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Cry ’havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war!
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I got about three lines into this and realized that I was reading something written by a combat infantryman. And his lament is the same lament I've heard since Vietnam. Apparently they're just as true now as then. I thought we'd learned some of these lessons.
 
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My. The Staff SGT has time to fight a war, visit his wife, make babies, listen to the point of getting sick of a dozen separate media outlets, web blogs, tv stations, fight lawyers, higher ups, lower downs, jags, generals, privates. And he has time to write a blog.

Some might say the right wing propoganda machine made the whole thing up. But not me, I believe every word. Jethro, Cletus, Virgil and all the boys believe it too. I had my doubts, but hey, he even "signed" it. You go, "D", You go!


 
Written By: UR A. Putz
URL: http://
Mr. Putz obvioulsy took most of the day to compose that missive, so it’s understandable how he woudl be amazed that anyone else could actually write twenty paragraphs without the help of the RNC.

As to the original subject. the writer has (as usual for everyone) some things wrong (the blind men/elephant problem) but, I have to agree, a lot right.

Two things I heard from my son which agree with his rant - the ROE was written by a bunch of JAGs with too much training in US liability law, and that it’s apparent that Officer eveluations are being written with a major eye to casulties under their command.

His rant about REMFs getting combat pay has some validity, but seems a little petty, but that’s probably just me (a former REMF). His take on the NG is waaay off base. The units that haven’t been deployed are the ones that he wouldn’t want at his side (or behind him) since those are the ones that have been starved for years for training dollars. The good NG units are now on second or third deployements, which is not what those guys signed up for.
 
Written By: bud
URL: http://
My. The Staff SGT has time to fight a war, visit his wife, make babies, listen to the point of getting sick of a dozen separate media outlets, web blogs, tv stations, fight lawyers, higher ups, lower downs, jags, generals, privates. And he has time to write a blog.

Some might say the right wing propoganda machine made the whole thing up. But not me, I believe every word. Jethro, Cletus, Virgil and all the boys believe it too. I had my doubts, but hey, he even "signed" it. You go, "D", You go!
I guess when your life is watching Jerry Springer and Opra and collecting your welfare check, even modest achievements seem impressive.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan to build nations. We are there to kill our enemies.

hmm, someone needs a copy of Petraeus’s COIN manual. We are, after all, there precisely in order to build nations. To pick up a comment made about the loss of Vietnam a few posts down, North Vietnam prevailed after US withdrawal not only because Ford and Nixon were unable to rally support for more war, but because we had utterly failed to build a South Vietnam nation.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
but because we had utterly failed to build a South Vietnam nation.
An invasion by a military with as many armored fighting vehicles as Germany used to invade France in 1941 had nothing to do with it? Or that the SVN government foolishly assumed that our promises of military support had actually meant something?

It gets annoying to stake this zombie each time it crawls out of the grave.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
North Vietnam prevailed after US withdrawal not only because Ford and Nixon were unable to rally support for more war, but because we had utterly failed to build a South Vietnam nation.
North Vietnam prevailed because the Soviets continued to provide significant military aid, while the spineless Democrats refused to support our South Vietnamese allies.

Or did you think that North Vietnam was producing MiGs, T-54s, and BMPs?

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
An invasion by a military with as many armored fighting vehicles as Germany used to invade France in 1941 had nothing to do with it?
That’s a poor analogy; in ’41 France had more and better tanks than the Germans. As well as the excellent Maginot line that covered most of the frontier, allowing the French to know in advance the likely German attack route.

Yes, the Maginot line was excellent. The Germans went "around it" (actually through a weak point), and after taking France portions of the line held out for awhile. So the line worked perfectly, but it didn’t eliminate the need for fighting . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
1. The point remains that the sgt. is wrong; we are there to build nations.

