FORT STEWART, Ga. — Soldiers of the 599th Quartermaster Battalion are celebrating their new unit motto, which acknowledges the unit is likely nowhere near the tip of the spear.
“Look, we realize we’re not combat arms, special operations, or those beefy signals intelligence guys,” said Lt. Col. Michael Longinus, the 599th battalion commander. “But we are the Army’s longest-serving and only remaining mess-kit repair battalion, and that’s something to be proud of.”
Longinus told the Duffel Blog the 599th’s previous unit motto, “With your tray, or on it,” implied a potential for violence that his soldiers just do not possess outside of their homes. Thus, his unit was ready for a new motto that more accurately reflected its role in land warfare.
“We are decidedly not ‘the tip of the spear’ — at least not on the offensive or friendly forces side of it,” Longinus said. “And I feel a motto like Molon Labe would just invite other units to come and take our stuff — more than they already do.”
Longinus said the 599th’s new motto “Grip of the Spear” is both a metaphor for the unit’s relative proximity to the fight, and a catchy slogan that implies the 599th is still part of the greatest Army in the free world.
Longinus’ effort to change his unit’s motto to something more reflective of its nature defies current unit esprit de corps convention, according to a recent RAND study. In the study, researchers found that the further a unit was from actual combat, the more likely the unit was to have skulls, Spartan references, or Greek phrases in its motto or logo.
“Look, I’m not saying there are no ridiculous phrases like, ‘the Brotherhood’ or ‘Death before dismount’ in special operations or other combat arms units,” said RAND Senior Fellow, Dr. Jonathan Northfield. “But the numbers don’t lie – if you are in some rear-echelon POG unit, odds are very high you will have a punisher skull or Spartan helmet in your unit logo.”
Still, others in the battalion are not sure “Grip of the Spear” embodies what the 599th really represents.
“If I’m being totally honest, I feel like we would be some part of the spear that fell off, but no one really noticed,” said Spc. Jesus De la Cruz, the battalion commander’s driver. “Or at best, we would be one of those decorative feathers on like a Native American spear that probably doesn’t really serve a purpose, but had some significance a long time ago.”
“But I guess that would probably be some unit like the Old Guard.”
Blondes Over Baghdad contributed to this article.