse to a funeral home in Grove City, Ohio, he finds a bar:

Over dinner, I replay events from my own life. I second-guess my choices. I think about my family. The bartender is curious about me. I’m from a small town; I know it’s easy to spot outsiders. She asks me why I look sad. “Because I’m sad, today.” She asks what will help. “Time.” They let me sit in peace. The beer is good; it helps my mind wander, and after a few hours, I get a taxi. I gather myself and ask for the bill.

“It’s been taken care of,” she says. I ask what she’s talking about, and she says, “We know why you’re here. Thank you for what you did.” I don’t know what to say. I just start tearing up because I’m exhausted and buzzed and overwhelmed by the gesture. “We know why you’re here.” I’ve said ‘thank you’ a million times, but I have never meant it the way I say it now: “Thank you. Thank you for letting me sit here all night. I didn’t know what else to do.” She knew the whole time. I hold it together until I get back to my room. This is the first time in my career I’ve felt appreciated because it is the first time I feel I have done something worth appreciating. It is staggeringly cathartic.

Pictured left to right: Pedro Pascal ("Catfish"), Garrett Hedlund ("Ben"), Charlie Hunnam ("Ironhead"), and Ben Affleck ("Redfly") Photo Courtesy of Netflix

A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.

Read More Show Less
Army Sgt. Daniel Cowart gets a hug from then-Dallas Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty. Photo: Department of Defense

The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and " hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.

So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.

Read More Show Less
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.

The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.

I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)

The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.

On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.

Read More Show Less