When I went to Ranger School, I memorized the Ranger Creed and learned  that “surrender is not a Ranger word.” I love that. As a student of military history, the Green Beret knows what happens after surrender.  In Afghanistan, there were some very frank team-room discussions about capture. Short of being blown unconscious by an IED, there was no way I was going to be a prisoner. Surrender was not an option; nobody was going to put video of my beheading on the Interwebs. Fighting to the end was a better option than the possibility of a few more days of life.

As it happens, surrender is a Green Beret word. It is not an action verb, it is a command. While we never want to come under enemy control, allowing our enemies a humane way out gives us the moral high ground and saves lives. Our lives.

In ancient China, warriors were encouraged to build a golden bridge for the enemy to retreat across. The idea was to provide a route of withdrawal to avoid a desperate fight to the death with high casualties on both sides. If a Green Beret leaves the enemy a way out, it is probably a baited ambush with interlocking fields of fire. But not always.

Photo courtesy of psywarrior.com
Photo courtesy of psywarrior.com

On 20 December, 1989, at 1:00 a.m. local time, 27,684 U.S. troops rescued Panama. The AC-130s, Rangers, SEALS, the 82nd Airborne, and a lot of other soldiers secured the canal and neutralized 20 percent of Panamanian forces that night. Major Gil Perez, a Green Beret, took care of the rest of them.