2. Remember the American people? You know, voters? Nixon won, in 1968, based on a promise to end our involvement in the war in VietNam. We were still there in 1973, and ARVN forces were still unable to stand on their own. (This gives me great confidence about our ability to build an Iraqi army. I’ve read nothing about giving the Iraqis real air power.) If the voters were all that excited about protecting the (utterly corrupt and non-democratic) government of south vietnam once the north relaunched its invasion 2 more years after US withdrawal, they would have spoken up. As it was, the Senate had the votes to sustain the veto which cut off funding to South Vietnam.

So spare me the stab-in-the-back / spineless democrats speech. The American people wanted no more involvement and their representative government delivered. Your contempt is better directed toward your fellow citizens.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
but because we had utterly failed to build a South Vietnam nation.
Incidently, the previous NVA attempt at invasion was decisivly defeated by the ARVNs with support from US air resources. But we also were providing them logistical support.

With no US support whatsoever, it was unrealistic to expect them to defend themselves from a foe slavishly equiped by the communist world.
It gets annoying to stake this zombie each time it crawls out of the grave.
Hmm. But who benifitted from the US and South Vietnamese defeat? Not the US, not the South Vietnamese. But the Soviets, the North Vietnamese, and American leftists.

Now, who benifits from a US defeat in Iraq?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
You gotta love guys like that Sergeant in Afghanistan. If only we had leadership to match.
 
Written By: Jason Pappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
We were still there in 1973, and ARVN forces were still unable to stand on their own. (This gives me great confidence about our ability to build an Iraqi army. I’ve read nothing about giving the Iraqis real air power.)
In the ’72 Easter Offensive, the ARVN forces fought well and prevailed. They did require US air support, which we should have provided in ’75.

Air is something we do real well, and others not always particularly good. It is unrealistic to expect ARVN air to be fully up to speed.
If the voters were all that excited about protecting the (utterly corrupt and non-democratic) government of south vietnam once the north relaunched its invasion 2 more years after US withdrawal, they would have spoken up. As it was, the Senate had the votes to sustain the veto which cut off funding to South Vietnam.
Yes, the right thing to do was abandon that corrupt government to communism. Right.

Certainly the American people were tired of war. They had Walter Cronkite telling them they couldn’t win since Tet ’68 (when the VC were destroyed as a fighting force!). Somehow I suspect that if the facts had been laid out on a table, the American people would have supported aiding the South. But back then, people still trusted CBS and the rest of the MSM . . .


 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
North Vietnam prevailed because the Soviets continued to provide significant military aid, while the spineless Democrats refused to support our South Vietnamese allies.
North Vietnam prevailed because the Soviets let the North fight a war of aggression and invade, while the spineless Americans kept the South cowering below the 17th parallel.


 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Somehow I suspect that if the facts had been laid out on a table, the American people would have supported aiding the South

right. of course, if the President hadn’t been up to his neck in Watergate, and there hadn’t been 50,000 american dead already, and the promises to support the government of South Vietnam upon a breach of the Paris Peace Accords by the North had been made in public and approved by the Senate, then maybe.

but watergate, the dead, and the secret promises were real, and so was american opposition.

what’s really peculiar to me about the stab-in-the-back legend is the way that it completely shifts around the very real phenomenon of American isolationism. It was mostly democrats who started 20th century wars, over republican opposition. But for some reason the refusal to restart a war from which we had already withdrawn cannot be blamed on classic isolationism and instead must be blamed on democratic senators, even though the war was already so unpopular among voters by 1968 that it lead to Nixon’s election. weird.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Ugh, enough with the Vietnam comparisons already. How about addressing what this Staff Seargant said?
I am tired of Democrats saying they are patriotic and then insulting my commander in chief and the way he goes about his job.
So everyone who questioned Clinton’s ability to "go about his job" (i.e. most of the military guys I knew during the 90’s) were not patriotic? Since when is it not patriotic to think a President is a twit?

