Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
The Wall with The Three Soldiers
"You must love soldiers in
order to understand them,
and understand them
in order to lead them."
Henri Turenne

The Three Soldiers - Vietnam War Memorial - Washington, DC
The Wall Song

"Rank does not confer
privilege or give power.
It imposes responsibility."
Peter F. Drucker

Another Day with Larry

The Army
(Part Three)

The Army in 1972 was horrible. Vietnam almost destroyed America. The generation of protestors will have to die before America gets back on track. 

Vietnam pretty much did destroy the Army. The outward symptoms were drug abuse and racism, but the cause was terrible leadership beginning with the President and Congress. They sent an Army into war with no clear objectives. They failed to support the troops. Their failures led to the other problems. 

Low level leadership was also bad. Lt. Calley is an example of that weak leadership. I certainly was not prepared to lead troops in combat. The Army was broken by the Vietnam War. It has since been rebuilt into a superb fighting force, a monumental task.

I read a book by an infantryman in Vietnam. He described a tall hill overlooking his base camp. Putting a base camp under the crest of a hill giving the Viet Cong a perfect place to shoot mortars down on them was stupid. 

His unit assaulted that hill, took it, and occupied it for a short time 3 or 4 times while he was there. Each assault cost blood and lives. They gave it back to Charlie each time. The troops could see the Viet Cong on the hill the day after they left it. 

Wars are won by taking and keeping ground. The troops on the point of the sword were the first to understand that there were no national goals in Vietnam. President Johnson was quoted as saying that he held a knife at the belly of the Viet Cong and would keep gradually increasing the pressure until they surrendered. Any warrior knows that if you have a knife at the belly of the enemy, you search for his backbone with it.

Defense Secretary McNamara and his whiz kids in the Pentagon made another decision that was unbelievably stupid and that cost American lives. They replaced the M-14 rifle with the M-16. 

The M-14 was tested and reliable, one of the best infantry weapons ever invented. It is not designed as a jungle warfare weapon. It is long, heavy, and awkward. The ammunition is heavy. It is extremely difficult to control on fully automatic. But it is reliable and accurate. 

A mixture of M-14’s and M-1 Carbines, a shorter, lighter weapon, would have been effective. The M-16 had not been fully tested when it was issued. The troops were even told that they did not have to clean and lubricate it! It looks and feels like a Mattel toy, but the inside is more like a Swiss watch. It did not function reliably in the dirt and humidity of the jungle. 

The troops, on their own, tried to correct the problem by cleaning and lubricating it, but standard gun oil only caused it to gum up. American soldiers’ bodies were recovered with their M-16 in pieces, dying while desperately trying to get their weapon to function.

The M-16 has since been modified to the M-16 A-1. They chrome-plated the receiver group, added an external locking plug so the shooter can physically force the bolt to lock, and developed a special lubricant for it. That should have been done before the weapon was issued. Doing otherwise was criminal.

We had a race riot in our battalion. The climate in the Army then was scary. In many units, a junior officer or NCO dared not go into the barracks without a side arm.

"Leadership is an opportunity to serve. 
It is not a trumpet call to self-importance."
J. Donald Walters
Marium 14 (M-14) Woodstock - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M14_rifle

M-16 A-1 Rifle - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M16_rifle
"Whoever is under a man’s power
is under his protection, too."
David J. Schwartz

"Never tell people how to do things.
Tell them what to do, and they will
surprise you with their ingenuity."
General George Patton

"Leadership is the art of getting
someone else to do something you
want done because he wants to do it."
General Dwight D. Eisenhower

I must follow them.
I am their leader.
Andrew Bonar Law

No leader should put troops
into the field merely to
gratify his own spleen;
no leader should fight a
battle simply out of pique.
But a kingdom that has
once been destroyed can
never come again into being;
nor can the dead ever be
brought back to life.
Hence the enlightened
leader is heedful,
and the good leader
full of caution.
Sun Tzu

The Three Soldiers (or Servicemen) Vietnam War Memorial - Washington, DC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Soldiers
More Than a Name on a Wall
Peaked at number 6 on the 
Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
Statler Brothers - 1989
"A people that values its privileges
above its principles soon loses both."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Vietnam Veterans Women's War Memorial - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_Women%27s_Memorial

 "A good general not only
sees the way to victory;
he also knows when
victory is impossible."
The Wall
 I am more afraid of an army of
100 sheep led by a lion
than an army of 100 lions
led by a sheep.
The Wall - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_Veterans_Memorial

 (For a phone number to speak with Larry See, please send an email request by using the contact form you will find in the column to the right of each post. Larry would love hearing from you. Please include your email address or phone number.)

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