"Never leave a man behind"

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"Never leave a man behind"

Post by Ryan » Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:55 am

No one is left behind...

It was famous that during World War Two especially, the ship Captains of both Merchant shipping outfits and the Royal Navy alike had a "pact" if you will, that it is unacceptable, foolish and therefore an act one must not do - to "save" or attempt to rescue another ship and/or survivors during combat. It was standard procedure to simply tuck tail and run, normally by scattering in opposing directions or following an escape route. It was actually a written rule for the Royal Air Force too, to not attempt to rescue a plane or survivor, be it if they had landed safely or were falling from the sky in parachute. You "had" to leave them be, even if there fate was survivable by intervention.

One such incident disconnected the reasoning and authority behind that standard procedure and infested a suicidal but none the less brave, and I suppose you could say even somewhat tactical philosophy was the incident involving HMS Jervis Bay whose Captain Edward Fergen famously ordered the Armed Merchant Vessel (AMV) to attack the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer in an attempt to stall the opposing battleship for both time and space in order to give the rest of Convoy HX-84 a chance to escape and break-off in different directions. Such actions caused Admiral Scheer to use nearly half of her ammunition on the Jervis Bay alone and allowed for many other ships of the convoy to escape. Many people agree that Captain Edward Fergen did the right thing, and therefore prevented many other ships from being destroyed in what could of been a much more destructive day for Britain in what was already a very logistically draining and unnerving time for the island nation. The whole philosophy around self-sacrifice, especially on the open and world war scale is not a new one but certainly an eye-opener on human courage and some amount of tactical prowess all hell bent on the attempt to save others and/or cause as much damage to the opposing force as possible whilst doing so.

During this event another Captain whom was escaping the killzone during this time period saw the Jervis Bay in utter ruins. After taking over 600 hits and sacrificing so much, he decided to go against the rules of open-world and naval warfare by going to rescue the "unrescueable", again beginning to look like a double suicide act, but due the pocket battleships ammunition loss, personal injury and damn right frustration they were too fixated to notice the rescue attempt and many survivors of Jervis Bay were rescued and survived the war.

Now for the Infantry, totally separate from the roles of the Navy and Air Force, improvising victory or lengthening your survival hasn't been the forefront and far from the official self-promotion they choose to be associated with their role. As a land-based fighter they are constantly involved in smaller-scale and less destructive circumstances with less strategic and of national implications, allows for the opportunity, without the risk of serious loss, to rescue others. Infact the personal attributes are much more involved in such a force, as a quote from the US Army military website, and creed, markets:

"Selfless Service

Put the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own. Selfless service is larger than just one person. In serving your country, you are doing your duty loyally without thought of recognition or gain. The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how he or she can add to the effort."

"I will never leave a fallen comrade."

"I will never do anything, for pleasure, profit, or personal safety, which will disgrace my uniform, my unit, or my country.
I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my Army comrades from actions disgraceful to themselves and to the uniform."

If I analyze and interpret this correctly, I come across a few key areas, possibly misconceptions but overall arguable cases...

1. "Selfless service is larger than just one person" yet constantly we hear the phrase "never leave a man behind" or "leave no man behind" as a humanistic reminder that we are all in one fight together and are willing to commit ourselves to the saving of another life. The quote ensures in the hearts of men that they will come back from deployment, they will be saved during a firefight - and even if injured they will have someone to rely on. Now this is a morally, emotionally and mentally motivating factors for those "what if's" but there have been many, many situations during those open warfare engagements where rescue was suicide, rescue caused "avoidable deaths".

2. Sometimes personal commitment either to battle or friendship outweighs the logical and tactical reasoning behind a rescue attempt. Patience is normally lost and emotion takes over, which can either lead to incredibly brave and heart-warming stories or incredibly sad stories. Sometimes it's better to come out of the moment and just try to think outside of that box and for not only your life, their life, but for the others around you.

There were many incidents, namely of snipers in World War Two who promoted a "tactic" around engaging to wound an enemy soldier in order to draw out his friends through their emotional, "militaristic" religious-like bond to each other, forged over so many years or battles of dependency upon one another or personal relationship commitments formed with each member. For example some members of the military will make a pact with one another, sometimes to the point of saying "If I go down, come save me" ... others go the opposite way and say "If I'm hit and in a bad situation, do what is right for you". Even to the point of saying, "Look if I'm dead or seriously that injured, if I'm unsaveable, take something personal off me for my family; my wrist-watch, a letter".

I believe there is a better way than simply looking at it as a constant of: "I will rescue this person". I would always try to help the person, directly or indirectly say by helping the situation or being productive about what has happened but there are factors where you just cannot commit such as:

- An attempt being in the odds of the enemy or perceived to be an enemy tactic
- An attempt that is perceived to cause more harm than good, i.e. more KIA
- An attempt on a person whom is on the verge of death or WILL die by your perception

Now these are all hard calls to make. But these calls may save more lives. Then again the opposite call may, the opposite call of not sacrificing or the call of sacrificing. For example Michael Anthony Monsoor jumped on a grenade during the Iraq war to save the lives of the team around him. He presumably weighed up the tactical reasoning: Small space, explosive ordnance. He weighed up the chances of survival for both himself and his team and he took a choice - it was that self-sacrifice that saved others, that helped the situation.

Normally people think of death as an inhibitor, the exact opposite to productive but I believe sometimes it is exactly what is needed. Sometimes unpredictable emotional is a factor you haven't considered to this full extent, when it hits you and you're sucked into it like a blackhole. Sometimes you do opposite to what you say or stated you would do.

What are your thoughts? What do you think of self-sacrifice and rescue?

There are teams that recover bodies, intelligence, key equipment from such incidents.
There are people who pact to save no matter what or pact to logically consider outcomes.
You're never going to have evidence, only perception. No conclusion to what you will do will be productive or not unless you do it.
There are tactical recovery teams coming into the mix, the "angels up-above" coming in to whatever shit-storm is below to attempt to rescue the injured or pinned down.

Note: I'm not saying that either is an advantage or disadvantage, I'm not saying either is wrong or right, I'm sitting in the grey wondering which way I would go and what situation would impact me not to or to conduct such an action. Especially during urban combat where any street, alleyway, window or doorway can be a fatal funnel, a killing zone and a trap.
CQB-TEAM Education and Motivation.

"Pragmatism over theory."
"Anyone with a weapon is just as deadly as the next person."
"Unopposed CQB is always a success, if you wanted you could moonwalk into the room holding a Pepsi."

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