Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

What is a military professional? Here’s an answer in 90 words of haiku poetry

Seven poems.



By Randy Brown
Best Defense guest poet


A practice of war
involves daily sacrifice.
The job is a trade.


This we will defend:
Constitution, people, land.
(The order matters.)


Any rag-bag Joe
who ever raised their right hand?
Now also, my kin.


The only glory
one should seek is the respect
of one’s own soldiers.


“Secret” means secret.
Loose lips sink ships, lives, careers.
Keep your big trap shut.


Your moral compass
should be red-light readable
for work in the dark.


Share knowledge freely.
A lesson-learned is like cheap

Randy Brown is author of Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire, which was recently awarded a 2016 Gold Medal in Poetry from the Military Writers Society of America.

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at Twitter: @tomricks1