A reader today sought out a blog post of sometime ago about the bond men fighting side by side form with one another. I think it is one of the most important posts I’ve ever done, so I offer it again here:
I’ve written here a number of times about the bond that forms between men who fight side by side. I’ve said that it is the strongest bond I’ve ever experienced. But I’ve never devoted a blog post to that bond, what causes it, and what it’s like.
I’m not a psychiatrist or sociologist, so I can’t talk in scientific terms about the bond. I can only tell you how it affected me.
I have to start by stressing why men fight in combat. They may have been put in harm’s way because of their desire to defend their country or their devotion to God or their determination to fight evil. But on the battlefield, men fight for each other. In combat, they fight for the lives of their brothers fighting at their side. They are determined to keep their fellow combatants alive even if it means giving up their own lives.
The feelings among men fighting by each other’s side is the strongest love I’ve ever experienced. Soldiers and Marines don’t call it love—that’s too sentimental. But that’s what it is.
I’m sure I didn’t experience that bond to the depths that other men in combat did. I wasn’t there to shoot and kill the enemy. I was there to provide information about the enemy—where he was, the size and identity of his units, what he was doing, what his intensions were. The men by my side were the fighters, intent on destroying the enemy and defending each other.