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As I record in The Lost Battalion of Tet, our battalion in Vietnam was surrounded by a North Vietnamese Army regiment. We had no air or artillery support. We escaped in the dark leaving behind the dead and excess equipment. The division's commanding general had a nervous breakdown, paralyzing the division staff. The NVA kicked the crap out of us, so I agree that not all lessons are derived from success.
6 months, 2 weeks ago on Seduced by success
During Tet '68 my battalion was surrounded by an NVA regiment. We had no artillery or air support, in part due to poor senior leadership, it part due to weather that made flying virtually impossible. I really what like to know what kind of a platform could be designed to provide close air support in periods of limited visibility. Would it be the A10 or something else? Drones perhaps?
8 months, 3 weeks ago on The Best Defense | Foreign Policy
If those in Riyadh and Jerusalem perceive an existential threat, US opinion means little. Let's hope it doesn't come down to this, however.
9 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@RVN SF VET
Sorry, I meant "Cider Joe" son of VJ.
9 months, 1 week ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
I agree with the gist of your message. I certainly was aware of the MATA course (remember BG Joe Stillwell, aka Vinegar Joe RIP?). I was trying to make the point that there was no overall early approach to COIN in Vietnam, although pieces of it certainly existed, as you point out. But the major thrust was kill as many enemy as possible, this being the experience of those leading the war. Anyway, I await to see how the Army is organized/equipped 10 years from now. Maybe it won't take that long to draw conclusions. Your point about Af/PAK is valid, until proven otherwise.
I'm absolutely certain that Charles Krohn meant that after the Battle of the Ia Drang both sides (US and NVA) basically decided to continue the war along the same path.. To be sure both sides made adjustments but no change in fundamental strategy. They both saw value in killing a lot of the enemy.
The NVA had two wars on its hands, to be sure, the fight (1) to convince the local population that their brand of communism was the wave of the future, spearheaded by Hanoi's Viet Cong proxies, and the fight (2) to destroy the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and its proxies, US and allied forces.
The point of the article, I gather, is to show the transition from conventional war to counter insurgency operations (COIN) was not immediate, and didn't reach its zenith until codified by Petraeus and others.
Your description is about as good as it gets. Still, we did make some shift from pure kinetic to something a little softer after Abrams took over. I hope you're still in the game.
As I remarked during the '68 Tet Offensive, surrounded by a North Vietnamese regiment, "Imagine getting paid for having so much fun."
10 months, 3 weeks ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
I can't believe Snowden could rise so far and fast from obscurity without a sponsor in the shadows. Possible, but unlikely. Still, his glibness impresses.
1 year, 2 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
Nah, I liked sports, especially boxing. And to the extent that sportsmanship is still taught and lived, I applaud. I grew up in the immediate post-WWII era when sportsmanship was everything. When two sailing captains at summer camp I attended conspired to disqualified a third, they were expelled. Elitist, perhaps.
Excellent recommendation. There might be some resistance from the psychiatric association and PETA, but that could be overcome, given the stakes.
Even if a minority, I reject the silly notion that sport is a metaphor for life. Further, it seems winning trumps sportsmanship. The statement "winning is everything" is adolescent bullshit. I live in an area where half the houses sport college flags. I strongly suspect they are not posted to advance their institution's academic credentials. If there were once "fields of friendly strife," they disappeared long ago. This posting by Robert Goldich sets a new standard for excellence, but I hope his football-fanatic neighbors don't lynch him, even before the season begins.
The punishment is of no concern. The cover-up is. Please review how this matter first came to public attention.
1 year, 3 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
It would be interesting to know what advice the public affairs officer provided, not that we have a right to know. Still, it might make an interesting case study on crisis management. Others here have raised that point--the value of getting ahead of the story.
I still don't understand why the story was so slow coming out of USMA. It seems the cadet's counseling/ punishment would have buttressed the Army's claim that it was taking sexual harassment seriously, however SH is defined.
The story is the cover up, not the event. Ricks' deserves some recognition for bringing the rugby incident into the daylight which would otherwise remain in the shadows.
Your sentiments are commendable, but I can't share your confidence in lessons learned. Time will tell if the new lieutenants will be remorseful or jubilant.
OK. But one wonders if Hagel knew about this, prior to his graduation remarks? In short, did anyone have the guts to tell him?
How can an entire rugby team be suspended out of the public eye? Please don't let go of this. Tom.
