Sunday, March 1, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
But I had no idea of the extent of the Gun Truck culture during the Viet Nam War. Nina Kollars, Assistant Professor of Government at F&M, talked for about 40 minutes about the origin of the gun trucks in Viet Nam and how they grew and spread among transport units until there were hundred of 5-ton and "Deuce-and-a-Half" trucks rolling on the roads in Viet Nam with various kinds of armor plate and heavy machine guns.
In Iraq, the chaos after Saddam was defeated left American soldiers vulnerable to IEDs and snipers--just like their brothers from the Viet Nam war 40 years earlier. Like the Viet Nam soldiers, they welded armor on the vehicles they and mounted heavy machine guns.
One of my favorite images from the presentation was the truck above with a palletized gun platform made from a Conex box. It has shade, armor and if the M1074 PLS truck breaks down, the gun platform can be dropped and picked up on another PLS.
One big difference between the two wars was that during Iraq, the Army centralized training and upgrading vehicles with armor. In that way, the lessons learned in Iraq were not lost as in Viet Nam, but passed along to soldiers as they arrived. I never got to see the Skunk Werks at Camp Anaconda, but I went through convoy training at Camp Udairi in Kuwait before going to Iraq. By the time I went, the lessons learned had become a curriculum with classes and manuals and a lot of on-the-road training.
Nina will be presenting her research at a meeting of military historians in the UK in a couple of weeks.
One question that came up in the research was why the lessons learned in Viet Nam had to be re-learned in Iraq. that question I had an answer for. The U.S. Army was only too happy to turn its back on everything Viet Nam after that war ended. We trained to fight the big war in Europe against the Soviets. No more un-winnable wars for us!!
So when we got in another un-winnable war, we had to learn the up-armor lessons all over again.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
When we went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2009, I was reluctant to use soldiers names in my blog. So the unnamed soldier in the post below is the soldier in the photos above: SGT Carrie Davis Jackson. While me and most of the other soldiers struggled to Zero our weapons, Carrie walked off the range after firing the minimum 12 rounds. Then she went to the qualification range and fired expert.
Congratulations again Carrie!
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Saturday, February 14, 2015
On Valentine's Day my fellow veterans, you might think America loves Veterans and that could never change. But don't bet your future on it. I enlisted during the Viet Nam War when soldiers were scum to much of the nation. Many soldiers I know cheer for the politicians who are taking cutting retirement money for police, for firefights, for teachers and other government workers. You may have noticed recent news reports that talk about the how military retirement costs almost as much as paying the current force. Only 20% of soldiers who enlist stay in till retirement.
I am not writing to protect my own retirement. I can't stay in the Army long enough to retire. I won't get any retirement. But I know a lot of soldiers who are staying in just to get their 20 years and retire.
Since the 80s big business has figured out many ways to drop retirees from fixed-benefit pensions.
In the past decade, local and state governments have figured out how to take retirement benefits away.
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, including all retirees are barely one percent of the population of America. The men and women who deployed to our recent wars three, four, five, ten times or more should be ready for another fight to keep their retirements.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Congratulations and Thanks to SGT Bannister!!!
And if you wondered what a Soldier of the Year Board looks like, here is a view of the six first sergeants and command sergeant's majors who made up this year's board.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
A photo I took this weekend has had more than 4,000 views.
And here is the most popular post on this blog by far with more than 2,600 views.
Is there a lesson? I guess writing about where soldiers live, talking about what we eat and taking pictures of helicopters reaches a lot of people.
Not like kitty videos or anything, but a lot for me.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
So if someone offers you a ride in a fully-tracked vehicle in the snow, say "No Tanks!" unless you want to slide.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I am re-reading "1984" for the Cold War class I am taking. George Orwell's tale is so completely Evil Empire and so completely wrong. In a bleak, battered London, Winston Smith toils rewriting history at his day job and trying to remember and write down the truth at night.
As a storyteller Orwell is brilliant and chilling.
As a prophet, he is a failure. The world he imagined is nothing like what actually happened. Orwell imagined a future with central control of information and nearly all history wiped out. In this gray, impoverished world everyone is starving.
Closer to the future is Ray Bradbury's 1953 book "Fahrenheit 451." You and I and everyone who read that book 30 years ago remember it as the book about burning books. In this terrifying world in which Firemen start fires instead of putting them out.
But when I re-read the book several years ago, the thing that stood out was the video walls and the ear bugs. The main character's wife had a room with three walls of video and wanted her husband to get promoted in the fire department so they could afford four walls of video. With four walls, the video became interactive and she could be on game shows. And everyone got music through bugs they fitted in their ears. Bigger TVs, TVs that cover walls, music direct to your ears--that sounds like the near present and near future.
The guy who got the future right is Aldous Huxley in his 1931 book "Brave, New World." Huxley imagines the future in which no one has to burn books because no one reads them. In the Brave New World people are so glutted with entertainment and information that they are easy to manipulate.
Any prospect of the horrors of 1984 becoming reality died with the Soviet Union. Communist China is becoming capitalist in a way that will eventually end the communist domination of the government.
But people who no longer read, who are obsessed with music and video, who are lazy and stupid--that world is here. Prophetic Gold Medal to Huxley, Silver to Bradbury, no medal for Orwell.