Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vietnam -- The huge gap between Non-commissioned Officers and the enlisted

Previously, I mentioned in one of my posts that there was a huge difference in age and attitude between the career minded "lifer" senior Non-commissioned Officers and the enlisted between the ranks of E1 and E5.

This wasn't just a matter of age. For the sake of averages, lets assume the 20 year veteran had between 15 and 17 years of service. 

That would track back to the Korean conflict.

Some of these lifers had been in for even longer. Not a lot mind you but enough to put them into the end of WWII.

For example, an NCO with greater than 20 and less than 30 years would have entered service between 1949 and 1939 respectively.

These were men who believed in a doctrine of discipline that went out the window as soon as your feet hit the Terra fir ma of Vietnam.

For them, everything was "by the book" and the defined methods meant you did what they told you to do and lord help you if you for one moment questioned their authority. These men also believed in a system that produced people like Audy Murphy -- symbolic of total dedication of life to country and the American way.

We didn't care about glory. We were more interested in surviving and, get this, using some common sense.

Common sense, wow, what a novel idea.  Let's see, one guy with a large caliber machine gun entrenched by rocks where he can see you but you can't see him. 

Let's see, what do do here?

Oh, yeah, tell 50 soldiers to charge up the hill. One ought to be able to get up there and throw in a grenade.

PSST, there's a fast mover above that can drop one bomb and get the job done without casualties.

"I'm sorry, due to the brain fart of an NCO, you son was killed when he and the rest of his Platoon was mowed down by a single enemy soldier."

I'm telling you, these guys were so far removed from being in the class with Audy Murphy. Most moved up the ranks by being at the right place and at the right time.

The same ones that couldn't blend back into civilian life.


They couldn't follow orders themselves. In fact, most of the officers cowered in front of them.  These NCOs knew every rule in the books because they wrote them.

Many of us -- enlisted and officer -- often wished they wrote themselves out of Vietnam.

This over rated boy scout mentality was totally unacceptable.

Especially when every bit of the opposite was so desperately needed.

The key here is apathy.

Young men who were continually troubled by parential abuse - WWII veterans who refused to provide even a single thread of reality concerning key and essential disciplinary skills involving their experiences with war may have proven to be extremely helpful.

Instead, John Wayne, the Lieutenant, the Sergeant and tons of Glory Times movies where the actors never died and lived again another day were the key and essential disciplinary skills.

When these same soldiers came to Vietnam most came back in a bag full of attitude adjustment.
I don't think the wake up call of a bullet heading to one's brain is the most prudent way of sharing knowledge.

The NCOs needed to be gone before Vietnam. In fact, only those soldiers who had served time in Nam and survived should have been given the opportunity to become E-6 through E-9. Those would have been the NOCs we so deperately need.

Anyone who served in WWII and the Korean War were totally useless as well as were 80 percent of the policies they supported. Allow me to explain why.

First, there was no front line to use as a reference meaning all they knew about fighting in a conventional war didn't work in Vietnam.

Second, their disciplinary practices were nothing more than child abuse. This caught up to them later.  
The foul language, the favoritism, the rough handling, and the incidents of accidental deaths that were reported by the press exposed a lot of this to the American public. But it wasn't done quick enough to save many of the soldiers who served in Vietnam.

There is a distinct difference between NCOs who hated people in general and NCOs who saw the challenge of working with young men who needed to learn how to survive in a world where you didn't change the channel if you saw something you didn't like.

Too many assumptions were made strictly on visual cues and reactive instincts that -- while they worked in in WWII and Korean -- had no business being used in Vietnam where that enemy was literally just beyond the outside parameters of the base camp.

I could not make such comments if the conditions of war were indeed 100% similar to that of WWII.  They were not. The only similarity is during WWII and Korea we were fighting on their home front and they had that advantage to use against us.

Conventional warfare can not complete with an enemy who can take down a helicopter with a bow and arrow. It compete against an enemy so high on drugs that he's already dead and kills three soldiers before falling down dead himself. Nor can it compete against an environment where the foliage is so thick that the friendly support artillery blows up before reaching ground where the real target is.

We needed real live Vietnam heroes leading us, what we got instead with the fossil remains of a brown shoe army. A bunch of insensitive pricks who shared nothing but how to harassment and belittle us.

One female teacher over at Bellevue Community College, Bellevue Washington stated emphatically that the soldiers in Vietnam were not the kind -- I believe the correct word used was suitable -- for Vietnam.

One of the on line dictionaries defines suitable as:

a : adapted to a use or purpose <suitable for kitchen use>
b : satisfying propriety : proper <suitable dress>
c : able, qualified <a suitable candidate for the job>

My reply to here: Yeah, lady, we were the ones who got Us in catholic school for Social Skills like a religion. Guess it is a mortal sin to have any kind individuality.  We've been out of your control since birth. So, here's some lines you'll never hear sung:

I came into this world owning nothing, I'm going to leave this world the same way.
So build your rich mansions with our blood, I don't give a damn. 

My words will never be scanned by your eyes, my voice by your ears.

Because you live in a social world whoes men women and children have never been to Vietnam.

I beg to differ. We were, indeed some of the most flexible and gung ho soldiers in the history of the Army. No one wants to get shot at or be blown up my mortar rounds or rockets and, certainly, most of us didn't want to earn the medal of honor dead or alive.

Many of us who served didn't want to be there nor did we want to be lied to by recruiters either -- but we were.

So, we went to Vietnam and we looked for men of honor and men with Vietnam environment combat experience. Like the ones we saw in the movies and on TV.

These men did not exist.

What did put many of us into isolation. What did was the same mental and physical abuse our parents put us through. Only that abuse was now in a uniform known as the brown shoe Army.

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