Hearts, Minds, and Heroes...
Grimes saw to it that would not be the case. Before committing himself to an act of unparalleled valor, he took to the radio and to every social media outlet available to him even in the remote battlefield and confessed to having molested his daughter. He seemed genuinely remorseful in his instantly viral confession broadcasted live from the theater of war via his smart phone.
The shaking camera came on Grimes huddled in his sandy foxhole. The background was awash with flames and the thunder of artillery flashing through the ebony clouds spreading themselves over the sky.
"This is Staff Sargent James Grimes 3rd battalion 5th marines!” He shouted trying to compete with the deafening roar of death's pyrotechnics. “Our explosives malfunctioned, and we can't stop the missiles from launching, so someone has to stay to make sure these missiles are destroyed. I...I volunteered.” He said taking off his helmet and running his fingers through his hair.
“So I guess...I'm gonna die. I Just want my friends, family and country to know that I'm scared, but not sad. How many people ever really get to give it all for their brothers and sisters?” The sergeant asked his digital audience rhetorically.
“Mom..Dad I want to thank you for bringing me into this world, and raising me to be the man I am. You guys made me proud, and I hope I've done the same for you....So goodbye for now I love you guys. “And Matt I'm not forgetting you either man. Some of the best most memorable times in my life have been hangin with you. Thanks for the memories man!” “Sandra I know we had our differences hence you know the divorce and everything, but I want you to know I really did love and if I could do it again I would, because that marriage....even though at time it seemed like a train wreck.” James swallowed hard, and his eyes twinkled with pooling tears. “It gave brought us Haley. Our little girl. Haley I want you to know I'm sorry...not just about this but.. The sergeant brought his hand to his mouth and his. “but for how I've hurt you. Haley believe me... I love you and I know I should never have done those things to a little girl.” James's voice cracked, and he began to sob. “Every time it happened I swore it would be the last.....” James whimpered. James wiped the tears from his eyes. “I just want you to know I love you, and I didn't want to hurt you, especially not that way. I know you might never understand why I did it. I know I never did. I just want you to know how sorry I am....
The crying sergeant reached out, and his finger touched the camera.
“All....all right.” James said collecting himself. He picked up his gun and fired a round into the air.
“For uncle same and for the core!” the soldier shouted leaping out of his foxhole and dropping the camera in the sand.
The Pentagon monitoring the phones of all their soldiers in battle and had opted to feed The Sargent's heroic farewells to all the major news networks. It was an incident they could package as the beginning of the war's end. A martyr's final words gave their public relations department a dramatic instant of heroism and self-sacrifice that would demonstrate the justice behind the war apparently being fought by brave young patriots.
Somewhere in their digital communications network was a glitch, a breach in their control. They watched helplessly as their new war hero confessed to being a child molester. Jim's video had spread across the globe in moments. There was no way to hide it, and the spread could not be stymied.
Commander General Wilson McCallister had assembled a pair of advisers to come up with a strategy that could mitigate the effects of this sudden image crises. The Commander did not call upon his subordinate officers though. Instead he summoned representatives from the MirrorAge Public Relations firm.
The Commander General looked across the conference table from dark beady eyes set in the shadow of his field cap, which he always wore despite how far he was from the front. The business reps were his chief advisers in shaping the military's response to the Staff Sergeant’s untimely announcement.
One was a man and the other a woman, both in their early 30's. The man's name was Chase. He styled his hair in a sort of mess way and wore box framed glasses. His suit was consciously vintage with a pin stripped vest over a pressed white blouse. Jenna, the woman rep was a little more toned down in her professional dress, but she had a nose ring and a rather discreet tattoo of a peace sign on her ankle. The image was surrounded by a banner that read “Be The Change”.
“What are the options?” McCallister asked launching right into business.
“Well, a bomb has gone off and we need to deal with that fallout first, but you should know this is only the first wave?” Chase said.
“Only the first wave?” McCallister repeated back.
“That's right.” Clarified Jenna. “By tonight this will have launched a million instagrams.” She said in a dire tone.
“However we have developed a few options.” “First we would recommend you engage the enemy in some sort of pitched battle as soon as possible. That way we can have something to use to downplay what that Sargent did.” Chase said.
“Yeah, it should appear to as large in scope as possible. Something that gives the impression of a really back breaking defeat for the enemy.” Jenna concluded.
The General pressed the call button on the desk's intercom system.
“Yes sir.” A voice crackled through the speaker.
“Colonel Perry I want you to issue an order for a general offensive. Planes should begin bombing, and armor should begin rolling right away.” “Understood sir.” The voice replied before cutting off.
“That's a good start said Jenna now you should implement a humanitarian response.” She informed him.
“What do you mean?” Asked the Commander.
“You should let the public know that the military is taking real steps in combating the problem of child sexual abuse.” Chase said folding his hands.
“Here is the mission statement as well as some other materials for the DOD funded foundation you're going to help find called “Silent Casualties” It will provide counseling to active duty child molesters as well as their victims.” Jenna said as she slid a binder across the table.
“Alright General we're about to fight a real battle of public opinion.” Chase said with a smile. The old soldier unfamiliar with this new frontier in the history of warfare had little clue and even less confidence. “Thank you.” Was all he could utter to the reps. The uncontrollable flow of information was an invisible frontier of modern warfare. Cyberspace is not an objective to capture. It's a realm where one of the most powerful institutions in the world battled with everyday people for influence over the perception of events with inertia that moved the world around it. It was here the Goliath would find itself consistently overrun by a million Davids.