Yes, there was some deception during the Vietnam era, particularly the rosy picture our leaders felt obliged to paint. At least in the latter days, we had a government in Saigon that was effectively ruling the country on its own.
In Iraq, we had deception galore, and there was always Dan Senor standing by with utopian tales. The absence of a government in Baghdad worthy of the name meant that our lofty goals would never be achieved, the Surge be damned.
The South Vietnamese ultimately lost when the North invaded with massive, conventional forces. There was never a chance of a Sunni/Shia reconciliation. The Western notion of "let bygones be bygones" never took root. We never recognized the trap set by Iran.
Perhaps the NSC might have been wise to include a respected historian on the staff. Do we have one now?
There are optimists today who talk about it being too soon to draw conclusions about success/failure in Iraq. If I believed in the power of séances and sooth-sayers,, I might be inclined to agree. If the legacy of George Kennan has any force left, it is that we must stop thinking it's our role to save the world, for whatever reasons. In some places, perhaps, but not all over the globe.
Is this an air-effects vehicle. I'd like to know more about it.
1 year, 4 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@ironiclad @soldiersdiary @tomricks @DILNIR
I think P4 and McChrystal are national assets too, and potential Horatios at the Bridge.
The dogs also appear to be jet-assisted, something akin to JATO.
Forgot to mention my view of the SOB who "fixed" the M-16A1 flash suppressor, so it couldn't be used to open C-rat cartons.
Not sure about how many holes in a cracker. But I know the best way to use a cong bar. (hint, don't try to eat it, if there's any option).
Cleaning the litter box is not for sissies, either. It's something akin to wiping a patient in intensive care. The chief of staff must be a loyal subordinate, willing to take on all tasks, however nasty. Yes, "surely there is more to this?"
A true cat lover (me, for example), would never trust a casual friend to take care of my treasured pets. Was the director of strategic communication a casual friend...or more?
Who's the author? My favorite is #28. And I still carry a P38.
I recommend General Huntoon be immediately transferred to the Army Chief of Staff's holding detachment, pending review by competent authority that he has the moral and ethical stature to lead West Point cadets.
History is filled with examples of leaders promising "cheap and easy wins." Of course they speculate that "the boys will be home by Christmas." I was reminded of that last night watching Oliver Stone's film "W."
We select politicans to lead us. Perhaps we should look for a little wisdom too,.
1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
It's been a bit since I read the Gates Report that provided the philosophical underpining for the All Volunteer Force. Best I can recall the AVF was intended to hold the fort until vast numbers could be drafted to reinforce the committed Reserve Components. I supposed this worked...to a point. But it failed to provide sufficient forces to deploy overseas to AfPac that required over-commitment by the exhausted few. When one adds wishful thinking to the strategic equation, I suppose almost anything can be rationalized.
Thanks for the MATA material. I wrote an unpublished article about the course while I was doing my Reserve Training at Fort Bragg, maybe 1966. I did meet with BG Cider Joe Stillwell, a rather feisty old fellow.
Valuable and unique lessons about counterinsurgency/counterterrorism were taught during the Vietnam era at State Department's Foreign Service Institute, Vietnam Training Center in Rosslyn, too bad similar courses weren't taught for advisors deploying the Afghanistan and Iraq, and perhaps other places. I sometimes wonder why this instruction hasn't been institutionalized?
@Nathan C Langston @Gold Star Father @tomricks @fg42 @HUNTERS
It is possible to be a contrarian without emptying one's stomach. Perhaps you're not as hostile and uncivil as you claim. Surely you have family, friends or neighbors who see some positives not reflected here?
1 year, 6 months ago on Access denied | The Best Defense
@Nathan C Langston
If you had a son/daughter KIA in Iraq, you might select "Operation Iraqi Freedom" be engraved on the headstone. Would it be acceptable to you to have only "Iraq" engraved? According to the comment of Gold Star Father, below, the idea of OIF was offensive. This isn't to arouse your rancor. While there are many issues to debate about the invasion of Iraq and the aftermath, the question of what to engrave on headstones seems legitmate. Traditionally the name of the country seems to be the rule, not the exception. I don't see where this issue impugnes the courage of the deceased whatsoever, nor the cause for which the soldier or Marine sacrficed all.
Isn't it a bit early to assume only positive results will flow from Arab Spring?
Are the records sealed forever or for X number of years?