David A. Bryant

I had intended to write my column this week about the great things Congress is finally doing with the National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that authorizes funding the military and gives it direction for the next year.

For at least 2017, I won’t have to worry about my Tricare Prime premium going up. New soldiers won’t have to start paying a premium for their own health insurance. And our troops receiving basic allowance for housing won’t have to worry about only getting the amount of rent on their rental agreement or mortgage loan.

Granted, some of these things are supposed to now go into effect in 2018, so we’ll still need to stay on top of our Congress members to make sure they don’t happen, but it gives us some breathing room.

Then I heard that retired Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis is president-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Defense and, what can I say — the Marine in me had me jumping up and down and hollering like a school girl whose favorite singer blew her a kiss at a concert.

OK, maybe I wasn’t that giddy, but who can resist cheering for a man in charge of our military who says things like, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet?”

My first 13 years of service were in the Marine Corps, so when a Marine general with the potential to become more of a legend than even our beloved Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller is chosen to be the big boss, terms like “Semper Fi” and “Oorah” start popping up uncontrollably in my vocabulary.

Mattis is the type of person who believes the best defense is a good offense. He once told the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper that we need to “find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”

For a military sick and tired of rules of engagement so restrictive that our service members practically have to get shot first before they can fire on the enemy, those words are pure music. It’s like watching “Apocalypse Now” and getting to the part where Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore says, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

It means we may actually have an opportunity to quickly do what is necessary to put an end to groups such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State and the Taliban. It means our enemies in places like North Korea will start thinking four or five times before even tip-toeing up to any declared “red lines.”

And it means our troops will get what they need to not only fight and win battles, but decisively end wars in our favor.

David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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