Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Although most people have heard it before, it's helpful to be reminded: the real killer in combat is boredom. This is true because boredom can lead to complacency, and a complacent Soldier is more apt to be distracted and make a critical mistake. Boredom is also dangerous because it can effect Soldiers' morale and unit cohesiveness. Nowhere is boredom more oppressive than on guard duty. Enlisted Soldiers each take their turn pulling guard duty here at Camp Blue Diamond, out at the Combat Outposts, and Joint Security Sites. They guard the entrance gates and the over watch towers. Their Non Commissioned Officers and Officers rotate the duty of Sergeant of the Guard and Officer of the Day, respectively. As non-combatants, chaplains do not share this particular responsibility. (Although I do have many memories of pulling guard in Germany about twenty years ago when I was a Private and a tanker.)
Soldiers will pull shifts anywhere from 2-4 hours or more at a time, get a few hours off, and return for another shift. Obviously, they don't have the music players and video games to help them pass the time. The oppressive heat finds its way through the solar shades that canopy guard towers. Guard duty is dreaded. Few Soldiers have experiences of their own that validate the time and effort the duty requires. But it only takes a single moment's vigilance to make everyone else's efforts worthwhile. Nearly everything I do is possible because of some Soldier's careful watch. When we travel, SGT Tremain is there to ensure my safety. While I counsel one Soldier in my office or his living area, others are providing constant over watch. When I lead worship, give haircuts, do staff work, plan bible studies, work out in the gym, eat in the chow hall, shower, or anything else a chaplain must do--I can do so because Soldiers pull guard, 24-7-365. Visiting Soldiers on guard is something I enjoy doing.