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Re: A funny website
My Korean experience caused the letter to the WP Magazine author. Do think of this.
Thank you very much for the Washington Post Magazine story on "Brilliant Bombs." My concern is that you are not touching the real problem, worse, you are making it easier to ignore. Sadly this is our nation's preference. Facing the real fighting level defense problems, and doing something about them is nowhere near as attractive as believing in the glamorous products you depict.
The first of our enduring problems is a lack of relevant intelligence. We know far too little of our various adversaries capabilities and intentions. This matches and enhances the enduring ignorance of our decision-makers about the real capabilities of our own forces, not just what their publicists and equipment makers claim. Add to this the negative interests and misunderstood capabilities of our various allies for a depressing alert to our impending conflict.
This is a subject that has held my thoughts for 55 years. It clouds my thinking now as the notion of going into Baghdad appears in our near future. My life was spent with infantrymen. My memory fades, however... . The American Soldier is a profound collation of data prepared in four detailed volumes from data acquired in WWII. I was exposed to this at Fort Benning in 1947 when it was being drafted, and read the finished product in 1949. Essentially, the conclusion was: "posting a stupid man to the infantry is tantamount to condemning him to death." The statistics are stark. Being wounded for anyone in a rifle squad is inevitable. When and how bad were the only questions; however, a Cat V man would be wounded six times while a Cat I guy doing the same work would be wounded once. The implication is that thinking faster made survival more likely.
And who did we have in rifle squads then? Mostly Cat IVs and Vs. Dissolving the ASTP program in 1944 got a sufficient number of Cat Is and IIs sent to the infantry to make credible statistics. My enduring concern, since this was confirmed to me in both my outfits in Korea and observing the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, is that we've the wrong folk in rifle squads. My concern is that our "new secret weapon" is not what it needs to be if there has not been a radical shift in who we are posting to rifle squads. Do explore Stouffer's account of all this.
A Marine officer who was forwarded the comment above sent me the following message: "For 25 years, my primary job in the USMC was an attack pilot. Huey's and A-4's. My ground job was always in personnel management. In 1967, as the aviation manpower officer for Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, my ground counterpart and I evaluated exactly the conditions you describe. The USMC had started accepting inductees for the first time since the end of WWII. They were almost always a Cat IV or Cat V. Our problem was to effectively employ them and keep them from being the primary occupants of the bright aluminum shipping crates.
We were able to pull some background information on individuals, and, using our powerhouse IBM 1401 mainframe we were able to develop some profiles of those who would survive in an Infantry environment and those who would not. We were then able to assign the non-survivors to essential perimeter guard positions around our established bases in RVN. These base support units were commanded by seasoned 03 (Infantry) officers who established intensive training programs to bring these young Americans to a development stage where they could be re-deployed to both Aviation and Ground units.
Some of the most tragic moments of my 3 years in RVN were instances where I was available for support, the leaders of the platoon had been killed and the radio had been picked up by a young Marine or Soldier who hadn't a clue as to how we could help him."
Best regards, and I wish I felt better about this.