Sunday, July 10, 2011

Meditations on the Way of the Warrior

A reader asks: "Sean, what is the Warrior Ethos?"

I chuckle as I recall a scene from Conan the Barbarian - during Conan's gladiator phase - where the Cimmerian is asked: "Conan, what are the greatest things in Life?"

His reply: "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the cries and lamentations of their women!"

Few moviegoers realize that this is an actual quote of one of the greatest warriors of all time; Genghis Khan.

There have already been some posts on STORMBRINGER regarding the Way of the Warrior:

On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - (Part 1)


On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs (Continued)

I wore the War Suit for twenty-five years, and I continue to serve as a security professional. Perhaps it is time to further explore this theme . . .


The Warrior walks the Way of Power, and with this power comes great responsibility. To the Warrior class, this responsibility is known as "Duty".

For the Warrior, every act of every waking moment is guided by Honor. Honor first . . . Honor last . . . Honor . . . always.

Luftwaffe fighter pilot Franz Stigler epitomized Honor in his encounter with B-17 pilot Charlie Brown during World War II

The Warrior serves. In ancient times, this service was to the tribe, the band of hunter-gatherers. Later, this service was to the King, or the feudal overlord; the Baron. In the modern era, this service is ultimately to the nation-state.

The Warrior is Loyal. Warriors perform their duty honorably at every level of our modern society; at community level as police, firefighters or other first-level responders; within the various state & national-level law enforcement and para-military organizations, the branches of the military - or as a private professionals, business leaders and the captains of industry - ultimately, duty to the nation trumps all. The Warrior must never betray his Country.

Considered amongst the greatest, most insightful American military leaders, both Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee took up arms against the United States. It must be remembered, however, that in their time a man's state was considered his country, and although Stonewall and Lee were not adherents of the Confederate cause, neither could bear going against their native Virginia.

The Warrior keeps his passions in check, never acts upon the impulse of his passions, except in the moment of actively engagement against the Threat. The Warrior channels the energy of his passion into selfless acts of service, into the driving force of physical endurance, and into outward displays of loyalty and respect to the Nation and its symbols, to the Honorable Dead, and to those who served before.

Green Berets of 10th Special Forces Group honoring World War II veterans of the Canada-America 1st Special Services Brigade


The Warrior speaks Truthfully: to his leadership, to the Citizenry, and even to the Enemy, when representing the national leadership. The Warrior is not constrained to the Truth, however, when engaging in deliberate acts of ruse or deception, or psychological operations.

Although shrewd in his business dealings, the Warrior is an Honest Broker and a Fair Trader. The Warrior Class as a whole suffers when a single Warrior conducts himself dishonorably in barter with the Citizenry. This sentiment notwithstanding, the world is full of snakes, and the Warrior practices the ethic of "Trust, but Verify."

The days of Sack & Pillage are over; there are rules of war, codified in the Law of Land Warfare. Given the incredible lethality of modern war machines, and the professionalism of the Warrior Class, we conduct ourselves within this modern Code in order to minimize unnecessary suffering.

We treat Enemy prisoners within the Law of Land Warfare out of human decency, and to ensure humanitarian treatment of our own being held by the Enemy . . .

. . . whether or not the Enemy reciprocates:

American Prisoners of War in Japan, 1945

SS Reichsführer Himmler inspecting prisoners on the Eastern Front, 1943

The Warrior kills only when necessary, in the execution of legitimate duties. To kill indiscriminately, or outside the scope of duty, is unsanctioned murder.

To stray beyond these parameters one departs the Warrior Class and becomes of the criminal classes.

In a clandestine photograph smuggled out via underground operatives during World War II, an Australian pilot is summarily executed by an officer of the Imperial Japanese Army.

The German Wehrmacht conducts a mass execution of partisans, somewhere in Europe 1940-1944


Planning is a continual process; the Warrior always has a Plan, and the Warrior is always planning. Knowing that no plan remains intact once executed, the Warrior has an alternate plan - a Plan B - and an emergency plan - a "Go-to-Hell Plan."

"Be professional, be polite, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet." - Marine General James Mattis in Iraq.

The Principles of Patrolling are a good set of rules to guide you in your planning in all endeavors, civilian or military. They are found painted on Infantry barracks walls and posted on bulletin boards throughout the United States Army:






We will explore these concepts in detail, at a later time.


Knowing that the world is an evil place full of people who only wish to do him harm, the Warrior is never unarmed. A member of the Citizenry looks out the window and says, "Oh, it is raining; I must bring an umbrella." Whereas the Warrior looks out the window and thinks, "I don't know what's out there, I must carry something: an umbrella, a walking stick, a rolled-up newspaper - anything - so that my hands are not empty, should I encounter a Threat."

When circumstances preclude carrying a firearm, I carry one of these. If the distance is closed with speed and aggression, a collapsible baton will disarm and subdue an armed opponent.


The Warrior is not constrained by convention. There is a friction to Conflict; the Warrior adapts to fit the space and shape of the battlefield environment.

Years ago - another lifetime ago it seems - when I was a young Green Beret in Asia, my mentor explained: "The weapons of the modern-day ninja are the computer and the submachinegun."

Like most of my peers, I knew nothing of computers, and an instinctive fear of the unknown gripped me. In the course of my self-education, however, I encountered Sun Tzu, the great Philosopher of War.

The Art of War is one of the oldest and most successful books on military strategy in the world. First translated into French language by Jesuits in 1772, it very likely influenced Napoleon. Leaders as diverse as Mao Zedong, General Vo Nguyen Giap, and General Douglas MacArthur claimed inspiration from the work.

Sun Tzu writes, "There is no difference between two armies tens of thousands strong meeting across a great battlefield, or two swordsmen facing each other in a duel."

I understood this to mean that a computer by itself is not evil or sinister, no more so than any tool or machine; it is simply a device that can be used to project power, as much as a submachinegun but perhaps more indirectly. Having arrived in the era of cyber-crime and cyber-sabotage, it is easier to understand this concept. The greater point is that the environment and the weaponry itself may change, but the Principles of War are always the same.


The greatest folly in Conflict is for the Warrior to underestimate his opponent; and Conflict pervades every aspect of our lives. Sun Tzu also wrote: "Know your enemies and know yourself and you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. But if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."

In our business negotiations we apply this in seeking to know the other guy's hidden agenda. If you know your opponent's bottom line, you can quickly outflank him in negotiations or office politics.

To respect the Enemy means never to underestimate him. In modern warfare, this translates: "There aren't too many Million Dollar Men, but there are plenty of 25 cent bullets."

That little guy out there, squatting in the bush and living off rice and beans; he hates you and everything you stand for. Given half a chance, he can . . . and will . . . very realistically . . . KILL you.


Take what I have written here and contemplate it. You will be tested - of this I can assure you.


© 2011 Sean Linnane

1 comment:

  1. The warrior is empowered because he or she knows his own circumstances, limitations and goals. Perhaps most importantly, the warrior is someone who has made past mistakes, owned up to them, and learned not to repeat them.