I recently talked with former Green Beret Chester Wong about his latest book Yellow Green Beret, Volume 2. We touched upon a number of topics, such as hazing in the military and Private Danny Chen.
Another topic we discussed was how everybody knows who the Navy SEALs are (thanks Demi Moore and Charlie Sheen!), but nobody knows what the Green Berets do. Here's what Chester had to say about the issue:
"The U.S. Army Special Forces likes to call themselves the 'Quiet Professionals.' We pride ourselves on doing our jobs, not saying anything about it, and then just melting away in the dark like those scary blobs in the Patrick Swayze movie Ghost. We don't brag; we don't show off...
"But I actually think that this total embrace of the 'Quiet Professional' attitude and culture hurts Green Berets. Why? Because nobody knows who we are or what we do!
"I literally want to punch myself in the groin every time I've been cornered in a conversation to eventually explain what the Green Berets are and say, 'Uh... yeah, we're like the Navy SEALs, but for the Army.' The worst is when they say back, 'Oh you're an Army SEAL?'
"...there is one enormous category that the Navy SEALs have us Green Berets beat hands-down and twice on Sunday in: marketing. Man, the SEALs sure do know how to market and sell themselves. A joke in Special Forces is
"'Q: How do you know a Navy SEAL is in the room?
"'A: He'll tell you.'
"Sure, funny, and makes fun of their egos, but you know what? Navy SEALs get way more ass than Green Berets, and it shows when we have to explain ourselves as 'Army SEALs' for anybody to even understand what we do for a living. The Green Berets' 'Quiet Professional' mantra has actually led to a detriment in resource allocation within the military, and I watched mutely and powerlessly at the higher staff level meetings as uninformed and unaware non-special operations leadership directed money and missions away from the U.S. Army Special Forces and toward the U.S. Navy SEALs..."
I think there are a lot of parallels between the Quiet Professionalism of the Green Berets and the way Asian Americans operate. Work hard, stay humble. Nice philosophy for those who like to settle, but I had a coworker characterize quiet professionalism this way:
"You get paid the same, and no one remembers your name."
Like I've said, you got to control the image, before the image controls you. One time I was talking to a white coworker about another coworker. Although this other coworker was reckless at times, his willingness to confront danger head on made him a badass.
"He's like an Asian Chuck Norris," my co-worker said.
I gave my coworker a "You got to be shittin' me" look and said, "Dude, Chuck Norris is the Caucasian Bruce Lee."
Kind of like the Army SEALs, huh?
Anyway, for those of you who don't know, here's a little background on the Green Berets, care of the Deadliest Warrior website:
"Green Berets are an elite unit of the U.S. Army specializing in counterinsurgency.
"These specialized units are tasked with eight primary missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, psychological operations and information operations.
"Green Berets were among the first U.S. troops committed to the Vietnam War. Their official motto is De Oppresso Liber (Latin: 'To Liberate the Oppressed'), a reference to one of their primary missions to train and assist foreign indigenous forces."