The Origin of the Military’s Iconic Mantra: ‘Embrace the suck’



Among the best items of recommendation, for individuals in careers each out and in of service, is to study to take care of issues or take the unhealthy in stride.

However the navy, famed for its capability to show a phrase or wreck something with an absurd acronym, got here up with its personal colloquialism for making the very best of any state of affairs: “Embrace the suck.”

Although it’s unattainable to hint again the phrase definitively to its first consumer, it turned popularized in 2003 by Marines in Iraq.

Retired U.S. Military Reserve Col. Austin Bay authored a e-book within the mid-2000s known as “Embrace the Suck,” during which he explains the that means of the phrase.

“The Operation Iraqi Freedom phrase ‘embrace the suck’ is each an implied order and sensible recommendation couched as a vulgar quip,” Bay wrote.

He likens the slang phrase again to legendary navy strategist Prussian Basic Carl von Clausewitz and his views on “friction.”

“Clausewitz went to warfare when he was 12 years previous,” Bay wrote. “Over the previous couple of a long time, critics have argued that his treatise ‘On Warfare’ is a bit dated when it comes to principle. Nonetheless, everybody with navy expertise agrees that Clausewitz understood ‘the suck.’ He known as it ‘friction.’”

For Clausewitz, it’s this “friction, or what’s so termed right here, which makes that which seems simple in warfare troublesome in actuality.”

Troops, of their resilience, in impact, mitigate the chasm of distinction between coaching or planning and the usually harsh realities they face on the bottom. They usually do it with aplomb, as a result of they need to.

An actual mantra, “Embrace the suck” has develop into such a well-liked modern phrase that it’s throughout YouTube, utilized in company boardrooms and even titles a variety of books.

“That is considered one of my private favourite expressions,” wrote retired Military Officer Man McCardle on Quora. “I’ve instructed a couple of soldier a couple of time to ‘embrace the suck.’ I’ve run the phrase again and again in my head innumerable instances to assist me hold driving on via powerful conditions.”

So go on, embrace the suck — maintain it tight. It’ll hold you heat on lengthy obligation nights.


Initially printed on Navy Occasions, our sister publication.

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