Complaining about a retreat... even nation building activities reach a point of diminishing returns. It has seemed, over the last year, that violence has increased, rather than decreased. And the nasty, uncomfortable truth most people don’t like realizing is that, no matter the reality, perception is what really matters. And the U.S. is perceived very very very badly... as is the occupation by a majority of Americans. Staying just to claim "we didn’t retreat" won’t accomplish much beyond killing a few hundred more soliders, and a few thousand more Iraqis.

Similarly, noting that the pathetic surge will do anything positive isn’t being spineless, or weak; it could easily be reading the very COIN manual the new commander himself wrote and finding the surge so woefully inadequate as to be a poorly-executed joke.

I cannot speak to the command issues he points out, but it does seem par for the course: a top-down failure of leadership, at multiple levels, is why we are in the mess we are in, with soldiers afraid to fight back for fear of trials, equipment and manpower shortages.

The digs about people drinking specialty coffee... well, that was just low :-)

But seriously, to pretend that places like Afghanistan and Iraq are wars and not nation-building occupations is, really, delusional. What are we doing, then? Why did we bother to stick our fingers in the aftermath at all, if not to create a new country from the ashes we made?
 
Written By: Joshua Foust
URL: http://www.conjecturer.com/weblog
in ’41 France had more and better tanks than the Germans
Sorry Don, but no one had ’more and better tanks’ than jerry in WWII. Until the end when we had more Shermans... but they were by no means better than the panzers and tigers they were facing.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
But who benifitted from the US and South Vietnamese defeat?
Every soldier who would have died fighting that unwinnable war if we had not left, and every mother and father of those soldiers, every son and daugher of those soldiers, every wife, every grandchild, every friend.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Sorry Don, but no one had ’more and better tanks’ than jerry in WWII. Until the end when we had more Shermans... but they were by no means better than the panzers and tigers they were facing.
When the Germans invaded Poland, most of their tanks were panzer Mk I and Mk II. The Mk I was really just a training machine equiped with two MGs. The Mk II replace one MG with a 20 mm gun.

When Germany invaded France, they had more panzer Mk III and Mk IV. The Mk III had a high velocity 37 mm gun, the Mk IV a low velocity 75 mm not really sutable for tank warfare. They also had quite a few Czech tanks in service at this time. The British Matilda and the French Char B tanks had similar 37 mm guns (the Char B also carried a low velocity 75 mm, in effect combining the main weapons of the German Mk III and Mk IV). However, the Matilda and Char B had superior armor—the main German 37 mm gun had significant trouble defeating them.

The Geramns at this time did not depend upon their tank guns for defeating enemy tanks. The standard German approach when faced with the likes of Matildas was to fall back behind a screen of 88 mm flak, and let the anti-aircraft weapons do the tank killing.

In North Africa, the Germans upgraded their Mk III with a high velocity 50 mm and their Mk IV with a high velocity 75 mm. The introduction of American tanks like the Sherman cancelled out the advantage, however. The panzer Mk IV and Sherman were well matched.

The Germans encountered the Soviet T-34 in 1941, and that’s when they started building super tanks.

As far as more? Yep, in 1940 the French had more Char Bs than the Germans had tanks of all types combined. And the Char B was essentially immune to German tank guns.

In WW2, the Germans produced about 1,500 Tigers, vs some 60,000 Soviet T-34s. Over ten Tigers scored more than 100 tank kills (probably mostly T-34s), but the loss of 1,000 T-34s was a drop in the bucket.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Every soldier who would have died fighting that unwinnable war if we had not left, and every mother and father of those soldiers, every son and daugher of those soldiers, every wife, every grandchild, every friend.
It was certainly winnable. It was hard to win using the approach we did, but we came awful close to winning, at least from a military perspective.

