Following orders


The first thing they teach you in basic training is to obey orders.

Thinking too much can get you and your team killed.

Until the commander ordered us out this time, I never asked why.

Iím a team player, and believe in my heart that our mission is sacred and when we get orders to do something, there has to be a good reason, even if I donít always know what that reason is.

I see the reason why the commander wants us out, but I donít like it.

And I say as much to him, and he doesnít like me for it.

ďJust do what youíre told,Ē he tells me, knowing I canít do anything else.

This many light years from our own lines, I canít even file a complaint with the Inspector General and get it back before Iím shot for ----

Even though my brain screams with outrage and frustration, I donít hate the commander. Heís been hurt with the raid on our base. Heís seen guys he grew up with and trained, and needs us to strike back at the enemy on their account.

But why send good men on a bad mission when itís only going to get more men killed?

Back home war protestors call us ďkilling machines,Ē claiming we donít have compassion.

Sometimes, we have too much, and more than once Iíve wanted to charge into an village and blast everyone and everything in it, just because I canít get the image of a dead solider out of my head.

Thatís why we follow orders.

Too keep us from flipping our lids and doing something we know weíll regret later.

Just as the commander is doing now, staring hard at me until I finally give him the salute he requires, and I head back out of his office to assemble my team.

This is a cold world, and as I stomp down the long hall, I feel the ache of it in by bones, even though the life support keeps the temperature even under our dome.

You always feel it, and always ache for that time when you will get home or to some R&R station to recover from it.

But as my footsteps thunder ahead of me, I imagine the slow creep of the cold, and how none of us will likely feel warmth again.

I keep seeing the dead eyes of the dead soldiers and wondering what the devil we are doing here, fighting in the back yard of an alien enemy who not only loves the cold, but gathers strength from it.

I see those dead eyes on the faces of the men I must lead in this assault, and I know if any of us get back, weíre going to live the rest of our lives with the regret.

But the army has taught us well.

We have to follow orders, living and dying by the belief someone above us knows what they are doing even when they donít.


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