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OUR COMBAT

D. R. (Don) Staton, Chaplain to Peace Keepers
Virginia Beach, VA

Most of us for most of our lives have been taught to protect and preserve life, especially the lives of people.  When we decide to become Peace Keepers we are, by great necessity, taught how to take life when our lives or the lives of others are in great peril of being killed by another person.  For many of us this becomes a great conflict for a time during the training and sometimes afterward.  Most overcome the conflict and are able to take whatever action becomes necessary.  If we do not overcome this conflict it can cause us to hesitate just when we should act and further endanger our lives or the lives of others.

The people not involved in peace keeping do not comprehend why we must shoot as we are trained to shoot, seeking to hit vital center mass, so as to stop the threat as soon as possible.  Can you shoot an adversary who is so close you can smell his breath and body odor... So close you have to push him away to be able to fire? 

Too many movies have been produced showing someone wounding a shooter with a non-life threatening hit... Or shooting the gun or knife out of a moving hand.  These fairy tales from the entertainment industry have convinced the public that we all can and should shoot the perpetrator that way.  They believe these things to be possible all the time and in every situation.  Only those who have been trained in life-like scenarios or been in an actual life threatening conflict can know and understand the mechanics of what can be done and what must be done in the heat of battle.

The decision to take a life must be settled in the mind of the one who could be placed into such a situation long before the situation arises. 
Every possible governing rule must be learned and practiced...
Every possible thinking process must be learned and practiced...
Every possible mechanical process must be learned and practiced...
Every possible physical process must be learned and practiced...
What to do before, during and after such an incident must be learned and practiced...
These reasons are why it is so very necessary that Peace Keeper trainees spend so much time being trained in thought processes, mechanical actions, physical actions and procedural actions. 
This is why Firearms Training and Defensive Tactics Training take so much time in the Basic Training process. 
This is also why law enforcement must be well trained in the operation of motor vehicles.  Stopping the threat without loss of life is the utmost goal. 
Preserving life is a major goal. 
Survival of the lives threatened is a major goal.
Survival of the Peace Keeper is the major goal.
Peace for as many citizens as possible is the ultimate goal.

The Peace Keeper must know:
    What can/may be done...
    What should be done...
    What must be done... 
Often the assessment must be done in mili-seconds...
    Less than a heart beat...
    Less than the blink of an eye. 

Get too close to an adversary and you could be horribly injured or dead... 
Not seeing a threat soon enough could leave you injured or dead...
Not responding quickly enough... You could be too late to do any good and suffer injury or death to yourself or to someone else you are trying to protect.

Just today, I saw a video of an officer who allowed the perpetrator to get too close and was beaten senseless.  Not a week goes by that I do not receive messages about the deaths or injuries of Peace Keepers.  These are reasons that training and right attitude are so very vital in the business of peace keeping. 

When a Peace Keeper dies it is usually because of something they did not see in time or because of something they did or did not do as they were trained to do.  Ambush and bombs are two possible exceptions to this... There are probably other exceptions.

Our only real protection is seeing, hearing, learning, practicing and being professional...
Acting according to what we have learned...
Knowing that the learning process can never stop as long as we are in the profession of peace keeping.

My tenure in the profession covers a long, long time...
I have at times trained until I was weak and hardly able to move...
I have participated in advanced firearms training until the weapon felt like a great lead weight, taking all of my strength and concentration to meet the requirements...
I have patrolled as many as three counties alone...
I have faced multiple adversaries alone...
I have seen too much... 
I have been involved in too much...
I have been involved in too many funerals for Peace Keepers...

It has not all been hard or difficult.  I loved firearms and shooting.  My instructor said I must have been born with a 12 ga. 870 in my hands.  I immensely enjoyed shooting a Thompson, 45 cal. sub-machine gun... but I enjoyed shooting the 45 cal. Rising Gun even more.  I would love to own a Rising Gun.  They have a poor service reputation in combat but I really enjoyed them.  I was deadly with that weapon.

I greatly enjoyed Motor Vehicle Training Operation, especially Pursuit Driving involving special maneuvers and catching the fleeing vehicle.
 
Some say that death in peace keeping is inevitable.  Maybe it is but I will never get used to it nor get used to dealing with the event and the aftermath...  
Many of the deaths and injuries are preventable. 
That is why training is continually evolving.

