Hollywood Colonel Field Manual

Congratulations on your promotion to full colonel! No doubt when you were still a cadet at the academy, you probably imagined that being a colonel would mean taking on much more responsibility, specifically the command of a battalion or possibly regiment. While this is the typical command for many colonels, now that you have achieved the prestigious rank yourself you might want to take the time to consider two lesser-known, more unconventional options for fulfilling your role as a colonel in your nation’s armed forces.

Evil Colonel

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Colonel Ourumov, Soviet Army Goldeneye (1995)

Being a colonel means you are tasked with controlling a sizable military force, yet unlike a general, you are still in good enough physical condition to take part in operations yourself if need be. For this reason, one of the most popular non-traditional command options for a colonel is that of the evil colonel. While the nomenclature might make it seem as though the evil colonel is a one-dimensional figure, there are actually many sub-roles for evil colonels to play. The variety of duties is quite rich indeed.

The most straightforward role for an evil colonel is almost identical to a conventional battalion command, but with some very important differences. Rather than command the soldiers of your battalion in conventional combat against a conventional or non-conventional enemy, you will most often be using your military resources against a single enemy and possibly his attractive female love interest. It is unlikely that you will be required to conduct operations against anything larger than a squad-sized element at most.

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Colonel Strelnikov of the Soviet Army Red Dawn (1984)

Unlike a conventional battalion commander, you will take a far more hands-on approach in conducting operations. You will be right behind your men on the front line as they track down an escaped secret agent, a plucky band of partisans, or a top-tier special forces operative tasked with infiltrating a secret military installation. On that note, it is almost certain that your battalion will be stationed in just such an installation, most likely tasked with the security of a highly advanced weapon system capable of overturning the global balance of power.

Other hands-on aspects of such a command include interrogating intruders or those helping them. This requires skills in both psychology and persuasion. Such a command will not be suitable for someone who is averse to the use of extremely enhanced interrogation techniques. In this respect, it is also important to cultivate a certain image as a cold-blooded, sadistic individual. While a colonel in a conventional command may make the grade by earning a reputation of “running a tight ship,” this will not suffice for an evil colonel. Be prepared to either occasionally execute one of your own subordinates should they fail at a task you assign them, or at least spread rumors that you will.

Lastly, a colonel serving in this conventional evil colonel role must be able to inspire his men with speeches and sap the morale of any intruder with threats and reminiscences that reveal a dark backstory to prove how violent you can actually be against anyone who dares cross your path. Here are some practical examples of speeches you can make:

To your own men: “Men, we have an intruder in our midst. I expect every one of you to perform your duties to the absolute best of your ability, or you shall face the same fate as our little uninvited guest!”

To an intruder you have captured: “I’m impressed you’ve managed to get this far, but it’s time we end this charade, don’t you think? Now you’re going to tell me exactly who sent you and what you’re after, and you’re going to do it quickly while you still have the ability to speak.”

Another variant on the above: “What you do not understand, Mr. Steele, what you can never understand, is that Mother Russia will not simply vanish into the frozen wasteland. A new Russian empire is rising, and you will be present to witness it’s birth…just before your death!” 

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SS-Standartenfuhrer (colonel) Vogel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

 

Another sub-role for the evil colonel is the evil terrorist colonel. This is easily one of the most unconventional specialties in the military sphere. Being an evil terrorist colonel will typically entail either carrying out a terrorist operation in another country, or, in an unexpected twist, against your own country. For this reason, you will typically no longer be on active duty when you become an evil terrorist colonel. You will be officially discharged after a period of training which will be dedicated primarily to backstory forming. This might involve being betrayed by your higher command, or being unjustly discharged for making a command decision that caused too much “collateral damage.” Whatever the case, your men from the battalion still follow your word as they would the word of God, and thus they will still respect the chain of command in order to fulfill the mission you give them.

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ex-US Special Forces colonel Stuart Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

Due to the very non-traditional nature of this role, the evil terrorist colonel must work harder to cultivate his image. Fortunately, the colonel who chooses to go the evil terrorist route will find that the restrictions commonly associated with military service are no longer present, in particular those associated with your country’s military justice system. Collateral damage is no longer a consideration- on the contrary it’s often part of the job.

Whereas the more conventional evil colonel is typically tasked with what is more often than not a defensive mission and a static role, the evil terrorist colonel is far more dynamic. In other words, rather than guarding a top secret military installation and the advanced weapons technology therein, you would more likely be tasked with taking over said installation in order to secure said technology and use it to hold the government for ransom.

