Oliver North
WASHINGTON -- Ten years ago this weekend, our Fox News team was racing north from Baghdad to Tikrit with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. They knew what needed to be done and had a plan for doing it, and all Griff Jenkins and I had to do was cover it and stay out of the way. Given what I'm doing this weekend, covering the war was less demanding, somewhat better-organized and perhaps less dangerous. This weekend, our youngest daughter is getting married.

A decade ago, all I had to do was be in the right place at the right time, get good footage during a gunfight, prepare a report, interview some eyewitness participants, hook up our tiny satellite transceiver, dial up Fox News in New York and file our story. Most of the time, it worked flawlessly -- even when Iraqi soldiers surrendered to Griff in the midst of a live broadcast.

My life is no longer that simple. Weddings are far more complicated and fraught with peril than going to war with Marines. Even though this is my third round of being father of the bride, I have not mastered what I need to know and repeatedly fail to carry out my basic orders: "Show up. Pay up. Shut up. And smile." Worst of all, the women I love -- my wife and three daughters -- all agree I'm better at going to war than to a wedding.

A decade ago, there were clear lines of command and authority. In our zone of action, Lt. Gen. Jim Conway commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force -- more than 30,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, Royal Marine commandos and a number of other allies. The 1st Marine Division was led by Maj. Gen. Jim Mattis -- heading more than 10,000 troops, infantry, armor, artillery and all manner of support personnel. Everyone knew the chain of command, call signs, radio frequencies, the "battle space" and where to call for help. The generals have scores of officers and senior noncommissioned officers on their staffs to monitor current operations, plan future operations, deliver combat support and provide beans, bullets, bombs and bandages for the troops. Weddings are nothing like that.

First, none of those generals wields anything like the authority of the mother of the bride. She is the arbiter of all things, the undisputed decider in chief. Her battle staff consists of the bride and the bride's female siblings. They are allowed to provide input, which may be summarily accepted or rejected by the MOTB -- because her word is law. Neither the male sibling of the bride nor the father of the bride has a speaking part in any of the battle plans or current operations. Each simply must carry out his orders.


Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.



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