To survive and be successful:
All Peace Keepers must be correctly set in their attitudes by their own choices.
Training is the most important ingredient in our careers...
The next most important ingredient is practicing what we have learned in training...
The next most important ingredient is to keep our attitudes properly set and adjusted for optimum success and survival...
The next most important ingredient is carrying out our duties with great care and attention to surroundings and environment...
The next most important ingredient is great attention to what we are doing but never to the exclusion of the actions going on around us... People, vehicles, environment...  Seeing, hearing and responding to what our senses are telling us...  Developing our senses to the optimum degree.

Learning to see what fits and what does not fit...
Learning to follow up on every detail in investigation, even on so called minor things...
Learning the laws, procedures and guidelines for our specific jobs and staying current...
Learning the jobs of those around us in case we have to assist them in their jobs...
Learning that there is no success on our own unless we are fully and properly trained...
Learning that following the book and proper procedure is for our protection, survival and success...  The book was developed because someone fouled up and a procedure had to be written to cover it.

Are you seeing, hearing, learning, practicing?  Are you exercising physically to stay in fit condition?  Are you checking your own attitude to see if it needs adjusting?  Wrong attitude can kill you as quickly as a person can kill you.

Life is given to us to live it to the fullest.  Peace Keepers must take much more care than most other citizens while they are living and doing.  Peace Keepers are the foundation of our way of life.  Our world could not, would not, survive if it were not for those in peace keeping who are willing to pay the price for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
for all citizens.  This is not democracy... This is survival of the most people by the sacrifice of those few people who have chosen to be the Sheepdogs (a favorite term of one of my favorite trainers, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S.Army Ret.), Protectors and Peace Keepers rather than being the sheep.  Wolves (adversaries) love sheep but they hate the Sheepdogs (Peace Keepers) who protect the sheep.

Thank you Peace Keepers!!!  We are all in your debt!


"BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!"  ALWAYS be alert, watchful, suspicious and wary.  Take the very best care of you as you care for and about others.  See to the strength and well being of your spirit as well as all the rest of you.  Your spirit must be strong for you to be successful.

As Peter said to the Church, I must say to you... As long as I am in this body I shall not cease to remind you of these things.  That is my assignment from my Commander-in-Chief.  My motivation is my care and concern for your well being, safety and survival.  I want you to be around long enough to return home when your duty is over.

As it has always been... So it still is!!!


"VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST...
AND THEN GO TO WAR,
WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST...
AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." 
Sun tzu

Training and practice are everything!
Without it, the best results are not obtained!


ONLY LIVE PEACE KEEPERS SEE THE VICTORY!!!
THEY SEE IT ONLY BECAUSE OTHERS HAVE MADE THEIR ETERNAL
PAYMENTS OF SWEAT, BLOOD, TEARS AND LIFE FOR THAT VICTORY!


WITH THE DEEPEST OF APPRECIATION AND RESPECT...
BE BLESSED (A CONDITION TO BE ENVIED)...
BE SUCCESSFUL... BE SAFE...
[My injunction to be safe means doing all you know to do as you do your job... it means
doing the best you can with what you have where you are using all your faculties to get
the job done well and with good results conquering evil and keeping or restoring peace...
it does not mean to avoid duty and honor... it does not mean to cower or allow anything
to hinder you in the process of duty according to rules, law and ethics...  it means that if
the demand takes your earthly life you destroy as much evil as possible in the process. 
That is my definition of being safe... doing the best you can and leaving the rest to God
or whomever else is responsible... being best employed for the sake and protection of all
the things and people that we hold dear.]

I represent, write for... and give the credit to:
God the Father (my Commander-in-Chief),
Jesus Christ the Son (the Eternal Captain of my life) and
the Holy Spirit of God (my Eternal Teacher, Keeper and Guide).
In Christ I live... with Him and for you I serve...
And I rejoice that you are there whether you are Christian or not...
D. R. (Don) Staton, Chaplain to Peace Keepers,
Surviving Peace Keeper,
Virginia State Police Alumni,
RETIRED Police Officer Virginia Beach Police Dept.,
DCJS Certified Police Instructor,
Community Service Officer (Traffic Safety)
757-431-2190, chpln1@verizon.net
3709 Beacon Lane, Virginia Beach, VA 23452

All rights reserved.  May not be duplicated without permission, except to be
forwarded with all source information for any quotation intact.