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Simon Gruber, ex-colonel of an East German special operations team Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

One thing that must be stressed above all is backstory and image. At some point you will be required to justify your actions either to the government you are acting against, or a single, protagonist-like operative who has been sent to impede your operation. The following are some practical examples of backstories you may use for inspiration:

Betrayal motive: “Ten years ago you left me and my men in that valley with no air support, no artillery, no medevac- NOTHING! I watched young, patriotic men in their prime die in agony just so some desk jockey general could get another star and a cowardly, treasonous administration could call it a victory and pat itself on the back while gearing up for an election year. Well, gentlemen, as you’re no doubt aware by now, some of us didn’t die on that mountain. Think of us as ghosts of your dirty past, come to judge you for your crimes. And believe me, gentlemen, if you fail to follow our instructions to the letter, we will unleash the X87 missile on a major city.”

Political motive: “I did what I had to do to save the lives of my men. I did what I had been commissioned to do by this government! If I am guilty of anything it is loving this country too much to bow my head and accept the judgment of cowardly politicians who never faced the business end of an enemy machine gun. My men and I think it’s high time the fatcats in Washington got a taste of the wars they ask us to fight, then condemn us for the way we fight them.”

 Morale-building speech for your henchmen: “Gentlemen! I don’t care what the hypocrites and cowards say about us. You are the finest soldiers I have ever known and I am proud to have served with you on this difficult mission. It has been a hard fight, and some of our own have fallen. But rest assured- now that our little party-crasher is nothing but a charred pile of ashes (pause for cheers), there is nothing left in our way. In eight hours, the device will detonate and we’ll be on our way to a secluded tropical island enjoying our fortunes and new identities.”

Be advised that both conventional and terrorist evil colonels typically run a high risk of being killed in action. Research has shown that due to their proficiency with firearms and more conventional weapons, evil colonels tend to be killed via more unconventional means, typically by the hand of a lone, resilient, likeable protagonist-type enemy who simply will not abandon his assigned mission so long as there is air in his lungs and blood in his veins. While this topic will be covered more thoroughly in training, here are a few tips to give you an idea of the risks you’ll have to look out for.

-Be sure to survey your area of operations for any sharp objects which might impale a person. Remove such objects or install proper guardrails to prevent someone from falling on them.

-Look out for cliffs, windows on high floors, and anything else which might pose a falling hazard. Ensure that any windows are made of strong, preferably bulletproof glass. All catwalks should have guardrails. Have your soldiers repeatedly police their assigned positions for trip hazards like extension cords.

-Keep all flammable materials in a safe, secure location, and do not retreat to this area should the battle turn against you.

-If your enemy is escaping, think twice before getting into a helicopter or other military vehicle in order to hunt him down. Many evil colonels die in vehicle accidents, often caused by an enemy targeting some vulnerable feature of their vehicle.

-Be sure to secure the entire area when you are interrogating a prisoner. When making a long speech about your ultimate plan or your motivation, make sure at least three of your men have eyes on your prisoner. They should be carrying locked and loaded.

-Be sure to kill prisoners personally or at least witness their execution. Do not “leave it” to a henchman or utilize any overly complicated killing mechanisms. Plenty of experience shows that these elaborate schemes are doomed to fail and lead to escape.

-At some point you may find yourself in hand-to-hand combat with an enemy. You will no doubt dominate this fight thanks to your advanced martial arts skills and years of combat experience, but be forewarned- should you knock your assailant off a ledge or through a window, be sure to verify that they have actually been killed. In many cases the enemy might have fallen into a conveniently-placed construction dumpster full of discarded foam mattresses, or a series of awnings might have broken their fall. Never assume in combat!

-Remember! Situational awareness is key!

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Evil Terrorist colonel Igor “Strelkov” Girkin (2014)

 

Wise Mentor Colonel

If evil is not your thing, you might want to try becoming a wise mentor colonel. Just be aware that there is an age requirement. This may be waived on a case-by-case basis depending on appearance, however. Typically gray hair will be sufficient.

Mentor colonels do not actually command troops. Their specialty is motivating highly skilled, veteran operators to carry out the most dangerous missions, in some cases against an evil colonel.