The point is, by continuing aid to RSVN and providing air support in ’75 during the North’s invasion, we could have won that battle, as we had in ’72, without US ground forces being involved.
Complaining about a retreat... even nation building activities reach a point of diminishing returns. It has seemed, over the last year, that violence has increased, rather than decreased.
But an increase might mean we are winning. Like in Tet ’68, when the VC got creamed.
And the nasty, uncomfortable truth most people don’t like realizing is that, no matter the reality, perception is what really matters. And the U.S. is perceived very very very badly... as is the occupation by a majority of Americans.
Right. That’s why it would be nice if we had a decent MSM.
Staying just to claim "we didn’t retreat" won’t accomplish much beyond killing a few hundred more soliders, and a few thousand more Iraqis.
The main thing at this point is nation building.

However, it’s bad form to let the schoolyard bully have an easy victory. It is also bad letting your friends down. Such things lead to more run-ins with the bully, and less reason for others to be our friends.

The left has, it seems, grasped the obvious: people die in war. But leaving will reinforce the idea that hurting us gets the results that the bad guys want. Which will lead to more of us dying in the future. Leaving without success will be costly.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The point is, by continuing aid to RSVN and providing air support in ’75 during the North’s invasion, we could have won that battle, as we had in ’72, without US ground forces being involved.
But an increase might mean we are winning. Like in Tet ’68, when the VC got creamed.
Please note: that the same rationale (ie. kill ratio) that calls ’68 and ’72 victories for the South/Americans was used by the Germans in 1943 to call victories all the way back to Poland. In both cases the defenders killed way more of the attackers than they lost. Unfortunately both the North Vietnamese/Soviets were able to resupply and attack again, eventually winning the overall conflict. This suggests that kill ratios are a stoopid way to measure battle success.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Don, I really don’t like defending "MSM" outlets like this, but coverage is a two-way street. The Pentagon (actually, the entire Bush administration) is incredibly adversarial toward the media—possibly with good reason, but if you do not cultivate a good working relationship with the reporters who cover you you won’t get good coverage. Time and time again, I hear nothing but contempt from mil guys about media guys, and the feeling has very much become mutual—the killing zombies versus the panty-waisted four eyes on laptops.

Look, the DoD has a serious PR problem, and Rummy was simply not willing to make it better. I hope Gates adopts a more conciliatory attitude, because the possibly uncomfortable reality is that the military still has to answer to the civilians, and the civilians are informed by the press.
 
Written By: Josh
URL: http://www.conjecturer.com/weblog
"while the spineless Americans kept the South cowering below the 17th parallel."

I think your usage of the word "cowering " is incorrect.

"Please note: that the same rationale (ie. kill ratio) that calls ’68 and ’72 victories for the South/Americans"

There is more of a rationale than a kill ratio. In both cases the Communists were prevented from attaining their objectives, and were driven back. In ’68 the Communists also suffered a major political setback.

************************************

"The combined Anglo-French forces in the West in May 1940 disposed of some 4,000 armored vehicles: the German army at that time had 2,800, including armored reconnaissance cars, .... We thus faced superiority in numbers, to which was added the fact that the French tanks were superior to the German ones both in armor and in gun-caliber,..."

"Panzer Leader"(abridged), by Heinz Guderian,
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
we came awful close to winning, at least from a military perspective

this is a classic. winning in war, it has been said, happens when the other guy gives up. Is there a shred of evidence that North Vietnam would have agreed to a Korea-like split of the country if the US had provided airpower in ’75?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Please note: that the same rationale (ie. kill ratio) that calls ’68 and ’72 victories for the South/Americans was used by the Germans in 1943 to call victories all the way back to Poland. In both cases the defenders killed way more of the attackers than they lost. Unfortunately both the North Vietnamese/Soviets were able to resupply and attack again, eventually winning the overall conflict. This suggests that kill ratios are a stoopid way to measure battle success.
No one is claiming ’68 or ’72 victories due to kill ratios.

Tet ’68 was a victory because they failed in their attack, and it eliminated the VC as a significant fighting force. After ’68, the NVA had to pick up the slack. Note that the important point is not that we killed lots of VC, but that they never again were a significant fighting force.

1972 was a victory because the NVA invasion failed, and they were not ready for another try until 1975.

