A U.S. Army veteran's lesson about command

“BSG” is my favorite sci-fi epic, as it is the story of the soldier’s choices in war and, ultimately, the search for what it means to be human.

 

As a professional soldier, I find “BSG” a fascinating story of the challenge of military command. My favorite episodes are when Galactica meets the Pegasus and the contrasting command styles of Admiral Cain and Commander Adama.

 

The role of the warrior in society is to protect society from the wolves. War is a harsh mistress, and Admiral Cain is a mistress of war. She will do anything to keep the wolves (Cylons) at bay to protect her people — anything. Adama on the other hand, as flawed as he is, is restrained by his moral values and is the better commander.

 

The dilemma of war, and the lesson that must be constantly relearned, is to fight with all your might, skill and courage and yet not become the wolf. To me, this is what “BSG” is all about, the eternal struggle of remaining human in the midst of the horror of war. What I have found in today’s military is that no matter how sophisticated your technology, it is still the human warrior, and particularly the human in command, who makes the difference. If the warrior becomes a razor and loses his moral compass, then he can no longer protect but can only kill.

 

As technology takes us ever closer to a time when we merge with our machines and possibly lose our humanity, the “BSG” epic is a story worth watching and, dare I say, learning from.

 

Col. John Antal, U.S. Army (retired) is a soldier, author, historian and executive producer of “Brothers in Arms” games (Gearbox Software).

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