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NEWS | Feb. 26, 2017

The lessons squirrels teach

By Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford 326th Mobile Public Affairs Detatchment

It is a sight so common that the human eye barely registers it anymore. Though the exact form may vary – charred black beneath an exposed power line, smashed flat amid overgrown grass or helplessly dangling from the maw of an overeager house cat – the cause remains constant: that squirrel didn’t have a battle buddy.

Not only squirrels but all animals serve as a natural reminder of the evolutionary necessity of having a buddy to look over one’s shoulder and providing life-saving advice. Bees work in hives, wolves hunt in packs, fish swim in schools – the list goes on, but the message is clear: you need a battle buddy.

“Where is your battle buddy?” It’s a lesson drilled into Soldiers as early as they step off the bus. Those screams, accompanied by projectile gobs of spit from a cherry-red face, echo through everything Soldiers do – move in teams, sleep in teams, eat in teams, fight in teams – and heaven help them when they don’t.

A battle buddy is far more than a reason for the drill sergeant to vacate weakness from one’s body. Much like a lone wolf is a starving wolf, having a battle buddy carries with it numerous benefits. Forgot your watch and need the time? Battle buddy! Phone dead and need to make a call? Battle buddy! Need someone to watch your blind spot? Battle buddy!

Had those squirrels not been alone, had they brought along a battle buddy, their counterpart may have whispered, “Hey, I think that’s a bad idea,” “Watch out for that Ford Escort!” or “Tabby cat coming in hard at your six!” We’ll never know for certain what they might have discussed, but we know for certain their fate when they decided to go it alone.

Take a lesson from the next squirrel party you spy in the parking lot, their chirping and frolicking as they scurry from tree to tree in swarms of five or more. We notice them. We assign them hashtags. We even read happy stories about them from time to time.

But no one wants to read about a dead squirrel.