I’m not aware of the Germans claiming victory in battles post ’42.
Don, I really don’t like defending "MSM" outlets like this, but coverage is a two-way street. The Pentagon (actually, the entire Bush administration) is incredibly adversarial toward the media—possibly with good reason, but if you do not cultivate a good working relationship with the reporters who cover you you won’t get good coverage.
I agree. And the same sort of thing happened in Vietnam. Rosy pre-’68 claims by the military helped to undermine credability. And of course, Nixon’s Watergate activities eventually gave both Congress and later the White House to left wing Democrats.
this is a classic. winning in war, it has been said, happens when the other guy gives up.
Or, as often happens, when he can’t fight anymore.
Is there a shred of evidence that North Vietnam would have agreed to a Korea-like split of the country if the US had provided airpower in ’75?
The North Koreans were just as determined as the North Vietnamese, and actually fought better, back in the ’50s. The NKs agreed to a split (sort of, we are still officially at war) because they had no choice, they never gave up. Note that US troops are still in South Korea.

If we hurt the NVA significantly in ’75, it would have been years before they were ready to try again. Such breathing space could allow RSVN to develop. NVA invasion attempts resulting in large casualties and loss of equipment would wear down the North and the Soviet industries that supplied them.

Instead, letting RSVN fall to the communists gave them a large cash of US arms that were used against us during the ’70s and ’80s. The so-called "Reagan gifts" to communist fighters in Latin America were M16s with Vietnam series serial numbers. In other words, despite the claims of the communist fighters and the MSM, they were not "gifts from Reagan" but gifts from the Watergate Congress.

Vietnam was a battle in the Cold War. We lost the battle due to our left, but won the war despite that. Vietnam was a battle we could have, and should have, won.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
There is more of a rationale than a kill ratio. In both cases the Communists were prevented from attaining their objectives, and were driven back. In ’68 the Communists also suffered a major political setback.
1968 eliminated the VC as a serious force.

Gen. Giap lost his job due to his failure in ’72.

Both were serious defeats for the communists. But they didn’t give up.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"while the spineless Americans kept the South cowering below the 17th parallel."

I think your usage of the word "cowering " is incorrect.
The South (which was superior in most every battle according to some of the comments here) did not attack the North. War was being fought, perhaps they could have tried capturing some territory, it has worked in the vast majority of other conflicts. If they were not cowering in fear, why the refusal to advance?
Tet ’68 was a victory because they failed in their attack, and it eliminated the VC as a significant fighting force. After ’68, the NVA had to pick up the slack. Note that the important point is not that we killed lots of VC, but that they never again were a significant fighting force.

1972 was a victory because the NVA invasion failed, and they were not ready for another try until 1975.
Concede the destruction of the VC was a minor victory because it gained the South greater control over territory below the 17th. But ’72 was a defensive action that gained nothing, hence it cannot be considered a victory only a stalemate.
The North Koreans were just as determined as the North Vietnamese, and actually fought better, back in the ’50s. The NKs agreed to a split (sort of, we are still officially at war) because they had no choice, they never gave up. Note that US troops are still in South Korea.
They had a choice, but failure could have meant their destruction. The UN forces would have advanced and captured the North if an attack failled. The North assessed the risk and decided not to attack. There was no such threat in Vietnam, where the North could and did attack with impunity.
Vietnam was a battle in the Cold War. We lost the battle due to our left, but won the war despite that. Vietnam was a battle we could have, and should have, won.
Vietnam was a battle that could have been won, but the American right failed to do this and that led to the rise of the anti-war left. Simply capturing territory is the way war has always been won; the failure of the right to even attempt to do this was the ultimate cause of the loss in Vietnam. This incompetent failure for the right to do the very basics empowered the moonbat defeatist fringe.

And here we are again, the right has entered into a war whilst hobbling the military (ROE; Iranian, Saudi & Syrian inviobility; RoP) and what do you know 3 years in defeat seems just around the corner.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
The South (which was superior in most every battle according to some of the comments here) did not attack the North.
We have only discussed the three biggest battles : Tet ’68, and the ’72 and ’75 invasions.