 

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US Special Forces colonel Trautman Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

The operative is the most important aspect of a mentor colonel’s mission. Typically this operative will be someone who served under your command in combat, back when you were a more junior rank with a conventional command. In the heat of battle, you taught him many key lessons, but you also learned a lot from him, because he was by far the best soldier you’d ever commanded in combat. There was only one problem. He was too emotional, too much rage, too much intensity. If he only knew how to channel that energy he’d be unstoppable- exactly the type of person you need for the most dangerous mission. Take a moment to reflect on your military career and ask yourself if you’ve ever worked with a soldier like that. If you have, that’s your operative.

Simply knowing an operative is not enough for the mentor colonel, however. Volumes of military literature attest to the fact that being the best-of-the-best, elite-of-the-elite, eventually leads to something known as “hero burnout.” Afflicted operatives will typically leave the service, sometimes under other than honorable conditions, and then cut themselves off from the rest of society in an attempt to put the horrors of war behind them. As a mentor colonel, you’re first mission after mentally hand-picking an operative will be to go out into the world and track that operative down. Here is a list of possible locations where you might find such an operative.

-Rundown taverns or honky-tonk bars in remote, rural towns are one of the most common gathering places for ex-special operations veterans trying to drown the nightmares with drink. The more remote, the more likely you are to find a top-tier special operative.

-Remote cabins in nearly inaccessible wilderness areas. Top-tier special operatives with emotional baggage from their last and final operation often want to cut off contact from the world as much as possible. As such, they may purchase a small cabin somewhere in a depths of a vast forest, perhaps in the Yukon territory. You will most likely find them outside, chopping wood. Be prepared to deal with wolves or other potentially dangerous wildlife.

-Religious institutions. The kind of special operative you need is most likely struggling with an army of personal demons associated with his past actions in combat. As such, it is only natural for them to seek out the solitude of religious sanctuaries such as Buddhist temples, Catholic monasteries, Sufi tekkes, or on rare occasions, Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

-Prison. Veterans with so much combat experience often find it difficult to adjust to civilian life. As such, they might find themselves in trouble with the law. One possibility is that they were defending some young woman from a group of rape-hungry assailants, and in the process they lost control and used one of their deadly secret martial arts techniques on one or more of the attackers. Civilian courts and jurors rarely appreciate the mental state of such veterans and thus might be inclined to pass a guilty verdict. Alternatively, your operative might be found within a military prison, either wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, or for disobeying what was in reality an illegal order, but it was his word against an officer’s. One advantage of finding your operative in prison is that you can easily use a full pardon as an incentive to join your mission.

-Any venue that involves underground fighting for money is likely to attract men whose bare hands are lethal weapons and who have no skills outside of killing. If the audience at such a venue consists almost entirely of chain-smoking Chinese men furiously waving betting slips, chances are you’ve found your man.

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Top-tier special operations operatives typically acquire PTSD from their many dangerous missions over the years. As such, they may seek an escape from the violence, such as underground old-school Thai boxing. Rambo III (1988)

Once a mentor colonel has found his operative, his work is by no means done. Now begins the hard part. The colonel must convince the operative to return to duty so as to take on one last mission that no other operative or military asset could possibly accomplish.

The first step is positively identifying your operative. Oftentimes they will be sitting alone at a bar stool, hunched over a shot of whiskey or a beer. They will most likely be intoxicated and they are unlikely to make eye contact even if you sit down next to them. As such, the typical method for addressing them is to stand behind them and deliver your introductory speech to their back, as in the following example:

“Sergeant First Class Steele, Joseph. Top of your class US Army airborne school, sniper school, Ranger school. Combat missions with the 75th Ranger regiment, then you transferred to US Special Forces and then on to Delta. Combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, North Korea… Wounded in action six times, three silver stars. They would have given you the Medal of Honor if that particular mission weren’t classified. You’re the best of the best. The finest soldier I’ve ever commanded. And that’s exactly what our country needs right now!”

At this point you’re likely to start encountering objections from the operative. It is here that the wise mentor colonel must use all of his wits in order to convince the operative to return to duty and complete the mission. Here is a list of common operative objections and possible responses to them:

Objection: “(Name) doesn’t exist anymore. He’s dead.”

Response: “The (Name of operative) I knew wouldn’t talk that way. He was a survivor.”

Objection: “I’m out of the game.”

Response: “Defending our country isn’t some game you can just quit when the going gets tough! We need you back!”

