“Trust But Verify” And “Repel All Boarders”

Two Rallying Cries For The Ages!

These are two historic statements that may have a new meaning today.

John Paul Jones (July 6, 1747–July 18, 1792)
was America’s first well-known naval hero in the
American Revolutionary War
Image by David

Suzanne Massie, an American scholar coined the phrase ‘Trust but Verify’ for President Reagan’s nuclear disarmament discussions with the Soviet Union almost 40 years ago. Those were days when there was a clear foreign threat, and it was easy to focus on the real meaning of military might. It was an unstable world then and, arguably, it is a more unstable world today.

But today the unstable world is not solely focused on a foreign threat. There is a much more insidious domestic threat that is infiltrating our social fabric and is focused on creating social division within our ranks. We seem to be waking up from a deep sleep over the last decade where we allowed our schools to replace traditional American civics lessons with the roots of ‘American Marxism’. We trusted our teachers and teacher unions to do what was right, but we failed to verify. Big mistake.

The pandemic dynamic of ‘Virtual Learning’ exposed this failure as parents saw firsthand what was being taught in their school systems. The matriculation of this ideology continues from elementary, middle, and high school indoctrination into Institutions of higher learning or the reverse. It’s recent creeping into the Service Academy culture is most disturbing to our alumni and veteran community. This dynamic has resulted in a firm foundation for transformation of our fundamental societal systems to a place most Americans do not want to go.  

As State Governors begin the reawakening process of fighting the indoctrination of our school systems, we must energize the “Verify” piece of any commitment to change.

George Gipp was one of the best football players ever to play at the University of Notre Dame. He was memorialized by Ronald Reagan in the film ‘Knute Rockne, All American’. Ronald Reagan’s words “Win one for the Gipper” and “Trust but verify” are timeless reminders that this is a battle that must be won.  

There is another adage that ‘History often repeats itself’.

“Repel all Boarders” was a Battle Cry in the early days of Naval Warfare when inserting combatants onto an enemy vessel became a critical strategic and tactical paradigm for invading and capturing enemy ships. From all appearances, our Navy has been fighting a new enemy attempting to board the Institution of the U.S. Navy.

To quote a recently retired Navy flag officer, “Many sailors found their leadership distracted, captive to bureaucratic excess, and rewarded for the successful execution of administrative functions rather than developing the core competencies of war. For the past 15 years commanding officers have been saddled with the flow down of social experimentation from the senior leadership. In addition to and in many cases instead of preparing their unit for combat and sailing in harm’s way, commanding officers had to deal with ‘don’t ask don’t tell’, introduction of women, zero tolerance, accepting gender dysphoria and trans sexuality and now identifying extremism, white rage, and critical race theory. It is no wonder we have so many Commanding Officers that have been relieved of their commands. All indicators are that we are now marching smartly from a meritocracy to “equity” in our leadership positions. I fear that the best and brightest will not be there when the Navy and the country needs them the most. As hard as it is to say I am glad I am not on active duty anymore”.

Our military has been the subject of social experimentation for years with the apparent cover that our military is not just a warfighting element, it is also a government mixing bowl funded by taxpayers and can be used for that purpose. The distractions today have become more extreme as it is now the laboratory for a new religion called ‘Wokeness’.

The Admiral elaborated “I have been concerned about ‘social compliance’ emphasis for a long time. Many of the problems of introducing a distracting factor in a high performance team diminish war fighting effectiveness and over burden the CO. These are things that should not be put in any warfighting CO’s backpack. The introduction of critical race theory is the most frightening of all”.

So, how does this happen? As always, it comes down to a leadership challenge. Inspiring ordinary people to do extraordinary things has been the rallying call in the process of making this country and our military the greatest in the world. Rallying when our country and our way of life are threatened is unique to our DNA. Nowhere was this more apparent than after 9-11. So…. what happened?

Inspirational leadership and courage of conviction used to be the single most important quality for promotion, whether in combat or in unit readiness. Incentives and expectations for promotion depended on it. There seems to be a critical element of that measure that ‘left the pattern’ a few years ago. Blame it on the lack of world conflict as our forefathers knew it as a baptism of fire for young leaders. Blame it on emerging new technology that has made conflict a distant fight from comfortable quarters. Blame it on a new criterion for promotion. Whatever you want to blame it on, it is a real threat to the future of our military might.

Our children are being indoctrinated to hate our country. The new teaching paradigm is based on racial differences and oppressors vs the oppressed based on the color of your skin. Those students will become the future leader pool for our military and our nation.  We have always been unique in the world with our all-volunteer force. Should we expect our best and brightest to take on the mantle of leadership in this environment? Maybe we need to recognize that it’s time to repel a new generation of boarders sneaking under our radar.

About the Author:

Capt. Tom Burbage is a Naval Academy graduate, former Navy Test pilot and industry leader. He is working with a group of concerned individuals to change the focus of our military and specifically our Service Academies.

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