A popular Marine Corps running cadence — and one often sung while contemplating whether to scream yet another tale about a C-130 rollin’ down the strip — addresses the running formation directly by admonishing participants to “Tighten it up, in the front. Tighten it up, in the middle. Tighten it up, in the rear (with the gear).”
Similar orders were issued this week to National Guard troops in Washington who were dispatched to mitigate risk as a surge of anti-racism protesters flocked to the city following the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd.
But these orders were not given by a squad leader, platoon sergeant, or company commander — they came from the mouth of a protester.
Ours is an era in which a small horde of outspoken vet-bros and civilians with military gear fetishes salivate over the mythos of the Spartan warrior.
“Leonidas fought on a battlefield at the Hot Gates in 480 B.C. I play Battlefield on Playstation 4 and eat Hot Pockets cooked at 480 degrees. Ergo, I am Leonidas. Molon labe.”
And yet when the time came to perform a task any Spartan, Roman, Norseman, Saxon, or Medieval Times employee would consider pedestrian — assembling into a proper phalanx — the guardsmen, troops actually trained militarily, resembled nothing more than a discombobulated throng.
“Close up the gaps,” the lead protester can be heard shouting. “What are you doing? Close up the gaps!”
Guardsmen scrambled to follow the orders of their newly-appointed civilian commander, each flashing bewildered glances to their left and right to see gaps even Michael Strahan’s teeth would consider offensive.
“What the f--k is this?” the protester continues. “Listen to what your staff sergeant’s saying. ... Tighten it up. Look at these gaps right here.”
“It’s almost like a training that I’m watching,” the person behind the camera remarks.
In fairness to the guardsmen, the protester in the video is an Army National Guard veteran who was identified on Twitter under the user name Wayno Cari.
Watch the video below.
(Disclaimer: Drill instructors are discouraged from watching the accompanying footage due to potential risk of fury-induced aneurysms.)
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.