Objection: “Why me? What’s so special about me? I’m just a washed-up dead-ender trying to die in peace!”

Response: “No you’re NOT! You’re the finest fighting machine this country has ever trained. You don’t belong here, crying into your beer. You belong with your old unit- what’s left of it at least!” 

Objection: “I’ve had enough killing. I’m through with violence. I want to live my life in peace.”

Response: “Don’t we all? But while you’ve had enough of war, the terrorists haven’t. And nobody’s going to live in peace if they’re allowed to carry out their latest plan!”

Objection: “I was good, but I got careless. I got people killed.”

Response: “You can’t keep living in the past!” 

Objection: “Twenty civilians died because of me!” 

Response: “You can’t keep living in the past!” 

Objection: “You say I was your best soldier,  but would you be saying that if you knew about that time I robbed your house and pawned your wife’s antique jewelry so I could pay back that payday loan?”

Response: “You can’t keep…Wait…What?”

Occasionally you will have to use stronger tactics of persuasion. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

-Inform the operative that someone close to them has been captured by the enemy you want them to fight. If you plan on going this route, be sure to do your homework ahead of time.

-Get yourself captured and have a subordinate inform the operative that you have gone missing in action. Hopefully the strong bond you formed earlier in the service will motivate the operative to come rescue you.

-You could try accepting the operative’s refusal and leaving. Inevitably someone close to the operative will be killed by the enemy either directly or indirectly, and this will force them to commit to the mission.

Once you have recruited the operative and properly briefed him, you will have to provide them with guidance during the mission. Radio is the best way of accomplishing this.

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Colonel Roy Campbell provides guidance for operative Solid Snake Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Be sure to give the operative an extra briefing once they arrive in the area of operations. They haven’t been in the game a while so they may be slightly forgetful from all the binge drinking, underground Burmese boxing, or Siberian bear wrestling.

It is important that you monitor the radio at all times and be prepared to offer helpful hints on anything the operative might encounter. If you suddenly lose contact with the operative, be sure to loudly shout the operative’s name into the radio repeatedly in order to reestablish contact and determine the cause of the communications breakdown.

Be advised that it is often necessary to leave out some crucial information about the mission or the enemy leader in your initial briefing. The best time to reveal such information is roughly two thirds into the mission, typically at a point where your operative is experiencing heavy opposition and is wounded or nearly dead. As a rule, your operative is unlikely to react positively to this news, but it is mission essential information that they must have, at least at this point. Armed with this extra intel, your operative will inevitably work out the best solution with which to confront the enemy and neutralize them.

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For the wise mentor colonel, pre-combat inspections are unnecessary. Here colonel Campbell tells Snake how his equipment works in the field. Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake (1990)

Generally, being a wise mentor colonel is oftentimes much safer than being an evil colonel, as you will have the highly-trained veteran operative on your side rather than the other way around. Still, there are risks you should be aware of. One obvious risk is enemy action in those cases where you must become captured in order to motivate your operative to undertake the mission. However, there are cases when a wise mentor colonel may be required to sacrifice his own life for the sake of the mission. In this case you will most likely die a painful, slow death, slow enough for the devastated operative to cradle you in his arms, tell you it’s nothing and that you’re going to make it, and generally lose all hope. If you should find yourself in this situation, realize that you must give the operative the mission essential information, whatever it may be, at this time!

Do you have the secret override code to abort the launch? Tell it. Do you know a hidden vulnerability on the enemy super weapon? Tell him what it is and what sort of weapon to use. Are you the operative’s estranged father? You have to tell him now. Not only will you have provided your operative with crucial information, but he will now be imbued with rage and a thirst for vengeance. He will accomplish the mission.

***

Your armed forces are proud to have you serving as a senior commissioned officer. Now that you know the full potential your rank affords, go out and make the most of it, colonel!

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One thought on “Hollywood Colonel Field Manual

  1. AndyT

    Generally speaking, the more clichés a director manages to put in the plot, the more success he gets – and the same rule can apply to videogames, too.

    No wonder vatniks, “denims”, and the like are always babbling about “going there and killing those dogs”, “going there and bombing those worms”, “wiping them away with our [insert super-secret-and-deadly weapon of choice]”…

    Those “glamourous”, almost pornographic depictions of war and conflict definitely play a role – I wish those folks could avoid a real battlefield, for their own good.

    Reply

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