1968 was a Southern victory based upon American and ARVN forces.

1972 was a victory based upon ARVN ground forces and US air support.

1975 was a defeat because of a lack of US air and logistics support.
War was being fought, perhaps they could have tried capturing some territory, it has worked in the vast majority of other conflicts. If they were not cowering in fear, why the refusal to advance?
Not likely an option. Prior to 1972 or so, Americans were running things. After we came up with an agreement with the North, we would have required the South to abide, and I suspect that meant no hostile action. I don’t think attacking the North was ever on the table for them.

Aside from that, the North had generally proven superior at things military. It is much easier to defend than to invade, so the South’s success in ’72 does not mean they would have had similar success in the North. And it is unlikely we would have provided air or logistical support if they invaded the North.

Beside, if the South invaded the North and took down a communist government, imagine the howls at the UN, the world outrage, mass suicide in the Bay Area, embargos, . . . oh the humanity.
Concede the destruction of the VC was a minor victory because it gained the South greater control over territory below the 17th. But ’72 was a defensive action that gained nothing, hence it cannot be considered a victory only a stalemate.


I would consider the destruction of the VC a big deal.

However, a defensive victory like ’72 is still a victory. It gained something all right: a continuing RSVN and the destruction of an invading force which took years to replace.
They had a choice, but failure could have meant their destruction. The UN forces would have advanced and captured the North if an attack failled. The North assessed the risk and decided not to attack. There was no such threat in Vietnam, where the North could and did attack with impunity.
Right. But Vietnam was fought with Korea in mind: all those Chinese coming accross the Yalu and forcing back the American forces. We didn’t want the Vietnam War to expand out of control, particularly not in a world with a nuclear China and a USSR with all those ICBMs aimed at us.
Vietnam was a battle that could have been won, but the American right failed to do this and that led to the rise of the anti-war left. Simply capturing territory is the way war has always been won; the failure of the right to even attempt to do this was the ultimate cause of the loss in Vietnam. This incompetent failure for the right to do the very basics empowered the moonbat defeatist fringe.
The amazing thing is we almost won in Vietnam without invading the North.

However, I wouldn’t blame the American right; I consider LBJ a leftist, and his administraion is more to blame than any other.

And I’m not sure that invading the North was a great idea, at least when viewed through an official 1960’s era lens. The fear of escalation to WWIII was grounded in reason.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I’m not sure that invading the North was a great idea, at least when viewed through an official 1960’s era lens. The fear of escalation to WWIII was grounded in reason.
Yes, correct. In the wider context the risk was unacceptable.
The amazing thing is we almost won in Vietnam without invading the North.

No. The deaths of millions of people in Communist countries did not threaten Communist regimes. Destruction of the armies did not threaten Communist N. Vietnam. Communist regimes were based on revolutionary ideals, not a contract of care for their people. The regime of N. Vietnam owes its existance and legitimacy to its nationalist liberation of Vietnam from the French, Americans and Chinese. To give up its claim for the South would be to delegitimise itself. If it lost in ’75 it would be back in ’78.

To be beaten the regime needed to be wiped out.

The choice was the devil or the deep blue sea. Choose to fight to win & risk losing everything in WW3 or risk very little in through a non-aggressive stance that makes it near impossible to win.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
To give up its claim for the South would be to delegitimise itself. If it lost in ’75 it would be back in ’78.
So?

If we had continued to supply logistics support and only intermittent air power, then the RVN would have won again in ’75, in ’78, in ’81, in ’84, and in ’87.

And those victories would have come at a cost which we could sustain indefinitely and readily at that.

The continual losses by the forces of communism might well have lead to the end of the cold war sooner, and in any case we now know no invasion would have happened in ’90—because by then the extant forces of communism gave up the ghost.

And that’s without an invasion of North Vietnam.

We screwed up by leaving, not by being there.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://

 
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